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Mint to be coined through the me. date from May 1. 1821 to May 1. dium of the Bank, which had in fact 1822, was in accordance with that regulated the price of that metal in honourable gentleman's suggestion, the market. In consequence of the He therefore moved that the House control which it was enabled to ex- do concur in it. ercise, it appeared that while the Mr Ellice did not object to the price of gold ought only to have been amendment. He still adhered to his L. 3, 158. per ounce, in 1816, by the original opinion upon this great sub. state of the exchanges it was kept ject, and for the reasons he had preup at L. 3:18: 6 by the purchases viously stated. His wish had been of the Bank at that rate. The Bank to enable the Bank imperceptibly to thus had it in its power to reduce withdraw from circulation their notes gold to a price below the Mint-price for one and two pounds, and the of L.3: 17: 104 per ounce; or to amendment of the Lords certainly raise it above the
latter rate, by con- recognised the correctness of the tracting or extending the circulation principle. The clause he had offerof its notes. If, by contracting its ed was also intended to provide issues, it reduced the price of gold against a difficulty that might arise to L. 3, 16s. or L. 3, 17s. per ounce, from an undue contraction of the pathe public would then have its reme- per circulating medium by the Bank, dy, by carrying gold to the Mint to and an unusual influx of specie into be coined. Thus the evil contem- the country below the price at which plated would remedy itself. The the Bank was to take up its notes. clause in question was supposed to Such a state of things would unbe necessary, as the Bank was thought doubtedly produce embarrassment, to have acted on the principle of ac- because gold in bars was not a legal cumulating too much treasure. tender : private individuals must take
The amendment was then agreed their bullion to the Mint; and when to, and the bill read a third time and it was 'coined, by an act of the prepassed.
sent session it must be sent to the On the 25th, Mr Peel called the Bank. Besides, the Bank was not attention of the House of Commons compelled to receive the ingots, to the amendment of the Lords to though the public was obliged to rethe bill for regulating the period at ceive them from the Bank. which cash payments shall be resum. After a few words from Mr Man. ed by the Bank of England. He re- ning, Mr Peel in explanation, and ferred to the resolution proposed dur- Mr J. P. Grant, the amendment was ing the late debate upon the measure ut and carried, and the bill, thus by Mr Ellice; and observed, that the amended, finally passed into a law. amendmentof the Lords, altering the
STATE OF THE CRIMINAL LAW.
General Observations.- Petition of the Common Council praying for a revi
sion of the Penal Code.—Sir J. Mackintosh moves for returns of Forgeries on the Bank of England.-Petition of the Society of Friends.-Mr Bennet's motion relative to the Transportation of Convicts, and the State of the Colony of New South Wales.-Lord Sidmouth's motion for a Committee to consider the returns relative to the existing state of Prisons and Crimes.-Motion of Lord Castlereagh on the State of Prisons. - Sir J. Mackintosh's motion for the appointment of a Select Committee to consider so much of the Criminal Law as ordains Capital Punishment, carried against Ministers.Report of the Committee ordered to be received.
BECCARIA's Treatise on Crimes served for Mr Bentham, however, and Punishments was the first work in his admirable work, entitled, which tended, in any degree, to open “ Théorie des Peines et des Recomthe eyes of the world to the errors penses,' to systematise the princiand absurdities contained in most of ples which Beccaria had laid down, the modern Codes of Criminal Juris- and to point out their striking apprudence, and to disseminate those plicability to the two great objects humane and just principles which contemplated by all Penal Codes, may be aptly enough described as the Prevention and the Punishment constituting the Philosophy of Pu- of Crimes. The lights thus struck nishment. The effects produced by out could not fail, in an enlightened
. this powerful performance, to which age, and in a Government like ours, Voltaire did not disdain to act as the popular part of which must al. commentator, were great and strik- ways, more or less, be the index of ing. Mankind, who had formerly the state of general sentiment and acquiesced in the soundness of the knowledge, to open the eyes of our existing laws and practice in refer- legislators to the errors and defects ence to crimes and punishments, which ignorance and negligence, merely because they had examined rather than a sanguinary spirit, had neither the principles of the one nor contributed to produce, or suffered the results of the other, were sud- to accumulate, in our Criminal Code. denly roused, by the development of This state of the public mind natruths as new as they were irre- turally led to inquiry and examinasistible; and from that period we tion, the results of which established, may date the commencement of a beyond the possibility of controversy, new era in the sentiments and opi. that as the severity of the law had nions of mankind on this important increased, crimes had multiplied in and interesting subject. It was re- an equal proportion, and that, to
use the language of an ingenious between crime and punishment, could
pious fraud, and counsel to lend their Before the period of which we are aid to find out ingenious pretences, now speaking (1819), the Statute by which a salvo might be provided Law of England contained no less for conscience, while a sanguinary than two hundred capital felonies, al- and disproportionate punishment was though, for the seventy years imme- evaded. This was exemplified bediately preceding, execution had fore the repeal of the capital part of been enforced on only twenty-five of the punishment for stealing private. that immense number. The effects ly in a shop to the amount of 5s. ; in of such an anomaly hardly required to a dwelling-house to the amount of be told. In the first place, we have 40s.; and from vessels in a navigable precisely the same punishment de- river to the amount of 40s. : in these nounced against two hundred offen- cases, it was the practice of the jury ces, each different, in the degree and to find the value of the goods stolen description of criminality which it below that for which the punishment implies, from all the rest; so different, of death was awarded, although, in indeed, that the punishment which several instances, the real value was the law had justly decreed for five times greater. But to put the treason, murder, and arson, was also thing in a stronger light, let us have denounced against being disguised recourse to figures. From 1805 to on a high road, open heath, common, 1817, a period of twelve years, 655 or down,-robbing warrens,--taking had been indicted for stealing prifish out of a river,-or breaking down vately in a shop, warehouse, &c. to the head or mound of a fish-pond. the amount of 5s. Of these 113 had In the second place, the chances of been capitally convicted, and not escape were so greatly increased, one executed'! Again, in the course that criminals, led unavoidably to of the nine years immediately prior calculate the hazards of punishment, to 1817, no less than 1228 indivi. were naturally prompted to engage dualshiad been tried for stealing within that most fatal species of gam- in a dwelling-house to the amount of bling which such a state of the law 40s. Of these 342 had been capitalcould not possibly fail to create. ly convicted, and only one, whose In the last place, the enactments of case was accompanied with aggra. the law, and the sentiments of the vated circumstances, executed ? Is community, which alone can give this a state of the law which any man these enactments a preventive force, could desire to be continued ? 'Once were completely at variance ; while more, Mr Basil Montague stated to the punishment of death, in cases the Committee, appointed on Sir where it was inflicted, necessarily James Mackintosh's motion, that lost a great portion of that salutary from the year 1732, when embezzleterror and indelible infamy which, ment of property by a bankrupt was but for this monstrous disproportion made a capital offence, nearly 10,000
bankruptics had taken place; while punishinent. Hence the number of in that long period there had only the persons indicted and tried by no been 10 prosecutions, and 3 execu. means affords a just view of that partions for the capital offence; " and ticular department of crime ; since, if yet fraudulent bankruptcies have be. we knew the number, we ought to come so common as almost to be add all those who had entirely essupposed to have lost the nature of caped by the humane disinclination crime.”
to prosecute, produced by the law, These facts speak for themselves; and to which we have already allubut if we concluded from thence that ded. we had a fair view of all the crimes : We think it is hardly possible to committed, and to which this almost imagine a system of Criminal Jurisuniversal impunity was extended, in prudence, that calls more loudly for the very face of the law, which, with reform than that which produces out qualification, denounces the pu- such appalling results; which not nishment of death on all, we should only ensures, in a vast majority of greatly err; for one of the best es. instances, impunity to the offender, tablished and most natural conse- but actually gives, as it were, a spequences of a law of excessive and cies of bounty on the commission of disproportionate severity is to create crime. It were surely better that we not merely a wish in the judge, coun. had no law at all than to have a law sel, and jury, to save the criminal, which is never, or almost never enwho has been actually prosecuted, forced, and which is not merely inobut likewise a strong disinclination perative as a check to crime, but leads in the public to prosecute. Many judges and jury, in order to avoid its persons in respectable lines of life, sanguinary enactments, to wink at a who had suffered from depredations species of jesuitism, highly prejudicial of the kind above alluded io, declar: both to judicial and moral purity. It is ed to the Committee, that they could absurd to say that the dread of a fate, never bring their minds to prosecute which is seldom or never awarded, where the delinquent would have should operate on the minds of crimibeen exposed to a capital conviction, nals as a preventive, and induce them and perhaps to suffer death ; where to discontinue their practices. The as, had the punishment been less se- probability of punishment is so small, vere, and more commensurate with that, taken in conjunction with that the offence, they would have readily natural confidence which every man prosecuted, as they had suffered se- has in his own good fortune, it is verely from such depredations. Here, impossible that it should produce then, the law creates, if we may so any other result than additional bold. express it, a double impunity. It ness in crime, accompanied with indisposes the sufferer to prosecute, contempt for the law; for, to be at in which case the delinquent wholly once formidable, efficient, and reescapes, emboldened to renew his spected, the law should be certain. practices, calculating on the same No proposition, therefore, can be humanity; and, even when he is in- truer than that of an honourable and dicted, it gives him all the benefit of learned member, who took a promi. that " amiable conspiracy" between nent share in the discussions which the Judge, the Jury, and the Counsel, are to follow; that, in its letter, no by which they try to save an unhap- Penal Code is more sanguinary than py wretch from an incommensurate that of England, -in administration, none is milder or more humane. To In the course of this chapter, the this mildness or humanity, we of reader will find, that the proposed recourse do not object : we would pre- form is at once moderate, practicable, serve both, but we would not do so and reasonable; that it proceeds upat the frightful expence of forcing on no theoretical views in opposition juries to commit perjury, judges to to facts and experience; that the exsanction it, and of ensuring the re. pediency of it has been admitted by gular and progressive increase of men most conversant with the ad. crime, which a little wisdom and ministration of Criminal Law; that vigour might so effectually repress. the necessity of the punishment of
It has been said, that our Cri- death, in all cases where the voice minal Law is the growth of a bar- of society demands it, and where it barous age, and therefore but ill is necessary for the effectual protecadapted to the improved, or at least tion of either life or property, is altered, condition of modern society readily and fully admitted; and that and manners ; and were the assertion the unprecedented increase of crimes true, it would no doubt furnish a in late years, and the manifest inreason for endeavouring to accomo sufficiency of the existing law to modate our Criminal Jurisprudence check or repress them, render it a to a state of things essentially dif- duty which the Legislature owed to ferent from that for which it had the public to take measures to rebeen originally designed. But strange medy the evil, and to restore the law as it may appear, it was incontest. to something of its ancient vigorous ably shown by Mr Buxton, that the and healthful efficacy. With these great mass of capital felonies by observations, which are necessarily which our statute-book is filled and of a general character, because we disgraced, is of comparatively mom would not anticipate any thing that dern origin. From the reign of Ed. was to follow, we proceed to lay beward III. to that of Henry VII. a fore our readers an outline of the deperiod of one hundred and fifty years, bates and discussions on this most only six offences were declared capi important subject. tal in addition to those already declar- During this session, the attention ed so by the statute law at the com- of Parliament was first called to the mencement of King Edward's reign: state of Criminal Law by a Petition under the Tudors only sixteen; un- from the Common Council of London, der the Stuarts, only thirty : and un- presented to the House of Commons, der the Princes of the House of on the 25th of January; and by anoBrunswick, up to the present time, ther, of the same tenor, and from the one hundred and fifty-six ! So that the same body, to the Lords, on the 27th, enormous increase of criminal sta- praying for a revision of the Penal tutes took place only in the course Code, upon the grounds of the useof the last century; and the proposed less multiplication of offences punishreform in the Penal Code, so far able with death,—the effects of such from running counter to the ancient a state of the laws on prosecutors, law, contemplates only the restora- judges and jurymen, and the late tion of our jurisprudence to some- unprecedented'increase of crimes, thing of that purity and simplicity notwithstanding the severity of puwhich it seems to have attained even nishment denounced by our existing in the days of our unlettered fore- Criminal Code. In presenting this fathers.
petition to the Upper House, Lords