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must be inflicted with a view to correct the evil produced by the neglect or violation of duty, will appear perfectly obvious, by attending to the exact meaning of the language we are in the habit of employing on this subject. 'What do we mean, when we say, that we neglect or violate our duty? We mean, that we neglect or destroy our own happiness, or that of others. When we neglect or déstroy our own happiness, or that of others, we produce a certain degree of misery. This is wrong, since it is contrary to the design for which we exist, which is to communicate and to enjoy happiness. On account of the commission of this wrong, punishment is inflicted; that is, another portion of misery is produced. Who causes this second portion of misery ? The punisher. Thus far, then, the punisher and the punished are on the same footing: they have both done exactly the same thing: they have both produced misery. What then, constitutes the difference between them The violator of his duty deserves punishment, because he has done that which either has produced, or which tends to produce misery: but the punisher himself has done eXactly the same thing, that is, he has occasioned pain; why then is he not worthy of punishment, for the very act of punishing?
The reason is to be found in the design with which the punisher inflicts the pain of which he is the occasion. “He has in view the restoration
of the offender, to a state offeeling and action, indispensable to the happiness of others, and to his own. He produces misery, but it is the instrument he employs to destroy it. If he have not. this in view, he is even more criminal than the person he punishes, since the infliction of pain is the only thing he designs: he rests in it as his end; it is his ultimate object; but the vicious, in general, produce misery only incidentally, through a mistaken and perverted pursuit of happiness, and it is more malignant to aim solely at the infliction of pain, to rest in it as an object and end, than to occasion it by a miscalculation of the means of enjoyment. It is this very circumstance that it rests in misery as its ultimate object, which constitutes the extreme malignity of revenge; and it does not seem possible to show, how he who inflicts pain on an offender, from any other motive but that of correcting the evil. of which he has been the occasion, acts upon a different principle. When it is said, that punishment must have respect to the correction of the evil produced by the violation or neglect of duty, it should be observed, that this is meant to include both the evil disposition of the criminal, and the evil consequences which his crimes occasion. That correction is evidently imperfect, which has respect to the one, but not to the other; which aims to remove the injury done to society, but not the
evil principle which is its source: or, on the contrary, the evil principle, but not its injurious consequences. Though the misconception which prevails on this subject, has originated chiefly from denying the corrective nature of punishment, yet, in point of fact, no one disbelieves that it is corrective. Many persons, indeed, deny it in express terms, and much of their reasoning seems to depend upon their disbelief, that it has any tendency of this kind, but sometimes they strenuously contend for the very point which at others they labor to disprove. Though they affirm that punishment is not corrective, what they mean is, that it does not amend the evil disposition of the criminal: they acknowledge that it corrects, or is designed to correct the evil consequences of his offences. But if it be the design of punishment to repair or to counteract the evil effects of a crime to society, it is in its nature corrective: if the reformation of the criminal form no part of the design, it is not so corrective as it would be, were that the case: but it is certainly corrective; and the error lies in supposing, that punishment is intended to correct only a part of the evil, the bad consequences of a criminal disposition, but not the criminal disposition itself. In punishments inflicted by human beings upon one another, it is often difficult to effect both, as indeed it is to accomplish either; but it is
universally acknowledged, that that punishment is not benevolent which does not aim at, nor that effectual which does not secure, both. “”. * And surely it is possible to render every penal infliction thus complete. If pain or privation can counteract the evil consequences of the conduct of an offender, it may be so applied as to eradicate his evil disposition. ' He who is perfectly acquainted with the criminal temper, understands exactly the circumstances which would change it, and has a sovereign control over events, has the power to correct it; and if he punish with any design, it is inconceivable that this, which is not only the most benevolent but the most necessary, will form no part of it.' ... . . . . . But it is urged, that there is an intrinsic demerit in sin; something in its nature which requires that it should be visited with punishment; that it is possible, therefore, to punish an offender without a view to correct the evil, and without revenge, namely, to satisfy the claims of immutable and eternal justice...” “ . . . . ... : Before replying, directly to this objection, it may be observed; that the term justice is often used as though it expressed an attribute which is contrary to goodness. “But in reality, justice is only a particular modification of goodness; goodness modified by wisdom, according to the moral condition of the being with respect to whom it is exercised. A person who forgives an offence upon repentance and reformation, is good : this is one modification of goodness, which is designated by the term: mercy. The person who visits an offence which is neither repented of nor amended, with a proper degree of pain, is also good : this is another modification of goodness; to which the term justice is applied. Merey and justice, therefore, do not differ from each other in their nature, since they equally arise from benevolence; and they differ in aspect only, according to the moral condition of the being with regard to whom they are exemplified. So that justice cannot require the infliction of misery for its own sake: nothing but malignity can either desire or approve of such unavailing suffering. Since justice and mercy equally arise from. benevolence, there is as much reason to suppose that mercy requires the infliction of misery for its own sake, as that justice does. . The object of justice is not to feast itself with suffering, but to produce happiness by the infliction of pain, where wisdom teaches.it.is necessary; the object of mercy is exactly the same, only it pursues its purpose by omitting the infliction of pain, where wisdom shows that it is not necessary. i. out.” There is, it is affirmed, an intrinsic demerit in sin ; something in its nature which requires that it should be visited, with punishment. . What is that something?... I think we may venture to