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LECTURES ON LAW,
DELIVERED IN THE
COLLEGE OF PHILADELPHIA,
IN THE YEARS ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY,
AND ONE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND NINETY ONE.
OF THE NATURE OF CRIMES; AND THE NECESSITY AND
PROPORTION OF PUNISHMENTS.
HITHERTO, we have considered the rights of men, of citizens, of publick officers, and of publick bodies: we must now turn our eyes to objects less pleasing—the violations of those rights must be brought under our view. Man is sometimes unjust: sometimes he is even criminal: injuries and crimes must, therefore, find their place in every legal system, calculated for man.
One consolatory reflection, however, will greatly support us in our progress through this uninviting part of our journey: we shall be richly compensated when we reach its conclusion. The end of criminal jurisprudence is the prevention of crimes,
What is an injury ?—What is a crime ?- What is reparation ?-What is punishment ?- These are questions, which ought to be considered in a separate, and also in a connected, point of view. At some times, they have been too much blended. In some instances, the injury and the reparation have been lost in the crime and the punishment. In other instances, the crime and the punishment have, with equal impropriety, been sunk in the reparation and injury. At other times, they have been kept too much apart. The crime has been considered as altogether unconnected with the injury, and the punishment as altogether unconnected with reparation. In other instances, the reparation only has been regarded, and no attention has been given to the punishment: the injury only has been calculated ; but no computation has been made concerning the crime.
An injury is a loss arising to an individual, from the violation or infringement of his right.
A reparation is that, which compensates for the loss sustained by an injury.
A crime is an injury, so atrocious in its nature, or so dangerous in its example, that, besides the loss which it occasions to the individual who suffers by it, it affects, in its immediate operation or in its consequences, the interest, the peace, the dignity, or the security of the publick. Offences and misdemeanors denote inferiour crimes.
A punishment is the infiction of that evil, superadded to the reparation, which the crime, superadded to the injury, renders necessary, for the purposes of a wise and good administration of government.