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Where is the boasted equality of the Law as regards the sexes, when the wife cannot be freed in England from her adulterous husband until he strikes and endangers her life, or acts with an equivalent or outrageous violence ? Vide Divorce Act, 20 and 21 Vict., C. 85, § 27. No doubt a wife, by her adultery, may introduce a spurious offspring into her husband's family, and a husband by his adultery cannot foist his bastard children upon his lawful wife and her children. But, all the same, I submit that the nature of the simple fault should determine the punishment, and that a wife is as much entitled to a divorce by her husband's adultery as a husband by his wife's adultery. Such has long been the law of Scotland, and no bad consequences have ensued. Nay more, desertion for four years is a good ground for divorce in Scotland, whether at the suit of the husband or of the wife. Most people in England do not, I verily believe, know the law of England as to Divorce. I hope and believe that the present state of the English Law on this subject will be repealed before long. The present Law of Divorce in England rests on the ancient idea of lordship, and ought to be abolished without delay. But it is for the interest of Society that reconciliation between spouses should not be discouraged.
Prevention of Crimes.-Crimes are more effectually prevented by the certainty than by the severity of punishment; for the certainty of a smaller punishment will make a stronger impression than the fear of a severe one, attended with the hope of escape. But insensibility of character brings about insensibility to punishment, and the hardened criminal becomes incorrigible. Punishment should bear some definite ratio to the offence, and should never be so great as to excite pity for the criminal, or indignation against the Law for its severity. Punishments should be of a nature to prevent the commission of crimes; and are just or unjust in proportion as this great end is fulfilled. When crimes
are numerous, they must be supported by the opinion of the district or county, as no crimes at all; and in that case, mere punishments are ineffectual to bring about a cure. The bases of the crimes must be eradicated, and new views of life and things must be substituted for old habits and opinions. Great crimes, as well as great virtues, are necessarily based on great vigour of mind. If we could only manage to get on the side of Order the powers and energy which are bestowed on the commission of crimes, what a happy world this would be! How necessary, then, to adopt the means known to us, and proved by experience, for the extirpation of crime, and for the augmentation of virtue. Moreover, may I not go a step further, and question the justice of the punishment of a crime, unless Society has endeavoured to prevent that crime by the best means which it has at its command ? When laws are ineffectual, they should not be promulgated. When they are useless, they tend to degrade thegeneral body of useful laws. We cannot imprison a nation; but we can eradicate evil propensities by a moral régime and new habits and customs. That it is better to prevent than to punish crimes is a fundamental principle of all good legislation. Still, it is chimerical to suppose that, in this our imperfect state of existence, we can make and enforce laws, and compel them to be obeyed, in all cases.
But we must do all we can to extirpate vice, and establish virtue in all our acts and dealings with each other as individuals and as nations.
Means of Preventing Erimes.—If we would prevent many crimes, we must make the laws clear and simple, and enforce them vigorously with all the national forces, and we
must enact laws for the advantage of the nation, and not for an individual, or a limited class of individuals. If we would prevent crimes, let us spread abroad the light of a good, sound, moral, and religious education amongst all classes of the people; and
give freedom to all the citizens to make the best use of the powers which God has conferred on them for the benefit of themselves and the community. Some Legislators would banish religion out of all national education. Let them remember that religion has done more for the liberty and freedom of mankind than all other kinds of education put together; and that our own, and all other national religions, worthy of the name, have been founded on the great principles of sacrifice by one generation, for the benefit of the generations which have succeeded. I firmly hold that the most certain method of preventing crimes is to perfect the system of National Education.
To prevent the commission of crimes, these things are above all things required, namely, good government, morality, dissemination of education, protection and encouragement to the sciences, and good police regulations. Crimes spring from states of mind more or less permanent, and from the state of existing society. Vice is always father to crime. Let us correct national morals, and we shall diminish crime. Let us encourage industry and simplicity, and we shall encourage virtue. Montesquieu wisely says that “A good legislator wishes less to punish crimes than to prevent them."
Moral and Industrial Training required.-A man who is in want and misery will steal; a man who has no feeling of pain, will recklessly inflict pain on others; and a man who is drunken and dissipated will be a ready tool in the hands of others, and even of his own evil lusts and passions, for the commission of the greatest crimes against individuals and society. Before we can hope to put an end to theft, we must provide a means of livelihood for all; before we can hope to put an end to assaults and batteries, assassinations and murders, we must train and civilise the lowest as well as the highest class of society; and before we can expect men to act with wisdom and
prudence, we must teach them to restrain their evil passions for drink and such-like external excitements. Moral influence, said Montesquieu, is very important. People, by precept and example, can be brought to be good as well as bad. The moral instruction of the people is one of the most effective guarantees for moral order, and for augmenting the dignity and happiness of mankind. The training of the people in civil duties is indispensably necessary in modern European society. The development of human reason, said Napoleon the Great, is the social key, the secret of the legislator. In my opinion, ignorance as well as misery has criminality for its corollary. I am not singular in my opinion on this point. Lord Coke long ago urged that crimes should and would be prevented by the education of the poor. Again, punishment, speedily and invariably inflicted on criminals, is an excellent means to prevent crimes, and is, perhaps, the best and most effective at our command. When the Criminal laws are not enforced, or when the chances of escape are great, crimes increase. We must never forget that the desire to gratify a momentary passion is often enough to outweigh the chances of execution for murder; and that the fanaticism of religion, or of liberty, is enough to put aside the threatenings of certain execution. If men were always governed by their reason, or their interests, there would be no crimes, no wrong-doing, and no wars. Dupont said that not Penal laws, but laws written in the heart, will prevent crimes and disorders. I agree with him ; and have to add that, if we wish to diminish crime, we must cultivate and develop the intelligence and the conscience of the young. I have no great belief in the cultivation and development of the intelligence of the old, and very little, of the wicked and depraved. Without education, we are little better than the brute animals, and sometimes a great deal worse. The education of criminals should be surveillance, and the enforcement of obedience to
the duties imposed on them. Such duties should have a direct regard to the offences committed, the habits of the criminal, and also to the future life of the criminal when admitted to mingle with the world at his own will and in freedom. To enforce a rigid supervision over a criminal at the expiration of his sentence is cruel, if not stupid, and is at least unwise.
The best security, so far as I know, against the commission of crimes is a thorough teaching in the great duties of morality, enforced by the practice and precepts of Christianity. When our national education brings about this result—and not before—then, and not till then, will the nation be secure, and the citizens happy. A national system of education should cultivate the virtues of the heart as well as the powers of the intellect. To improve men, and draw them away from criminal or immoral actions, the springs of action must be changed and improved.
Punishments by way of Example.—Gisborne, in his Moral Philosophy, p. 187, strongly contends and argues against the infliction of exemplary punishment for the prevention of crimes. His views, which, I think, are unassailable, are expressed in these words: “No man can be justly punished
for the purpose
of deterring others from offending; for that would be to punish the criminal, not for his own fault (the only ground on which the justice of human punishment can rightly be rested), but either for no man's fault, or for that of others." If we have the right to inflict punishment, in the way of example, by inflicting or increasing punishment, we have the right to inflict punishment for no offences at all. Exemplary, or severe, punishment inflicted on an offender hardens the heart of an offender by a sense of injustice, and confounds the natural distinctions of morality. The certainty of punishment following crime is far more effective than the severity of punishment. What the law ought to aim