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sal of all kinds, I should not be sorry to hear that such a thing was in agitation, for, if any of the laws in being, fail of their execution, and consequently of their end and purpose, because they are thought too sanguinary, they had much better be altered into something less severe, than to let those offences, which are the objects of them, go without any punishment at all. (a)
However, this is a matter wholly for the consideration of the legislature; I shall therefore dismiss it, with my hearty good wishes, that if ever it be done, it may be productive of all that benefit to the public, which the warmest advocates for such a measure can expect or desire : at the same time ex. pressing my own doubts, whether any other human system could equal the present, for the suppression of public injury, supposing the law as it now stands were punctually executed, We then might say
The law hath not been dead, tho' it hath slept:
Soon after the publication of “ Thoughts on Execu. “ tiye Justice,” a tract appeared, entitled, “ Appendix to Thoughts on Erecutide Justice, occasioned by a Charge given to the Grand Jury for the County of Surrey, at the Lent Assizes, 1785, by the Hon. Sir Richard Perryn, Knt. one of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer.
The preceding little publication, owed its rise to the most sincere wishes for the public good. It was sent forth, with a desire of awakening, in the minds of THOSE WHOM IT PRIN« CIPALLY CONCERNED, a very serious attention to the distresses of their fellow-subjects, under their present increased, and still increasing, state of danger, from depredation and robbery.-- It was intended to lead to one sad cause of these, which arose from too great, and indiscriminate an indulgence ofthose amiable, but ill-timed exertions of lenity and compassion, which had so long been turned into incitements and occasions of evil, in the minds of wicked and profligate men; such, as having abandoned themselves to all manner of wickedness, had so far got the better of every motive and
encouragement to the common duties of humanity, as to make • themselves the public terror of all honest and virtuous people. (a)
It was intended to recommend such an exertion of punitive justice, as to enforce that by example, which could not be effected by precept—to call in aid the laws of this country, for the security of the innocent and injured public; to lesson the number of crimes, by deterring men from the commission of them; and, by a certainty of punishment, to takeaway those inducements and allurements to evil, which so frequently are derived from a too well founded hope of impunity. (6)
It was to shew, that, whatever can induce men to the commission of crimes, must, in the end, bring them to destruction ; that, therefore, rendering the punishments of the law uncertain, must, by inducing men to commit crimes, in the end bring them to destruction; and that, for this reason, however the reprieving or pardoning convicts might, on the particular instant, bear the semblance of mercy, yet it was the highest cruelty to all who were encouraged to offend, and thus brought at last to feel, what they imagined they had little reason to fear.
That not only those, who had received mercy, were induced to go on in their evil courses, but that many were drawn in to venture upon the like, by the hope which they themselves conceived from the impunity of others. (c)
That reprieves and pardons bad brought more to the gallows, than they had ever saved from it--and that, on this account, as well as on that of the insulted and suffering public,
a steady, impartial, dispassionate execution of the laws, must be the only means, by which the public safety can be insured, or the persons and properties of individuals be protected.
In short, the whole, at least the principal arguments in the said publication, may be collected into the small compass
of the following syllogisms.(d)
1. That system of police is the least likely to prevent crimes, which holds forth an uncertainty of punishment.
But our present police holds forth an uncertainty of punishment.
Therefore, our present system of police is least likely to prevent crimes.
2. That system, &c. is the most merciful, which is the most likely to prevent the commission of capital offences.
But that system which holds forth a certainty of punishment, is the most likely to prevent the commission of capital offences.
Therefore, that system, &c. is the most merciful. (e)
The above contain the principles, and chief arguments of the book : these are illustrated by various anecdotes, by way of examples; and the conclusion to be gathered from the whole is, that the very police itself must sink into contempt -the whole kingdom be over-run with banditti, and the lives and properties of the sober, industrious, and virtuous part of the community be left in the hands of those, who are the declared and avowed enemies of every principle of law, justice, and even of common humanity.(f)
To step forth, therefore, in the cause of public safety, to apply, in the most earnest manner, to those SUPERIOR MAGISTRATES, to whose care is committed the administration of public justice, and on whose exertions of their great abilities as men, as well as of their high and salutary powers as magistratts, our ALL must depend, cannot, I should humbly hope, have so unfavorable a construction put upon it, as to ascribe it to any other motive, than to such as becomes, what the author has styled himself in his title page, A SINCERE FRIEND TO THE Public. (g)
It was some pleasure to the author, to find, that his little well-meant performance, had been in some measure attended to, by those to whose judginent it had been submitted *, and to whom it had been particularly addressed. It had the honor of being noticed, in the Charge, which was delivered to the Grand Jury, by a learned and worthy judge, Mr. Baron Peržyn, at the late assises for the county of Surry. (h)
The Learned Judge began his charge with a soleinnity and decency well becoming his own situation, as well as that of the gentlemen impannelled on the grand inquest, who now stood before him.
After some prefatory matter, his Lordship assigned “his first appearance on the home circuit as a reason for his wishing to detain thein some time longer, than he otherwise might have done, while he acquainted them with his sentiments on the causes of the increase of robberies, and other depredations on the public.”(i)
* The author thought it his duty to send a copy of the pamph. let to each of the twelve judges.
(g) Page 8. (h) Page 9 (i) Page 15.