Imágenes de páginas


THE following three essays are not intended to be considered as
separate, independent studies; they are meant to be taken
together as supplementing each other, and as constituting one
whole. With this intention in view, the author has been able
to avoid a good deal of overlapping and repetition, which would
otherwise have been inevitable. -

T Though three men and their works are here discussed, we are
concerned with but one epoch, one movement, one phase in legal
evolution, which represents in many respects a turning-point
in European history, and is of the utmost importance in the
development of our modern civilisation. Beccaria, Bentham
and Romilly are among the greatest law reformers of modern
times. In their assault on the folly, injustice and cruelty of the
then existing criminal jurisprudence, in their trenchant criticism
of outworn codes, obscurantist traditions, blind superstitions,
dogmatic technicalities, oppressive fictions, and useless relics
of the past, in their proposal of rational substitutes, in their
pointing the way to the light, they were intimately united. Their
resemblances, like their differences, are as striking in their work
as they are in their personal characteristics." In the case of
Beccaria—a diffident Italian youth, shrinking from the struggles
of men, whose small work was almost forcibly extracted from
him by his friends, and whose guarded oracular utterances soon
arrested the attention of the world—we shall see vital concep-
tions and principles of penology in the process of germination
and crystallisation; we shall see them in their triumphant
conflict with the prevailing régime of sanguinary laws and bar-
barous methods of procedure. In the case of Bentham—that
myriad-minded man, the dauntless explorer of institutions, the
arch-legislator ever ready, in his jealously guarded “hermitage,”
to make laws for all the nations of the earth—we shall see a
prodigious multitude of ideas, schemes and systems, lavishly
given to the world from a rich mine that could, surely, never be
exhausted; we shall see this prolific progenitor scattering them
broadcast, infusing new life into many barren places, raising

[merged small][graphic]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »