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open air, and the first in England repairing and improving what time which bore the title of A CAMP-MEET. has dislocated, or earlier wisdom had ING, was held upón Mow, * on Sun. left incomplete, in the great political day, May 31st, 1807. It commenced and social institutions of this country, about six o'clock in the morning, and it may be permitted to any individual, continued without intermission till however humble, to offer with suitabout half-past eight in the evening. able ditfidence and temperance, his It began with one preaching stand counsel upon the occasion. only : but three more were afterwards It is proposed in the present essay erected. The preachings were inter- very briefly to discuss the principles mingled with pious exercises ; such of criminal law, or punitive justice; a as singing, prayer, exhortations, speak. discussion that inight seem altogether ing experience, relating anecdotes, superfluous to those who advert only &c.
to the copious exposition of those “During a great part of the day, the principles which has been made by scene was interesting: a company writers of the most eminent talents in wrestling in prayer; four preachers this and other nations. But as the delivering the word of life; thousands practice of no people, perhaps, has listening; tears flowing ; sinners accorded with correct thicory in this trembling; saints rejoicing. Such matter, and as consequently it has was the first of the English Camp been difficult to inquirers at all times Meetings.
to view the subject through a clear “A day's praying upon Mow be- medium, an attempt to bring out the gan first to be talked of in the year chief points to be regarded in this 180). The thought rose simply from melancholy department of jurisprua zeal for praying which had sprung dence may not be improper or useless. up in that neighbourhood. From the Now, as it is obvious that we cannot year 1802 to 1807, various accounts expect to draw safe conclusions from of the American Camp-Meetings were false premises, nor to form good syspublished. These accounts strength. tems without establishing and adhering ened the cause, and fanned the flame: to solid fundamental principles, it apand in the mean time LORENZO Dow, pears most important in the inquiry a native of America, preached in En- before us to determine what are the gland, and gave some account of these proper purposes or ends of criminal meetings. He drew some attention laws. These purposes we will begin to the subject, but never had a thought with stating in the following order: of attempting a Camp-Meeting in 1. To protect society from injurious England; and when he left England, and vicious practices, denominated by he had no thought of such a thing Blackstone" public wrongs." taking place.
2. To reclaim and reforin offenders. “In 1807, by a peculiar direction 3. To deter the criminal and others of Providence, a Camp-Meeting took from a repetition of the offence. place as above; and two more were 4. To make reparation, wherever it published in the same year. These is practicable, to the party injured. were strangely opposed, and as won- Simply to state the first-mentioned derfully supported, and Camp-Meet- purpose is sufficient, as the only conings gained an establishment." troversy would be respecting the A COLLECTOR.
means of attaining that end, and these means are to be investigated under the
following heads. Essay on the Principles af Criminal It might be presumed, that in ChrisLac,
tian communities the purpose next T a moment when joy and hope mentioned would at once be admitted excited by the contemplation of a tal government, punishment is termed Legislature engaged in the work of correction, whether it be or be not
adapted to that end. In the governMow is a large inountain running ment of a state, we say that justice is between Staffordshire and Cheshire ; and administered towards those who are about five miles distant from the Staf- accused of offences; and justice imfordshire Potteries.
plies what is equal and right, or tend
ing to rectify what is wrong. “In in order, among the ends of criminal moderate governinents,” says Mon- justice, appears solely or principally tesquieu, a good legislator is less to have occupied their attention. Every bent upon punishing than preventing one will concur in the principle that crimes; he is more attentive to inspire laws must be enacted and measures good morals than to inflict penalties." adopted for this end, of deterring It is true, that when we speak of the from crime; though a wide difference amendment of an offender, we sup- of sentiment may exist respecting the pose that an offence has been com- application of that principle-respectmitted, and to prevent offences, it ing the measures and the laws best may be reasonably urged, should be suited for the purpose. Legislators our leading desire and aim. Offences, appear commonly to have considered however, will come under the best that the prevention of crime could system of policy. Their enormity only be effected by the severity of may be greatly restrained, and their penal enactments. Hence the cruel number diminished, but notwithstand- laws to be found in the codes of many ing the force of religion and of law civilized nations, ancient and modern; they will exist in every society. Good and hence among us the great number institutions for religious and moral of offences against which the penalty instruction, wise means for diffusing a of death is denounced. Montesquieu virtuous spirit through a nation, are the was of a different opinion. He says, most effectual preventatives of crime.“ Experience shews, that in countries But our present business is withi crin remarkable for the lenity of their laws, Ininals, and with the laws relating to the spirit of the inhabitants is as much persons actually in that class. We affected by slight penalties, as in other inay contend, then, that the most countries by severer punishments. Im. efficient means of lessening the num agination grows accustomed to the ber and enormity of crimes will be severe as well as the milder punishfound in judicious plans for reclaiming ment. Robberies on the highway offenders at the commencement, or at were grown common in some counan early stage, of their career. With tries; in order to remedy this evil they reflecting persons it surely cannot be invented the punishment of breaking difficult to establish the truth of this on the wheel, the terror of which put position. To apply correctives before a stop for a while to this mischievous the mind has been hardened by a long practice. But soon after robberies on course of criminality must, it seems, the highways became as common as offer a better chance of success than If we inquire into the cause of to attempt to restrain obdurate of- all human corruptions, we shall find fenders by severity of punishment. that they proceed from the impunity The criminal not deeply practised in of criminals, and not from the modevice would, in very many, if not in ration of punishments.” Beccaria, most, cases be reclaimed by being another writer of deservedly high placed in an appropriate situation, name, thus declares his sentiments : and supplied with suitable instruction “ Crimes are more effectually preand aid. He might be led and en- vented by the certainty than the sevecouraged, but even he would rarely rity of punishment. The certainty of be forced and terrified into amend- a small punishment will make a ment. And as to criminals more ad- stronger impression than the fear of vanced in their sad course, we may, one more severe, if attended with the without hesitation, say, that so long hope of escaping. If punishments be as any reasonable hope of their refor. very severe, men are naturally led to mation could be entertained, it would the perpetration of other crimes to be-right, and conducive to the best avoid the punishment due to the first. interests of society, to make their pu- In proportion as punishments become nishment a reclaiming process. more cruel, the minds of men, as a
But if these be truths, and if in fuid rises to the same height with speculation they might receive general that which surrounds it, grow harand ready assent, it is evident that dened and insensible, and the force of they have not been inuch attended to the passions still continuing, in the hy practical politicians and legislators. space of 100 years the wheel terrifies That which we have mentioned third no more than forunerly the prison.
That a punishment produce the effect and powerful advocates, and many of required, it is sufficient that the evil it these will plausibly argue, that it is occasions should exceed the good ex-' be allowable to punish murder with pected from crime, including in the death, other crimes that may lead in calculation the certainty of the pu. their consequences to murder, or that nishment, and the privation of the in their nature are almost equally inexpected advantage. All severity be- jurious, deserve an equal punishment. yond this is superfluous, and there. And others cling to the notion, that fore tyrannical." And are not Bec- the mere denunciation of such a pecaria and Montesquieu right? Surely nalty must excite the highest degree their arguments are no less supported of terror, and so most effectually deby experience than by enlightened ter from crime. A distinguished setheory. In framing penal laws, the nator is reported to have maintained, force of human passions, urged and in a recent debate, that no penalty strengthened by various circumstances, could be so terrible as the punishment seems to have been forgotten. But, of death, and that the fear of death in fact, few persons after proceeding was the greatest of moral restraints, some time in a vicious course can be This at the utmost is mere opinion. induced by terror to draw back. If And though a contrary opinion is not they have subsisted by plunder or dis- capable of being established by dehonesty, they become more and more monstration, it is supported by Becunfited for obtaining subsistence by caria and other enlightened men, and honest means, and those means soon reason and fact appear to be decidedly became barred against them; unless in its favour. Men who voluntarily they could avail themselves of the embrace the military profession can poor-laws. Actuated by long-indulged have no very strong habitual fear of vice; not restrained by religious or death. The force of attachment to moral principle; encouraged by vicious life must surely be greater or less companions, and stimulated by want, according to the principles, habits, real or factitious ; Will they think of condition and prospects of a man. At the severity of punishment, with which all events, the punishinent of death they are ihreatened, further than to will not effectually deter men from elude, if possible, the denunciation of coinmitting crimes, as is evinced every the law, and perhaps to prefer the day, and even among criminals not offence, if it will answer their pur. the most abandoned. The question, pose, to which the lighter, rather than whether society have a right to take that to which the heavier, penalty is away the life of an offending member attached? If robbery and fraud, in will not be here examined ;. but it every shape, were made capital crimes, deserves the most solemn considerathe practised offender, in ninety-nine tion on the part of legislators; for cases out of a hundred, would despise if it may be properly determined in the penalty, or avert his eyes from the affirmative, there are at least obthe view of it. This we may hold to jections and difficulties which ought be an incontrovertible truth. And the to make us very cautious and forfirst inference to be drawn from it is, bearing in the exercise of the supposed the importance of a corrective process, right. Every truly wise and good early applied to offenders. The next man will admit that the punishinent inference is, that if severity will not de- of death should never be inflicted, ter from crime, neither can it be justly unless it answer a salutary and ade-, applied in a mere penal way, as if to quately important purpose. It seems, avenge society. Admitting that there then, that before this highest of penala is a class of offenders who, to human ties is denounced, we ought to be view, are incorrigible, or nearly so, well assured, that by this, and this and, therefore, that it is expedient to alone, certain crimes can be prevented disable them from continuing to injure or restrained. Not many will serithe community, it does not follow that ously contend that this is the case we can be justified in consigning them with respect to scores of offences to the executioner, and hurrying them (such as breaking down the head of unprepared to the bar of Divine jus- a fish-pond, destroying trees or hoptice. From various motives, however, vines, deinanding money by anony, the penalty of death has numerous mous letters, soldiers or mariners wandering without a testimonial, &c. dence, or other causes. Now, the &c.) made capital in our statute book. innocence of such persons inay be,
But it will be argued, that there and sometimes actually is, afterwards are several crimes, besides murder, for established, and if their lives were which the punishment of death is suit- spared, they might be reinstated in able and just. We will briefly con- their proper place in society, and some sider two of the foremost in this class compensation might be made to them of crimes; forgery and rape. That for their unjust sufferings. But if men are not very effectually restrained they had undergone the punishment from the crime of forgery, by the cer- of death, all ineans of repairing the tain loss of life upon detection and dreadful mistake would for ever be conviction, is proved beyond doubt by removed. The most earnest advocates a superabundance of lamentable facts. for capital punishments might feel a Then, is the punishment of death pe- treinor at the contemplation of a case culiarly called for by the atrocity of of this kind.. But the other considethe offence? Surely not. This crime ration, to which I would refer, ought may, indeed, by an easy mode oc. to have still more weight. Christians casion very extensive mischief, and believe in a future state of existence, therefore demands penalties of appro- where the wicked will endure punishpriute rigour. But might not these ment, compared to which the most be found" in perpetual or long impri- severe of human penalties are beyond sonment, and hard labour, and hard expression light. Yet we send the fare, by which the criminal would ra- criminal, at no distant period after ther be put to make amends, than, conviction, and sometimes within forstrictly speaking, to atone for his of- ty-eight hours, to this unseen world. fence ? Public 'justice, methinks, Ministers of religion, undoubtedly, would by these means be fully satis- attend him, and prescribe repentance, fied, and policy no less consulted. . and administer religious rites, and disAs to the other crime that has been course of salvation through the Rementioned, the duty and importance deemer of sinners. But can we hope of protecting fernale chastity, from that repentance often takes place brutal violation admit of no dispute. within the utmost period now allowed Our laws in relation to female chas- between sentence and execution, and tity, in general, may, indeed, be con- especially within the forty-eight hours sidered as rather curious, punishing afforded, where the crime has been of rape with death, and making adultery the deepest dye? Let us not be dethe subject of a civil action! But, ceived, nor blindly commit irreparable apart from such considerations, we and awful injury where we profess may justly, very justly, doubt whether only to award justice. rape ought to be puuished with death ; The punishinent of death has been although, like forgery, requiring to be particularly adverted to as being the restrained with a strong hand, on ac- highest penalty known to our laws, count of the violence of that passion and as involving the most important which might lead to the crime, and its consequences. But our argument lies injurious effects when perpetrated. against all undue severity, as cruel, The difficulty of procuring sufficient impolitic and unjust. Montesquien evidence, and the danger of unjust observes, that “in all, or almost all conviction, in this case, form alone no the governments of Europe, penalties slight argument against making the have increased or diminished in prooffence capital. Surely, no person portion as those governments favoured ought ever to suffer death on the tes- or discouraged liberty.” If he could timony of one witness. Indeed, there view the case as it now exists in this are two considerations, which of them- country, he would probably remark, selves ought to make the punishment that the liberty largely diffused through of death exceedingly rare in penal our political system had combated the statutes. One is, that even under the obliquity of our criminal law, and most pure adıninistration of justice, amidst inuch disorder and mischief some persons will occasionally be con- had mitigated its severity, and nearly victed of crimes of which they are in- paralized its force. It has been most nocent, through perjury in witnesses, truly said, that the efficiency of punishinisconstruction of circumstantial evi- ments greatly depends upon their cer
tainty. The prerogative of mercy is, should not be unduly severe, but suitindeed, one of the brightest jewels in ed and proportioned to the offence, as the crown of a prince; and as every far as could be effected by a judicious Crown is set with thorns as well as classification of crimes, and a wise , jewels, we ought not wantonly to de- system of penalties. spoil the sovereign of any of the lat- We have mentioned 4thly, that anoter. But to make this prerogative ther end of criminal law should be most valuable, it should be brought to make reparation, wherever it is into exercise only on extraordinary oc- practicable, to the party injured. This casions. That its use should be con- principle, we know, would be opposed fined to a narrow field, seems essen- by many whose judgment deserves tial to the public good, which includes regard. They would contend, that the advantage of the head as well as although crime includes a private inof the members. The lenity of the jury, yet in the greater crimes " the state in its criminal laws should ren- private wrong is swallowed up in the der needless the frequent exercise of public.” In murder and a few other mercy by the executive power. To crimes, compensation is admitted to mitigate the severity of punishment, be impossible. But can any sufficient and to shorten its duration, upon evi- reason be assigned for rejecting the dence of contrition and reform in the general principle of satisfaction to the convict, or upon the discovery of well- party injured in cases of robbery, attested and important circumstances fraud and other attacks upon proaffecting the justice of the conviction, perty? The Legislator of the Jews seems to be the proper sphere of this ordained that the thief should restore prerogative ; and it is doubtful whe- double, or four or five-fold in certain ther, if the criminal code of a country, circumstances, to the party robbed : were in all respects just and lenient, and shall we say that this precedent it ought ever to extend to commuting deserves no attention, because in its punishments, or to pardon without full extent it is among us impracticagood cause assigned. The letter and ble? Under the laws of hue and cry, spirit of the law should correspond, and in case of riots, the party whose and both should agree with reason property has been stolen or destroyed, and religion; and then it would be may recover the amount of his loss for the public welfare that the law from the district where the offence is pronounced should be invariably exe- committed. But no notice is taken cuted, saving only the right of the so- of the offender in this view. It may vereign to shew mercy in the cases be said that by adopting the principle above mentioned. And to insure a in question, a wide door would be just decision, it is equally important opened to imposition on the part of ihat the court should be clear of all prosecutors ; and that prosecutions obstructions to the prisoner and the inight even take place for the purpose prosecutor. The judge should, as of private gain. But, surely, such imnow, be the prisoner's counsel, if he positions might be prevented in all had no other, to point out where the cases of alleged loss of property, by evidence was defective, and to state making it a part of the duty of a jury fairly the force of any just plea in his to investigate the matter, and to cerfavour. And on the other hand, no tify the amount of the loss in their technical or clerical flaw in the indict- verdict. And when imposition is prement, or other defect in mere form, vented, the idea of prosecuting for the should be fatal to the proceedings, but sake of gain could never be enterthe error should be corrected on the tained. Indeed, the difficulty of supspot. The prosecutor should likewise, plying prisoners with employment, upon conviction, always be allowed from which a profit might be drawn, the full amount of his fair costs and would probably be urged as an insucharges, fees to counsel excepted.- perable objection to laws requiring Enough of discouragement would then reparation in kind. By mere difficulremain against frivolous and vindictive ties, however, not amounting to improsecutions. We should equally de- possibilities, no ardent friend of his sire that the innocent should not suf. species would be deterred from meafer ; that the guilty should not escape sures of great public importance and with impunity; and that punishment apparent advantage. The difficulty