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We are informed by Lord Bacon,(a) that one of the great obstacles to the advancement of truth is, “the
over-early and peremptory reduction of knowledge "into arts and methods : which, once done, sciences “commonly receive small or no augmentation. For " as young men, when they knit and shape perfectly, “ do seldom grow to a farther stature; so knowledge, “ while it is dispersed in aphorisms and observa6 tions, may grow and shoot up; yet once enclosed “and comprehended in methods, it may, perchance, “ be farther polished and illustrated and accommo“ dated for use and practice, but it encreaseth no - more in bulk and substance. And another error “ of the same sature is, an impatience of doubt and an “ unadvised haste to assertion, without due and mature “suspension of judgment: for the two ways of con"templarion are not unlike the two ways of action, “ commonly spoken of by the ancients; of which one
was a plain and smooth way in the beginning, but in “ the end impassable ; ihe other rough and trouble~ some in the entrance, but after a while fair and even; “so is it in contemplations; if a man will hegiu in
certainties, he shali end in doubts; but if he can be “ content to begin with doubts, and have patience a
while, he shall end in certainties."
Under the impression of these truths, no aitempt is made to investigate the different questions contained in this volume. It has been selected at the request of a society, whose object is the diffusion of knowledge
(a) Advancement of Learning.
respecting the punishment of death and the improvement of prison discipline, and is submitted to general perusal with the anxious hope of exciting enquiry, and of obtaining information upon
these important subjects(a).
Some estimate of the general utility of such subordinate labors may be formed by a consideration of the following extract from the preface to Lord Coke's fourth Institute.--" As in a high and large building, he that beholds the same after it is finished and furnished, seeth not the carriages, scaffolding and other invisible works of labour, industry and skill in architecture; so he that looketh in a book full of variety of important matter, especially concerning sacred laws, after it is printed and fairly bound and polished, cannot see therein the carriage of the materials, the searching, finding out, perusing and digesting of authorities in law and other invisible works, tam laboris quam ingenii.”
The particular utility of researches respecting crime and punishment may be explained in the words of the same great man. In the epilogue to his third Institute, he says: “ True it is, that we have found by woful experience, that it is not frequent and often punishment that doth prevent like offences, melior est enim Justitia vere præveniens, quam severe puniens, agreeing with the rule of the physician for the safety
(a) See page 315.
of the body, præstat cautela, quam medela : and it is a certain rule, that, videbis ea sæpe committi, quæ sæpe vindicantur ; those offences are often committed, that are often punished : for the frequency of the punishment makes it so familiar, as it is not feared. For example, what a lamentable case is it to see so many christian men and women strangled on that cursed tree of the gallows, insomuch, as if in a large field a man might see together all the christians that, but in one year, throughout England, come to, that untimely and ignominious death, if there were any spark of grace, or charity in him, it would make his heart to bleed for, pity and compassion.
“ But the consideration of this preventing justice were worthy of the wisdom of parliament, and in the mean time expert and wise men to make preparation for the same, as the text saith, ut benedicat eis Dominus. Blessed shall he be that layeth the first stone of the building, more blessed that proceeds in it, most of all that finisheth it, to the glory of God, and the honour of our King and nation."
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
“ Men have entered into a desire of learning and knowledge, sometimes upon a natural curiosity and inquisitive appetite : sometimes to entertain their minds with variety and delight : sometimes for ornament and reputation ; and sometimes to enable them to victory of wit and contradiction : and most times for lucre and profession : but seldom sincerely to give a true account of their gift of reason for the benefit and use of man :-as if there were sought in knowledge a couch, whereupon to rest a searching and restless spirit: or a terrace for a wandering and variable mind to walk up and down with a fair prospect : or a tower of state for a proud mind to raise itself upon : or a fort or commanding ground for strife and contention : or a shop for profit and sale : and not a rich store house for the glory of the Creator, and the relief of man's estate.”