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nature, of which the frame of the governments established in other states unavoidably becomes more or less productive, are entirely banished from a nation which has the happiness of having its interests guarded by men who continue to be themselves exposed to the pressure of those laws which they concur in making, and of every tyrannic practice which they suffer to be introduced, -by men whom the advantages which they possess above the rest of the people, render only more exposed to the abuses they are appointed to prevent, only more alive to the dangers against which it is their duty to defend the community.
Hence we see that the use of torture has, from the earliest times, been utterly unknown in England. And all attempts to introduce it, whatever might be the power of those who made them, or the circuinstances in which they renewed their endeavours, have been strenuously opposed and defeated.
From the same cause also arose that remarkable forbearance of the English laws to use any cruel severity in the punishments which experience showed it was necessary for the preservation of society to establish ; and the utmost vengeance of those laws, even against the
most enormous offenders, never extends beyond the simple deprivation of life. *
Nay, so anxious has the English legislature been to establish mercy, even to convicted offenders, as a fundamental principle of the government of England, that they made it an express article of that great public compact which was framed at the important æra of the Revolution, that “no cruel and unusual punishments” should be enforced.t-They even endeavoured, by adding a clause for that purpose to the oath which kings were thenceforward to take at their coronation, as it were to render it an everlasting obligation of English
* A very singular instance occurs in the history of the year 1605, of the care of the English legislature not to suffer precedents of cruel practices to be introduced. During the time that those concerned in the gun-powder plot were under sentence of death, a motion was made in the house of commons to petition the king, that the execution might be stayed, in order to consider of some extraordinary punishment to be inflicted upon them: but this motion was rejected. A proposal of the same kind was also made in the house of lords, where it was dropped.-See the Parliamentary History of England, vol. v. anno 1605.
+ See the Bill of Rights, Art. X.-" Excessive bail " ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed; “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
kings, to make justice to be “ executed with
A more inward l'iew of the English Government
than has hitherto been offered to the Reader in the Course of this work.—Very essential Differences between the English Monarchy, as a Monarchy, and all those with which we are acquainted.
The doctrine constantly maintained in this work, and which has, I think, been sufficiently supported by facts and comparisons drawn from the history of other countries, is, that the remarkable liberty enjoyed by the English
* Those same dispositions of the English legislature which have led them to take such precautions in favour even of convicted offenders, have still more engaged them to make provisions in favour of such persons as are only suspected and accused of having committed offences of any kind.
Hence the zeal with which they have availed themselves of every important occasion, --such, for instance, as that of the Revolution,- to procure new confirmations to be given to the institution of the trial by jury, to the laws on imprisonments, and in general to that system of criminal jurisprudence of which a description has been given in the first part of this work, to which I rcfer the reader.
nation is essentially owing to the impossibility under which their leaders, or in general all men of power among them, are placed, of invading and transferring to themselves any branch of the governing executive authority ; which authority is exclusively vested, and firmly secured, in the crown. Hence the anxious care with which those men continue to watch the exercise of that authority.
ity. Hence their perseverance in observing every kind of engagement which themselves may have entered into with the rest of the people.
But here a consideration of a most important kind presents itself : How comes the crown in England thus constantly to preserve to itself (as we see it does) the executive authority in the state, and moreover to preserve it so completely, as to inspire the great men in the nation with that conduct so advantageous to public liberty, which has just been mentioned? These are effects which we do not find, upon examination, that the power of crowns has hitherto been able to produce in other countries.
In all states of a monarchical form, we indeed see that those men whom their rank and wealth, or their personal power of any kind, have raised above the rest of the people,
have formed combinations among themselves to oppose the power of the monarch. But their views, we must observe, in forming these combinations, were not by any means to set general and impartial limitations on the sovereign authority. They endeavoured to render themselves entirely independent of that authority; or even utterly to annihilate it, according to circumstances.
Thus we see that in all the states of ancient Greece, the kings were at last destroyed and exterminated. The same event happened in Italy, where in remote times there existed for a while several kingdoms, as we learn both from the ancient historians and poets. And in Rome, we even know the manner and circumstances in which such a revolution was brought about.
In more modern times, we see the numerous monarchical sovereignties (which had been raised in Italy on the ruins of the Roman empire) successively destroyed by powerful factions; and events of much the same nature have at different times taken place in the kingdoms established in the other parts of Europe.
In Sweden, Denmark, and Poland, for instance, we find the nobles reducing their