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The frequent incursions of northern barbarians into the Roman empire, spread desolation and ruin through the whole. The Romans, from the highest policy degenerating into savages, assumed by degrees the cruel and bloody manners of their conquerors; and the conquerors and conquered, blended into one mass, equalled the grossest barbarians of ancient times in ignorance and brutali ty. Clovis, King of the Franks, even after his conversion to Christianity, assassinated without remorse his nearest kinsman, The children of Clo domir, ann. 580, were assassinated by their twọ uncles. In the thirteenth century, Ezzelino de Aromana obtained the sovereignty of Padua, by massacring 12,000 of his fellow-citizens, Galeas Sforza, Duke of Milan, was assassinated ann. 1476, in the Cathedral church of Milan, after the assassins had put up their prayers for courage to perpetrate the deed. It is a still stronger proof how low morality was in those days, that the Pope himself, Sextus IV, attempted to assassinate the two brothers, Laurent and Julien de Medicis ; chusing the elevation of the host as a proper time, when the people would be busy about their devotions. Nay more, that very Pope, with unparalleled impudence, excommunicated the Florentines for doing justice upon the intended assas sins. The most sacred oaths were in vain employ ed as a security against that horrid crime. Childe bert II. King of the Franks, enticed Magnovald
to his court, by a solemn oath that he should receive no harm; and yet made no difficulty to assassinate him during the gaiety of a banquet. But these instances, however horrid, make no figure compared with the massacre of St Bartholomew, where many thousands were inhumanly and treacherously butchered. Even so late as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, assassination was not held in every case to be criminal. Many solicitous applications were made to general councils of Christian clergy, to declare it criminal in every case, but without success. Ferdinand, King of Arragon and Navarre, after repeated assassina
tions and acts of perfidy, obtained the appellation
of Great so little authority had the moral sense,
during these dark and sanguinary ages.
But it is scarce necessary to mention particular instances of the overbearing power of malevolent passions during these ages. An opinion, once universal, that the innocent may be justly involved in the same punishment with the guilty, is of itself irrefragable evidence, that morality formerly had very little influence when opposed by revenge. There is no moral principle more evident, than that punishment cannot be inflicted with justice but upon the guilty; and yet in Greece, the involving of the innocent with the guilty in the same punishment, was authorised even by positive law. By an Athenian law, a man committing sacrilege, or betraying his country, was banished with all
his children. And when a tyrant was put to death, his children suffered the same fatet. The punishment of treason in Macedon, was extended against the criminal's relations . Hanno, a citizen of Carthage, formed a plot to enslave his country, by poisoning the whole senate at a banquet. He was tortured to death; and his children, with all his relations, were cut off without mercy, though they had no accession to his guilt. Among the Japanese, a people remarkably ferocious, it is the practice to involve children and relations in the punishment of capital crimes. Even Cicero, the chief man for learning in the most enlightened -period of the Roman republic, and a celebrated moralist, approves that practice: Nec vero ine "fugit, quam sit acerbum parentum scelera filio"rum pœnis lui sed hoc præclare legibus, comparatum est, ut caritas liberorum amiciores pa"rentes reipublicæ redderet § 1."
* Meursius de legibus Atticis, lib. 2. cap. 2.
Eod. lib. 2. cap. 15,
Quintus Curtius, lib. 6. cap. 11.
§ "I am sensible of the hardship of punishing the child for the crime of the parent: this, however, is a wise enactment of
our the parent is bound to the interest laws for t "of the state by the strongest of all ties, the affection to his
Ep. 12. ad Brutum.
every one knows, that murder' was retaliated, not only upon the criminal and his relations, but upon his whole clan; a practice so common as to be distinguished by a peculiar name, that of deadly feud. As late as the days of King Edmund, a law was made in England, prohibiting deadly feud, except between the relations of the person murdered and the murderer himself.
I embrace the present opportunity to honour the Jews, by observing, that they were the first people we read of, who had correct notions of morality with respect to the present point. The following law is express: "The fathers shall not be put x to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man “shall be put to death for his own sin*.” · Amaziah, King of Judah, gave strict obedience to that law, in avenging his father's death: "And it
came to pass as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants "which had slain the king his father. But the "children of the murderers he slew not; accord"ing to that which is writen in the book of the "law of Moses t." There is an elegant passage in Ezekiel to the same purpose ‡ : "What mean
66 ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land "of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour
grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge? "As I live, saith the Lord God, ye shall not have ❝ occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall "the father bear the iniquity of the son; the
" righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, " and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon "him." Among the Jews, however, as among other nations, there are instances without number, of involving innocent children and relations in the same punishment with the guilty. Such power has revenge, as to trample upon conscience, and upon the most express laws. Instigated with rage for Nabal's ingratitude, King David made a vow to God, not to leave alive of all who pertained to Nabal any that pisseth against the wall. And it was not any compunction of conscience that diverted him from his cruel purpose, but Nabal's beautiful wife, who pacified him *. But such contradiction between principle and practice, is not peculiar to the Jews. We find examples of it in the laws of the Roman empire. The true principle of punishment is laid down in an edict of the Emperors Arcadius and Honorius †. Sancimus, ibi esse poenam, ubi et noxia est. Propinquos, notos, familiares, procul a calumnia "submovemus, quos reos sceleris societas non facit.
* 1 Samuel, chap. xxv.
+ L. 22. Cod. de pœnis.