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utility. That this improvement must always precede that of the laws is apparent, and in no country has the expediency of it been so distinctly felt, or so judiciously acted upon, as in our own; where, without political or party diştinctions, we have seen the great body of the community looking to objects, in which not only their own highest interests, but the interests and rights of society at large were involved. They have thus influenced the legislature to free the oppressed African; they have united together to distribute over the whole earth the sacred scriptures; they have in almost every part of the kingdom formed social establishments for the alleviation of misery, the encouragement of industry, the promotion of liberal studies'; and they have reared up a system of education for youth, which has laid the foundation of the greatest progress in intellectual and moral improvement that the world has hitherto known; and these objects have been accomplished by the unanimity, the energy, and the virtue of the public at large, independently of any injunctions of positive law, which, however auxiliary, would be found to tally incompetent to produce such striking effects. The advantages derived to a state from this predilection for such pursuits and occupations, which have been encouraged by the highest ranks of society, can scarcely be too warmly
appreciated. It is the very life, and motion, and soul of a nation, the healthful blood that circulates through its veins; without which it would either become torpid and stagnant, dispirited and debased; or impatient of all reasonable rule, a cause of jealousy and dread to its neighbours, of debate and discord within itself.
Now it cannot fail to have excited the attention of every considerate observer, that a measure of such general extent and universal application as an attempt to effect a reformation in the lowest and most degraded part of the community, to diminish the frequency of crimes, and afford the perpetrators an opportunity of returning to the paths of rectitude, and thereby to exalt our moral character as a people; that such a measure cannot be expected to be accomplished merely by legislative regulations, which, when carried to an extreme of severity, outrage every feeling of hunanity, or if weakly relaxed, afford an inroad to every kind of licentiousness and guilt, but must be the result of the general union and exertion of the nation at large. That this undertaking is not less worthy the attention of the people, than any of those in which they have before so ardently engaged, it is impossible to deny. On the contrary, it would seem to be the first and principal task which we ought to undertake the very basis and foundation of all future improvement; without
which all our establishments,' and societies, and schools; our institutions, our missions, our contributions, and our labours, are only whited sepulchres, fair without, but inwardly filled with all manner of corruption. It is surely at length time to learn that the reformation of a people must depend on the efforts of the people themselves ; that the contest between criminality and obstinacy on the one hand, and the severe and vindictive feelings of the community on the other, should be tempered by the voice of humanity and prudence; that mankind should recollect that they have a common interest to support; and that this can only be done by destroying the lines of demarcation which have so long and so unhappily kept them asunder.
Nor will it be supposed by those who consider this subject, that the advantages to be derived from this communication will be wholly confined to the unhappy beings for whom these efforts are made. Is it possible to point out to those whose avocations and duties admit of an interval of leisure, any employment so truly beneficent, so strictly conformable to the Christian precepts, as that of reclaiming their fellow creatures, and restoring them to rectitude, peace, and virtue? And can this be effected on the crimiual, without producing some corresponding advantages on the habits, temper, and moral character of the instructor? who in the services rendered to another, may perhaps find the preservation of himself.
In adverting to the code of criminal law which has so long been established in Europe, and comparing it with the proposed system which has for its object the reformation of of fenders, we find them, in almost every point of view, the reverse of each other. The former owes its origin to those vindictive feelings, which are incident to a rude state of society'; the other is founded on Christian principles, and applies the precepts of our religion to the conduct of our lives.
The one proposes to prevent crimes by the example of severe punishments; the other conceives that the best example is that of a criminal brought by proper 'discipline to a due sense of his crime. By the operation of the former, great numbers of offenders perish in the strength and thoughtlessness of life ;* the other endeavours to preserve rather than to destroy; it considers a criminal as an unfortunate fellow-creature, led on to guilt through a great variety of causes, but capable by kindness, patience, and proper discipline, of
* It appears by Sir Theodore Janssen's tables, that “within twenty-three years, (ending in 1771), six hundred and seventy-eight young persons had been cut off in the prime of their lives, having been found under twenty-four years of age, one with another."
being reformed and restored to society. The former plan cherishes and inflames among mankind the feelings of anger and revenge, and employs the mind on the most hateful of all subjects, the devising modes of punishing or tormenting another ,* the other embraces all man
* kind as brethren, and finds in the idea of recalling a fellow-creature from guilt to rectitude, the highest gratification. Even when compared with the milder system of criminal law, so eloquently recommended by many enlightened writers, the advantage is greatly in favour of the penitentiary plan. The one supposes that it is possible to apportion punishments to
* Dr. Paley observes, that “if a mode of execution could be devised, which would augment the horror of the punishment, without offending or impairing the public sensibility, by cruel or unseemly objects of death, it might add something to the efficacy of the example, and by being reserved for a few atrocious crimes, might also enlarge the scale of punishment, an addition to which seems wanting; for, as the matter remains at present, you hang a malefactor for a simple robbery, and can do no more to the villain who has poisoned his father. Somewhat of the kind we have been describing was the proposal not long since suggested of casting murderers into a den of wild beasts, where they would perish in a manner dreadful to the imagination, yet concealed from the view !"-Had it not been for enlarging the scale of punishment, it might have occurred to Dr. Paley, that the contrast would have been as effectual if the murderer had simply been put to death, and the robber committed to a Penitentiary to be reformed.