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OBSERVATIONS

ON

PENAL JURISPRUDENCE, &c.

ON THE MOTIVES AND END OF PUNISHMENT.

A very sincere and strenuous advocate for a modification in the severity of our penal laws, whose various publications on this subject have greatly contributed to its full and impartial discussion, has lately published a Tract,* in which he contends, that the sentiment of anger is not only allowable in criminal jurisprudence, but that attempts to extirpate it must be vain, and if successful would be injurious ;t in ad

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* Some Enquiries respecting the Punishment of Death for *Crimes without violence, by Basil Montagu, Esq. Lond. 1818.

+ “ That every check ought to be opposed to the horrid excesses of this turbulent passion; that we should be slow in believing the existence of enormity, and cautious not to be prejudiced by the sudden manifestation of guilt, is indispensable; but that attempts to extirpate anger must be vain, and if successful would be injurious, will be doubted only by those who have not reflected, or reflected but to little purpose, on their own natures." p.7.

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dition to which he has referred to several anthors, for the purpose of shewing that the very spirit of criminal law has been said to consist in indignation against crime.* Nor will this sentiment be denied, as long as we attend to the sound and legitimate distinction that separates the criminal from the offence, and considers the one as a fellow creature to be, if possible, preserved—the other as a disease, to be, by every exertion, eradicated; but if we confound them together, so as to render the offender an actual object of our anger, hatred, and revenge, it is surely impossible to admit of such a proposition. That this is, however, the tendency of such an opinion, is apparent from the authorities adduced in its support; from which we learn,

vengeance is the foundation of all punishment, divine and human;"+ that “ revenge, when provoked by injury or voluntary wrong, is a privilege that belongs to every person by the law of nature;" that “the criminal law in all nations is entirely founded on it ;"I that “ satisfaction imposing a punishment on the delinquent, naturally produces a pleasure in the vengeance it affords to the party injured ;” that this pleasure is an actual gain, like Samson's

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* Some Enquiries, &c. p. 8.

8. + Letters from England. Lord Kaimes.

honey extracted from the jaws of the lion;" that it is a pleasure to be sought after, like all other enjoyments;" that “it is useful, or rather necessary to the public;" that " it is this feeling of revenge that loosens the tongue of the witness, that animates the accuser, and engages him in the service of justice; that overcomes the public feeling of commiseration in the punishment of offenders ; that common moralists, always the dupes of words, cannot enter into these truths; that the forgiveness of injuries is a virtue necessary to humanity, but it is only a virtue when justice has performed her office, when she has granted or refused a satisfaction ; that to forgive injuries before this be completed, is to invite people to commit them, and not to be the friend, but the enemy of the human race."*

* « Tout espèce de satisfaction entraînant une peine pour le délinquant, produit naturellement un plaisir de vengeance pour la partie lésée. Ce plaisir est un gain-Il rappelle la parable de Samson—c'est le miel recueilli dans la gueule du lion. Produit sans frais, résultat net d'une opération nécessaire à d'autres titres, c'est une jouissance à cultiver comme toute autre; car le plaisir de la vengeance, considéré abstraitement, n'est, comme tout autre plaisir, qu’un bien en lui-même. Il est innocent tant qu'il se renferme dans les bornes de la loi ; il ne devient criminel qu'au moment où il les franchit. Utile à l'individu, ce mobile est même utile au public, ou pour mieux dire, nécessaire ; c'est cette satisfaction vindicative qui délie la langue des témoins; c'est elle qui anime l'accusateur, et l'engage

Can it then be necessary to demonstrate that benevolence, or that feeling which promotes the general good of all mankind, ought to be the motive of all our conduct? We may be mistaken in the direction of it; we may, by its injudicious employment, do an injury, when we intended to render a service; we may punish when we should pardon, and pardon when we should punish ; but the motive ought ever to be the same.

But anger disregards, and revenge disavows, the welfare of others. The only object of these passions is a blind and selfish gratification. The greater the misery they occasion, the greater is the pleasure they

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au service de la justice, malgré les embarras, les dépenses, les inimitiés auxquelles il s'expose. C'est elle qui surmonte la pitié publique dans la punition des coupables, &c.

« Je sais bien que les moralistes communs, toujours dupes des mots, ne sauroient entrer dans cette vérité. L'esprit de vengeance est odieux; toute satisfaction puisée dans cette source est vicieuse; le pardon des injures est la plus belle des vertus. Sans doute, ces caractères implacables, qu'aucune satisfaction n'adoucit, sont odieux, et doivent l'être. L'oubli des injures est une vertu nécessaire à l'humanité, mais c'est une vertu quand la justice a fait son cuvre, quand elle a fourni, ou refusé, une satisfaction. Avant cela, oublier les injures, c'est inviter à en commettre ; ce n'est pas être l'ami, mais l'ennemi de la société. Qu'est-ce que la méchanceté pourroit désirer de plus qu'un arrangement où les offences seroient toujours suivies de

pardon?”

Bentham, ap. Dumont, De la Satisfaction Vindicative.

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