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extension of these penaltiesat those several periodsofour history. | But if a time should ever arrive, and perhaps it is not very dif
tant, when all fears of a pretender shall have vanished, and the power and influence of the pope shall become feeble, ridiculous, and despicable, not only in England but inevery kingdom of Europe; it probably would not then be amiss to review and soften these rigorous edicts; at least till the civil principles of the roman catholics called again upon the legislature to renew them: for it ought not to be left in the breast of every merciless bigot, ta drag down the vengeance of these occasional laws upon inoffenlive, though mistaken, subjects; in opposition to the lenient inclinations of the civil magistrate, and to the destruction of every principle of toleration and religious liberty.
This hath partly been done by statute 18 Geo. III. c. 60. with regard to such papifts as duly take the oath therein prefcribed, of allegiance to his majesty, abjuration of the pretender, renunciation of the pope's civil power, and abhorrence of the doctrines of destroying and not keeping faith with heretics, and deposing or murdering princes excommunicated by authority of the fee of Rome: in respect of whom only, the statute of 11 & 12 W. JII. is repealed, so far as it disables them from purchasing or inheriting, or authorizes the apprehending or prosecuting the popish clergy, or subjects to perpetual imprisonment either them or any teachers of youth.
In order the better to secure the established church against perils from non-conformists of all denominations, infidels, turks, jews, heretics, papists, and sectaries, there are however two bulwarks erected; called the corporation and test acts: by the former of which no person can be legally elected to any office relating to the government of any city or corporation, unless, within a twelvemonth before, he has received the sacrament of the lord's supper according to the rites of the church of England ; and he is also enjoined to take the oaths of allegiance and fupremacy at the same time that he takes the Oath of office: or, in defanlt of either of these requisites, such election shall be void. The other, called the test actf, directs all officers civil and military to take the oaths and make the declaration against transubstanciation, in any of the king's Stat. 33 Car, II. t. 2066 56 Stat, 25 Case II, Ç. 2. cxplained by 9. Geo. II. C:26.
courts at Westminster, or at the quarter sessions, within fix calendar months after their admiffion; and also within the same time to receive the facrament of the lord's supper, according to the ufage of the church of England, in fome public church immediately after divine fervice and fermon, and to deliver into court a certificate thereof signed by the minister and church-warden, and also to prove the same by two credible witnesses; upon forfeiture of 500l, and disability to hold the said office. And of much the fame nature with thefe is the statute 7 Jac. I. c. 2. which permits no persons to be naturalized or restored in blood, but such as undergo a like test: which test having been removed in 1753, in favour of the Jews, was the next session of parliament restored again with some precipitation.
Thus much for offences, which strike at our national religion, or the doctrine and discipline of the church of England in particular. I proceed now to consider some gross impieties and general immoralities, which are taken notice of and punished by our municipal law; frequently in concurrence with the ecclesiastical, to which the censure of many of them does also of right appertain; though with a view somewhat different: the spiritual court punishing all sinful enormities for the sake of reforming the private sinner, pro falute animae ; while the temporal courts resent the public affront to religion and morality on which all government must depend for support, and correct more for the sake of example than private amendmento
IV. The fourth species of offences therefore, more immediately against God and religion, is that of blasphemy against the Almighty, by denying his being or providence; or by contumelious reproaches of our saviour Christ. Whither also may be referred all profane scoffing at the holy scripture, or exposing it to contempt and ridicule. These are offences punishable at common law by fine and imprisonment, or other infamous corporal punishment 8 : for christianity is part of the laws of England".
V. SOMEWHAT allied to this, though in an inferior deer gree, is the offence of profane and common swearing and % ! Hawk. P. C. 7.
hợ Venty 293 2 Strange. 834
- curfing, curling. By the last statute against which, 19 Geo. II. c. 21. which repeals all former ones, every labourer, failor, or foldier profanely cursing or swearing shall forfeit is, every other person under the degree of a gentleman 2s, and every gentleman or person of superior rank 5 s, to the poor of the parish; and, on a second conviction, double; and, for every subsequent offence, treble the sum first forfeited; with all. charges of conviction: and in default of payment shall be fent to the house of correction for ten days. Any justice of the peace may convict upon his own hearing, or the testimony of one witness: and any constable or peace officer, upon his own hearing, may secure any offender and carry him before a justice, and there convict him. If the justice omits his duty, he forfeits 5 l, and the constable 40 s. And the act is to be read in all parish churches, and public chapels, the sunday after every quarter day, on pain of 51 to be levied by warrant from any justice. Besides this punishment for taking God's zame in vain in common discourse, it is enacted by statute 3 Jac. I. c. 21. that if in any stage play, interlude, or shew, the name of the holy trinity, or any of the persons therein, be jeitingly or profanely used, the offender shall forfeit iol; one moiety to the king, and the other to the informer. : VI. A sixth species of offences against God and religion, of which our antient books are full, is a crime of which one knows not well what account to give. I mean the offence of | witchcraft, conjuration, inchantment, or forcery. To deny the possibility, nay, actual existence of witchcraft and sorcery, is at once flatly to contradict the revealed word of God, in various passages both of the old and new testament: and the thing itself is a truth to which every nation in the world hath in it's turn borne testimony, either by examples seemingly well attested, or by prohibitory laws; which at least suppose the posfibility of a commerce with evil spirits. The civil law punishes with death not only the sorcerers themselves, but also those who consult them '; imitating in the former the express law of God”, “ thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” And our own laws, both before and fince the conquest, have been equally penal; ranking this crime in the fame class with hei God. l. 9. c. 18.
refy, and condemning both to the flames'. The president Montesquieu m ranks them also both together, but with a very different view : laying it down as an important maxim, that we ought to be very circumspect in the prosecution of magic and heresy; because the most unexceptionable conduct, the purest morals and the constant practice of every duty in life, are not a sufficient security against the suspicion of crimes like these. And indeed the ridiculous stories that are generally told, and the many impostures and delusions that have been discovered in all ages, are enough to demolish all faith in such a dubious crime; if the contrary evidence were not also extremely strong. Wherefore it seems to be the most eligible way to conclude, with an ingenious writer of our own”, that in general there has been such a thing as witchcraft; though one cannot give credit to any particular modern instance of it.
Our forefathers were stronger believers, when they enacted by statute 33 Hen. VIII. c. 8. all witchcraft and forcery to be felony without benefit of clergy; and again by statute 1 Jac. I. C. 12. that all persons invoking any evil spirit, or consulting, covenanting with, entertaining, employing, feeding, or rewarding any evil spirit; or taking up dead bodies from their graves to be used in any witchcraft, sorcery, charm, or inchantment; or killing or otherwise hurting any person by such infernal arts; should be guilty of felony without benefit of clergy, and suffer death. And, if any person should attempt by forcery to discover hidden treasure, or to restore stolen goods, or to provoke unlawful love, or to hurt any man or beast, though the same were not effected, he or she should suffer imprisonment and pillory for the first offence, and death for the second. These acts continued in force till lately, to the terror of all ancient females in the kingdom: and many poor wretches were facrificed thereby to the prejudice of their neighbours, and their own illusions ; not a few having, by some means or other, confessed the fact at the gallows. But all executions for this dubious crime are now at an end; our legislature having at length followed the wife example of Louis XIV. in France, who thought proper by an edict to re13 Inft. 44.
Mr. Addison, Spect. No. 117. · 0 Sp. L. b. 12. 6. S.
frain Atrain the tribunals of justice from receiving informations of witchcraft'. And accordingly it is with us enacted by statute 9 Geo. II. c. 5. that no prosecution shall for the future be carried on againft any person for conjuration, witchcraft, sorcery, or inchantment. But the misdemesnor of persons pretending to use witchcraft, tell fortunes, or discover stolen goods by skill in the occult sciences, is still deservedly punished with a year's imprisonment, and standing four times in the pillory.
VII. A SEVENTH species of offenders in this class are all religious impostors: such as fally pretend an extraordinary commission from heaven; or terrify and abuse the people with false denunciations of judgments. These, as tending to subvert all religion, by bringing it into ridicule and contempt, are punishable by the temporal courts with fine, imprisonment, and infamous corporal punishment P. 1 VIII. SIMONY, or the corrupt presentation of any one to an ecclesiastical benefice for gift or reward, is also to be considered as an offence against religion ; as well by reason of the sacredness of the charge which is thus profanely bought and fold, as because it is always attended with perjury in the person presented. The statute 31 Eliz. c. 6. (which, so far as it relates to the forfeiture of the right of presentation, was considered in a former book") enacts, that if any patron, for money or any other corrupt consideration or promise, directly or indirectly given, shall present, admit, institute, induct, install, or collate any person to an ecclesiastical benefice or dignity, both the giver and taker shall forfeit two years value of the benefice or dignity; one moiety to the king, and the other to any one who will sue for the same. If persons also corruptly resign or exchange their benefices, both the giver and taker shall in like manner forfeit double the value of the | money or other corrupt consideration. And persons who shall corruptly ordain or licence any minister, or procure him to be ordained or licenced (which is the true idea of fimony) shall incur a like forfeiture of forty pounds; and the minister
o Voltaire Siecl. Louis xiv. ch. 29. the crimes punishable in France. Mod. Un. Hift. xxv. 215. Yet Vough P Hawk. P.C. 7. lans (de droit eriminel, 353. 459.) ftill 93 Inft. 156. seckons up forcery and witchcraft among = See Vol. II. p. 279.