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their respective offices for twenty-five shillings a month with their shares of mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seamen's treasury. If such a press-warrant were given me to executé, the first I would press should be a Recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to Mow how much iinpresling ought to be borne with ; for he would certainly find, that though to be reduced to twenty-five shillings a month might be a“ private mischief,” yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it" ought to be borne with patience,” for preventing a national cala. mity. Then I would press the rest of the Judges; and, opening the red book, I would press every civil officer of government from 50l, a year salary, up to 50,000l. which would throw an im. mense fum into our treasury : and these
gentlemen could not complain, since they would receive twenty-five Dillings a month, and their rations; and this without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress ***
ON THE CRIMINAL LAWS, AND THE
PRACTICE OF PRIVATEERING.
Letter to Benjamin Vaughan, Esq:
My dear Friend, March 14th, 1785. AMONG the pamphlets you lately fent me, was one, entitled, Thoughts on Executive Justice. In return for that, I send you a French one on the same subject, Observations concernant l'Exécution de l’Article II. de la Déclaration sur le Vol. They are both addressed to the judges, but written, as you will fee, in a very different spirit. The English author is for hanging all thieves. The Frenchman 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 wifdom, 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 offence which does not deserve death, is it not a murder? And, as the French writer says, Doit-on purir un délit 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 neceffary. The favage's bow, his hatchet, and his coat of skins, were sufficiently secured, without law, by the fear of personal resentment and retaliation. When, by virtue of the first laws, part of the society accumulated wealth and grew powerful, they enacted others more severe, and would protect their property at the expence of humanity. This was abusing their power, and com
mencing a tyranny. If a savage, before he entered into society, had been told “ Your neighbour, by this means, may “ become owner of an hundred deer; 66 but if your brother, or your son, or “ yourself, having no deer of your own, " and being hungry, should kill one, an as infamous death must be the confe
quence :” he would probably have preferred his liberty, and his common right of killing any deer, to all the advantages of society that might be proposed to him.
That it is better a hundred guilty persons (hould escape, than that one innocent person should suffer, is a maxim that has been long and generally ap. proved; never, that I know of, controverted. Even the sanguinary author of the Thoughts agrees to it, adding well, " that the very thought of injured inno
cence, and much more that of suffering * innocence, must awaken all our ten