Imágenes de páginas

without the benefit of clergy. These laws are seldom exerted to their utmost rigor, or they would be inexcusable.

Church of England Protected. In order to secure the established church against perils from non-conformists of all denominations, there are two bulwarks erected, called the corporation and test acts ;? by the former of which, no person could be legally elected to any governing office of any city or corporation, unless within a year before, he had received the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the rites of the church of England; and he must also take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, at the same time he takes the oath of office, otherwise the election is void. The law directs all officers, civil and military, to take the oaths, and make the declaration, in any of the king's courts, within six months after their admission; and also within the same time to receive the sacrament of the Lord's supper, according to the usage of the church of England, in some public church, upon forfeiture of 5001., and disability to hold the said office.

Gross Impieties. We proceed now to consider some gross impieties and immoralities, which are punished by our municipal law, frequently in concurrence with the ecclesiastical; the spiritual court punishing pro salute animae, for the safety of the soul, while the temporal courts correct more for the sake of example, than for private amendment.

IV. Blasphemy. An offence against God and religion is that of blasphemy against the Almighty, by denying His being or providence, or by contumelious reproaches of Christ. Also all profane scoffing at the holy scriptures, or exposing them to contempt and ridicule. This is punished by fine and imprisonment, or infamous corporal punishment.

V. Cursing. This is somewhat allied to blasphemy. By statute of George II, which repeals all former acts, every laborer, sailor or soldier profanely swearing, shall forfeit one shilling for every offence, and every other person under the degree of a gentleman, two shillings, and every gentleman or person of rank, five shillings, for the poor of the parish, and on the second offence, double, and the third offence, treble. In default of payment, the cffender shall be sent to the house of correction for ten days. Profanity was expressly forbidden in stage plays.

1 Fortunately for the credit of civilization, these laws have been repealed. 2 Repealed in 1828.

VI. Witchcraft and Sorcery. Another species of offence against God and religion, which our ancient books treat of at length, was the crime of witchcraft, conjuration, enchantment or sorcery. The civil law punished with death, not only the sorcerers themselves, but those who consulted them. Our own laws have been equally penal, ranking this crime in the same class with heresy, and condemning both to the flames. In the reign of Henry VIII, a statute enacted, that all witchcraft and sorcery should be deemed felony, without benefit of clergy, which punishment, in the reign of James I, was awarded to any one invoking any evil spirit, or consulting, covenanting with, entertaining, employing, feeding or rewarding any such spirit, or exhuming dead bodies to be used in any witchcraft, sorcery, charm or enchantment, or killing or hunting any person by such infernal arts. And if any person should attempt by sorcery to discover hidden treasures, or to restore stolen goods, or to provoke unlawful love, or to hurt any man or beast, though not consummated, he should suffer imprisonment and the pillory for the first offence, and death for the second.

Recent Legislation. These acts continued in force until recently, to the terror of elderly females in the kingdom ; and many poor wretches were sacrificed thereby to the prejudice of their neighbors, and their own illusions, not a few having confessed the fact at the gallows. But by statute of George II. no prosecution shall for the future be instituted for witchcraft or sorcery. But the misdemeanor of pretending to tell fortunes, or discover stolen goods by skill in the occult sciences is still punishable by fine and the pillory.

VII. Religious Impostures. These imposters falsely pretend that they bear an extraordinary commission from heaven; or terrify and abuse the people with false denunciations of judgments. These, as tending to subvert all religion, by bringing it into ridicule and contempt, are punishable by the temporal courts, with fine and imprisonment.

VIII, Simony. This crime is the corrupt presentation of any one to an ecclesiastical benefice for gift or reward. It is an offence against religion, as well by reason of the sacredness of the charge, which is thus profanely bought and sold, as because it is always attended with perjury in the person presented.

IX. Profanation of the Lord's Day. This offence is vulgarly called Sabbath-breaking, and is punished by the municipal law. Beside the indecency and scandal of permitting any regular business to be publicly transacted on that day in a country professing christianity, and the corruption of morals which usually follows its profanation, the keeping this day holy, as a time of relaxation, as well as for public worship, is of admirable service to a state, considered merely as a civil institution. It humanizes, by the help of conversation and society, the manners of the lower classes, which would otherwise degenerate into a wild ferocity and savage selfishness of spirit; it enables the industrious workman to pursue his occupation during the ensuing week with health and cheerfulness; it imprints upon the minds of the people that sense of their duty to their God, so necessary to make them good citizens, but which would be defaced by an unremitted continuance of labor, without any stated time to recall them to the worship of their Maker.

History of Sunday Laws. The laws of Athelstan forbade all merchandizing on the Lord's day, under very severe penalties. By statute of Henry VI. all fairs and markets must be closed on that day, except on the four Sundays in harvest. In the reign of Charles I, innocent recreation or amusement, as it was termed, was permitted within the respective parishes, after divine service was over; while under Charles II, no person was allowed to work on the Sabbath, nor to use any boat or to expose goods for sale, except meat in public houses, milk at certain hours, and works of necessity and charity. No drover or carrier was allowed to travel on that day.

X Drunkenness. By statute of James I. this vice was punished by a fine of five shillings, or by sitting six hours in the stocks, by which time it was presumed that 'the culprit would become sobered, and not liable to do mischief.

XI, Open Lewdness. This is either by frequenting houses of ill-fame, which is an indictable offence, or by some grossly scandalous and public indecency, for which the punishment is fine and imprisonment. In the year 1650, not only were incest and adultery capital crimes, but also the repeated acts of keeping a brothel or committing fornication, wǝre upon a second conviction, made felony, without benefit of clergy. But at the restoration, when men, from an abhorrence of hypocrisy of recent times, fell into a contrary extreme of licentiousness, it was deemed unadvisable to renew a law of such unfashionable rigor. And these offences have been left to the feeble coercion of the spiritual court, according to the rules of the canon law; a law which has treated the offence of incontinence, nay even adultery itself, with a great degree of tenderness and lenity, owing perhaps to the constrained celibacy of its first compilers. The temporal courts take no cognizance of the crime of adultery, otherwise than as a private injury

Bastards. In the case of bastard children, the law looks principally on the question of maintenance, although in the reign of Elizabeth, punishment was inflicted on both the mother and the putative father, and under James I on the woman only. But in both those cases, the penalty could only be inflicted, if the bastard became chargeable on the parish, for otherwise the mere compulsory maintenance of the child was considered a punishment.



Defined. The law of nations is a system of rules, deducible by natural reason, and established by universal consent among the civilized inhabitants of the world, in order to decide all disputes, to regulate all ceremonies and civilities, and to insure the observance of justice and good faith in that intercourse, which must frequently occur between two or more independent states, and the individuals belonging to each.

General Principles. This general law is founded upon the principle, that different nations ought in time of peace to do one another all the good they can; and in time of war, as little harm as possible, without prejudice to their own real interests.

No Arbitrer to Decide. And as none of these states will allow a superiority in the other, therefore no state can prescribe rules to the rest, but such rules must necessarily result from those principles of natural justice, in which learned men agree, or they depend upon mutual compacts or treaties between the respective communities, in the construction of which, there is no judge to resort to, but the law of nature and reason, to which all are equally subject.

1 Adulterv is punished criminally in some of the Cnited States, and the in pocent marital partner may obtain civil damages against the particeps criminis.

Fully Adopted in England. In arbitrary states, this law, where it contradicts, or is not provided for by the municipal law of the country, is enforced by the royal power; but since in England, no royal power can introduce a new law, or suspend the execution of the old, therefore the law of nations is here adopted in its full extent by the common law, and is a part of the law of the land.

Statutes merely Declaratory. Acts of parliament made to enforce this universal law, or to facilitate the execution of its decisions, do not introduce a new rule, but merely declare the fundamental constitutions of the kingdom.

Mercantile and Marine Questions, Thus, in mercantile questions, such as bills of exchange and the like; in all marine causes, relating to freight, average, demurrage, insurances, bottomry and others of a similar nature, the law merchant, which is a branch of the law of nations, is constantly adhered to. So too, in all disputes relating to prizes, shipwrecks, hostages and ransom bills, there is no other rule of decision but this great universal law, collected from history and usage, and approved writers.

Demand of Satisfaction. Offences against the law of nations can rarely be the object of the criminal law of any particular state, as they are principally incident to entire nations, in which case recourse can only be had to war. But where the individuals of any state violate this general law, it is the duty of their government to punish them. It is incumbent upon the nation injured, first to demand satisfaction, and that justice be awarded the offender, by the state to which he belongs, before charging his sovereign as an accomplice or abettor, and thus involving his community in the calamities of a foreign war.

Offences Specified. 1. Violation of safe-conducts.
2. Infringements of the rights of ambassadors.
3. Piracy.

1. Violation of Safe-conducts or Passports. These documents are expressly granted by the king or his ambassadors to the subjects of a foreign power, even in time of mutual war, and their violation is an infringement of the law of nations. Also the committing of acts of hostilities against such as are in amity, league or truce with us, who are here under a general implied

« AnteriorContinuar »