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ings with regard to the young king, and the unhappy princesses; all those who committed coldblooded murder any where, and particularly in their revolutionary tribunals, where every idea of natural justice and of their own declared rights of man have been trodden under foot with the most insolent mockery; all men concerned in the burning and demolition of houses or churches, with audacious and marked acts of sacrilege and scorn offered to religion; in general, all the leaders of jacobin clubs;- not one of these should escape a punishment suitable to the nature, quality, and degree, of their offence, by a steady but a measured justice.
In the first place, no man ought to be subject to any penalty, from the highest to the lowest, but by a trial according to the course of law, carried on with all that caution and deliberation which has been used in the best times and precedents of the French jurisprudence, the criminal law of which country, faulty to be sure in some particulars, was highly laudable and tender of the lives of men. In restoring order and justice, every thing like retaliation ought to be religiously avoided; and an example ought to be set of a total alienation from the jacobin proceedings in their accursed revolutionary tribunals. Every thing like lumping men in masses, and of forming tables of proscription, ought to be avoided. In all these punishments, any thing which can
be alleged in mitigation of the offence should be fully considered. Mercy is not a thing opposed to justice. It is an essential part of it; as necessary in criminal cases, as in civil affairs equity is to law. It is only for the jacobins never to pardon. They have not done it in a single instance. A council of mercy ought therefore to be appointed, with
powers to report on each case, to soften the penalty, or entirely to remit it, according to circumstances.
With these precautions, the very first foundation of settlement must be to call to a strict account those bloody and merciless offenders. Without it, government cannot stand a year. People little consider the utter impossibility of getting those, who, having emerged from very low, some from the lowest classes of society, have exercised a power so high, and with such unrelenting and bloody a rage, quietly to fall back into their old ranks, and become humble, peaccable, laborious, and useful members of society. It never can be. On the other hand is it to be believed, that any worthy and virtuous subject, restored to the ruins of his house, will with patience see the cold blooded murderer of his father, mother, wife, or children, or perhaps all of these relations, (such things have been) nose him in his own village, and insult him with the riches acquired from the plunder of his goods, ready again to head a
jacobin faction to attack his life? He is unworthy of the name of man who would suffer it. It is unworthy of the name of a government, which, taking justice out of the private hand, will not exercise it for the injured by the publick
I know it sounds plausibly, and is really adopted by those who have little sympathy with the sufferings of others, to wish to jumble the innocent and guilty into one mass, by a general indemnity. This cruel indifference dignifies itself with the name of humanity.
It is extraordinary that as the wicked arts of this regicide and tyrannous faction increase in number, variety, and atrocity, the desire of punishing them becomes more and more faint, and the talk of an indemnity towards them every day stronger and stronger. Our ideas of justice appear to be fairly conquered and overpowered by guilt, when it is grown gigantic. It is not the point of view in which we are in the habit of viewing guilt. The crimes we every day punish are really below the penalties we inflict. The criminals are obscure and feeble. This is the view in which we see ordinary crimes and criminals. But when guilt is seen, though but for a time, to be furnished with the arms and to be invested with the robes of power, it seems to assume another nature, and to get, as it were, out of our
jurisdiction. This I fear is the case with
many. But there is another cause full as powerful towards this security to enormous guilt, the desire which possesses people, who have once obtained power, to enjoy it at their ease. It is not humanity, but laziness and inertness of mind, which produces the desire of this kind of indemnities. This description of men love general and short methods. If they punish, they make a promiscuous massacre; if they spare, they make a general act of oblivion. This is a want of disposition to proceed laboriously according to the cases, and according to the rules and principles of justice on each case; a want of disposition to assort criminals, to discriminate the degrees and modes of guilt, to separate accomplices from principals, leaders from followers, seducers from the seduced, and then, by following the same principles in the same detail, to class punishments, and to fit them to the nature and kind of the delinquency. If that were once attempted, we should soon see that the task was neither infinite, nor the execution cruel. There would be deaths, but, for the number of criminals, and the extent of France, not many. There would be cases of transportation; cases of labour to restore what has been wickedly destroyed; cases of imprisonment, and cases of mere exile. But be this as it may, I am sure that if justice is not done there, there can be
neither peace nor justice there, nor in any part of
History is resorted to for other acts of indemnity in other times. The princes are desired to look back to Henry the Fourth. We are desired to look to the restoration of king Charles. These things, in my opinion, have no resemblance whatsoever. They were cases of a civil war; in France more ferocious, in England more moderate than common. In neither country were the orders of society subverted; religion and morality destroyed on principle, or property totally annihilated. In England, the government of Cromwell was to be sure somewhat rigid, but, for a new power, no savage tyranny. The country was nearly as well in his hands as in those of Charles the Second, and in some points much better. The laws in general had their course, and were admirably administered. The king did not in reality grant an act of indemnity; the prevailing power, then in a
manner the nation, in effect granted an indemnity to him. The idea of a preceding rebellion was not at all admitted in that convention and that parliament. The regicides were a common enemy, and as such given up.
Among the ornaments of their place which eminently distinguish them, few people are better acquainted with the history of their own country