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the Commons rejected ; the third was postponed, and afterwards withdrawn.

The opposition in the Lords was led by the Lord Chancellor, Eldon, and the Chief Justice, Lord Ellenborough, both great lawyers, but men bred in a narrow school, and fettered by tradition and precedent. The strange argument was put forward that the punishment must not be abolished, because the crime against which it was directed had increased; which would justify a physician in continuing to administer a powerful remedy because his patient grew worse !

“I trust,” said Lord Ellenborough solemnly, “your Lordships will pause before

you assent to a measure pregnant with danger to the security of property, and before you repeal a statute which has been so long held necessary for public security, and which I am not conscious has produced the smallest injury to the merciful administration of justice. After all that has been stated in favour of this speculative humanity, it must be admitted that the law as it stands is but seldom carried into execution; and yet it ceases not to hold out that terror which alone will be sufficient to prevent the frequent commission of the offence. It has been urged, by persons speculating in modern legislation, that a certainty of punishment is preferable to severity—that it should invariably be proportioned to the magnitude of the crime, thereby forming a known rate of punishment commensurate with the degree of the offence. Whatever may be my opinion of the theory of this doctrine, I am convinced of its absurdity in practice.

“Retaining the terror, and leaving the execution uncertain and dependent on circumstances which may aggravate or mitigate the enormity of the crime, does not prove the severity of any criminal law; whereas, to remove that salutary dread of punishment would produce injury to the criminal, and break down the barrier which prevents the frequent commission of

affording the only prospect of suppressing crimes, the laws, whatever they were, ought to be executed. Over this golden bridge the young man had no wish to retreat; and he replied : “No, no ; it is not that. There is no good done by mercy; they only get worse.

I would hang them all up at once.”

Eventually the bill was passed; but Romilly was forced to strike out the declaration of principle embodied in the preamble : “Whereas, the extreme severity of penal law hath not been found effectual for the prevention of crimes, but, on the contrary, by increasing the difficulty of convicting offenders, in some cases affords them impunity, and in most cases renders their punishment extremely uncertain."

His next legislation was in amendment of the Bankruptey Law; and then, in 1810, he resumed his attack upon the penal code, introducing three bills to repeal the statutes of William III., Queen Anne, and George II., in which the capital penalty might be inflicted for evately stealing in a shop goods to the value of five

s or in a dwelling-house, or on board a vessel Abgable river. It is difficult now to believe that eix ueasures would be bitterly opposed by such men

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the Commons rejected; the third was postponed, and afterwards withdrawn.

The opposition in the Lords was led by the Lord Chancellor, Eldon, and the Chief Justice, Lord Ellenborough, both great lawyers, but men bred in a narrow school, and fettered by tradition and precedent. The strange argument was put forward that the punishment must not be abolished, because the crime against which it was directed had increased; which would justify a physician in continuing to administer a powerful remedy because his patient grew worse !

“I trust,” said Lord Ellenborough solemnly, “your Lordships will pause

before you assent to a measure pregnant with danger to the security of property, and before you repeal a statute which has been so long held necessary for public security, and which I am not conscious has produced the smallest injury to the merciful administration of justice. After all that has been stated in favour of this speculative humanity, it must be admitted that the law as it stands is but seldom carried into execution; and yet it ceases not to hold out that terror which alone will be sufficient to prevent the frequent commission of the offence. It has been urged, by persons speculating in modern legislation, that a certainty of punishment is preferable to severity—that it should invariably be proportioned to the magnitude of the crime, thereby forming a known rate of punishment commensurate with the degree of the offence. Whatever may be my opinion of the theory of this doctrine, I am convinced of its absurdity in practice.

“Retaining the terror, and leaving the execution uncertain and dependent on circumstances which may aggravate or mitigate the enormity of the crime, does not prove the severity of any criminal law; whereas, to remove that salutary dread of punishment would produce injury to the criminal, and break down the barrier which prevents the frequent commission of

affording the only prospect of suppressing crimes, the laws, whatever they were, ought to be executed. Over this golden bridge the young man had no wish to retreat; and he replied : “No, no; it is not that. There is no good done by mercy; they only get worse.

I would hang them all up at once.”

Eventually the bill was passed; but Romilly was forced to strike out the declaration of principle embodied in the preamble : “Whereas, the extreme severity of penal law hath not been found effectual for the prevention of crimes, but, on the contrary, by increasing the difficulty of convicting offenders, in some cases affords them impunity, and in most cases renders their punishment extremely uncertain."

His next legislation was in amendment of the Bankruptcy Law; and then, in 1810, he resumed his attack upon the penal code, introducing three bills to repeal the statutes of William III., Queen Anne, and George II., by which the capital penalty might be inflicted for privately stealing in a shop goods to the value of five shillings, or in a dwelling-house, or on board a vessel in a navigable river. It is difficult now to believe that these measures would be bitterly opposed by such men as Windham, an orator of genius, a scholar, and a gentleman; and by Percival, the Prime Minister. Yet such was the fact; and almost every member of the Government followed on the same side. Romilly had the satisfaction, however, of being supported by the eloquence of Canning and the authority of Wilberforce.

Notwithstanding their valuable assistance, notwithstanding the strength of his arguments and the accumulated testimony of his facts, he was defeated. His first bill passed the Commons, but was rejected by the Lords; his second,

the Commons rejected; the third was postponed, and afterwards withdrawn.

The opposition in the Lords was led by the Lord Chancellor, Eldon, and the Chief Justice, Lord Ellenborough, both great lawyers, but men bred in a narrow school, and fettered by tradition and precedent. The strange argument was put forward that the punishment must not be abolished, because the crime against which it was directed had increased; which would justify a physician in continuing to administer a powerful remedy because his patient grew worse !

“I trust,” said Lord Ellenborough solemnly, “your Lordships will pause before

you assent to a measure pregnant with danger to the security of property, and before you repeal a statute which has been so long held necessary for public security, and which I am not conscious has produced the smallest injury to the merciful administration of justice. After all that has been stated in favour of this speculative humanity, it must be admitted that the law as it stands is but seldom carried into execution; and yet it ceases not to hold out that terror which alone will be sufficient to prevent the frequent commission of the offence. It has been urged, by persons speculating in modern legislation, that a certainty of punishment is preferable to severity—that it should invariably be proportioned to the magnitude of the crime, thereby forming a known rate of punishment commensurate with the degree of the offence. Whatever may be my opinion of the theory of this doctrine, I am convinced of its absurdity in practice.

“Retaining the terror, and leaving the execution uncertain and dependent on circumstances which may aggravate or mitigate the enormity of the crime, does not prove the severity of any criminal law; whereas, to remove that salutary dread of punishment would produce injury to the criminal, and break down the barrier which prevents the frequent commission of

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