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of the public money (which, cousidering your other charges, I rather wonder at), it cannot be expected, that at this distance of time I should now enter into all the details of the assessed, or other taxes, which, during the pressure of the war, might call for an increase; nor shall I enter at all into the policy of resorting for taxation to iron mines, or other raw produce of the country, as you are pleased to term it, which have not yet been carried into effect, but which, in the present state of things, may deserve the serious consideration of Parliament and the public.

The demoralizing nature of the Escise Laws, which you also dwell upon, and all other objections belonging to them, have been so long acquiesced in, and the revenue bas leaned upon them so long for its support, that I wonder you should have declaimed, on such a topic, against the Whigs now living; more especially as you yourself, in your tenth page,

had before charged their introduction, and “as they now exist” (I copy your own words), upon the Whigs of about a century ago; and there never since, I believe, has existed an administration, in which they have not been increased. The only color, therefore, for the paragraph which immediately follows, was the introduction of a Bíll into the House of Commons for raising a duty from private breweries, which, upon re-consideration, or perhaps from ill-considered opposition, was given up. I do not concern myself as to which, since I repeat, that it was given up; a termination which has generally satisfied the most interested and violent opponents; but your bile, nevertheless, which, for twelve years together, has been fermenting in your private brewery, has, at last, so publicly boiled over, that, under the general law, you are liable to be taxed.

To deal gravely with the subject-I think it highly fortunate for the Whigs, that nothing, however minute, has escaped you; and that it cannot be thought either partiality or forbearance has understated any wrongs they may have done, or any mistakes they may have committed. As no man, or body of men, ever yet were perfect, I shall feel no mortification for any differences of opinion that may prevail as to the justice of what I have written in their defence; because I am quite sure, that the whole public must condemn the injustice of what has been written by you. I ought rather, therefore, to thank you for what you have been pleased to consider as a Reply to me, to which I now put in my Rejoinder, and pray, in the language of the law, THAT IT MAY BE INQUIRED OF BY THE COUNTRY.

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OF THE

SELECT COMMITTEE

OF

THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,

APPOINTED TO CONSIDER OF SO MUCH OF THE

CRIMINAL LAWS

AS RELATES TO

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT IN FELONIES.

LONDON:

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THE SELECT COMMITTEE appointed to consider of se

much of the CRIMINAL Laws as relates to Capital Punishment in Felonies, and to report their Observations and Opinion of the same, from time to time, to The House ; and to whom the several PETITIONS on the subject were referred ;Have, pursuant to the Orders of The House, considered the Matters to them referred ; and have agreed upon the follow

ing REPORT: YOUR Committee, in execution of the trust delegated to them by the House, have endeavoured strictly to confine themselves within the limits prescribed to them by the terms of their appointment. In some cases they have laid down restrictions for themselves, which the letter of the Resolution of the House did not impose. They have abstained from all consideration of those Capital Felonies which may be said to be of a political nature, being directed against the authority of government and the general peace of society. To the nature and efficacy of the secondary Punishments, of Transportation and Imprisonment, they have directed no part of their inquiries, because another committee had been appointed to investigate them, and because no part of the facts or arguments to be stated in this Report, will be found to depend, either on the present state of these secondary Punishments, or on the degree of improvement of which they may be found ca. pable. With many extensive and important parts of the Criminal Law; such, for example, as that which regulates the Trial of Offenders ; they are entirely satisfied, and they should not have sug

or

gested any changes in these departments, even if they had been within the appointed province of this Committee. On other parts of the subject; as, for example, in the definition and arrangement of Crimes, they have recommended a consolidation of the Laws respecting only one class of offences, and have presumed only to express a general opinion of the utility of the like consolidation in some other cases. They wish expressly to disclaim all doubt of the right of the Legislature to inflict the punishment of Death, wherever that punishment, and that alone, seems capable of protecting the community from enormous and atrocious crimes. The object of the Committee has been to ascertain, as far as the nature of the case admitted by Evidence, whether, in the present state of the sentiments of the people of England, Capital Punishment in most cases of offences unattended with violence, be a necessary

even the most effectual security against the prevalence of Crimes.

1. In the first place, they endeavoured to collect official accounts of the state of Crimes and the administration of Criminal Law throughout the Kingdom, from the earliest period to which authentic information reaches. The Annual Returns of Commitments, Convictions, and Executions, first procured by Addresses from this House, and since required by Statūtė, go no farther back than 1805. Accounts, though not perfectly satisfactory, of the same particulars, from London and Middlesex, from 1749 to the present time, have been already laid before Parliainent, which, with an official summary of the Returns of England and Wales from 1805, will be inserted in the Appendix of this Report.

A full and authentic account of Convictions and Executions for London and Middlesex, from 1699 to 1804, obtained, for the latter part of that time from the Clerk of Arraigns at the Old Bailey, and for the former part from the officers of the City of London, is inserted in the Appendix. The Corporation of the City of London have shown on this occasion a liberality and public spirit worthy of acknowledgment; and it is to be hoped, that they will continue their researches as far back as their Records extend, and thus complete Returns, probably unparalleled in the history of Criminal Law.

The Deputy Clerk of Assize for the Home Circuit, has laid before Your Committee a Return of Commitments, Convictions and Executions on that Circuit, which comprehends the counties of Herts, Essex, Kent, Sussex and Surry, from 1689 to 1718, from 1755 to 1784, and from 1784 to 1814. The Returns of the intermediate period from 1718 to 1755, he will doubtless furnish very soon. From this important Return it appears, that, for the VOL. XV.

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first thirty years which followed the Revolution, the average proportion of convictions to executions was 38 to 20; that from 1755 to 1784 it was 46 to 13; and that from 1784 to 1814, it was 74 to 19. It is worthy of remark, that the whole number of convictions for murder, on the Home Circuit, in the first period was 123; that the executions for the same period were 87: that in the second, the convictions for the same offence were 67, and the executions 57 ; and that in the third, the convictions were 54, and the executions 44. If the increase of the population during a prosperous period of a hundred and thirty years, be taken into the account, and if we bear in mind that within that time a considerable city has grown up on the southern bank of the Thames, we shall be disposed to consider it as no exaggeration to affirm, that in this district (not one of the most favourably situated in this respect) murder has abated in the remarkable proportion of three if not four to one.

In the thirty years from 1755 to 1784, the whole convictions for murder in London and Middlesex were 71; and in the thirty years from 1784 to 1814 they were 66. In the years 1815, 1816 and 1817, the whole convictions for murder in London were 9, while in the three preceding years they were 14. Most of the other returns relate to too short a period, or too narrow a district to afford materials for safe conclusion, with respect to the comparative frequency of crimes at different periods

.. In general however it appears that murders, and other crimes of violence and cruelty, have either diminished, or not increased ; and that the deplorable increase of Criminals is not of such a nature as to indicate any diminution in the humanity of the people. The practice of immediately publishing the circumstances of every atrocious crime, and of circulating in various forms an account of every stage of the proceedings which relate to it, is far more prevalent in England than in any other country, and in our times than in any former age. It is on the whole of great utility, not only as a control on courts of judicature, but also as a means of rendering it extremely difficult for odious criminals to escape. In this country, no atrocious crimes remain secret; with these advantages, however, it cannot be denied, that by publishing the circumstances of all crimes, our modern practice tends to make our age and nation appear more criminal than in comparison with others it really is.

II. In considering the subject of our Penal Laws, Your Committee will first lay before the House their observations on that part, which is the least likely to give rise to difference of opinion. That many statutes denouncing capital punishments might be safely and

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