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a disposition to relieve the public by the remission of taxation to a very considerable amount. He, however, as one member of it, did not consider himself entitled to any praise on that account, beyond what belonged to his predecessor in office. It had been his good fortune, when he came into office, to find the revenue in that situation which enabled government to effect the very considerable reductions they had made. But in dependently of these reductions, which already amounted to 2,300,000l., it was intended to make a further reduction on the duties upon Scotch and Irish spirits. Now, considering the large amount of revenue derived from this source, it was natural to expect that the reduction would at first, though not eventually, create some diminution, which it would be highly improper to increase, by giving up other duties to the amount proposed by the hon. member. The hon. member complained of the tax as odious and oppressive, and had ridiculed the idea of defending it on the ground that it had been imposed a century ago. He certainly did not defend it on the ground of its antiquity; but when he found that it had existed for a century; that it had not been increased within that time; that the amount of revenue derived from it had improved yearly; and that no complaints had been made against it, he did not see, particularly as the state of the revenue could not afford it, any good reason why it should be given up.-The hon. gentleman was mistaken, in supposing that the difference between the gross and the nett receipts of the tax was absorbed by the cost of its collection; for a great portion of this consisted of drawbacks on exportation, and returns of different kinds. But, even if the hon. member had been correct on this point, still he would repeat, that there were other taxes which, if the state of the revenue permitted, called much more imperatively for repeal, as being much more generally felt, and complained of. The hon. member might recollect the numerous petitions which had been presented to the House this session, complaining of the operation of the duties on coals, beer, tobacco, and other articles. All these were much more loudly complained of than the one he sought to repeal. Let him also recollect, that there was another tax of about the same amount-the remaining duty of 2s, a bushel on salt-which would

expire in January 1825. Now, assuming that the country might be in a situation to give up that tax at the time mentioned, then there would be a diminution of revenue, if the tax on candles were also repealed, to the amount of 700,000%. He thought it better to let the tax remain as it stood; and it would be for the consideration of parliament, at the expiration of the salt-tax, whether it might be better to give up that or the duty on candles. Another objection which he had to making so great a diminution of the revenue, was founded on the intention of government to get rid of one mode by which they had hitherto raised a part of it-he meant the lottery [Hear, hear.] He should propose the lottery resolutions this year for the last time [Cheers]. That intention of government could not, however, be carried into effect, if the hon. member's proposition for the repeal of the duty on candles was adopted. He fully concurred in the sentiment expressed by the hon. gentleman, respecting the necessity of making every practicable saving in the collection of the revenue, and in diminishing our other expenses in every way consistent with the efficient performance of the public service; but if by any reductions which could be made on these heads, the whole amount of the tax on candles could be saved, he thought he would do much better to apply the result to the remission of taxes which pressed much more heavily on the public. He thought it was no very strong argument in favour of the repeal, that it would induce persons to follow the example of a former duke of Beaufort, who made the manufacture of candles a part of his domestic economy. He for one had no such wish that such should be the case; and he believed that those who might try the experiment would not find their candles much cheaper for being made in their houses. For the reasons he had stated, he should negative the motion.

Mr. Curwen said, he was opposed to the duty on candles, because he thought it pressed with great severity upon the poorer classes. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had completely blinked the question. He had talked of the relief afforded to the country from taxation; but that relief was almost confined to the richer classes. The labouring poor felt little benefit from it; but relief to those classes was of importance; for unless the labourer was relieved from some of the

heavy burthens which pressed upon him, parent-and that, on some occasions, we it would be absolutely necessary to in- even proceeded to wreak our vengeance crease his wages. He was glad to hear upon the bodies of the inanimate dead? that it was the intention of government If the same person were told, that we to give up the lottery; but he did not were the same nation which had been the think they were entitled to any great first to give full publicity to every part credit on this point. If the tax on can- of our judicial system-that we were the dles could not be given up, he thought same nation which had established the that by increasing the duty on the im- trial by jury, which, blameable as it might portation of foreign tallow, and that on be in theory, was so invaluable in practice mould candles, the government might be that we were the same nation which able to give up that on dipped candles, had found out the greatest security which which pressed with peculiar hardship on had ever been devised for individual the poor. liberty, the writ of habeas corpus, as settled by the act of Charles II.-that we were the same nation which had discovered the full blessings of a representative government, and which had endeavoured to diffuse them throughout every part of our free empire-he would wonder at the strange anomalies of human nature, which could unite things that were in them

Mr. Monck supported the hon. mover, who, in his opinion, had made out as complete a case as had ever been submitted to the consideration of parliament. The motion was negatived without a division.

same foreigner were, in addition to this, told, that the abuses which struck so forcibly on his attention were abuses of the olden time, which were rather overlooked than tolerated, he might perhaps relent in his judgment, and confer upon us a milder denomination than that of barbarians; but if, on the contrary, he were told, that influence and authority, learning and ingenuity, had combined to resist all reformation of these abuses as dangerous innovations-if he were informed that individuals, who, from their rank and talents, enjoyed not an artificial but a real superiority, rose to vindicate the worst of these abuses, even the outrages on the dead, and to contend for them as bulwarks of the constitution and landmarks of legislation, he would revert to his first sentiments regarding us, though he might perhaps condemn the barbarism of the present, instead of the barbarism of the past generation. He would take the liberty of reading to the House a short description of the law of England, by a native of another country, in which its imperfections were ably and pointedly exposed to public view. The learned gentleman then read a passage, of which the following is the substance:

CRIMINAL LAWS.] Sir J. Mackintosh, after a few preliminary remarks re-selves so totally incompatible. If the garding the difficulty of attracting the attention of the House to so hacknied a subject as that upon which he was about to address it, said, that the first public discussion at which he had been present after his return from India, was a discussion in another place, upon a measure of his late lamented friend, sir Samuel Romilly, tending to ameliorate the existing state of our Criminal Laws. In the course of that discussion, he had heard it stated, in an excellent speech made in favour of the principle for which he was now prepared to contend, that if a foreigner were to form his estimate of the people of England from a consideration of their penal code, he would undoubtedly conclude that they were a nation of barbarians. This expression, though strong, was unquestionably true; for what other opinion could a humane foreigner form of us, when he found, that in our criminal law there were two hundred offences against which the punishment of death was denounced, upon twenty of which only, that punishment was ever inflicted -that we were savage in our threats, and yet were feeble in our execution of punishments-that we cherished a system, which in theory was odious, but which was impotent in practice, from its excessive severity-that, in cases of high treason, we involved innocent children in all the consequences of their father's guilt-that in cases of corruption of blood, we were even still more cruel, punishing the offspring, when we could not reach the

"The criminal code of England in many respects was admirable and well adapted for the object which it had in view. Its judges were pure and placed beyond the reach of suspicion : they acted by the intervention of a jury, and were open to the censure of an acute bar, and

to the control of a free press. The system, however, had its imperfections: it contained some relics of antiquated bar barism, and others of scarcely less barbarous modern misdirected legislation. There was no proportion observed by it in the punishments which it awarded to offences. Many small delinquencies were raised to the rank of capital crimes, and the same vengeance was denounced by the law against the offender who destroyed a tree, or cut down a twig, as was denounced against the wretch who committed a parricide. Laws of undue severity were also unduly executed; and the consequence was, that when a hundred individuals escaped, and one fell under the vengeance of the law, the fate of the individual who so fell was considered as an act of arbitrary rigour, instead of being considered as a sacrifice required by justice. He was regarded as a martyr, rather than as a victim to the offended majesty of the laws." Such was the opinion of an individual who, by his professional occupations and abilities, was entitled to some respect upon this subject, and who enjoyed such a reputation with those who knew his merits, that all praise at his (Sir J. M.'s) hands was totally unnecessary. The individual to whom he alluded was his eloquent friend Mr. Cranstoun, and the mention of his name rendered all further eulogy on his character quite superfluous. The learned gentleman then said, that to be perfectly in order with the House, he ought to have moved, before he commenced his observations on this subject, that the resolution of the House upon it, on the 4th of June, 1822, viz. That this House will, at an early period of the next Session of Parliament, take into their most serious consideration the means of increasing the efficacy of the Criminal Laws, by abating their undue rigour," should be entered as read. He would now suppose that it had been so read, and would proceed to remind the House of what they had already done upon this subject, In the year 1819, the House, upon his motion, appointed a committee to examine into the state of the criminal law of the country, on the express allegation, that considerable defects existed therein, and appointed it in express defiance of an allegation that was then made, that such an inquiry as he proposed was calculated to paralyze the operation of the laws, and to hold them up to public scorn and indignation. In the year 1820,

in consequence of the report of the committee appointed in the former session, some bills were brought into that House and passed, which little satisfied his views and wishes on the subject. Small and scanty as the reformation then effected was, it was the only reformation of the severity of the law that had been effected since the reign of Edward VI. For two hundred and fifty years, the House had proceeded, year after year, to heap one capital felony upon another; and in all that time, down to the year 1820, the first year of the reign of his present ma jesty, no repeal of any capital felony had ever been made, or attempted, with success. Amongst the felonies which, after the passing of those bills, were no longer to be considered capital, were comprised several crimes which were of a very heinous nature, and which could not be committed without grave forethought and deliberation on the part of the offender. Fraudulent bankruptcy, for instance, was a crime which excited as little compassion for the party who committed it as any that could be found in all the black catalogue of offences, and was one which could not be effected without due consideration on the part of the individual who meditated it. It was not, therefore, from any feelings of compassion towards the offender, that the capital punishment attached to this kind of felony had been repealed, but from a conviction, that the severity of the punishment gave impunity to the offence, and that the undue rigour of the law absolutely tended to defeat the object for which it was enacted-a principle which, as it had before been recognized by the House, he trusted it would not be reluctant to re-affirm on the present evening. In the year 1821, all that was effected was, to obtain the approbation of a majority of that House, to the principle of the necessity of altering the punishment inflicted upon certain cases of forgery. The bill, however, which was brought in upon that occasion, was subsequently thrown out by a stratagem, of which he would say nothing more than this

that it was perfectly inconsistent with the usual practice of parliamentary proceedings, where no political interest was at stake. In 1822, the House adopted a general resolution-that it would, at an early period of the ensuing session, take into its serious consideration the means of increasing the efficacy of the criminal code, by abating its undue rigour; and

should reply to them by saying, "I appeal to your own patriarchs and elders; I appeal to the leaders of your own sect; and I say that their decision is full in your teeth and in my favour. On two distinct occasions-first, on the bill respecting fraudulent bankruptcy, and now on this, their new law of marriage, they have solemnly pronounced their opinion, that the best method of increasing the efficacy of the law is by abating its undue rigour. Why, then, taunt me as an innovator, when, if I do innovate, I innovate under the sanction of your patriarchs and teachers?"

that resolution it was his duty, perhaps at an earlier period in the present session, to have called upon the House to carry into execution. Circumstances, however, which he would not trouble the House by detailing, had prevented him from bringing the question under their consideration until the present moment; and he should not even now proceed to the discussion of it, until he had called their attention to another case, which was almost as bad as fraudulent bankruptcy. He had, by some accident or another, seen that a bill was now under consideration in another place, for a new regulation of the law of marriage. He approved of that bill, because it repealed the act of the 26th of Geo. II., which was a disgrace to the English law, as it established the principle of voiding marriages, and thereby enabled any heartless profligate to spread misery through families, and to rob them of their just inheritances. In 1820, he had attempted, but in vain, to obtain the repeal of five capital felonies created by that act. He was happy to see that they were abolished for ever by the bill to which he had just been alluding. When he ventured to propose their abolition, he was censured and abused, as a rash innovator who was anxious to destroy the principal provisions of an act which guarded the sacred institution of marriage. Not only had his bill been strongly reprobated in parliament, it had also been attacked by much eloquent declamation out of it. But still, in spite of the opposition which it had encountered in parliament, and the mingled powers of argument and ridicule that had been brought to play upon it elsewhere, they now found that those from whom such an admission was least to be expected, admitted the principle on which it rested, and agreed with them, that the best mode of giving efficacy to the laws was, to diminish their undue rigour. They had therefore obtained this advantage, that their very opponents recognized the justice of the principle on which they acted -"Graid pandetur ab urbe." By the delay, of which he had unintentionally been the occasion, he had gained in his favour the authority of those who were the enemies of innovation in their own, and of reformation in his language. If, therefore, in the course of the debate, any hon. gentlemen should taunt him with being an innovator, and with entertaining desires to overthrow the constitution, he VOL. IX.

The hon. and learned gentleman next proceeded to observe, that, in 1822, he had been told, that the abstract proposition which he then brought forward was calculated to paralyze the laws, and to suspend their operation. Now, nothing of that kind had occurred. Indeed, year after year had such a prediction been made, and year after year had it been falsified. Whenever the question was brought forward, this self-same objection was made to it, and the interval that elapsed between the time of discussing it always showed that there was not the slightest weight in it. Standing, therefore, upon the decisions to which the House had so repeatedly come of late years, he would contend, that if ever there was a case in which it was bound to preserve its own consistency, it was that on which he was at present speaking. They had before admitted, that there was undue rigour in the present state of the law, and that the best mode of relief was by abating it. What was it that he now felt called upon to propose to them? He would answer the question as shortly as possible. Adhering to the principles he had formerly laid down, he felt himself called upon to submit to the House, first of all, a proposition which would embrace a recognition of the propriety of all the particular measures which the House had formerly thought it right to adopt; and secondly, a proposition which would carry it somewhat further, and in which he should embody such small additions of detail, as would lead those who blamed him to blame him for lukewarmness rather than for rashness-for an error in defi. ciency, rather than for an error in excess. Though the propriety of abating the undue rigour of the law had in its favour the authority of all the wisest men who had either written or spoken on the sub. 2 D

ject, there was something startling in the proposition to those who only thought slightly upon it, which would, perhaps, render his illustration of it not unacceptable. There could not be a greater error in criminal legislation, than to suppose that the mischief of an action was to be the sole regulator of the amount of punishment to be attached to it. For a punishment to be wise, nay even to be just, it must be exemplary. Now, what was requisite to make it exemplary? that it should be of such a nature as to excite fear in the breast of the public. But, if it excited any feeling that was capable of conquering fear-for instance, if it excited abhorrence-then it was not exemplary, but the reverse. The maximum of punishment depended on the sympathy of mankind; since every thing that went beyond it reflected discredit on the whole system of law, and tended to paralyze its proper operation. What was the cause of the inefficacy of religious persecution?-that it inflicted a punishment which was felt to be too severe for the offence which it was intended to check: that it had no support in the sympathies of the public; but on the contrary injured and outraged them all. That was the cause that "the blood of the martyr always proved the seed of the church." People felt that opinions, if correct, ought not to be met by force; and if incorrect, they would sink into oblivion if force were not employed to put them down"Opinionum commenta delet dies, natura judicia confirmat." He thought that the total inefficacy of persecution to check the growth of opinions-a persecution which always made the martyr be considered as a hero, and the law as a code of oppression and tyranny-served also to prove, that laws of undue severity could in no instance effectually serve the purposes for which they were enacted. To ensure them full efficacy, they ought to be in accordance, not only with the general feelings of mankind, but with the particular feelings of the age; for if they were not so supported, they were certain to meet with its contempt and indignation.

The hon. and learned gentleman then proceeded to show, that nothing was more false than the arguments usually urged in behalf of punishments: namely, that the crimes which rendered them necessary were the result of great deliberation. He thought that the con

trary was the fact, and that in general offenders were hurried away by the strong passions that were implanted in their nature, and that " grew with their growth, and strengthened with their strength." The law was then most efficacious when it served as a school for morals-when it attracted to it the feelings of all good men, and when it called silently, but powerfully, upon all such to assist in its administration. Now, he would ask, what was the lesson to be derived from a consideration of the criminal law of England? Why, that the man who cut down a twig, or injured a cherry-tree, or stole a sheep, or he would even say forged a note, was as black a criminal as he who murdered his father, or betrayed the interests of his country to a foreign enemy. He acknowledged that this conspiracy of the law of England against the principles of nature was not successful. The feelings of nature in the people of England prevailed over the immoral lessons taught by its penal law. That law would be detestable in its success, and was now contemptible in its failure. He had always thought that there was an under-statement of the argument, on the part of those who contended that an alteration in the law was necessary. They had stated, that a mitigation of it was principally required by the reluctance of prosecutors and witnesses to come forward to prosecute, under the present severe statutes. They had forgotten, however, to state the effect produced on the feelings of the spectators. They had forgotten to state, that they rose in arms, not merely against the charge, but against the verdict of the jury, and the sentence of the judge. They had forgotten to state, that the law was thus made an object of that abhorrence, which ought only to be attached to crime; and that, instead of resting for its support on the aid of good men, it rested on the fear of the gibbet alone. The hon. and learned gentleman then complained, that under the present system of law, proportionate punishments were not assigned to different offences; and contended, that heavy punishments inflicted on crimes of a smaller degree of delinquency; lessened the effect of it when inflicted on crimes of great atrocity. It was curious to reflect, that lord Hale spoke of England-with reference, of course, to the time in which he wrote-as the country of all others in

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