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to shew the inefficacy of excessive punishments, when the question can be decided by a reference to facts. Will it be contended that by the long continuance of this system of terror, this incessant exhibition of examples, any diminution, either in the frequency or heinousness of offences, can be perceived? Or is it not acknowledged on all hands, that notwithstanding the severity of the laws and the vigilance of those who administer them, crimes still continue rapidly to increase, so as to force from every considerate observer the confession, that some measures of a very different nature are imperiously called for.-On a subject of such vital importance to the very existence of society, it is surely not to be supposed that we are left wholly without a remedy, or that because we cannot depend on the severity of punishments for the repression of crime, we are to abandon all other efforts as hopeless.
UNDOUBTEDLY the best preservative against the commission of crimes is a correct sense of moral duty, so strongly inforced by the precepts of Christianity. To suppose that all efforts to inculcate these precepts are fruitless, is to admit that their Author delivered them in vain. It is only when these feelings are deeply impressed on every individual of the community that society is safe. All other motives are influenced by time and circumstance. Their morality consists in locks and bolts. Weak restraints! of which, in a corrupt state of society, every day more clearly demonstrates the insufficiency.
All persons will agree that the inculcation of such sentiments on the minds of youth, would not only be the best, but the cheapest mode of preventing crimes. Yet, if we compare the efforts that have been made for this purpose, with the immense task that yet remains unaccomplished, we cannot flatter ourselves with
having made any extraordinary progress. We seem as yet to have had but an imperfect glance of the true principles upon which a virtuous education is founded ; and to have allowed a scanty and partial cultivation of the intellect to supersede the more important cultivation of the heart. The farther this kind of instruction is carried, the more doubtful is its expediency, if the affections and feelings have not had an equal share of attention, as it places a weapon in the hands of youth, without directing them in the use of it. To suppose that talents and virtue are inseparably united, is to close our eyes against daily experience; yet we neglect to avail ourselves of those tender years in which the deepest impressions are made, to form the character for the benefit of society, and to cultivate those seeds of social affection which nature has implanted in every human bosom. By a just retribution for our folly, it costs us more to punish crimes than it would to prevent them. Independent of all that the community suffers in plunder and depredation, in frequent bloodshed and continual annoyance, it is harassed a second time in bringing the offenders to justice; and it may safely be asserted, that the amount it expends for this purpose, more than doubles that of the spoliation sustained. Perhaps a day may yet arrive, when it may be thought worth while to consider whether the great and annually increasing amount expended in bringing criminals to justice, would not be better devoted to the inculcation on the minds and temper of youth, of such principles and dispositions, as might prevent the perpetration of those crimes which it is now employed to punish.
Another principle in human nature, capable of being employed to the greatest advantage, but which has been rudely crushed and trampled on by the coarse and heedless measures of some legislators, is a sense of honour and of shame; a principle which, if carefully improved, and generously confided in, would not only preserve society from degrading crimes, but raise it to a proper sense of its dignity, and which cannot be wholly extirpated without reducing mankind below the level of brutes. “ The people of Rome, says Montesquieu, “ had some share of probity. Such was the force of this, that the legislator had frequently no farther occasion than to point out the right road, to induce them to follow it. One would imagine that instead of precepts, it was sufficient to give them counsels. The punishments of the regal laws, and those of the twelve tables, were almost all abolished in the time of the republic, in consequence either of the Valerian or the Porcian Law. It was never observed that this step was prejudicial to the civil admi
nistration. This Valerian law, which inhibited the magistrates from using any violent methods against a citizen that had appealed to the people, inflicted no other punishment on the person that infringed it, than that of being reputed a dishonest man.”.
If we would wish to see an epitome of what might, by proper measures, probably be accomplished in society at large, let us enter into one of those schools of infant instruction, where a humane and judicious policy has substituted for corporal punishments a feeling of disgrace. Let us observe a child, who has been insensible to admonition, ordered to rise and take his place on the seat of degradation. As the eyes of his companions are turned upon him, see his cheeks tinged with blushes-see the tears start in his eyes, till at length with sobs and wailings, he confesses the agony of his soul! Stripes and severity may produce similar expressions of anguish, but it is anguish of the body, not of the mind ; yet it is from the latter alone, as well in the world as in the school, that any effectual benefit is obtained.
“ In moderate governments,” says the enlightened author last cited,
“ the love of one's country, shame, and the fear of blame, are restraining motives capable of preventing a great multitude of crimes. Here the greatest punishment of a bad action is conviction,”