« AnteriorContinuar »
CRIMINAL LAW OF ENGLAND,
AS IT RELATES TO
AND ON THE MODE IN WHICH IT IS
THE following Observations contain the substance of a Speech delivered in the House of Commons on the 9th Feb. 1810, on moving for leave to bring in bills to repeal the Acts of 10 and 11 Will. III. 12 Ann, and 24 Geo. II., which make the crimes of stealing privately in a shop, goods of the value of five shillings; or in a dwelling-house, or on board a vessel in a navigable river, property of the value of forty shillings, capital felonies. Some arguments are added, which on that occasion were suppressed, that the patience of the House might not be put to too severe a trial. The attempt to refute Dr. Paley in particuii ADVERTISEMENT.
lar, is here considerably enlarged. The arrangement of these observations is certainly very defective; they contain repetitions which might have been avoided, and inaccuracies of style which might have been corrected, if the Author's occupations would have allowed of his rendering this pamphlet as little unworthy of being offered to the public as he could have wished: but to be useful, it was necessary that this publication should appear before the fate of the bills, which are now depending in parliament, was decided; and his only object in publishing it is, that it may be useful.
There is probably no other country in the world in which so many and so great a variety of human actions are punishable with loss of life as in England. These sanguinary statutes, however, are not carried into execution. For some time past the sentence of death has not been executed on more than a sixth part of all the persons on whom it has been pronounced, even taking into the calculation crimes the most atrocious and the most dangerous to society, murders, rapes, burning of houses, coining, forgeries, and attempts to commit murder. If we exclude these from our consideration,. we shall find that the proportion which the number executed bears to those convicted is, per