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The Mausoleum murmur'd as I spoke.
A spectre seem'd to rise, like tow'ring smoke.
To the black carcase of the sightless dead.1
Once more I heard the sounds of earthly strife, And the streets ringing to the stir of life.
W. L. B.
NEW PENAL CODE;
IN WHICH IT IS ATTEMPTED TO
DEFINE CRIMES AND OFFENCES WITH
CLEARNESS AND BREVITY;
PENALTIES PROPORTIONATE AND CONSISTENT ;
TO PROMOTE A PURE, SPEEDY, AND CHEAP,
BY J. T. BARBER BEAUMONT, Esq., F. A. S.
ONE OF HIS MAJESTY'S JUSTICES OF THE PEACE FOR
MIDDLESEX AND WESTMINSTER.
Continued from the last No.
15. THE only essential parts of a penal law are the name and definition of the thing forbidden, and the penalty attached to it: the fewer words in which these things can be clearly and correctly expressed, the better.
16. In legal proceedings as well as in laws, all verbiage that can be properly avoided ought to be prohibited, as increasing the expenses of legal proceedings, occupying the time of courts and parties unnecessarily, and clouding the essential points of the case at issue.
17. In framing laws, words not generally known ought to be avoided, because the description of the laws ought to come within the scope of every man's understanding, who is to be guided by them.
18. Immaterial distinctions in laws ought to be avoided; they are productive of cavils, evasions, and uncertainty.
19. Kindred offences, incurring similar penalties, ought to be embraced in general and simplified laws as much as possible.
20. Uncertain and ambiguous expressions in laws and legal proceedings, ought to be primarily defined.
21. Legal provisions frequently occurring, ought to be set forth fully once, and then be referred to or described by a short expression. By this expedient a great deal of verbosity and tautology may be avoided.
22. Laws ought to be arranged so as to exhibit crimes of each particular class, from their first steps to their last stages. By such means a striking moral picture may be presented, of the fatal terminations to which indulgence in any particular vice gradually leads: these increasing steps of transgression, and
also the repetition of offences ought to be accompanied by increasing penalties.
23. Penalties ought to be such as offenders dread, or they must fail to operate; the intention of them being to counterpoise 'the indulgence of a vice, by the fear of a suffering.
24. Imprisonment when applied as an instrument of punishment and correction, ought to be executed strictly and severely. Its duration might then be much lessened, and yet produce more dread than imprisonment excites, commixed as it now is with' a large portion of indulgences.
25. The enforcement of a penalty ought to be rendered as certain and speedy as possible. In proportion as this is done its weight may be lessened. For instance-A man pilfers a trifling thing upon the motive of its producing him two or three days' relief from abstinence, or from labor; but if punishment were a certain consequence of the theft, and it imposed on him hard labor, or a more severe abstinence for two or three weeks, he would endure the evil of two or three days, rather than that of two or three weeks, (for of two evils it is natural to chuse the least,) and forego the intended theft; but as punishment is uncertain, he does not simply compare the quantity of existing suffering from which the crime might relieve him, with the quantity of suffering which the punishment of that crime would impose, but he reckons on the chance of such punishment not overtaking him at all; the chances of not being detected, and if detected not being prosecuted, and if prosecuted not being condemned, multiplied together, give him at least a hundred chances to one in favor of impunity. The penalty therefore, to operate on him, must be at least a hundred times greater than it need be if it were certain to be inflicted; accordingly, we find that for such a theft as we have described, death is the penalty imposed. But even this extreme penalty, under the probability of escape, is found insufficient to deter persons from pilfering. In proportion then as punishment is uncertain, its weight must be increased, and it fails in the object of preventing crimes; and by an inversion of the argument, in proportion as punishment is rendered a certain consequence of crimes, it may be lessened, and will with more certainty prevent crimes.
26. Finding out offenders, ought not to be encouraged as an habitual means of livelihood, in consequence of its tendency to raise up false witnesses and exciters of crime; but sufferers from, and witnesses of misdoing, ought to be fully indemnified in bringing offenders to justice. There can be no danger in rendering the testimony of sufferers and witnesses merely not a loss to them.