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houfe of correction for seven years, or to be tranfported for the fame period; and makes it felony without benefit of clergy to return or escape within the time. It has fometimes been wished, that perjury, at least upon capital accufations, whereby another's life has been or might have been destroyed, was also rendered capital, upon a principle of retaliation; as it is univerfally by the laws of France. And certainly the odioufnefs of the crime pleads strongly in behalf of the French law. But it is to be confidered, that there they admit witnesses to be heard only on the fide of the profecution, and use the rack to extort a confeffion from the accused. In fuch a constitution therefore it is necessary to throw the dread of capital punishment into the other scale, in order to keep in awe the witneffes for the crown; on whom alone the prifoner's fate depends: fo naturally does one cruel law beget another. But corporal and pecuniary punishments, exile and perpetual infamy, are more fuited to the genius of the English law, where the fact is openly difcuffed between witneffes on both fides, and the evidence for the crown may be contradicted and difproved by thofe of the prifoner. Where indeed the death of an innocent perfon has actually been the confequence of fuch wilful perjury, it falls within the guilt of deliberate murder, and deferves an equal punishment: which our antient law in fact inflicted. But the mere attempt to destroy life by other means not being capital, there is no reason that an attempt by perjury should: much less that this crime should in all judicial cases be punished with death. For to multiply capital punishments leffens their effect, when applied to crimes of the deepest dye; and,. deteftable as perjury is, it is not by any means to be compared with fome other offences, for which only death can be inflicted: and therefore it seems already (except perhaps in the instance of deliberate murder by perjury) very properly punished by our prefent law; which has adopted the opinion of Cicero, derived from the law of the twelve tables, "perjurii poena divina, ex"itium; bumana, dedecus."
h Montefq. Sp. L. b. 29. ch. 11. Britton. c. 5.
* de Leg. 2.9.
17. BRIBERY is the next fpecies of offence against public justice; which is when a judge, or other perfon concerned in the administration of justice, takes any undue reward to influence his behaviour in his office'. In the eaft it is the custom never to petition any fuperior for justice, not excepting their kings, without a present. This is calculated for the genius of defpotic countries; where the true principles of government are never understood, and it is imagined that there is no obligation from the fuperior to the inferior, no relative duty owing from the governor to the governed. The Roman law, though it contained many severe injunctions against bribery, as well for felling a man's vote in the senate or other public affembly, as for the bartering of common justice, yet, by a strange indulgence in one instance, it tacitly encouraged this practice; allowing the magistrate to receive small presents, provided they did not in the whole exceed a hundred crowns in the year": not confidering the infinuating nature and gigantic progress of this vice, when once admitted. Plato therefore more wifely, in his ideal republic", orders those who take prefents for doing their duty to be punish-. ed in the severeft manner: and by the laws of Athens he that offered was also profecuted, as well as he that received a bribe°. In England this offence of taking bribes is punished, in inferior officers, with fine and imprisonment; and in those who offer a bribe, though not taken, the fame P. But in judges, especially the superior ones, it hath been always looked upon as so heinous an offence, that the chief juftice Thorpe was hanged for it in the reign of Edward III. By a ftatute 11 Hen. IV, all judges and officers of the king, convicted of bribery, shall forfeit treble the bribe, be punished at the king's will, and be discharged from the king's fervice for ever. And fome notable examples have been made in parliament, of perfons in the
Pott. Antiqu. b. 1. c. 23.
highest stations, and otherwise very eminent and able, but contaminated with this fordid vice.
18. EMBRACERY is an attempt to influence a jury corruptly to one fide by promifes, perfuafions, entreaties, money, entertainments, and the like'. The punishment for the person embracing is by fine and imprisonment; and, for the juror fo embraced, if it be by taking money, the punishment is (by divers ftatutes of the reign of Edward III) perpetual infamy, imprisonment for a year, and forfeiture of the tenfold value.
19. THE falfe verdict of jurors, whether occafioned by embracery or not, was antiently confidered as criminal, and therefore exemplarily punished by attaint in the manner formerly mentioned '.
20. ANOTHER offence of the fame fpecies is the negligence of public officers, entrusted with the administration of justice, as fheriffs, coroners, conftables, and the like: which makes the offender liable to be fined; and in very notorious cafes will amount to a forfeiture of his office, if it be a beneficial one *. Alfo the omitting to apprehend perfons, offering stolen iron, lead, and other metals to fale, is a misdemeanor and punishable by a stated fine, or imprisonment, in pursuance of the statute 29 Geo. II. c. 30.
21. THERE is yet another offence against public justice, which is a crime of deep malignity; and fo much the deeper, as there are many opportunities of putting it in practice, and the power and wealth of the offenders may often deter the injured from a legal profecution. This is the oppreffion and tyrannical partiality of judges, justices, and other magiftrates, in the administration and under the colour of their office. However, when profecuted, either by impeachment in parliament,
'I Hawk. P. C. 259.
I Hawk. P. C. 168.
or by information in the court of king's bench, (according to the rank of the offenders) it is fure to be feverely punished with forfeiture of their offices, fines, imprisonment, or other difcretionary cenfures, regulated by the nature and aggravations of the offence committed.
22. LASTLY, extortion is an abuse of public justice, which confifts in any officer's unlawfully taking, by colour of his office, from any man, any money or thing of value, that is not due to him, or more than is due, or before it is due". The punishment is fine and imprisonment, and fometimes a forfeiture of the office.
"I Hawk. P. C. 170.
OF OFFENCES AGAINST THE PUBLIC PEACE.
WE are next to coud w ofences the
E are next to confider offences against the public peace;
the conservation of which is intrusted to the king and his officers, in the manner and for the reasons which were formerly mentioned at large. These offences are either fuch as are an actual breach of the peace; or conftructively fo, by tending to make others break it. Both of these species are also either felonious, or not felonious. The felonious breaches of the peace are strained up to that degree of malignity by virtue of several modern statutes: and, particularly,
1. THE riotous affembling of twelve perfons, or more, and not difperfing upon proclamation. This was first made high treafon by statute 3 & 4 Edw. VI. c. 5. when the king was a minor, and a change in religion to be effected: but that statute was repealed by statute 1 Mar. c. 1. among the other treasons created fince the 25 Edw. III; though the prohibition was in fubftance re-enacted, with an inferior degree of punishment, by statute 1 Mar. ft. 2. c. 12. which made the same offence a single felony. These ftatutes specified and particularized the nature of the riots they were meant to fupprefs; as, for example, fuch as were fet on foot with intention to offer violence to the privy council, or to change the laws of the kingdom, or for certain other specific purposes: in which cafes, if the perfons were a Vol. I. pag. 117.268.350.