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A Commentary on the Book of Crimes and Punishments. The Occasion of this Commentary. On the Punishment of Heretics. On the Extirpation of Heresy. Of the Indulgence of the Romans in Matters of Religion. Of the Crime of Preaching; and of Anthony.
The History of Simon Morin. On the Punishment of Death. Of certain sanguinary Tribunals.
On the Difference between Political and Natural Laws. On a certain Species of Mutilation. On criminal Procedure, and other Forms. The Idea of Reformation. In every human society, there is an effort continually tending to confer on one part the height of power and happiness, and to reduce the other to the extreme of weakness and misery.
The intent of good laws is to oppose this effort, and to diffuse their influence universally and equally. But men generally abandon the care of their most important concerns to the uncertain prudence and discretion of those, whose interest it is to reject the best and wisest institutions; and it is not till they have been led into a thousand mistakes, in matters the most essential to their lives and liberties, and are weary of suffering, that they can be induced to apply a remedy to the evils with which Edition: It is then they begin to conceive, and acknowledge the most palpable truths, which, from their very simplicity, commonly escape vulgar minds, incapable of analysing objects, accustomed to receive impressions without distinction, and to be determined rather by the opinions of others, than by the result of their own examination.
If we look into history we shall find that laws which are, or ought to be, conventions between men in a state of freedom, have been, for the most part, the work of the passions of a few, or the consequences of a fortuitous or temporary necessity; not dictated by a cool examiner of human nature, who knew how to collect in one point the actions of a multitude, and had this only end in view, the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
Happy are those few nations who have not waited till the slow succession of human vicissitudes should, from the extremity of evil, produce a transition to good; but, by prudent laws, have facilitated the progress from one to the other!
And how great are the obligations due from mankind to that philosopher, who, from the obscurity of his closet, had the courage to scatter among the multitude the seeds of useful truths, so long unfruitful!
By this knowledge commerce is animated, and there has sprung up a spirit of emulation and industry worthy of rational beings.
These are the produce of this enlightened age; but the cruelty of punishments, and the irregularity of proceeding in criminal cases, so principal a part of the legislation, and so much neglected throughout Europe, has hardly ever been called in question.
Errors, accumulated through many centuries, have never been exposed by ascending to general principles; nor has the force of acknowledged truths been ever opposed to the unbounded licentiousness of ill-directed power, which has continually produced so many authorized examples of the most unfeeling barbarity.
Surely, the groans of the weak, sacrificed to the cruel ignorance and indolence of the powerful; the barbarous torments lavished and multiplied with useless severity, for crimes either not proved, or in their nature impossible; the filth and horrors of a prison, increased by the most cruel tormentor of the miserable, uncertainty, ought to have roused the attention of those, whose business is to direct the opinions of mankind.
Truth, which is eternally the same, has obliged me to follow the steps of that great man; but the studious part of mankind, for whom I write, will easily distinguish the superstructure from the foundation.
I shall be happy, if, with him, I can obtain the secret thanks of the obscure and peaceful disciples of reason and philosophy, and excite that tender emotion, in which sensible minds sympathise with him who pleads the cause of humanity.
Laws are the conditions under which men, naturally independent, united themselves in society. Weary of living in a continual state of war, and of enjoying a liberty which became of little value, from the uncertainty of its duration, they sacrificed one part of it to enjoy the rest in peace and security.
The sum of all these portions of the liberty of each individual constituted the sovereignty Edition: But it was not sufficient only to establish this deposit; it was also necessary to defend it from the usurpation of each individual, who will always endeavour to take away from the mass, not only his own portion, but to encroach on that of others.
Some motives, therefore, that strike the senses, were necessary to prevent the despotism of each individual from plunging society into its former chaos. Such motives are the punishment established against the infractors of the laws. I say that motives of this kind are necessary; because experience shews that, the multitude adopt no established rules of conduct; and because, society is prevented from approaching to that dissolution to which, as well as all other parts of the physical and moral world, it naturally tends only by motives that are the immediate objects of sense, and which, being continually presented to the mind, are sufficient to counterbalance the effects of the passions of the individual which oppose the general good.
Neither the power of eloquence, nor the sublimest truths, are sufficient to restrain, for any length of time, those passions which are excited by the lively impression of present objects.
Every punishment which does not arise from absolute necessity, says the great Montesquieu, is tyrannical. A proposition which may be made more general, thus. Every act of authority of one man over another, for which there is not an absolute necessity, is tyrannical.
Whatever law deviates from this principle will always meet with a resistance, which will destroy it in the end; for the smallest force, continually applied, Edition: No man ever gave up his liberty merely for the good of the public.
Such a chimera exists only in romances. Every individual wishes, if possible, to be exempt from the compacts that bind the rest of mankind.“One need not be a chamber to be haunted.” Dickinson, Emily.
Complete Poems. Mar 01, · Scroll through this list of questions that touch on every aspect of contemporary life — from social media to sports, politics and school — and see which ones most inspire you to take a stand. A. Alan Abel reported his own death in a skiing accident as an elaborate hoax on New Year's Day, (), to get his obituary published in The New York Times.
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