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ferior punishment. The comparison is obviously as fair a one as could well be instituted. Here is the statement:
Number of Persons Convicted and Executed for each of the following Offences.
Cattle Stealing ......
Thus, with 234 executions for these seventeen crimes, we had 10,916 committals, and with no executions at all, only 9,743 committals! The experiment of preserving the lives of the cul. prits was not only made with safety, but with great and positive benefit; for 1,173 fewer crimes were committed, notwithstanding a large increase in the population. To talk of the necessity of capital punishments, in the face of these unanswerable facts, is utterly absurd and childish.
Before we pass on to other considerations, we would present the result of the mitigations referred to, in a yet larger total. The death-penalty for coining, horse, sheep, and cattle stealing, forging and uttering, and stealing in dwelling-houses above the value of five pounds, was removed in 1832, and for house-breaking in 1833; and it will be seen by the subjoined tables, that while at this period non-capital crimes were increasing, at the rate of 10 per cent., and capital crimes, at the rate of 32 per
cent., the crimes which were made non-capital as above, actually diminished 9 per cent. on the removal of the extreme penalty :
We will now go.a little into detail. It is often charged against the opponents of the gibbet, that they deal in general statements, and shun minute examination. We will prove the folly of this accusation, by taking, seriatim, various crimes which have lately been relieved of the capital penalty. The Rev. Mr. Pyne's book supplies most of our facts. BURGLARY AND HOUSEBREAKING.-Mitigation commencing 1833. Three years ending 1829, Executed 38, Committed 2667 - 1832
- 2532 1835
2437 Horse Stealing.- Mitigation commencing 1830. Nine years ending 1829, Executed 46, Committed 1626 — 1838 - none
- 1565 ROBBERY.—Mitigation commencing 1834. Five years ending 1833, Executed 36, Committed 1949 - 1838
1634 COINING.—Mitigation commencing 1832. Four years ending 1828, Executed 7, Committed 42 - 1835 - none
41 SHEEP STEALING.—Mitigation commencing 1832. Three years ending 1831, Executed 7, Committed 787 - 1835 - none —
716 CAPITAL AssaultS ON FEMALES.—Mitigation commencing 1835. Four years ending 1834, Executed 16, Committed 222
223 VOL. XXIV.
Arson.—Mitigation commencing 1837.
731 Another return on the subject of forgery, will exhibit the advantage resulting from the discontinuance of the capital penalty, more satisfactorily. It relates to the forgeries on the Bank of England only :In the five years ending 1830, Executed 5, Prosecuted 85 = 17 per ann. - 1835 - none —
34 = 7 HIGHWAY ROBBERY. In respect of this crime, we have not the Parliamentary Returns at hand; but in an address printed by the Society for the Diffusion of Information on the subject of Capital Punishment, we find it stated upon statistical evidence, furnished by authority, that 'there were fewer highway robberies in the seven years ending 1840, with five executions, than in the seven years ending 1833, with fifty-eight executions. The signature of William ALLEX,' appended tu this statement, is a sufficient guarantee of its correctness.
There can be no need, we think, to carry our comparisons further; for surely these will satisfy the most scrupulous objector. The number of the instances which we have selected will show, beyond all question, that these diminutions of crime immediately following the disuse of capital punishment in respect of them, cannot be considered mere coincidences, but must be regarded as effects plainly related to a cause.
But there are some unscrupulous objectors whom nothing will satisfy. In spite of clear proofs, like the foregoing, that we are safer without the gallows than with it, there are persons to be found, who still maintain that the brutal exhibitions of the scaffold are necessary to the well-being of society; and our readers will be astounded to see the ingenious tricks to which these individuals resort to bolster up their case. We know nothing more shallow and dishonest, nothing that exhibits more wilful perversity of apprehension, than the attempts which have been made by some of the advocates of capital punishment, to support their views by figures.
We will not allude to these reasoners by name; to do so were only to elevate them into undue importance. We will simply draw attention to the statements which they put forth, statements which, we regret to say, have found a believer and
an exponent in no less a personage than her Majesty's secretary of state for the home department. Far be it from us to charge that right honourable gentleman with the duplicity and dishonesty of which we accuse others; we believe him to be incapable of wilful mis-statement; but that he is mournfully mistaken and uninformed upon this vitally-important subject, we shall be able to demonstrate only too clearly.
When, in March last, Mr. Ewart (whose able exertions in this cause can never be too highly appreciated,) brought on his motion in the House of Commons, for leave to bring in a Bill to Abolish the Punishment of Death in all cases, Sir George Grey, in a speech which (as we can personally testify) produced a considerable effect upon the decision of the House, opposed the motion. This was to be expected; for the state never parts with any power it can possibly retain. But, that a secretary of state should have so misapprehended and mis-stated the facts connected with the question, we never could have believed. He stated, that, although he had no wish to re-establish capital punishment in cases where it had been abolished, he was compelled to say, that crime had very largely increased in respect of many offences for which a secondary punishment had been substituted. That, for instance, attempts to murder had increased from 451, in the five years ending with 1831, to 1,099 in the five years ending with 1846. That rape had increased from 252 in the first period, to 547 in the last. That arson had increased from 212 in the first period, to 581 in the last. And that forgery had advanced from 312 in the first period, to 731 in the last period. It is not wonderful that so off-hand a statement should have misled the House of Commons, and that under its influence, the motion should have been rejected. But let us analyse it, and see what it amounts to.
1. ATTEMPTS TO MORDER. Sir George Grey says, that this crime has largely increased since the penalty of death was abolished for it. So it certainly has. Here is the table :
In the 5 years ending 1831, there were 451 commitments: the crime then being capital.
668 , the pain of death being abolished. 1841
937 1846 , 1099
This is a vast increase. No doubt of it. But does not the reader instantly see that this increase is not due to the abolition, but to the retention, of the gallows ? For the increase is in-what? In attempts to commit murder, THE CAPITAL CRIME, the crime to which the penalty of death is attached ! In every one of these' attempts,' the design of the culprit was not to commit the secondary, but the capital, offence; and the
penalty he braved was that of death. He never meant to stop short of the awful consummation he contemplated; he meant to kill, in spite of the law's threat of killing him: the accidental circumstance that his victim survived, made no real difference in his crime. What kind of logician must that person be, then, who sees in this increase of attempts to commit the crime to which the penalty of death is attached, a proof that the abolition of the death-penalty increases crime!
2. RAPE. In reference to this crime, we cannot do better than quote a passage from a recent letter in the Daily News,' written by a gentleman who has been well styled 'the Cobden of the abolition movement,' Mr. Charles Gilpin: and addressed to Mr. E. P. Bouverie, M. P. for Kilmarnock. It contains the very gist of our argument:
Sir George Grey,' says Mr. Gilpin, “next alludes to rape. I should be sorry to charge any man with wilfully keeping back part of the truth, on a question of such awful import as the one before us; but Sir George knew, or ought to have known, that so long as the puuishment for rape was death, prosecutors would frequently indict only for the minor offence, 'assault with intent;' but when the punishment was changed, the criminals were prosecuted for their real crime; therefore its apparent, without its actual, increase. While calling the attention of the House to the increase of committals during the four periods before referred to, from 252 to 278, 319 and 597, like a discreet advocate, he omits any allusion to the minor offence, for had he adduced the number of commitments for 'assault with intent,' they would have shown so slight an increase, as to lead to a belief that the crime remains nearly stationary. And yet, considering the condition and circumstances of the bands of railway workmen, who of later years have moved from place to place through the country, it would be little cause for surprise if the crime alluded to had increased, from circumstances wholly independent of the punishment provided by law. But there is another most material fact, which Sir George Grey did not bring forward, namely, that while the capital penalty continued, juries did not on the average convict more than 16 or 18 per cent. of those committed. Now, the average ratio of convictions is nearly doubled. Such being the case, it may be inferred, that there is a corresponding inclination in the public mind to aid the law; and in this way an increase of commitments is accounted for."
3. We come next to Arson, and we quote again from Mr. Gilpin's able letter :
Sir George Grey's third statement had reference to arson, for which the commitments, in similar periods, had been as under :5 years ending with 183] ...... 212
1836 ...... 366
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