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to his own judgment. He had found other House, Lord Hardwicke had examples which directed, guided, not opposed it; nor had any Lords and assured his steps. In the year of great authority opposed that bill, 1750, there had been a committee the object of which was to substitute appointed by the House on this mo- hard labour and imprisonment for mentous subject, in consequence of death. On the 27th of November an alarm excited by the increase of 1770, another committee of the crimes. The committee was in- same kind, among whom were Sir structed to examine and report as to W. Meredith and Mr Fox, was apthe defects, amendments, or repeal pointed in consequence of the inof capital laws. What would the crease of a certain class of crimes. Noble Lord say to this attack on the That committee had been occupied laws of our ancestors ? Was it made more than two years, with the same in bad times, by men of no note, and branch of inquiry which the Noble of bad principles ? It was sufficient Lord proposed to add to the excesdefence to state, that of the com- sive labours of a committee on an. mittee were, Mr Pelham, then Chan. other subject. In the second ses. cellor of the Exchequer, Mr Pitt, sion, a bill passed that House nem. afterwards Lord Chatham, Mr Gren. con., abolishing eight capital statutes. ville, afterwards Lord Grenville, Mr He did not mean to enter into the Charles Townsend, and Mr Lloyd, history of this bill, but it had been both afterwards Chancellors of the thrown out in the Lords. Neither Exchequer, and Mr Dudley Ryder- Lord Camden nor Lord Mansfield, names that should ever be distin. however, had opposed it. The guished by their country, as those of names of its opponents were forgot. the best men and wisest statesmen. ten. Upon those precedents he had Two sessions of Parliament had been formed and brought forward his mofound necessary for the inquiry in tion. It could not be pretended that age, and the present age was even that the Noble Lord's motion surely far inferior to it in leading could effect the purpose of the prestatesmen. Then, those great and sent motion, without invading the enlightened statesmen had resolved, usage of Parliament. He might that it was reasonable to exchange make his stand here, and call upon the punishment of death for other the Noble Lord to remove him from punishments, This resolution was this position. But he would proceed. more general than he should now Last night the Noble Lord, in propose propose. They had been the first ing a committee which was to inquire committee who denounced the poor into the state of the Criminal Law laws as the nursery of crime ; for at of England, had contented himself all times pauperism and criminality with stating the existence of the evil, had advanced in parallel lines, and but hinted nothing respecting a rewith equal steps. These men, too, medy. Nothing had been said of practical men as they were, had as- the course which the Noble Lord cribed the increase of crimes in a was to propose to the committee. great measure to the neglect of the Nothing had been said of the deeducation of the children of the fects of the Criminal Law. He had poor. A bill had been brought in always understood that two things upon those principles. He would were to be proposed to every comnot go through its history. It was mittee-to examine into the exisnot rejected in that House. In the tence of the evil, and to judge of the probability of a remedy. In. system, where the remission of pustead of approaching the sacred nishment was the rule, and the enfabric reared by our ancestors with forcing of it the exception. He lightness, as charged by the Noble wished to carry the reformation of Lord, he approached it with more the law no further than long expesolemnity and a greater reverence rience and the humane practice of than his Lordship. He would not modern times fully justified. In dare to touch it without a prospect some particular inflictions, on which of applying a remedy. He could the feelings of good men were not not, indeed, point out any certain in unison with the criminal law, he remedy. But a probable remedy, hoped to see some salutary alterawhich every man felt to be most de- tions introduced : all good men in a sirable, it had been his Lordship’s well-regulated community ought to bounden duty to have pointed out. be ready and willing enforcers of the He should not be told that he was criminal law; and such an alteration a wild and rash speculator, for be. would more than any thing else tend lieving a remedy practicable ; for in to restore that attachment to the that age which the Noble Lord call. laws which in the most tempestuous ed the golden age of crimes, Ser. times of our history had distinguishgeant Glyn, Recorder of London, ed the people of England among the both believed a remedy to be prac. nations of the world. Having conticable, and recommended it as cluded his general remarks, he necessary. His object was not to should now enter into a few illusintroduce

a new Criminal Code. trative details. He admitted that Neither was it his object to abolish the statement of the Noble Lord the punishment of death : that was last night was, in the main, just and a punishment to which society had candid; and he agreed that the a right, and which society required crimes in which so rapid an increase for its defence. It had been said, was observable, were not those of that he wished to deprive the the blackest die, and of the most Crown of one of its most envied ferocious character, and that the prerogatives: this was a mistake. ancient moral character of the naHe was most anxious to restore to tion was not stained or dishonoured : it what the practice of modern times the crimes detailed in the docuhad taken away from it. He should ments were to be viewed rather as say, that he aimed at realizing no the result of the distresses than of universal principle, but only at ap- the depravity of the community. He proaching general rules, which at all could not, however, concur in all times had been found most conve- that had fallen from the Noble Lord nient. He did not hope nor ex. on the subject of temporary causes. pect upon this subject to establish Their discordance was in some cases an uniformity, discoverable neither a little whimsical, for the Noble in works of art nor in the produc- Lord held those causes to be tempotions of nature. His object was to rary, which he (Sir James Mackinbring the letter of the law nearer to tosh) considered permanent, and its practice. He was not so idle as those permanent which he deemed to expect, that it would be possible temporary. For instance, in the to obtain a system where execution crime of forgery, which he only must inevitably follow the sentence; mentioned by way of illustration, he but he and the country had great (Sir James Mackintosh) had hoped, reason to complain of the existing that when cash payments were re

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stored, that offence would be dimi- varied, but had never fallen lower nished; but the Noble Lord dis. than the standard then fixed; and it couraged any such expectation, by was extremely remarkable, and a asserting that the withdrawing of most serious and alarming fact, that such a mass of paper from circula- in that very year, the great issues of tion would be attended with no such the Bank of England began. Soon beneficial consequence. The Noble after 1808, these issues reduced the Lord had also mentioned the growth value of the pound-note to 14s., and of manufactures : this must also be the labourer of course found his placed among the permanent causes, wages diminished, by no cause while our manufactures continued to which he could discover or compreflourish : therefore, unless some re- hend, at least in the proportion of medy, were found, our prosperity one-third : the operation of the paper would be undermined by immorality. system was to him like the workings The Noble Lord had fallen into an of some malignant fiend, which could error when speaking of the popula. only be traced in their effects. Was tion of London: Although it was it possible to suppose that such a positively larger now than in the diminution of income among all year 1700, it was relatively smaller: classes had not produced a great init was not so populous now, with re- crease of crime? The chief ground ference to the population of the on which he arrived at the concluwhole kingdom, as in the reign of sion, that the criminal law was not so William Ill. Some other causes of efficacious as it might be by tempecriminality deserved attention, and, rate and prudent measures, was, most of all, those which arose out of that the practice and the letter were mistakes in measures of policy and not only deviated from, but actually legislation : among these might be at variance with, each other. It noticed the erroneous spirit out of was a well-known fact, that about which the laws had grown which 200 capital felonies were to be found had introduced a sort of contra. in the law of England; but within band trade, and with it many of the last seventy years executions the seeds of vice had been sown. had been enforced on only twentyA smuggling traffic of another spe. five of them: so that upon 175 ca. cies, though with nearly the same pital felonies the punishment ordereffects, had been fostered by some ed by statute had not been inflicted. of the existing laws relating to the In England and Wales (as to which revenue. He did not assert that the the returns did not come down to so system could be changed at once; recent a date), convictions, setting but it was singular that we were now aside executions, had only proceedin the fourth year of peace, and not ed upon thirty : so that there were a single step had been taken to in- no less than 170 felonies upon quire into the necessity of conti- which no conviction ever had been nuing one of the existing prohibi. had. In the mean time, the discord. tory duties, which were the nurse. ance between the law and the pracries of crimes of the most atrocious tice had continued to increase, and and ferocious nature. One subject, had perhaps grown most rapidly in it would be unpardonable to omit. some of the most glorious periods of A slight attention to the returns our history. The greatest change would show, that the rapid increase produced by the revolution of 1688 of crimes commenced in the year was what night be termed the esta1808: after that date, they had blishment of a parliamentary go. vernment. Yet it had been attend. law might be brought to an accored with one important inconvenience dance with the practice, but the -the unhappy facility afforded to le- practice could never be compelled to gislation. An anecdote, confirmato- join in the severity of the law, the ry of this statement, was told by Mr law ought to be altered for a wiser Burke in the early part of his public and more humane system. At ancareer : he was about to leave the other time the same individual bad House, when he was detained by a well observed, that there was a congentleman who wished him to remain. federacy between judges, juries, Mr Burke pleaded urgent business, counsel, prosecutors, witnesses, and and the reply of the individual who the advisers of the Crown, to prevent held him was, that the subject on the execution of the criminal laws. which the House was engaged would Was it then fit that that system should very soon be dismissed, as it was only continue, which the whole body of upon the subject of a capital felony, the intelligent community united and without benefit of clergy! Mr Burke conspired to oppose as a disgrace to bad afterwards stated, that he had no our nature and nation ? He wished doubt that he could without difficul- to advert shortly to what had fallen ty have obtained the assent of the from the Noble Lord, on the point House to any bill he brought in for how far these crimes were occasioncapital punishment. This facility ed by a change from a state of war. had greatly contributed to impair and In the Seven Years' War, indeed, enervate the whole system of the cri- crimes augmented, and decreased afminal law. With this augmentation ter its termination; but they had been of needless severity, the humanity of more numerous in the seven years the Government and of the nation preceding the American war, and had also advanced : both naturally continued to advance, not only dur. revolted from the enforcement of ing those hostilities, but after peace laws which had been so inconsider- had been restored. It was, however, ately obtained, and which was par- quite correct to state, that there was tially the result of a system of per- no augmentation that much outran verse and malignant accidents. This the progress of population until amost singular and most injurious op- bout the last twenty years; and that position of the enactments of the Le- was capable of being accounted for gislature, and the enforcement of without any loss to the ancient and those enactments, had attracted the peculiar probity of the British chaattention of a distinguished individual, racter. The most rapid increase had who was no longer a member of the occurred within the last ten years, House, but who united in himself all and Lord Rosslyn was the first qualities to render himself one of its Lord Chancellor under whose admigreatest ornaments : that individual nistration the great diminution of (we presume Sir W. Grant) had gi- executions, as compared with the ven his great authority for the as- convictions, was to be remarked. sertion, that the law and the prac- Under Lord Thurlow, no material tice were diametrically opposite. On change in this respect was observa. one occasion particularly, when his ble ; but the gentle disposition and attention was called to the subject, the liberality of the early principles he had said, that it was impossible of Lord Rosslyn had induced him to that both the law and the practice recommend many to the mercy of the could be right: one of the conflict- Crown. Soon afterwards, thic exeing bodies must be wrong, and as the cutions compared with the convictions were reduced to one-third, sub. the amount of 150, of a most frivosequently to half, and finally, to one. lous and fantastic kind, which were eleventh. There was one statement never carried into execution, and it of the Noble Lord to which he (Sir was absurd to suppose could in the J. Mackintosh) wished here to advert. present day be executed; for when


. Dividing crimes into different kinds, executed in one or two instances in it would be found that to eight or former times, they had excited nine the diminution of executions the disgust and horror of all good did not apply; with regard to them There could be no doubt, even now the executions usually a. even the Noble Lord he apprebend. mounted to about half the number of ed would not dispute, that they convictions : in the lesser felonies ought to be expunged from the stathe ratio was 1 in 20, 1 in 30, and even tute book as a disgrace to our law. I in 60. He agreed, that the discre. Would any man now think of punishtion at present exercised ought to be ing with death the offence of cutting continued in the crimes of burglary a hop-vine, or destroying an ornaand highway robbery; but it was, on mental tree? The Black-act, as it the part of the Noble Lord, doing in- was called, created about twenty fe. justice to the general argument, to lonies, some of them of the most ab. throw together all degrees and sorts surd description. Bearing particuof felonies, and to deduce from the lar weapons, having the face blackwhole a general average : they ought ed, or being found disguised upon to be divided into classes, and the the high road, was a capital crime; last would be found to consist of a so that if a gentleman was going to a prodigious number of felonies, on masquerade, and was obliged to pass which there had been no executions along a highway, he was liable, when at all. For the sake of clearness he detected, to be hanged without bewould say, that he would separate nefit of clergy. In the same way, the numerous felonies into three destroying the head of a fish-pond classes : the first would consist of was a felony ; and many others, the murder and murderous offences- relics of barbarous times, and disthose that attacked life and limb, or graceful to the character of a thinkput the former to imminent hazard: ing and enlightened people. It ought the second would be composed of ar. to be recollected also, that for such son, highway robbery, piracy, and offences as these, punishments quite some other felonies of a similar de- adequate and sufficiently numerous gree of atrocity, upon which at pre- remained, which by the wisdom of sent the law was carried into execu. Parliament might be ordered to be tion in a great many cases. Upon inflicted. It could not be asserted those two divisions, he would admit that such capital inflictions were not for the present, that it would be un- needless in cases like those to which safe to propose any alteration : they he had referred, and in many others; ought still to be punished with death, and he trusted that he (Sir J. Macand he believed that a patient and kintosh) should never live to see the calm investigation would remove the day when any member would rise in objections of a number of well-mean- that House and maintain that a puing persons who were of a contrary nishment avowedly needless ought to opinion. But there was still a third be continued. The debateable ground class, some connected with frauds of was afforded by a sort of middle class various kinds, but others, nearly to of offences, consisting of larcenies

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