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Metastasio as imperial poet) to compose a “melodrama" on the basis of a chapter of Candide; Frederick the Great of Prussia, whose relations with Voltaire were of the most intimate description; the Empress Catherine II of Russia; Gustavus III of Sweden; Christian VII of Denmark, who called Voltaire the “prince of the century”; Frederick of Hesse; Stanislas of Poland; and others. By their influence and exertions a new spirit of enlightenment, toleration, and humanity began to pervade the legislation of almost the whole of Europe. In Italy there was a good deal of violent opposition to the spirit and doctrines of Voltaire, among the nobility, the clergy, and the magistrates. But there were also distinct Voltairean elements." These were found in most of the sovereigns of foreign origin, as, for example, in the Bourbons of Rome and of Naples, in the Austrian princes of Lombardy and Tuscany. Again, some of the rulers were served by philosopher-ministers, like Tanucci,” prime minister at Naples, Du Tillot,” minister at Parma, Firmian,” minister plenipotentiary of Maria Theresa at Naples, then in Lombardy; and these were among Voltaire's early disciples in Italy. Further, in every important centre there were some ardent spirits who manifested a persistent opposition to the prevailing ideas and institutions. They constituted, in a sense, the future revolutionary leaven. Many of them, a prey to restless dissatisfaction, became adventurers, and wandered throughout Europe. Also, a certain Voltairean element was found among the thinkers, hesitating and seeking their way, among the curious but cautious, abstaining alike from blind admiration and systematic opposition. These classes included laymen as well as ecclesiastics, patricians as well as plebeians; thus, there were on the one hand men like Popes Benedict XIV and Clement XIV, Cardinals Alberoni, Querini, and Passionei, and on the other progressive minds like Galiani, Genovesi, Parini, Capacelli. Finally, the world of savants welcomed Voltaire, and corresponded with him, and learned academies opened their doors to him. Be it remembered that the ideas on criminal law and administration spread by Voltaire were no other than the ideas of Beccaria. To this influence of Voltaire in particular may be added the foreign influence of the Encyclopaedists in general." Their works,
* Cf. E. Bouvy, Voltaire et l'Italie (Paris, 1898), pp. 316, 317. * 1698–1783. * 1711–1774. * 1716–1782. * Cf. J. Fabre, Les pères de la révolution (Paris, 1910), pp. 560 seq.
breathing a military spirit, soon spread abroad. Philosophical discussions became everywhere more common; they were held in esteem as much in the fashionable salons of a Mlle. de Lespinasse or a Mme. Geoffrin, as among the more progressive spirits in all parts of Europe. The Encyclopaedists, warring on senseless tradition, unjustifiable privilege, and intolerable tyranny, and advocating liberty, tolerance, and brotherhood, were usually regarded by their contemporaries as hopelessly un-christian, in comparison with saintly men like Bossuet, who defended intolerance, slavery, and theocracy. But their influence was none the less gaining more and more ground. Voltaire said— and without exaggeration—that the spirit of French philosophy was extending from Archangel to Cadiz. Grimm's confidential correspondence with several continental sovereigns did much to diffuse French conceptions; at first it was concerned with art and literature, but gradually it came to embrace a much wider field, including political, social, philosophic, and religious matters. Thus the Correspondance littéraire (1754–1790) is closely associated with the Encyclopædist movement in general; and, indeed, for some twenty years constituted its secret official organ in Europe, and so contributed substantially to its propaganda. In Austria Joseph II aimed at establishing his government on philosophic principles, and promoting liberty and religious tolerance in his dominions. Frederick II of Prussia was a master of French, and cherished predilections for French culture; he was surrounded by Frenchmen, and dreamt of making Berlin another Paris. The influence of Rousseau in Germany was especially marked. Catherine of Russia was attached to the leaders of the movement, and frequently corresponded with them. On Voltaire, D'Alembert, Diderot she lavished praise; she invited them, as well as Beccaria and others who had new ideas and were philosophically inclined, to her court at St. Petersburg. In Poland, Voltaire was worshipped; and Rousseau was invited to draw up a plan for a constitution. Similarly Corsica called on the author of the Contrat social to be its legislator. The various states of Italy were influenced by the French philosophers. Condillac was appointed tutor to the Duke of Parma. Leading Italian thinkers, like Beccaria and Filangieri, were proud to proclaim themselves disciples of the transalpine school. The Abbé Galiani, the liberal economist, wondered how anyone could live elsewhere than on the banks of the Seine. In Tuscany, the Duke Peter Leopold, having been eulogised for his attempted innovations, observed: “I apply only what others have conceived, I have taken all my ideas from French books.” Other Italian princes were imbued with the same ideas. The new movement even reached Spain and Portugal, so long a prey to religious bigotry and obscurantism. In the former country the Count of Aranda actually ventured to attack the Jesuits and the Inquisition; in the latter country the Marquis of Pombal showed himself to be a minister favourable to reform. Between England and France there was a constant interchange of ideas. English philosophers, such as Locke, Newton, Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, were popular in France; French writers, like Voltaire, Montesquieu, Rousseau, Diderot, enjoyed great popularity in England. Blackstone made acknowledgments to Beccaria, and Bentham and Romilly proclaimed their great indebtedness to him, and to the French philosophers. In distant America too, at the time of the secession, the law of nature was frequently appealed to, and the influence of Voltaire and Rousseau was evident. In the meantime, writers in different countries, encouraged by this propagation of new conceptions, and, in many cases, directly aroused by the great example of Beccaria, issued works denouncing the abuses and barbarous practices of criminal law and penal administration. In France, in addition to the writers already mentioned, men like De la Madeleine and Pastoret vigorously advocated reforms, the former proposing a reorganisation of the laws, in accordance with the principles of Beccaria, the latter condemning the use of the capital penalty.” Similarly, Marat opposed the punishment of death, in a book (1789) containing this inscription : “Nolite, Quirites, hanc Savitiam diutius pati.” After the death of Louis XVI, Condorcet also condemned capital punishment, but only in the case of nonpolitical crimes. In Austria, immediately after the publication of Beccaria's treatise, Sonnenfels, a professor at Vienna, commended the author for showing that the infliction of death was an irrational penalty, and afterwards produced his small work on the abolition of torture, which soon had a large circulation and was translated from German into several other languages.” In * Des lois pénales (1790). He drew up a list of some 120 offences that were punishable with death in France. * J. von Sonnenfels, Ueber die Abschaffung der Tortur. (Trans. in French in Italy, two years after the appearance of the Dei Delitti, P. Risi issued a work in Latin on criminal procedure and punishment, which he dedicated to Count Firmian, and in which he denounced torture and cruel penalties. Similarly, Natali, a Sicilian marquis, dealt with the applicability and efficacy of different punishments. In 1777 Pietro Verri, the former friend of Beccaria, composed a dissertation on torture * (published in 1804), in which he showed the evil nature of the practice, extorting, as it often did, “confessions" of alleged crimes at once ridiculous, absurd and impossible. In Naples, Filangieri issued his Science of Legislation,” which is full of erudition. While he differs from his predecessor in several matters, he lays emphasis, however, on some of the important principles enunciated by Beccaria, and condemns abuses, such as secret accusations and prison conditions, which had already been pointed out by the latter. Again, the Elements of Criminal Law,” by P. Renazzi, one of the first systematic productions, follows the lines marked out by Beccaria. It advocates more moderate penalties, and insists that it is essential to graduate them conformably to the character of the offences. And so penal doctrines continued to make progress in Italy, not only in published writings, but also in the teaching of universities; so that we find adherents of reform, like L. Cremani, T. Nani, and M. Delfico, denouncing the laws established on the basis of the ancient Roman jurisprudence, which made for despotism and intolerance." Amalry in Holland, Mello Freire in Portugal, Campomanes, Lardizabal, Jovellanos in Spain, were also in favour of measures of amelioration. In England, the immediate influence of Beccaria is apparent in the work of Blackstone. That portion of his Commentaries dealing with the criminal law was first issued in the year following the publication of the Dei Delitti. The author refers to his Italian contemporary more than once. Like the latter he argues that the certainty of penalties is more effectual than their severity, and also deems it absurd to apply the same punishment to crimes varying in atrocity. He condemns the frequency of capital punishments, and points out as a “melancholy truth" the existence on the statute-book of 16o offences punishable capitally. Like Blackstone, Lord Mansfield also spoke of Beccaria with respect. In 1768 an anonymous translation of the Dei Delitti, together with Voltaire's commentary, was issued in England. Three years later came the Principles of Penal Law, by William Eden, appointed undersecretary of state in 1772, afterwards Lord Auckland. The influence of the Italian writer is evident not merely through the direct reference to him, but through the various dicta set forth, and the spirit of general hostility manifested against the prevailing practice of the criminal law. “The great object of the lawgiver,” says Eden, “is the prevention of crimes. . . . Vengeance belongeth not to man.” “Lenity should be the guardian of moderate governments.” ” He says that severe penalties are “instruments of despotism,” and too rigorous punishments lead to impunity. “The excess of the penalty flatters the imagination with the hope of impunity.” ". . . “The acerbity of justice deadens its execution.” “ “Penal laws are to check the arm of wickedness, but not to wage war with the natural sentiments of the heart.”" “Obsolete and useless statutes should be repealed, for they debilitate the authority of such as still exist and are necessary.” “ “Nothing but the evident result of absolute necessity can authorise the destruction of mankind by the hand of man. The infliction of death is not therefore to be considered in any instance as a mode of punishment, but merely as our last melancholy resource in the extermination of those from society, whose continuance among their fellow-citizens is become inconsistent with the public safety.” 7 All these remarks are scarcely more than repetitions of Beccaria's observations. Similarly, Lord Kames, the Scottish judge, protested against the vindictive nature of the English penal system, and the multiplicity of capital punishments, and suggested the adoption of milder and more reasonable penalties, which would attain their object “with less harshness and severity.” & Madan's Thoughts on Executive Justice • (1784) adopts Beccaria's principle of the certainty of punishment as the most effective deterrent of crimes, but the author makes a sinister use of the doctrines in advocating an unrestrained execution of the sanguinary law as it then existed. Paley's brief treatment of criminal law " shows distinct * Principles of Penal Law (London, 1771), p. 6. *Ibid., p. 12. * Ibid. “Ibid., p. 13. “Ibid., p. 14. “Ibid., p. 16. 'Ibid., pp. 21, 22. "Historical Law Tracts. Criminal Law (Edinburgh, 1776). "Cf. infra, Romilly, chap. ii.
vol. iv of Brissot de Warville, Bibliothèque philosophique du legislateur, du politique, du jurisconsulte, Io vols. (Paris and Berlin, 1782–1785).)
* Osservazioni sulla tortura, etc. * Scienza della legislazione (1780). * Elementa juris criminalis, 3 vols. (Rome, 1773–1781). * Cf. Cantú, op. cit., chap. xxi.