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and account books. In this situ, pity his momentary lapse, if you ation the prosecutor begged very do not respeet his return to virtue, earnestly for his life. As he laid it would have been well for me under the prisoner, he watched that I had died. It is me that
his countenance and saw that he you will condemo ; I shall be the · was much agitated; he desisted, victim of the law, and he gave me
rose, mounted his horse and rode my life in vain. He was frequent. away. It was then about 7 o'clock ly interrupted during this affecting in the evening; but the young appeal, by the tears of the jury man was so much exhausted that and the general distress of the he did not reach home till late at court; the prisoner was found night. He immediately stated guilty, and was executed. The these circumstances; but the im. story is well known in the county probability of his having been of York. The name is suppressed robbed in open day-light on a road, from respect to his friends." and of his having lost various me. Montagu, on the Punishment of morandums which a robber would Death, i. 6, 7. scarcely have taken, excited some suspicion respecting the truth of Capital Punishments. this statement. As the jury were
London, leaving the box, the young man SIR Dec. 27, 1811. who had been robbed, begged to I am glad that you have invited be heard. He was so much agi- communications on the subject of tated that he could scarcely speak; Capital Punishments, and trust when he recovered himselt, be that your correspondents will not said, I stand here to plead for be backward in contributing, ac. your mercy, towards a man who cording to their means, to tho listened to my voice, when I beg. cause of justice and humanity. ged for mercy from him. If he Allow me to throw in, as my mite, could have been deaf to my cry, the following observation ; which I should now be in my grave, and I very lately heard from a Chris. he in the bosom of a respectable tian Teacher, in public. family, with the wife who believed “The severity of our penal code. him virtuous, and the children is attended with this evil : that the who loved him. It has been awful punishment of death being re. proved to you that his connections, sorted to for crimes of comparative.' his character, his religious persua- ly small moment, noheavierpunish sion would have all united to shcl. mentis left for crimes of the deepest ter him from suspicion; it has die, with every accompaniment of also been proved that I was lame atrocity. The several gradations of from my birth; that I am feeble; guilt are thus confounded in a that I had exasperated him by a dreadful equality of punishment ; blow which almost fractured his and he that treads the first step in skull, and that he knew I could iniquity, on finding that he is identify him, but the kindness of his subject to the same fate as if he nature preponderated; it overcame had proceeded to the last, rushes the fear of disgrace, and he suffered onwards in the career of violence me to depart that I might be the with headlong desperation. This cause of his death. If you do not whole metropolis is now agitated
with horror at some recent bar. only the judge and two witnesses. barities; every one wishes that the This punishment is allotted also perpetrators of these deeds of to other trifling offences, when the blood may be brought to condign poverty of the persons convicted punishment :-but it shocks one's makes it impossible for them to sense of justice to reflect that on pay a pecuniary fine. In cases the same day on which the authors where petty thefts have been a of such monstrous wickedness are second time coinmitted, the cri. obliged to pay the deserved forfeit minal is usually sent to Copenha. of their lives, there may be put to gen; in the workhouse of which death, under the sanction of the city he is confined for the term of law, some inexperienced youth three or five years, according to for writing down a false name, or the degree of his guilt. Thefts of some wretched female for coining a more serious nature, as the the least valuable piece of our breaking into churches or houses, money!”
or the stealing of horses, are punIf these sentences strike you on ished either by public whipping, reading, as they did me on hear. or by a sentence of perpetual con. ing, you will I doubt not give finement in the Copenhagen work. them to the public.
house.* Where such thefts have ADJUTOR. been committed for the fourth
time, or still more frequently, the
punishment is confinement for life Criminal Law of Iceland.
in the public prisons of Denmark. (From Travels in Iceland. By Sir G. S. The operation of these more severe
Mackenzie. 4to. pp. 318321.] laws is, however, very seldom re
The study of their own laws, quired; crimes of this description as well as of the principles of law being by no means frequent among in general, has ever been a favour, the natives of Iceland, ite pursuit among the Icelanders ; The only public prison in the ise and both in ancient and modern land is that of Reikiavik, wbich times, a great number of writings was erected about fifty years ago. connected with this subject, have By a mistake, not unnatural in appeared in the island. In con, such a country as Iceland, this sequence of this minute attention, building has been rendered greatly all the laws of the country, both more comfortable than the com. civil and criminal, are very dis. mon habitations of the natives; tinctly defined ; and even among so that, were it not for the privati. the inferior magistrates, are so well on of liberty, the Icelander might understood, that their execution well be content to exchange his is every where conducted with own abode for one where his actufidelity and exactness.
The punishments for theft, pre- In the workhouse at Copenhagen scribed in the criminal law, are there are different sections, allotted to varied by the degree of the offence. different classes of criminals. The men In cases where the theft is of litile condemned to confinement there, are importance, or the crime commit. 5
nie kept in a part of it called the Rasp-huus,
where they are employed in rasping dyea ted for the first time, the offender woods; an occupation considered very is whipped, in the presence of dangerous to the health,
al comforts are little inferior, and for life, shall be kept in confine. where he is exempted from many ment before the time of his trial. of the evils incident to his usuai When an individual is accused of mode of life. Sheep-stealing is any inferior crime, he is admo. the most commca offence, for nisbed by the Hreppstiore, in the which imprisonment here is ad. presence of witnesses, not to leave judged; the term of confinement the parish, in which he resides. extending from two to five years, If be infringes upon this obligation, and a certain portion of daily la. and j. afterwards apprehended, he bour being appointed for each pri. remains under strict confinement, . soner. The crime of adultery, until judgment upon his case has committed for the third time, is been pronounced. punished by a confinement of two years. At the time we visited Iceland, there were six people im. On a Passage in the “Edinburgh prisoned in this place; but this is
Review.” probably rather below the usual The Edinburgh Review, the number,
most powerful of all our periodical Capital punishment, though publications, has at length taken strictly provided for by the laws up the cause of the Protestant Dis. in cases of murder, &c. is scarcely senters. In an essay, in the num. ever required among a people, ber xxxvii, from p. 149 to 164] gentle in all their dispositions, and just published, an able writer gives possessing moral qualities of the a slight historical sketch of the most excellent description. Ex. penal laws to which Protestant amples of this kind have been so Dissenters are subjected, specifies very rare, that a few years ago, the present state of those laws, and when a peasant was condemned then examines their utility for the to die for the murder of his wife, preservation of the Established no one in the island could be in. Church. The account of the peduced to perform the office of ex. nal laws is far from being com. ecutioner, and it was necessary to plete; but it is sufficient to expose send the criminal over to Norway, the absurdity and iniquity of into. that the sentence of the law might lerance in general, and the ingra. be carried into effect. The method titude of refusing full religious li. prescribed for inflicting death, is berty to Protestant Dissenters in that of taking off the head with an particular. Many excellent remarks axe. In all cases where capital are interspersed, on the inexpedia punishment or perpetual imprison- ency of persecution ; whether by ment have (kas) been adjudged by the actual infliction of corporal the courts, the ratification of the pain, by imprisonment, by pecuKing of Denmark is required, be. niary penalties, or by the depri. fore the sentence can be acted vation of honours. There is one upon.
passage, however, so inconsistent By a law enacted a few years with the spirit of the writer, and ago, it is provided that no Iceland. so fatal to his argument, that we er, unless under an accusation cannot refrain from hazarding which might subject him to capital some animadversions upon it: in punishment, or to imprisonment making them, we wish not to les
sen the authority of the writer, thirstiness; but, for the most part, but to remove what appears to us by a regard to truth, according to a blemish in a piece of reasoning, their own conceptions of it; on otherwise very masterly.
the prevalence of which they The passage to which we refer have placed, in their imaginations, is as follows:
the welfare of the community. “We begin with a perfect ad. Allow governors to persecute only mission of the right of the legisla. in the mildest way, i. e. by excluture to exclude any description of sion from civil offices, at the call men from civil offices in conse, of expediency, and the perpeluati. quence of their religious opinions on of intolerance is secured : for -provided they are satisfied that a man must have more philosophy such an exclusion is essential to than is the usual lot of such as the general well-being of the com. sit in the seat of government, not munity. The government has to believe that the opinions which a right to do any thing that is for he himself rejects are pernicious to the good of the governed ; and it society, and vught, by all possible is possible that a particula: religi. means, to be discountenanced and ous sect may be so notorious for repressed. dangerous political opinions, that We object, secondly, to the un. their faith may be taken as a test, qualified doctrine of government or mark, of their doctrines upon having “a right to do any thing government. In the changes and that is for the good of the govern. chances of the world, Socinian ed;" it would, as appears to us, doctrines may be firmly united be nearer to the truth and more to republican habits, -as depen. congenial to the spirit of the En. dence on the See of Rome may glish constitution, to say that gobe combined with the love of des. vernors have a right to do any potism ; and then it does not seem thing which the people, by whom very unreasonable, that religious they are made, have constituted creeds, in themselves innocent and and appointed them to do: though not the subject of punishment, this latter proposition would still should become so, from their ac. require some abatement, in order cidental alliance with dangerous to its being strictly true; for there opinions upon subjects purely se. are powers which no sovereign aucular. Cases might be put, where thority can possess or confer, and it would be insanity in any govern, amongst them we reckon first ment not to distinguish its ene. all, that of hindering the in mies by any mark, religious, phy, mighty from receiving the worship sical or moral, that chanced to of his creatures. Government present itself. It is quite idle, has not a right to waste the strength then, to argue this question as a of the community upon the imquestion of general right.” p. 154. practicable attempt to change the
Now upon this we remark, first, religious opinions of a part of it that the broad admission with by force: in a word, no individual which the paragraph sets out, will and no mass of individuals has a justify any religious tyranny what. right to do what is morally wrong; ever. Persecutors have never per. which is undeniably doney in punhaps been actuated by mere blood. ishing a man for that to which he
is necessitated by his Creator, civil offices, (as is the case with namely, following in his faith the both Catholic and Protestant Dis. convictions of his understanding. senters,) and with what propriety --- The good of the community,” can the mere inclination of the and the like terms, express only legislature or of the government fallacious conditions: who is to be urged as proof of a right to opjudge of the common-weal? The press a people with whom they legislature, the governinent, the have no sympathies and whom they magistrate ; i. e. the very indivi. have already deprived of a voice dual, or body whose right is under in the councils of the state and discussion. Provided the indivi. of all part in the execution of the dual or body is satisfied thai the laws; we say mere inclination, proscription of a seci, obnoxious because, in fact, the doctrine we to such individual or body, is for are combating amounts to the general good, a right to persecute right of government to do with is thence at once acquired; which religious sects what they please. is a right to persecute in all cases, Thirdly, We complain of the without exception because, igno. use of unphilosophical, illiberal rant and intolerant men, such as language, when opinions are deno. have for the most part Aourished minalea dangerous. We know in the high places of the state, but of one case, in which they are have always been satisfied, or, at onded with danger; and that which is the saine thing to our is, 'when they are proscribed and argument, have always professed persecuted. A variety of opinions themselves satisfied, that the exclu. is no more prejudicial to a state sion of so!ne religious sect iron ihan a variety of faces; though if civil rights was essential to the an act of Parliament were to pass, public safely.--'There must, sure. forbidding the appearance in publy, be a flaw in the doctrine which lic of long faces or round faces, pronounces the will of government disaffection and perhaps 'a rebellito be the sole measure of right; on might be the consequence. especially in matters of religious Wbat, in the name of common preference and distinction, where sense, is the cummunity benefited the passions are usually up and in or injured, whether A. B. believes action. And there is the less 39 articles of faith, or 38; chance of the will of government whether Y. Z. thinks the Divine being in this case a just standard Essence is better described by sayof the public weal; because go. ing that it consists of three persons vernment is so constituted, in con. or of one only? A, B. may have sequence of religious distinctions, held each number of articles, at as, in fact, to represent, as far as different periods of his life, withrelates to religion, only a part of out being at all altered in his relathe community. There is plausi. tions to society : Y. Z. may have bility in the argument that the been formerly an advocate for will of the community, fairly ex- three persons, and may now repressed, is an authority for a nati. tain only one, in his creed, onal establishment of religion : without being a whit different as a but suppose any sect excluded fellow citizen and a subject. from the legislature, (as is the Would Howard have been a greater case with the Catholics,) or from philanthropist, if he had said his