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LETTERS.

To the Lord Chancellor.

MILORD, I hope I am not too late with the

I inclosed slight observations. If the execution already ordered cannot be postponed, might I venture to recommend that it should extend to one only? and then the plan suggested in the inclosed paper may, if your Lordship thinks well of it, take place, with such improvements as your better judgment may dictate. As to fewness of the executions, and the good effects of that policy, I cannot, for my own part, entertain the slightest doubt.

If you have no objection, and think it may not occupy more of his Majesty's time than such a thing is worth, I should not be sorry that the inclosed was put into the king's hands.

I have the honor to be, my Lord,
Your Lordship’s most obedient humble servant,

EDMUND BURKE. CHARLES STREET, July 10, 1780.

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To the Earl Bathurst, Lord President of the Council MY LORD,

I came to town but yesterday, and therefore did not learn more early the probable extent of the executions in consequence of the late disturbances. I

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I confess my

take the liberty of laying before you, with the sin.
cerest deference to your judgment, what appeared to
me very early as reasonable in this business. Further
thoughts have since occurred to me.
mind is under no small degree of solicitude and anx-
iety on the subject; I am fully persuaded that a
proper use of mercy would not only recommend the
wisdom and steadiness of government, but, if proper-
ly used, might be made a means of drawing out the
principal movers in this wicked business, who have
hitherto eluded your scrutiny. I beg pardon for this
intrusion, and have the honor to be, with great re-
gard and esteem,

My Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient humble servant,

EDMUND BURKE. CHARLES STREET, July 18, 1780.

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To Sir Grey Cooper, Bart.* DEAR SIR,

According to your desire, I send you a copy of the few reflections on the subject of the present executions which occurred to me in the earliest period of the late disturbances, and which all my experience and observation since have most strongly confirmed. The executions, taking those which have been made, which are now ordered, and which may be the natural consequence of the convictions in Surrey, will be undoubtedly too many to answer any good purpose. Great slaughter attended the suppression of the tumults, and this ought to be taken in discount from the execution of the law. For God's sake entreat of

* One of the Secretaries of the Treasury.

Lord North to take a view of the sum total of the deaths, before any are ordered for execution ; for by not doing something of this kind people are decoyed in detail into severities they never would have dreamed of, if they had the whole in their view at once. The scene in Surrey would have affected the hardest heart that ever was in an human breast. Justice and mer-cy have not such opposite interests as people are apt to imagine. I saw Lord Loughborough last night. He seemed strongly impressed with the sense of what necessity obliged him to go through, and I believe will enter into our ideas on the subject. On this matter you see that no time is to be lost. Before a final determination, the first thing I would recommend is, that, if the very next execution cannot be delayed, (by the way, I do not see why it may not,) it may be of but a single person, and that afterwards you should not exceed two or three; for it is enough for one riot, where the very act of Parliament on which you proceed is rather a little hard in its sanctions and its construction: not that I mean to complain of the latter as either new or strained, but it was rigid from the first.

I am, dear Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,

EDMUND BURKE. Tuesday, 18th July, 1780.

I really feel uneasy on this business, and should consider it as a sort of personal favor, if you do something to limit the extent and severity of the law on this point. Present my best compliments to Lord North, and if he thinks that I have had wishes to be serviceable to government on the late occasion, I shall on my part think myself abundantly rewarded, if a few lives less than first intended should be saved (taken ?]; I should sincerely set it down as a personal obligation, though the thing stands upon gen eral and strong reason of its own.*

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It appears by the following extract from a letter written by the Earl of Mansfield to Mr. Burke, dated the 17th July, 1780, that these Reflections had also been communicated to him :- « I have received the honor of your letter and very judicious thoughts. Having been so greatly injured myself, I have thought it more decent not to attend the reports, and consequently have not been present at any deliberation upon the subject."

SOME THOUGHTS

ON THE APPROACHING EXECUTIONS,

HUMBLY OFFERED TO CONSIDERATION.

A

S the number of persons convicted on account

of the late unhappy tumults will probably exceed what any one's idea of vengeance or example would deliver to capital punishment, it is to be wished that the whole business, as well with regard to the number and description of those who are to suffer death as with regard to those who shall be delivered over to lighter punishment or wholly pardoned, should be entirely a work of reason.

It has happened frequently, in cases of this nature, that the fate of the convicts has depended more upon the accidental circumstance of their being brought earlier or later to trial than to any steady principle of equity applied to their several cases. Without great care and sobriety, criminal justice generally begins with anger and ends in negligence. The first that are brought forward suffer the extremity of the law, with circumstances of mitigation of their case; and after a time, the most atrocious delinquents escape merely by the satiety of punishment.

In the business now before his Majesty, the following thoughts are humbly submitted.

If I understand the temper of the public at this moment, a very great part of the lower and some of

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