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guilty of each, which could not be unless she had ten lives. One count declares that he killed her by a pistol-shot in the face, of which she instantly died; another of a swordwound in the side, of which she instantly died; another of strangulation, of which she instantly died; another of burying her alive, of which she instantly died by being smothered by a specific number of bushels of various descriptions of earths: with a long twaddle about the value of the weapons, the worthlessness of the gravel and other earths, the hand by which the murders were inflicted, and other nonsense. Now what possible effect can these particulars have except affording loop-holes for escape ? They can have no bearing on the guilt or innocency of the party, either in fact or degree: and although so utterly ridiculous, that they would disgrace a nation of savages, yet one might willingly let them alone but for the awful fact, that they are continually affording the means of escape, and thereby encouraging the commission of fresh crimes.
With those who consider an oath to be a sacred pledge, it is wonderful that their
consciences have been able to bear the outrage of such a system, which they know is surrounded and saturated with false oaths in almost all its parts; they might see that there must be something rotten in it.
Can any one doubt of its being offensive to the ADORABLE BEING, for men thus to dare to call Him to witness on trifling and on false occasions? or to hinge our hopes of His mercy, and His help from sin, on our believing what we know to be lies ? Surely it is consistent with the practice to call them sacred oaths, for thereby we add another lie to the number. Pardon this strong language, brethren; it is not you but the system that the writer has enmity against, but he feels that our God is mocked thereby: and what use is there or can there be in these things? Is it possible that honest men can suppose simple truth insufficient for honest purposes ?
May not we Englishmen take the liberty of saying to the government and the country, Go straight-forward, proceed, calmly and deliberately; loathing every one of the lies of the old system, and all their needless and deceptive forms and practices; remembering that, as men of like passions and feelings, you need not be contriving in the dark ; surely you know as honest men what other honest men will want; and is it to be supposed the ingenuity of honest men, aided by the powers of the government, and countenanced by the feelings and approbation of the honest part of the nation, will sink in a contest with crimes ?
But we want laws of common sense and common honesty, and men to enforce them, constantly vigilant, particularly in the prevention and discovery department; and THEIR INTEREST as much as possible made to tally in exact accordance with the MINIMUM OF CRIME : we should also be prompt in trial and punishment; rigid in classification and order; incessantly alive to the morality of all prison inmates; and is it to be supposed that English juries would be slow in incorporating with the honest decision from unsophisticated statements? or that after such a system were once established, the attempt to return to the sophistry of the lawyers would be tolerated ?
By these means detection would so generally and rapidly follow crime, and punishment never loiter far behind detection, that honesty would be declared the best policy, even by many of the thieves themselves; and deviations from rectitude, whether of cold calculation, as robbery; or of yielding to the temptations of sensuality, as drunkenness; all would rapidly diminish among us.
If the spreading of crime arise from bad education, and example; immorality and idleness, and their consequences—destitution, cruelty, and recklessness of character, ready means, both in and out of prison, of instruction in crime, infused with inviting appeals to the worst passions of human nature; a hope in the breast of each that whoever may suffer he shall escape; and the facility with which stolen property may be disposed of to those, perhaps the most mischievous of all villains, the receivers of stolen goods; it seems obvious that a tangible if not a smooth path is open to the legislature; and the sooner they begin to deliberate on the subject, the sooner they will be likely to enact laws, at once more
worthy of themselves and the nation, and calculated to raise the standard or degree of virtue and of comfort in thousands every day of their lives.
Should any object that society is not ripe for such a code of laws, we may reply, that good laws assist a community of good offices; but if the virtue of society must always take the lead of the virtue of the laws, we must say that it has a needless load, and hardly receives fair play, or is enabled to make that progress which assistance instead of hindrance would so much promote.
In suggesting principles and materials for a code of laws, it may be as well to premise, that prevention is better than cure; and, in the case of English jurisprudence, some of the greatest evils perhaps, are those laws and practices which are appointed to destroy what they really increase, and nourish those they pretend to starve.—First then, if
First then, if we may be so bold as respectfully to suggest such a thing, let government consider if they are clear of encouraging drunkenness, or any other crime; and perhaps, on calm consideration, they will