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Besides, thanks be to God, the fate of this great animal is attached to that of a little fish named el Mabidah. When it perceives it, it flies and takes refuge in the abysses of the sea, at such a depth that it is safe from the pursuit of this little fish.”—vol. i. p. 97.
Of M. Jaubert's share in this book—the translation, the notes and the various readings—we ought to say a few words, the rather as there is a spirit of very unaffected looking modesty running through the preface and notes whenever he has to speak of him. self, and he in many places frankly acknowledges his obligations to his literary confreres for help in translation, or the suggestion of a conjecture. The notes are generally short, but to the purpose, and have the valuable property of coming in when they are wanted. Perhaps a little more paralleling of the Arabic with the European names would have been an improvement. The translator has adopted the judicious course of giving the Arabic as well as the Roman writing of the most important names of places, animals, &c. In spite however of the somewhat formidable appearance thus given to the pages, we can assure the general reader that he will find this a very amusing work to pick his way through-we do not say to read through-while to the student of geography it is certainly a valuable present, of which the worth is little diminished by the circumstance that there already existed the insufficient and not very accurate translation of the Maronites, Ecchelensis and Sionita.
Art. III.—Om Straff och Struff-anstalter, 2dra Upplagan. (On
Punishments and on Prisons. Second Edition.) 8vo. Stock
holm. 1840. The work bearing this title has excited so much interest in the country where it first appeared, * and is itself so interesting and important, that we cannot help thinking it our duty to give some account of its origin, and some specimens of the style and arguments to be found in its
pages. In 1832 a board of talented jurists, after many years' labours, published in the Swedish capital their celebrated “ Proposition for an amended Code of Law and Punishment in Sweden." This work, the adoption of which has hitherto been prevented by the jealousies of the court, notwithstanding that Norway already enjoys the benefits of its improved code, lays down a separate plan for the reform of prison discipline and the abandonment of corporal punishments within the kingdoni. The ill success attending the scandalously mismanaged corruption-spreading Houses of Correction established in 1819 and following years, the dreadful consequences to public morals resulting from the system of modified serf-ism existing by law in Sweden under another name (försvarstöshet), and the alarming increase of crime of late years throughout the country and especially in the capital, have deeply impressed the Swedish nation with the necessity of some thorough change in their whole system of prison legislation. Taking advantage of this feeling in the public mind, and anxious that the change may be effectual, advantageous, and enlightened, his Royal Highness Oscar, Crown Prince of Sweden and Norway, and already not unknown as an author of taste, has entered the arena with the elegantly written pamphlet now under discussion, and more immediately intended for the perusal of the meinbers of the Diet at present sitting in Stockholm.
* A translation has lately appeared in German, and a French one is said to be in preparation. One in Norwegian will be published shortly.
This tolerably lengthy work is remarkable for its generally sound views and liberal sentiments, for its probing the question to the bottom in all its details, for the air of calm self-possession and unaffected benevolence which pervades every part of it, for the modesty breathing through the whole, and for the broadness of the principles upon which it founds its conclusions. Originality, of course, could hardly be expected on such a question; but we are everywhere struck with the noble author's comprehensiveness, clearness and decision. It is to these qualities and to the abundance of information carefully selected from various sources, and skilfully compressed within its chapters, that it owes its welcome reception and its having reached in so few days to a second large edition.*
True it is that this new production, however meritorious it may be in itself, on a subject new no longer, cannot but fill the mind with melancholy reflections and a gloomy foreboding. What is it that has driven so many hundreds of philosophers, men of letters, statesmen and philanthropists (as the age calls them, though they are often mere phrase-inongers), to devote week after week and year after year to the consideration of
Subjects grimly weighty," social police, the laws of arrest, the minimum of existence to be
* The profits are devoted by the royal author to the lately-established Swedish “ Guttenburg Institution,” a kind of Printers' Benevolent Society formed at the late Printing Jubilee celebrated in Stockholm as well as over the Continent.
allowed in prisons, and the maximum of labour to be exacted out of them? What is it that now even disturbs a prince in his palace, drawing him from his pleasures and pursuits, winning him from the delicacies of refinement and the temptations of modern luxury, and calling him from
“ Parliaments and courts and pomp and state," to questions of the prisoner's fare and the gaoler's pay, the starving pauper's prospects, and the straight and narrow cell of the criminal and the unfortunate ?- Is it merely and in itself benevolence ? Alas, no! We do not mean that the individuals who are daily communicating to us their thoughts on these points are more destitute of feeling than their neighbours; on the contrary, many of them are distinguished for their ceaseless exertions that they may enjoy the luxury of doing good, and for even daring to be " singular” in their ideas of right. What we do mean is, that the actual and immediate cause of this great European movement, the pressing reason assigned by these writers themselves as their apology for entering the field of controversy, is—the increase of crime, the crowding of old prisons and the want of new ones, the spread of demoralization among the lower (that is, the kernel) classes, and the alarming features gradually assuming by our modern pauperization.
Every effort, then, to modify or ameliorate prisons or their denizens should be a fresh incitement to us to contemplate for ourselves how matters stand among us, and to see that this boasted philanthropy of gaol-reforms does not aim at cure rather than at prevention, and does not often legalize terrorism and suffering under the disguise of benevolent change. Certain it is that the cell-system may be made one of the most atrociously cruel, negatively effective, and at the same time apparently innocent punishments ever invented by the spirit of our modern class-legislation. In our own country we have personally known it end, more than once or twice or thrice, in madness and misery, suicide and death.
But let us listen to our royal author's observations in the first part of his first chapter-" On Punishments.
“ A people's morals and intelligence are always best appreciated by the spirit of its legislation. This is more particularly the case with its criminal laws, wbicb are more easily accommodated to the increasing claims of humanity and justice than the civil law, which is in many respects more dependent on national customs and ideas, and often on local peculiarities. At the same time it must never be forgotten, that a civil code founded on natural and reasonable motives is one of the most effectual means for destroying antiquated abuses and deep-rooted prejudices,
and constitutes a condition highly important for the developement of an enlightened national spirit and a genuine love of country.
“ Society, in order to advance undisturbed to its great goal-moral and intellectual improvement and general prosperity-must be built on a foundation accordant with reason, and must be so established as to give protection against whatever may disturb the general security or insult private right. The outward independence and the inward legal subsistence of the state must be secured against traitorous designs; the private man's life and welfare must be guarded against violence and persecution ; property must be shielded from lawless attacks. It is from these indispensable conditions for the existence and progress of society, which is the will of God revealed in the interior instincts and exterior wants of man, that we may trace the rise of the peculiar right of punishment which society wields, and which finally reposes on reason and on justice.
“ But an acknowledged idea of legal right must, in order to continue its quality of rightfulness, be carried out in a spirit consonant with its origin. The form which it assumes must be supported by the admitted ground, and must conscientiously and consequentially fulfil all its demands; else this form will contradict its own archetype, and will at last pass over to its opposite.
“ Hence it follows, that a choice of the punishments themselves must be made under a religious acknowledgment of a superior organization of the universe, and an enlightened respect for the value of man ; they must be altogether just, both as regards their quality, or character, and their quantity, or the amount answering to the greatness of the crime. They must also be reasonable, that is, so psychologically calculated, as to tend to the criminal's improvement, and thus strive to prevent a renewed infraction of the system of law instituted for the common benefit.
“ This, in its perfection, is the form assumed by punishment; this the end to which all organization of punishment ought to aspire. That it cannot in reality be completely reached, is to be explained partly from the imperfection inseparable from everything human, and partly from those outward circumstances which often exercise so powerful an influence as to form a kind of relative law. This fact may account for, and even excuse, the bye-paths to wbich criminal legislation bas so often wandered, and where it may yet so frequently be found; but it can never be appealed to, either in regard to its historical ground or to its existence as a fact, in order to prevent an useful approach to a theory of punishment more adapted to the spread of intelligence and the claims of humanity, -for the effort to approach nearer and nearer to perfection, is one of the marks of the divine origin of man! To listen unprejudiced to the experience so often dearly bought of past times, to draw thence learning and leading rightly to judge and answer to the demands of the present age, and thus to prepare the possibility of a rational understanding of the problem which posterity in its turn will have to solve,—this it is which constitutes the real continuity in the advancing cultivation of the human race. The actual value of every foundation, whether in the
range of thought or of mattei', depends upon the structure which can be raised upon it; for, just as undeniably as that the latter cannot subsist without the support of the former, so little can the ground constitute of itself anything whole and complete.
“ Heathenism had its legal views, which were compelled to give way before the loving, the justice-breathing doctrines of Christianity. Ignorance and darkness long intercepted its everlasting and all-enlivening light, but its mild spirit overcame at last outward bindrances and worldly opposition, and taught man, even while punishing his fallen brother, to seek the fulfilment of the demands of Christian love. To adapt these sentiments to both punishments and prisons is an object of worthy emulation between the enlightened nations of Europe and of the New World."*
Prince Oscar next investigates the question of capital punishments, against which, whatever may be the nature of the crime committed, he opposes himself with great strenuousness. He would not retain them in any case or on any condition.
For our own part we cannot help regarding the punishment of death for such crimes as rape and murder as the niost agreeable to reason and instinct of any yet adopted, and as far more merciful than a cagement for life in a horrible cell, where year after year goes by without human intercourse, with no interchange of affection, with an almost hunger-diet simple but not sweet, and deprived of the least gleam of hope ! What can such a life amount to but an idiotic vegetation, or the gnawing of the spirit upon itself?— “ Life is more than meat and the body than raiment.' There must be some shield round the sanctity of human existence more than round the “ stuff” or the “ states” artificially created by “ the developement of society.” The extremes of punishing crimes against the person with death,—the same penalty as was exacted for crimes against property,
-and crimes against property with perpetual isolation,—the same punishment as is proposed for crimes against the person,—are both, and for the same reason, equally immoral ; they put asunder what God hath joined, like for like (property or its equivalent for property or its equivalent), and life for life (blood for blood). In fact, we imagine the modern sensitiveness of executions and dread of death to arise merely or principally—not from any sentiment of mercy, for this is a virtue our statutes daily outrage, but—from the effeminate petty cowardice produced by modern selfishness and luxury.
In the course of the views advanced by our author on the inefficiency of capital punishments, we are presented with the following interesting table.