« EdellinenJatka »
be erected by virtue of the said act, for the several terms therein specified, but in no case exceeding seven years; with a power of subsequent mitigation, and even of reward, in case of their good behaviour. But if they escape and are retaken, for the first time an addition of three years is made to the term of their confinement; and a second escape is felony without benefit of clergy.
In forming the plan of these penitentiary houses, the principal objects have been, by sobriety, cleanliness, and medical assistance, by a regular series of labour, by solitary confinement during the intervals of work, and by due religious instruction, to preserve and amend the health of the unhappy offenders, to inure them to habits of industry, to guard them from pernicious company, to accustom them to serious reflection, and to teach them both the principles and practice of every christian and moral duty. And if the whole of this plan be properly executed, and its defects be timely supplied, there is reason to hope that such a reformation may be effected in the lower classes of mankind, and such a gradual scale of punishment be affixed to all gradations of guilt, as may in time supersede the necessity of capital punishment, except for very atrocious crimes.
It is also enacted by the same statute, 19 Geo. III. c. 74. that instead of burning in the hand, which was sometimes too slight and sometimes too disgraceful a punishment, the court in all clergyable felonies may impose a pecuniary fine; or, except in the case of manslaughter, may order the offender to be once or oftener, but not more than thrice, either publicly or privately whipped; such private whipping, to prevent collusion or abuse, to be inflicted in the presence of two witnesses, and in case of female offenders in the presence of females only. Which fine or whipping shall have the same consequences as burning in the hand; and the offender, so fined or whipped, shall be equally liable to a subsequent detainer or imprisonment.
In this state does the benefit of clergy at present stand; very considerably different from its original institution: the wisdom of the English legislature having, in the course of a long and laborious process, extracted by a noble alchemy rich medicines out of poisonous ingredients; and converted, by gradual mutations, what was at first an unreasonable exemption of particular popish eccle
siastics, into a merciful mitigation of the general law, with respect to capital punishment.
From the whole of this detail we may collect, that however in times of ignorance and superstition that monster in true policy may for a while subsist, of a body of men, residing in the bowels of a state, and yet independent of its laws; yet when learning and rational religion have a little enlightened men's minds, society can no longer endure an absurdity so gross, as must destroy its very fundamentals. For, by the original contract of government, the price of protection by the united force of individuals is that of obedience to the united will of the community. This united will is declared in the laws of the land: and that united force is exerted in their due, and universal, execution.
II. I am next to inquire, to what persons the benefit of clergy is to be allowed at this day: and this must be chiefly collected from what has been observed in the preceding article. For, upon the whole, we may pronounce, that all clerks in orders are, without any branding, and of course without any transportation, fine, or whipping, (for those are only substituted in lieu of the other,) to be admitted to this privilege, and immediately discharged; and this as often as they offend. Again, all lords of parliament and peers of the realm having place and voice in parliament, by the statute 1 Edw. VI. c. 12., which is likewise held to extend to peeresses, shall be discharged in all clergyable and other felonies provided for by the act, without any burning in the hand or imprisonment, or other punishment substituted in its stead, in the same manner as real clerks convict: but this is only for the first offence. Lastly, all the commons of the realm, not in orders, whether male or female, shall for the first offence be discharged of the capital punishment of felonies within the benefit of clergy, upon being burnt in the hand, whipped, or fined, or suffering a discretionary imprisonment in the common gaol, the house of correction, one of the penitentiary houses, or in the places of labour for the benefit of some navigation; or, in case of larciny, upon being transported for seven years, if the court shall think
12 Hal. P.C. 375.
*Duchess of Kingston's case,
in parliament, 22 Apr. 1776.
proper. It hath been said that Jews, and other infidels: and heretics, were not capable of the benefit of clergy, till after the statute 5 Ann. c. 6. as being under a legal incapacity for orders.1 But I much question whether this was ever ruled for law, since the reintroduction of the Jews into England, in the time of Oliver Cromwell. For, if that were the case, the Jews are still in the same predicament, which every day's experience will contradict: the statute of queen Anne having certainly made no alteration in this respect; it only dispensing with the necessity of reading in those persons, who, in case they could read, were before the act entitled to the benefit of their clergy.
III. The third point to be considered is, for what crimes the privilegium clericale, or benefit of clergy, is to be allowed. And, it is to be observed, that neither in high treason nor in petit larciny, nor in any mere misdemesnors, it was indulged at the common law; and therefore we may lay it down for a rule, that it was allowable only in petit treason and capital felonies: which for the most part became legally entitled to this indulgence by the statute de clero, 25 Edw. III. st. 3. c. 4. which provides that clerks convict for treasons or felonies, touching other persons than the king himself or his royal majesty, shall have the privilege of holy church. But yet it was not allowable in all felonies whatsoever: for in some it was denied even by the common law, viz. insidiatio viarum, or lying in wait for one on the highway; depopulatio agrorum, or destroying and ravaging a country; " and combustio domorum, or arson, that is, the burning of houses: " all which are a kind of hostile acts, and in some degree border upon treason. And farther, all these identical crimes, together with petit treason, and very many other acts of felony, are ousted of clergy by particular acts of parliament; which have in general been mentioned under the particular offences to which they belong, and therefore need not be here recapitulated. Upon all which statutes for excluding clergy I shall only observe, that they are nothing else but the restoring of the law to the same rigor of capital punishment in the first offence, that
1 2 Hal. P. C. 373. 2 Hawk. P. C. 338. Fost. 306.
m 2 Hal. P. C. 333.
is exerted before the privilegium clericale was at all indulged; and which it still exerts upon a second offence in almost all kinds of felonies, unless committed by clerks actually in orders. But so tender is the law of inflicting capital punishment in the first instance for any inferior felony, that notwithstanding by the marine law, as declared in statute 28 Hen. VIII. c. 15. the benefit of clergy is not allowed in any case whatsoever; yet, when of fences are committed within the admiralty-jurisdiction, which would be clergyable if committed by land, the constant course is to acquit and discharge the prisoner." And, to conclude this head of inquiry, we may observe the following rules: 1. That in all felonies, whether new created or by common law, clergy is now allowable, unless taken away by express words of an act of parliament.P 2. That, where clergy is taken away from the principal, it is not of course taken away from the accessory unless he be also particularly included in the words of the statute.1 3. That, when the benefit of clergy is taken away from the offence, (as in case of murder, buggery, robbery, rape, and burglary,) a principal in the second degree being present, aiding and abetting the crime, is as well excluded from his clergy as he that is principal in the first degree: but, 4. That, where it is only taken away from the person committing the offence, (as in the case of stabbing, or committing larciny in a dwelling-house, or privately from the person,) his aiders and abettors are not excluded; through the tenderness of the law, which hath determined that such statutes shall be taken literally."
IV. Lastly, we are to inquire what the consequences are to the party, of allowing him this benefit of clergy. I speak not of the branding, fine, whipping, imprisonment, or transportation; which are rather concomitant conditions, than consequences of receiving this indulgence The consequences are such as affect his present interest, and future credit and capacity: as having been once a felon, but now purged from that guilt by the privilege of clergy; which operates as a kind of statute pardon. And, we may observe, 1. That by this conviction he
• Moor, 756. Fost. 288. P 2 Hal. P. C. 330.
4 2 Hawk. P. C. 342.
1 Hal. P. C. 529. Foster, 356, 357.
forfeits all his goods to the king; which, being once vested in the crown, shall not afterwards be restored to the offender. 2. That, after conviction, and till he receives the judgment of the law, by branding or some of its substitutes, or else is pardoned by the king, he is to all intents and purposes a felon, and subject to all the disabilities and other incidents of a felon. 3. That, after burning, or its substitute, or pardon, he is discharged for ever of that, and all other felonies before committed, within the benefit of clergy; but not of felonies from which such benefit is excluded: and this by statutes 8 Eliz. c. 4. and 18 Eliz. c. 7. 4. That by the burning, or its substitute, or the pardon of it, he is restored to all capacities and credits, and the possession of his lands, as if he had never been convicted." 5. That what is said with regard to the advantages of commoners and laymen, subsequent to the burning in the hand, is equally applicable to all peers and clergymen, although never branded at all, or subjected to other punishment in its stead. For they have the same privileges, without any burning, or any substitute for it, which others are entitled to after it."
OF JUDGMENT AND ITS CONSEQUENCES.
We are now to consider the next stage of criminal prosecution, after trial and conviction are past, in such crimes and misdemesnors, as are either too high or too low to be included within the benefit of clergy which is that of judgment. For when, upon a capital charge, the jury have brought in their verdict guilty, in the presence of the prisoner; he is either immediately, or at a convenient time soon after, asked by the court, if he has any thing to offer why judgment should not be awarded against him. And in case the defendant be found guilty
2 Hal. P.C. 388.
t3 P. Wms. 487.
2 Hal. P. C. 389. 5 Rep.
x 2 Hal. P. C. 389, 390.