duced, and on the whole the plea- the human mind. Their scheme has sure with which we always witness now undergone the trial of nearly the progress of just theory in regui- twenty years; and it is adopted by lating the concerns of makind, and the orators of the imperial council, in assuming that legitimate controul with some variations imposed by over practical affairs, without which the altered nature of the governit is hopeless at any time to aspire ment, and others which have been after permanent improvement. The suggested by the experiment itself. age in which we live will not rank These rests and pauses, in which among its meanest triumphs, the a nation calmly looks back on her total abolition of torture, the limi- 'former practice with a view to a. tation of capital punishments to a small mendment, are advantages dearly number of cases,--the infliction of bought in a despotic government by death (except in a single instance, violent convulsions, which they prethat of parricide,) without insult or cede or follow. They are the, moaggraration,and the establishment ments of awful tranquillity that anof a simple codė of punishments,-in nounce the approaching hurricane, that empire which most pertina. or the first respite which permits ciously adhered to the cruelty, the the half-recovered proprietor to recomplexity, and all the false prin- pair its destructise ravages. In a ciples and odious practices which free state, like our own, where the disgraced the multiform enaciments warmest discussion of general topics of the antient civil code.

provokes only an answer, and the - For our own part, we can scarce- most violent animadversions serve ly regard without envy the enploy- only to prove the stability of the ment to which the public men of system against which they are die France have recently been called, rected, no period can be improper in re-organizing the laws of their for the detection of abuses, the excountry, at a period when the dis- posure of errors, and the suggestion cussions of enlightened men have of remedies. Yet, this very facility thrown so much light on the true may sometimes vperate to defeat the doctrines of penal legislation. Yet objects within its command; and they are not entitled to the mcrit of as, according to the vulgar obserhaving been the first to promulgate ration, 6. every body's business is from authority the wise and bene- nobody's business," so the exact ficent decrees in question. In the season seems never to arrive for doyear 1791, the Constituent Assem- ing that which may at any time be bly, (a body which, in spite of oc- effected. It is said, “ things have casional mistakes and inconsisten- gone on hitherto without any very cies, will be allowed by impartial material inconvenience; why select posterity to have deserved well of this particular instant for redressing its country and of mankind,) under trilling wrongs, which the habitual took the weighty task of revising sufferance of them renders comparaone of the most corrupt and oppres- tively harmless ? The cvents of the sive penal codes that ever was en passing hour are fully sufficient to dured in civilized society. They absorb the faculties of the wisest threw off the grosser crrors, and rec- governors : their temporary pressure tified the more prominent anomalies; cannot dispense with immediate and they appealed from the experience unremitting attention'; and why of civil to the abstract principles of should we divert any part of it to right, and laid a sound basis for that prospective amelioration which equitable coercion in the universal has been so long delayed, and may and well recognized propensities of wait a little longer, and which may

[ocr errors]

be brought about at any time with prisonment. Under the second head as much advantage as at the pre- are the pillory, banishment, and ci. sent?"-Without encountering these vil degradation. The correctional approved excuses of indolence and punishments are temporary impriinactivity by other topics as general sonment in a place of correction, in their nature, but of an opposite temporary interdictiou from certain tendency,--and without citing or rights, either of a civic or a domeseven insinuating the instructive tic nature, and fines. In the details proof which recent circumstances which regulate the mode of inflicthave afforded, of the immense dan- ing these punishments, it is enacted ger of unnecessary postponements, that a parricide shall be taken in

we shall merely observe that at his shirt to the place of execution, the present epoch the public mind barefooted, and his head covered docs happen to be peculiarly alive with a black veil; that he shall be to the doctrines of criminal jurise exposed on the scaffold while bis prudence, and the defects in our sentence is read aloud; that his own penal system. Undismayed by right hand shall be cut off, and he the various objections and imputa. shall then be instantly executed. tions which are calculated to deter Decapitation is the only mode in them from the inquiry, several of which capital punishment can be the most distinguished members of administered. our legislature have presumed to [The Reviewer then proceeds more question the policy, the justice, and particularly to examine the various the humanity of our existing laws, branches of this code, but our liand have most certainly been secon- mits prevent us from extracting any ded by a very strong opinion out of other part than that relative to the cours. The opportunity, therefore, LAW OF LIBELs.) appears to be favourable for giving in the seventh section, directed circulation to a rather ample ex- against false i testimony, calumny, position of the course pursued on insult, and the revelation of secrets the same subject by a great and en professionally intrusted, we discover lightened people ; and we design to a principle of some importance, as state fully the contents of the work to the law of libel affecting the cha. before us, for the information of our racter and feelings of individuals, own countrymen,- without institu- which is not quite inapplicable to ting any parallel, or obtruding ma- the question so often agitated among ny remarks, except for the purpose us,“ how far that which is true of rendering' more intelligible, by can justly be styled libellous.”— the contrast, that which, standing • Every imputation, says this Penal alone, it might be difficult to ex. Code, is reputed false, which is plain.

not supported by legal proof. lo “ The penal code of France begins consequence, the author of the imwith certain preliminary disposi- putation shall not be allowed to detions, comprising little more than a mand, in his defence, that the proof definition of the legal terms most be entered into: neither shall be be constantly employed; and the first able to allege as an excuse that the book operis with a table of punish- documents or the facts are notorie ments, which are divided into, 1, ous; or that the imputations which the afflictive and infanious; 2, the give rise to the prosecutions are con infamous; 3, the correctional. Those pied or extracted from foreign paof the first description are, death, pers, or other printed writings.:-compulsory labour for life or for a : When the fact imputed shall be certain time, deportation, and im. legally proved true, the author of

the imputation shall be exempted chase at the dreadful price of subfrom all penalty : but nothing shall version, massacre, and desolation !* be considered as a legal proof, but that which results from a judgment, or some other authentic act.'--In CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN short, as we understand the provi

THE EDITOR OF THE sion, the defendant who is accused EVANGELICAL MAGAZINE, AND of calumny shall not be allowed to THE EDITOR OF THE PO. repel that accusation, by proving

LITICAL REVIEW. his charge to be true : but he may institute another proceeeding for the [The following correspondence was purpose of doing this, and, if he be

printed on the cover of the Political

Review, for Jan. 1809, but at the resuccessful, he shall escape punish

quest of several of our readers, we here ment. We think that this is a wise

insert it, that it may be the better preand simple expedient, in a case na served, as a memorial of the regard turally involved in great difficulty, shewn to moral character, and to the infor reconciling the interests of truth terests of practical piety by an Evan. with the public tranquillity and gelical Editor.] the protection of private character. To the Rev. George Burder, Hatton [The Reviewer concludes with the

Garden, London. following general remarks.1

Harlow, Dec. 6, 1808. “ We have judged it sufficient to Rev. Sir, call the attention of the public to Understanding that you are the the more material parts of the code, Editor of the Evangelical Magazine, and have laboured to compress them, I beg leave to trouble you with a as well as our opinions on them, few lines on a subject of no inconinto the smallest space; for we are siderable importance to your own persuaded that those who are in. character, as well as to mine. trusted with the reform and the pre- On the 21st of last month, I sent servation of the English system will to the publishers of the Magazine profit by studying that of France. an advertisement, a copy of which Not that we recommend it for in- I enclose ; and which I naturally discriminate imitation, or are blind expected to see on the cover of the to its numerous defects of arrange- ensuing number. On the 301b. I. ment, precision, and subject : but however, to my surprise, received since nothing can keep the foundations a letter from the publisher, of which of society clear of corruption and de- the following is a copy : cay, except a frequent recurrence to Mr. B. Flower, Hurlow.first principles, we think that much " Sir, benefit may be derived from attend. “I think it necessary to inform ing to the practical discussion of “ you that the Editors of the Evanthem, by some of the first men in a “gelical Magazine have rejected neighbouring nation, in many in- " your advertisement against Claystances closely resembling our own: “ ton as inadmissible, consequently happy, we repeat, that, on this as “ it was not in our power to insert on every other subject, the very na. “ it. Yours respectfully, ture of our constitution provides the (Signed) T. WILLIAMS.” means of peaceably introducing those « Stationers Court, Nov. 29, 1808.", remedies of wbat is wrong, and those It appears, Sir, by this letter. improvements of what is incomplete that the publisher has no choice rer ly right, which countries less fa. specting the insertion of advertisevoured have been compelled to pur monts; that the Editors have the

absolute controul in this respect; when the public have had such freand that they “ rejected the adver- quent, and very proper declarations, " tisement" alluded to " as inad- inserteil on the cover of the Maga“ missible.”

zine, that the Editor does not conIt is not my design, Sir, to draw sider himself responsible for the nayou into any controversy on this ture of the advertisements, and which occasion, or I might ask the ques. indeed include all sorts of publication- What a desperate cause must tions, good, bad, and indifferent; that be, which dreads an appeal to and quack medicines, which may the public respecting A Statement be beneficial to health, or the conof Facts ?*--I might complain of the trary. injustice of shutting up from a per. As the Statement is, I am persuason who feels himself most grossly ded, connected with the interests of injured in his character, one of the truth and holiness, it is my deter. common channels for advertisements. mination that it shall have an ex

I might state, that the “ facts” tensive circulation. I request the in question seriously demand the at. favour, therefore, of an explicit antention of the religious world; but swer, whether the Editors of the as these are topics on which we Evangelical Magazine persist in their might, perhaps, differ in opinion, I refusal to insert the enclosed advershall only appeal to you, Sir, on tisement ? I am preparing to adverthe impropriety of your making tise the Statement extensively, and yourself a party on this occasion, deem it but fair to apprise you, Sir,

of my intention of stating, should * The only mistake which the author the refusal be persisted in, such an of the Statement has since discovered, unfair method of suppressing truth, is that relating to Mr. George Clayton, and of countenacing falsehood. You of whose conduct as distinguished from

will, therefore, consider this letter, that of his father and brothers, be expressed his bigh approbation. With not as a private but a public comsincere regret justice obliges him to in- munication. forin the public, on the evidence of se- If the Editors of the Evangelical veral respectable dissenting ministers, Magazine mean to make a commor that Mr. George Clayton has shewn the cause with certain Reverend gentle. same industry in circulating the malig- men, whom, as long as I believe nant falsehoods of which his relatives above mentioned stand convicted before

the gospel to be true, and until they the public. One of the respectable mi

manifest the most public repentance nisters alluded to, thus addressed the of their conduct, I shall always Author of the Statement. You are hold up to the world, and in the “ much deceived in Mr. George Clay- social circle, as a standing scandal “ ton : his treatment of you has been to their profession, and a disgrace « as bad as that of the rest of the fami to the christian name,I hope they « ly !" It is much to be feared that Mr. Clayton's three sons may adopt the

will have the fairness to avow their language of Dr. Watts, in a somewhat determination. more appropriate sense than originally

Mr. Williams, in his letter, menintended by the author.

tions the EDITORS of the Magazine; “ How strong in our degenerate blood, but as you are the only gentleman “ The old corruption reigns;

whose name has been published as " And mingling with the crooked food, the Editor, since the death of Mr.

“ Wanders through all our veins !"" May God grant the four Reverend Eyre, I must request, stuuld there Slanderers that sincere repentauce, with be any other person coi

be any other person connected with out which there can be no satisfactory you, that you would have the goodevidence of their being christians. ness to communicate to him the con

tents of this letter. Waiting your fered the diabolical calumnies cast answer, I remain, Rev. Sir,

on my character, and on the meYours Respectfully, mory of my mother, by the Clay

Benj. Flower. tons, to have been circulated withAfter waiting a week for an an- out giving them the most ample, swer, I wrote a second letter to Mr. and the most public refutation in Burder, requesting, as the time of my power, I reflect with great satisadvertising on the cover of the Evan- faction on the steps I have taken for gelical Magazine for the ensuing that purpose. month drew near, that he would fa- ' I know not whether you have vour me with an explicit reply to read the publication alluded to; but my last. On the 18th instant I re. I have a right to complain that you, ceived a letter, of which the follow. Sir, should have made yourself a ing is a copy.

party in the disgraceful business, To Mr. Flower, Printer, Harlou. by endeavouring to shield those per

London. Dec. 17, 1808. sons, who have vented the calumSIR,

nies I have so justly characterised. I have received both your letters, Happy it is for the interests of respecting an advertisement of your truth, justice, and morality, that late publication on the cover of the the editors of our public prints, and Evangelical Magazine. In answer, periodical publications in general, permit me to say, that deeply re- have a greater respect for that inesgretting, as I do, that family distimable privilege of Britons-THIE putes have been brought into a court FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, than the of justice, and still more that they Editor of the Evangelical Magazine ; have formed the subject of a pamph. concerning whom, I shall, without let, I cannot allow myself to be in making any apology for so doing, strumental in giving further public state to the public, that, however city to the unhappy affair by the a person may be injured in his good insertion of the proposed advertise-. name, or however false and wicked ment. I am Sir,

may be the calumnies vented against Your obedient Servant, him, if the calumniators happen to

GEO. BURDER. be acquainted, or any way connecTo the Rev. George Burder. ted with the editor in question, they

Harlow, Dec. 20, 1808. are sure of his protection, he being Rev. Sir,

determined not to insert, even an By your letter of the 17th I per- advertisement, on the cover of his ceive, that although you persist in Niagazine, consisting of a Statement your refusal to advertise on the co- of Facts, designed to vindicate the ver of the Evangelical Magazine the injured person from the base atStatement of Facts, fc. you decline tempts of those, who have, during answering the reasons I suggested a long course of years, repeatedly respecting the impropriety of such endeavoured to assassinate his charefusal. You cannot lament more racter, if not to rob him of his life! than I have done, that the dispute The question between the Clay. between me and the Messrs. Claytons tons and me, and I am sorry to add, has been brought into a court of between you, Sir, and me, is not justice, and that it has since been relating to a mere family dispute, made the subject of a publication ; but to a subject of much greater but being perfectly conscious, that importance. It is Whether moral I should have justly forfeited all character in Protestant Dissenting claim to the character of an honest ministers of the Independent denomi. man, and a christian, if I had suf. nation, is to bc considered as of esVOL. IX.

3 E

« VorigeDoorgaan »