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Might not that woman, by her labour, have made the reparation ordained by God, in paying fourfold? Is not all punishment inflicted beyond the merit of the offence, fo much punishment of innocence? In this light, how vaft is the annual quantity, of not only injured but fuffering innocence, in almost all the civilized ftates 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 Chriftian flave, ordered him immediately to be hung up by the legs, and to receive a hundred blows of a cudgel on the foles of his feet, that the fevere fenfe of the punishment, and fear of incurring it thereafter, might prevent the faults that fhould merit it. Our author himself would hardly approve entirely of this Turk's conduct in the government of flaves; and yet he appears to recommend fomething like it for the government of English fubjects, when he applauds the reply of Judge Burnet to the convict horfe-ftealer; who being asked what he had to fay why judgment of death fhould not pafs against him, and anfwering, that it was hard to hang a man for only ftealing a horse, was told by the judge, "Man, thou art "not to be hanged only for ftealing a horse, but "that horfes may not be ftolen." The man's answer, if candidly examined, will, I imagine, appear reasonable, as being founded on the eternal principle of justice and equity, that punishments hould be proportioned 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 wife reason for all "the penal ftatutes which they are called upon to put in execution. It at once illuftrates," fays


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he," the true grounds and reafons of all capital
punifhments whatfoever, namely, that every
"man's property, as well as his life, may be held
"facred and inviolate." Is there then no differ-
ence in value between property and life? If I
think it right that the crime of murder fhould be
punished with death, not only as an equal punish-
ment of the crime, but to prevent other murders,
does it follow that I must approve of inflicting
the fame punishment for a little invafion on my
property by theft? If I am not myself so barba-
rous, fo bloody-minded, and revengeful, as to
kill a fellow-creature for ftealing from me fourteen
fhillings and three-pence, how can I approve of a
law that does it? Montefquieu, who was himfelf
a judge, endeavours to imprefs other maxims.
He muft have known what humane judges feel on
fuch occafions, and what the effects of those
feelings; and, fo far from thinking that fevere
and exceffive punishments prevent crimes, he
afferts, as quoted by our French writer, that
"L'atrocité des loix en empêche l'exécution.
"Lorfque la peine eft fans mefure, on est souvent
obligé de lui préférer l'impunité.

"La caufe de tous les relâchemens vient de l'impu"nité des crimes, et non de la modération des peines."

It is faid by thofe 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 fo, there muft be a caufe or caufes for fuch depravity in our common people. May not one be the deficiency of juftice and morality in our national government, manifefted in our oppreffive conduct to fubjects, and unjust wars on our neighbours? View the long-perfifted in, unjuft, monopolizing treatment of Ireland, at length acknowledged! View the plundering

plundering government exercised by our merchants in the Indies; the confifcating war made upon the American colonies; and, to fay nothing of thofe upon France and Spain, view the late war upon Holland, which was feen by impartial Europe in no other light than that of a war of rapine and pillage; the hopes of an immenfe and eafy prey being its only apparent, and probably its true and real motive and encouragement. Juftice is as ftrictly due between neighbour nations as between neighbour citizens. A highway-man is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang, as when fingle; and a nation that makes an unjuft war is only a great gang. After employing your people in robbing the Dutch, is it ftrange 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 univerfal bent of the English nation, at home and abroad, wherever fettled. No less than seven hundred privateers were, it is faid, commiffioned in the laft war! These were fitted out by merchants, 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 fo ready to rob the merchants of Amfterdam, that would not as readily plunder another London merchant of the next ftreet, if he could do it with the fame impunity! The avidity, the alieni appetens is the fame; 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 fo many thieves by inclination, and whofe government encouraged and commiffioned no lefs than feven hundred gangs of robbers; how can fuch a nation have the face to condemn the crime in individuals, and hang up twenty of them in a morning! It natu


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rally puts one in mind of a Newgate anecdote. One of the prisoners complained, that in the night fomebody had taken his buckles out of his fhoes. "What the devil!" fays another, "have 66 we then thieves amongst us? It must not be "fuffered. Let us fearch out the rogue, and pump him to death."

There is, however, one late inftance of an English merchant who will not profit by fuch illgotten gain. He was, it feems, part-owner of a fhip, which the other owners thought fit to employ as a letter of marque, and which took a number of French prizes. The booty being fhared, he has now an agent here enquiring, by an advertisement in the Gazette, for those who fuffered the lofs, in order to make them, as far as in him lies, reftitution. This confcientious man is a quaker. The Scotch prefbyterians were formerly as tender; for there is ftill extant an ordinance of the town-council of Edinburgh, made foon after the Reformation, " forbidding the "purchase of prize goods, under pain of losing "the freedom of the burgh for ever, with other "punishment at the will of the magiftrate; the practice of making prizes being contrary to good confcience, and the rule of treating Chrif"tian brethren as we would wish to be treated; ❝and fuch goods are not to be fold by any godly men "within this burgh." The race of thefe godly men in Scotland is, probably extinct, or their principles are abandoned fince, as far as that nation had a hand in promoting the war against the colonies, prizes and confifcations are believed to have been a confiderable motive.


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It has been for fome time a generally-received opinion, that a military man is not to enquire whether a war be just or unjuft; he is to execute his orders. All princes who are difpofed to be


come tyrants, muft probably approve of this opinion, and be willing to establish it; but is it not a dangerous one? fince, on that principle, if the tyrant commands his army to attack and destroy, not only an unoffending neighbour nation, but even his own fubjects, the army is bound to obey. A negro flave, in our colonies, being commanded by his mafter to rob or murder a neighbour, or do any other immoral act, may refufe; and the magiftrate will protect him in his refufal. The flavery then of a foldier is worse than that of a negro! A confcientious officer, if not restrained by the apprehenfion of its being imputed to another caufe, may indeed refign, rather than be employed in an unjuft war; but the private men are flaves for life; and they are perhaps incapable of judging for themselves. We can only lament their fate, and ftill more that of a failor, who is often dragged by force from his honeft occupation, and compelled to imbrue his hands in perhaps innocent blood. But methinks it well behoves merchants (men more enlightened by their education, and perfectly free from any fuch force or obligation) to confider well of the juftice of a war, before they voluntarily engage a gang of ruffians to attack their fellow-merchants of a neighbouring nation, to plunder them of their property, and perhaps ruin them and their families, if they yield it; or to wound, maim, and murder them, if they endeavour to defend it. Yet these things are done by Christian merchants, whether a war be juft or unjuft; and it can hardly be just on both sides. They are done by English and American merchants, who, nevertheless, complain of private theft, and hang by dozens the thieves they have taught by their own example.


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