« AnteriorContinuar »
ommitted to the different Gaols in England and Wales, for ein, from the Year 1805 to the Year 1818, both inclusive ;
Bills were found, and who were not Prosecuted, and the Year 1818, both inclusive ; together with the SENTENCES of
number, if not the degree of crimes, bath been, with little intermission, increasing; and that their aggregate amount is now of the most alarming and humiliating nature, are facts which are established on such authentic evidence, as alone might justify the assertion, that as a nation we have not the power of godliness. In this increase are included all those crimės which may be committed by the most inexperienced childhood, and those which cannot be perpetrated without the most consummate skill and ingenuity, the most imposing address, the boldest hardihood, and the most unrelenting cruelty. These crimes have been committed by the young and by the old, by men and by women, without any consideration whether the law is lenient in its enactments, or whether it is written with severity, and executed with rigour. In the crowded prisons, some of which, from the want of proper classification and a vigilant superintendence, are organized schools of iniquity, the prisoners learn to look at their trial and their punishment with the i Police Report for 1816. p. 38.76. 112. for 1817. p.498.
most hardened indifference and unconcern, and spend, it may be, the last moments of life in projecting new offences m, in corrupting and hardening the inexperience of youth", and in the indulgence of the most unrestrained debauchery'. Murder, in its most aggravated forms, holds a conspicuous rank in the swollen catalogue of crime; and such is often his obduracy, that the murderer, after his conviction upon the clearest evidence, will upon the scaffold persist in denying his guilt; or will invent a plausible tale, and will expire in sullen indifference to the account which he is to render, or with songs of exultation, and all the assumed confidence of a well-founded hope.
8. If the degenerate character of women ; if frivolity, dissipation, and extravagance; if the most flagrant incontinence; if excess of juvenile delinquency; if acts of fierceness and cruelty; if wanton perjury, and the spirit of our laws; if the decided increase of offences of the most aggravated nature;-if these things shall be thought not sufficiently authenticated, or incapable of imputing to our national character, that we are “ lovers of pleasures “ more than lovers of God,” that we have “ a form of godliness,” but deny “the “ power of it,” let other testimonies be alleged, and supply the defective proof of our unworthiness. It is in itself an imputation upon the age, that more or less favourable comparisons are frequently drawn between modern and more ancient manners, as if the rule of Christian obedience and of personal responsibility was of a fluctuating and variable standard ; that each and all of the offences which have been noticed have their advocates and apologists; that their guilt is overlooked by the thoughtless, and denied by the perverse; that the attempts to reform it are feebly supported, and peevishly and pertinaciously opposed; and that whatever be the ostensible zeal of associated multitudes, there is a want of personal exertion, of personal influence, and personal example,
m Police Report for 1817. p. 500. 653. 793. n Ibid. for 1816. p. 322. for 1817. p. 737. • Ibid. for 1817. p. 515. 642. 791.