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tions being copied from their statutes of 10 and 11 Will. HI. c. 10. - 5 Geo. II. c. 22. - 23 Geo. II. c. 29. – 4 Geo. 1. c. 11. and from other equitable laws made by their parliaments, or from instructions given by their princes, or from resolutions of both houses, entered into for the good government of their own colonies in Ireland and America.n
" And all persons in the said island are hereby cau. tioned, not to oppose in any wise the execution of this our edict, or any part thereof, such opposition being hightreason; of which all who are suspected shall be trans. ported in fetters from Britain to Prussia, there to be tried and executed according to the Prussian law.”
"Such is our pleasure, «Given at Potsdam, this twenty-fifth day of the month of August, one thousand seven hundred and seventy: three, and in the thirty-third year of our reign... «By the king, in his council....
RECHTMAESSIG, Sec.. Some take this edict to be merely one of the king's jeujo d'esprit: others suppose it serious, and that he means a quarrel with England: but all here think the assertion it concludes with, that these regulations are copied from acts of the English parliament respecting their colonies, a very injurious one; it being impossible to believe, that a peop stinguished for their love of berty; a nation so' wise, so liberal in its sentiments, so just' and equitable towards its neighbour, should, from mean and injudicious views of petty immediate profit, treat its own children in a manner so arbitrary and tyrannica!!
PARABLE AGAINST PERSECUTION,
1. And it came to pass after these things, that Abraham sat in the door of his tent, about the going down of the sun.
2. And behold a man bent with age, coming from the way of the wilderness leaning on a staff.
3. And Abraham arose, and met him, and said unto him, Turn in, I pray thee, and wash thy feet, and tarry all night: and thou shalt arise early in the morning, and go on thy way.
4. And the man said, Nay; for I will abide under this tree.
5. But Abrabam pressed him greatly: so he turned and they went into the tent: and Abraham baked unleaven bread, and they did eat.
6. And when Abraham saw that the man blessed not God, he said unto him, Wherefore dost thou not worship the most high God, creator of heaven and earth?
7. And the man answered and said, I do not worship thy God, neither do I call upon his name, for I have made to myself a god, which abideth always in my house, and provideth me with all things.
S. And Abraham's zeal was kindled against the man, and he arose, and fell upon him, and drove him forth with blows into the wilderness. 9. And God called unto Abraham, saying, Abraham, where is the stranger ?
10. And Abraham answered and said, Lord, he would not worship thee, neither would be call upon thy name, therefore have I driven him out from before my face, into the wilderness.
11. And God said. Have I borne, with him these hundred and ninety eight years, and nourished him, and clothed him, notwithstanding his rebellion against me, and couldst not thou, who art thyself a sinner, bear with him one night?
12. And Abraham said, Let not the anger of my Lord wax hot against his servant; lo, I have sinned, forgive me I pray thee.
13. And Abraham arose, and went forth into the wil derness and diligently sought for the man and found him, and returned with him to the tent, and when he had entreated him kindly, he sent him away on the morrow with gifts.
14. And God spake again unto Abraham saying, For this thy sin shall thy seed be afflicted four hundred years in a strange land.
15. But for thy repentance will I deliver them, and they shall come forth with power, and with gladness of heart, and with much substance.
TO BENJAMIN VAUGHAN, ESQ.
March, 14, 1785.
I send you a French one on the same subject, Observa. tions concernant l'Exécution de l' Article Il, de la Décla. ration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, but written, as you will see, in a very different spirit. The English anthor is for hanging all thieves. The French man is for proportioning punishments to offences,
If we really believe, as we profess to believe, that the law of Moses was the law of God, the dictate of divine wisdom, infinitely superior to human; on what principles do we ordain death as the punishment of an offence, which, according to that law, was only to be punished by a restitution of fourfold ? To put a man to death for an of fence which does not deserve death, is it not a murder? And, as the French writer says, Þoit on punir un delit contre la societé par un crime contre la nature ?
Superfluous property is the creature of society. Simple and mild laws were sufficient to guard the property that was merely necessary. The savage’s bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently secured, without law, by the fear of personal resentment and retaliation, When, by virtne of the first laws, part of the society ac. cumulated wealth and grew powerful, they, enacted others more severe, and would protect their property at he expence of humanity. This was abusing their power, and commencing a tyranny. If a savage, before he entired into society, had been told, - «Your neighbour, by this means, may become owner of a hundred deer; but f your brother, or your son, or yourself, having no deer of your own, and being hungry, should kill one, an inlimous death must be the consequence : » he would pro
ably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing any deer, to all the advantages of society that 1 ight be proposed to him. That it is better a hundred guilty persons should es
than that one innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally approved ? never, izat I know of, controverted. Even the sanguinary author of the Thoughts agrees to it, adding well, that the very thought of injured innocence, and much more that of suffering innocence, must awaken all our tenderest and most compassionate feelings, and at the same time raise our highest indignation against the instruments of it. * But,» he adds, " there is no danger of either, from a strict adherence to the laws. » - Really! Is it then impossible to make an unjust law? and if the law itself be unjust, may it not be the very « instrument, which ought
to raise the author's, and every body's highest indignation?» I see, in the last newspapers from London, that a woman is capitally convicted at the Old Bailey, for priva'ely stealing out of a shop some gauze, value fourteen shillings and three-pence: is there any proportion between the injury done by a theft, value fourteen shillings and three-pence, and the punishment of a human creature, jy death, on a gibbet? 'Might not that woman, by her
labour, have made the reparation ordained by God, in paying four.fold? Is not all punishment, inflicted beyond the merit of the offence, so much punishment of innocence ? In this light, how vast is the annual quantity, of not only injured but suffering innocence, in almost all the civilized states of Europe !
But it seems to have been thought, that this kind of innocence may be punished by way of preventing crimes. I have read, indeed, of a cruel Turk in Barbary, who, whenever he bought a new Christian slave, ordered him immediately to be hung up by the legs, and to receive a hundred blows of a cudgel on the soles of his feet, that the severe sense of the punishment, and fear of incurring it thereafter, might prevent the faults, that shonld merit it. Our author himself would hardly approve entirely of this Turk's conduct in the government of slaves; and yet he appears to recommend something like it for the government of English subjects, when he applauds the reply of judge Burnet to the convict horse-stealer? who being asked what he had to say why judgment of death ahoold pot pass against him, and answering that it was hard to hang a man for only stealing a horse, was told by the Judge, «Man, thou art not to be hanged only for stealing a horse, but that horses may not be stolen. The man's answer, if candidly examined, will I imagine, appear rea. sonable, as being founded on the eternal principle of justice and equity, that punishments should be proportion. ed to offences; and the judge's reply brutal and unreasonable, though the writer « wishes all judges to carry it with them whenever they go the circuit, and to bear it in their minds, as containing a wise reason for all the penal statutes, which they are called upon to put in execution. It at once illustrates,» says he, « the true grounds and reasons of all capital punishments whatsoe. ver, namely, that every man's property, as well as his life, may be held sacred and inviolate.'» Is there then no difference in value between property and life? If I think it right, that the crime of murder should be punished with death, not only as an equal punishment of the crime, but to prevent other murders, does it follow, that I must approve of inflicting the sanie punishment for a little invasion of my property by theft?" If I am not myself so barbarous, so bloody-minded, and revengeful, as to kill a fellow-creature for stealing from me fourteen shillings and three-pence, how can I approve of a law that does it? Montesquieu, who was himself a judge, endeavours to impress other màxims. He must have known what humane judges feel on such occasions, and what the effects of those feelings: and, so far from thinking that severe and excessive punishments prevent crimes, he asserts, as quoted by our French writer, that
« L'atrocité des loix en empeche l'execution.
Lorsque la peine est sans mesure, on est souvent obligé de lui preferer l'impunité.
• La cause de tous les relachemens vient de l'impunité des crimes, et non de la moderation des peines. »
It is said by those who know Europe generally, that there are more thefts committed and punished annually in England, than in all the other nations put together. If this be so, there must be a cause or causes for such depravity in our common people, May not one be the deficiency of Justice and Morality in our national government, manifested in our oppressive conduct to subjects, and unjust wars on our neighbours? View the longpersisted in, unjust, monopolizing treatment of Ireland, at length acknowledged ! View the plundering government exercised by our merchants in the Indies; the confiscating war made upon the American colonies: and, to say nothing of those upon France and Spain, view the late war upon Holland, which was seen by impartial Europe in no other light than that of a war of rapine and pillage; the hopes of an immense and easy prey being its only apparent, and probably its true and real motive and encouragement. Justice is as strictly due between neighbour nations, as between neighbour citizens. A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang, as when single; and a nation, that makes an un
is only a great gang. After employing your people in robbing the Dutch, strange is it, that, being put out of that employ, by peace, they still continue robbing, and rob one another ? Piraterie, as the French call it, or privateering, is the universal 'bent of the English nation, at home and abroad, wherever settled. No less than sevon hundred privateers were, it is said, commissioned in the last war! These were fitted out by mer. chants, to prey upon other merchants, who had never done them any injury. Is there probably any one of those privateering merchants of London, who were so ready to rob the merchants of Amsterdam, that would not as readily plunder another London merchant of the next street, if he could do it with the same impunity! The avidity, the alieni appetens, is the same; it is the fear alone of the gallows that makes the difference. How then can a nation, which among the honestest of its people, has so many thieves by inclination, and whose government encouraged and commissioned no less than seven hundred gangs of robbers, how can such a nation have the face to condemn the crime in individuals, and hang up twenty of them in a morning! It naturally puts one in mind of a Newgate anecdote. One of the prisoners complained, that in the night somebody had taken his buckles out of his shoes.
« What, the devil!» says another,, «have we then thieves amongst us? It must not be suffered. Let us search out the rogue, and pump him to death. »
There is, however, 'one late instance of an English merchant, who will not profit by such ill-gotten gain. He was, it seems, part-owner of a ship, which the other owners thought fit to employ as a letter of marque, and