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dation merely in a spirit of vindictive retribution, or blood for bloodthen I say, that that is scarcely a principle which society should consult in its institutions. It is not so wise and true, so good and generous, as that for its sake we should make a sacrifice of human consciousness and life. It is a feeling rather to be corrected than cherished; one which the law of punishment should tend to abate rather than strive to satisfy.
Well, then, how stand capital punishments with reference to the prevention of crime? The prevention of crime in those promiscuous multitudes which are congregated at the place of execution—the prevention of crime in scenes where crime is known to have found its abode and procreant cradle! There is scarcely an instance of the infliction of capital punishment where crime is not perpetrated at the very mo
. ment, within sight of the dying agonies of the unhappy sufferer. The morning after the execution of Tapping, at the Old Bailey, two young offenders were brought up for theft committed at the very time, while those multitudes were actually engaged in the contemplation of the last agonies of the victim. A case of murder has been knownof murder, planned, discussed, and matured for action, within sight of the gallows, and at the moment that the work of execution was proceeding. And what is it that you would prevent? Is it the crime of impulse, or the crime of calculation ? Murder from the sudden outburst of disappointment, wrath, revenge, or jealousy; or murder from the cool thought which weighs circumstances and balances consequences? Why, banging is not very powerful either as to the one or the other. Passion defies death. Lord Bacon says, in bis essays, that there is not in humanity a passion so feeble, but that it mates and masters the fear of death. Passion looks not to punishment -scorns punishment-and is ready to sacrifice its own life at the moment. This, indeed, has frequently happened. Murders from passion have, in very many cases, been instantly followed by the perpetration of suicide, or the attempt at its commission. We cannot deal in this way with passion. Its correction must be laid in instruction, moral training, and the formation of character; and it may fairly be questioned whether a single murder of passion the less has been committed in the world for all the punishment that society can enforce; for death, attended even by those circumstances of aggravation and torture, and subsequent ignominy, that tend to augment its horrors. Then, again, your calculator is evidently one to be influenced by other means. You have a mode of getting at him with certainty of punishment, much more efficient than the chance, which he would take into consideration too, of escape from capital punishment. He lays his plan with forethought. Immunity-entire immunity-is that for which he forms his problem and works his calculation. True, he continually
blunders; and the errors of one, corrected by another, only give way to more errors from unforeseen sources that baffle one attempt after another of this description. Tawell's plan seemed complete, but was defeated by Wheatstone's telegraph : another murderer may so contrive as that no telegraph shall give intelligence of his movements ; but there will be something else, which he thinks not of, which will lead to his detection. Were detection sure, or, at least, the probability great that detection would follow such a crime, notwithstanding the greatest carefulness, they would nevertheless think to evade
There is a delusion in the mind of the individual. It is the hope of entire escape with which he lays his account; and therefore punishment, even if you could add to the agonies of death those eternal torments which some systems of religion denounce—even that would fail to act on his mind. He would speculate on escaping the one as he does on escaping the other. The aim of legislators should be certainty-certainty with reference to action upon those dispositions of the human character that are the sources of crime. What characterised the instance to which I have just referred? (Tawell.) No delight in shedding blood; no morbid appetite for the destruction of life. No: a care for external respectability—a determination, by any means, to gain it and to keep it. The sense of not being reputable in the world is a thing which such disposition dreads very much more than the mere chance, which he hopes to avoid, of a public execution. There is always a fulcrum in the human mind and character on which to rest the lever by which appropriate influences may raise the mind. You cannot expect a criminal to have a higher and purer morality than the rest of society. If you have led him astray by the fallacies of sordidness and externality, there are materials for correctioneducation and instruction ; to bring them to bear on the rectification of thought and feeling is the best course to be taken.
That there is a heavier punishment than that of death has been demonstrated by a curious fact, namely, that in some of the most rigid penal colonies murder has actually been committed in order to obtain for the criminal the deliverance of death from the punishment he was undergoing. Men who have been withheld by some religious fears from extricating themselves by suicide, yet finding themselves unable to bear the load of pain which pressed upon them in their penal circumstances, have actually been known to take the life of another, in order to secure thereby the termination of their own. They have looked to the gallows as the best alternative for them of the two. Here, then, you have at once demonstrated a heavier punishmentif heaviness of punishment be required—than what an execution itself can inflict.
Public opinion, it is said, requires capital punishments. Ill judge
they of public opinion who take it from the fact that crowds assemble to realise the strange gratification of witnessing the death of a human being. If public opinion does require it, it should be remembered, in justice to that same public opinion, that it required for a long time every amelioration that the legislature has yet granted to our system of punishment. There was first the demand of the public voicereiterated for a long course of time_before those improvements were enacted as part and parcel of the laws of the country. If public opinion lag sometimes behind, it is the business of those who wield the vast machinery of the empire to endeavour to raise it by anticipating it for a short space of time, and so realising eventually its perfect agreement with the institutions of society.
It would be worth while to get rid of hanging, if only to abolish that sad burlesque of reformation and religion which is so frequently exhibited; that praying, singing, and sacrament-taking of the felon with the clergyman ; that profession of inward grace; that assertion even of gifts that betoken the presence of God's Holy Spirit in the soul, when, perhaps, the crime has been proved by demonstrative evidence, and is denied to the very last, for the chance of escape ; that manufacture of saints out of the foulest and filthiest materialsthat taking the most sordid and blood-stained dust of humanity to make companions at once in glory for prophets, apostles, saints, angels, and archangels. The frequent exhibitions of this sort, especially blazoned forth as they seem to be, by gaol-chaplains, knowing little of religion except a certain vague phraseology, are one of the great nuisances of the time, tending only to hold religious "conversion,” “regeneration,” and all such words up to the scorn of those who have any insight into human character, the mode of its renovation, and the course we must take to secure its moral and spiritual improvement. The mere sweeping of this away would assuredly be a blessing to society, and tend greatly to free the world from cant, hypocrisy, and superstition.
It is not the confinement of capital punishment to a very few cases that would answer much good purpose. The question really lies between the amount of it as at present inflicted, and the entire abolition. The midway course is the worst of all, on this account: whatever be the crime, it attracts an artificial interest around the culprit. Make your executions very rare, reserve them for the most hateful forms of crime that can be imagined, still, if an execution be a very rare thing indeed, a feeling of sympathy and the liveliest interest will flow towards the individual. There will be more of the suffering hero than of the outcast of earth for intolerable guilt; such a splendour will be associated by sympathy with his fate, as altogether to obliterate the perception of punishment and iguominy, and rather remind one of
martyrdom and canonization. This has been found to be the case by experience in those states of America in which the punishment of death has been confined to the rarest instances of aggravated crime. Instead of advancing towards the purposo no doubt contemplated by such a limitation, they have receded from it much further than was the case in the period of the comparative frequency of executions.
Let us, then, whose convictions take this course, lose no opportunity of contributing our portion to the public opinion, by which, eventually, legislation must be regulated. Let us ask, whether we are more safe—whether crime is more infrequent, for such fearful exhibitions? Whether they have not rather the result of hardening the heart, and of making humanity an unimportant or contemptible thing in the eyes of the multitude? Whether they do not act as productive of crime, rather than as a power that shall banish it from the world? Let us ask ourselves, whether we have one atom more security for our lives from all the hanging that has been or that can be practised?-whether there be not within reach of the community abundant means for the safeguard of life, liberty, and property, which may be brought to bear on criminals, and especially by appealing to their fears of an ignominy, the enduring power of which will inspire them with a greater dread, so far as the dread of punishment enters at all into the previous anticipation? It will be the wiping away of a blot from the history of any country to rise above this mode of punishment, and to do without it. Without foregoing the right, let us say that we need not exercise it; that in the strength of wisdom their is a higher and nobler power; that the multitudes shall be so instructed and trained, that humane feelings and ample knowledge shall be so diffused, as, by raisiug the whole tone of existence, to make life much more safe than it can be rendered by any punishment, even by the infliction of death. By doing this we shall render good service to society; cherishing in our own minds that view of the objects of society which best accords with the dictates of nature, and into which all punishment and the influence of legislation should be ultimately resolved. For Providence, in the ceaseless working of its mighty plans, consults not an exactitude of retribution : it renders the evil subservient to the good, fosters and cherishes the "soul of goodness in things evil,” works on the heart by the benignant influence of love and piety, until the individual cannot bear to be a strange and alien thing in such a harmonised existence.
Let society do this; let it aspire not merely to be a power that, sustaining injury, retaliates that injury; but an intelligent and benevolent power, that makes even injury an occasion of good, harmonising and blending all its parts by the wise adjustment of its institutions; and thus will it accelerate the time when education shall have so far advanced, when character
shall be so rightly moulded, when truth, sincerity, and principle shall so far prevail, as that punishment, through almost all its forms, may become an obsolete thing, and be forgotten in the mutual endeavours of the members of society to encourage and assist one another in their various pursuits, in their use of the means of happiness which Providence has multiplied around them, and in the progress of the individual and social mind towards a purer, nobler, and more blessed condition of existence.
A MAIN CAUSE OF THE DIFFICULTIES EXPERIENCED IN
UNDERSTANDING THE SCRIPTURES,
(Continued from page 74.) In a former article I endeavoured to show that a main cause of the difficulties which men in general experience in arriving at the true meaning of the word of God is, that certain words and phrases are used in ordinary conversation, and in the creeds, catechisms, and articles of subscribing churches, in a sense quite different from that in which they are used in the Bible, and that men, in studying the Scriptures, invariably understand these words and phrases, in their acquired, and not in their real Scriptural import. I then pointed out the real and acquired meanings of a few of those words and phrases which are most generally misunderstood, and the misunderstanding of which has led to much false doctrine in the world.
I showed, lst, that the word “elect," as used in the Scriptures, denotes temporal and not eternal election : it denotes election to peculiar gospel principles and advantages, and not election to the enjoyments and rewards of Heaven. I showed, 2d, that the word “ atone" never means to satisfy, to compensate, or give an equiva-lent, but simply and solely to reconcile, or make peace between two parties who were hitherto alienated and estranged. I showed, 3d, that the phrase "the kingdom of heaven,” does not always mean the abode of the righteous hereafter, but most frequently denotes merely Christianity—the Gospel dispensation—that heavenly kingdom of peace, and truth, and righteousness which Jesus came to establish in this lower world. I showed, 4th, that the word “Worship,"as used in the sacred volume, does not always mean prayer, but most commonly means mere civil reverence and respect, such as was customarily paid not only to Jesus Christ, but to kings, prophets, magistrates, and all men of authority and distinction. I now proceed, according to promise, to point out the real and acquired meanings of a few moro of those important Scripture terms to which space did not allow me to refer in my last paper.
5. The word “sinner,” is one which is generally understood in an