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Origin and History of Benefit of Clergy.
.445 Birigular relics of old superstition, and liabilities, and declared themselves certainly the most important. That, respousihle only to the pope and his by a mere form, without the shadow ecclesiastical olinisters. I' They erectof existing reason to support it, theed themselves into an independent severity of the common law should be community, and even laid the temLempered, nay seem strange to those poral authorities under subjection'who have been accustomed to regard Nobles were intimidated into rast our criminal law as a regular fabric, pecuniary benefaciions, and princes pot only attaining great practical trembled at the terrors of spiritual benefit, but built upon solid and con- denunciation. In England, however, sistent principles.' The benefit of this authority was always comparaclergy is, no doubt, of great practical tively fecble. The complete exempadvantage, compared to the dreadful tion of the clergy from secular purishilist of offences which would otherwisements, though often claimeil, was be punished as capital; but it would never universally admitted. || For be well worthy of an enlightened age repeated objections were made to the to forsake such a suiviertuge, and it demand of the bishop and ordinary once, without resorting to ii, 10 up to have the clerks remitted to thiem as portion the degree of suffering to the as they were indicted. I At atrocity and the danger of the crimes.* length, however, it was finally seuled
The history of this singular inode of in the reign of llenry VI. ihat the pardon, if so it can be terme, is prisoner should first be arraigned, and both curious and instructive. In the might then claim the benefit of clergy carly periods of European civilization, as an excuse for pleading, or might de after the final destruction of the mand it after conviction : and the latRoman empire, the church obtained ter of these courses has been almost an influence in the political affairs of invariably adopted to allow the prisone nations, which threw a peculiar er the chance of a verdiet of acquittal. colouring over their original institu-' But if the privileges of the church tious. Nlonarchs who were desirous were less dangerous in England than ef atoning for atrocious offences, or on the continent, they soon became of obtaiuing the sanction of heaven more extensive. They not only einto their projects of ambition, were braced every order of clergymení, but easily persuaded to confer immunities were claimed for every subordinate on the clergy, whom they regarded as officer of religious honses, with the the vicegerents of heaven. Presu:ning numerous classes of their retainers. on these favours, that aspiring body And so liberal was the application of soon began to claiın as a right what these dangerous benefits, that, at had been originally conferred as a length, every one who in those days boon, and to found their demand to of ignorance was able to read, though civil exemptions on a divine and in- not even initiated in holy orders, bedefeasible charter, derived from the came entitled to demand thein, such text of Scripture, “ touch pot mine reading being deemed evidence of his anointed and do my prophets no clerical professio.** The privileges harm."t It need excite no surprise of the clergy were recognized and conthat they were anxions to take advan- firmed by stulite in the reign of lage of their dominion over the con- Edward ihe Third.ft It was iben science, to exempt themselves froin enacted, that all manner of clerks, the usual consequences of crime. To secular as well as religious, should the priests impunily was a privilege enjoy the privileges of holy church of no inconsiderable value. And for all treasons or lelonies except thoga so successful was the pious zeal to immediately afieeting his Majesty. To shield those who were dedicated to religion, froin the consequences of any
2 Hale, 324. 4 Bla. Com. 366. breach of temporal enactments, that
Burn, J. Clergy, II. Williams, J. Fe in several countries they obtained a
lony, V. complete exemption from all civil
2 Hale, 324.
4 Bla. Com. 366.
** Hale, 372.
++-25 Edw. III. e. 4. TOL. XI.
the advantage of this provision all who him, and in what manner the power could read were admitted. * But as of the church in this respect was learning became more common, this ultimately destroyed. It appears that extensive interpretation was found so after a layman was burnt in the hand, injurious to the security of social life, a clerk discharged on reading, or a that the legislature, notwithstanding peer without either burning or penalty, the opposition of the church, were he was delivered to the ordinary to be compelled to afford a partial remedy, dealt with according to the ecclesiastiIn the reign of Henry the Seventh, t cal canons. Upon this, the cleri. a distinction was drawn between per- cal authorities instituted a kind of sons actually in holy orders, and those purgation, the real object of which who, in other respects, secular, were to make him appear innocent, able to read, by which the latter were who had been already shown to be only allowed the benefit of their learn- guilty, and to restore him to all those ing once, and on receiving it to be capacities of which his conviction had branded in the left thumb with a hot deprived him. To effect this the iron, in order to afford evidence party himself was required to make against them on any future occasion. oath of liis innocence, though before The church seems to have lost ground he might have confessed himself in the succeeding reign, probably in guilty. Then twelve .compurgators consequence of the separation of Eng- were called to testify their belief in the land from the sway of the Roman falsehood of the charges. Afterwards Pontifi; for all persons, though ac- he brought forward witnesses comtually in orders, were rendered liable pletely to establish that innocence of to be branded, in the same way as which he had induced so weighty a, the learned class of laymen. I But, presumption. Finally, it was the in the time of Edward ihe Sixth, the office of the jury to acquit him; and clergy were restored to all the rights they seldom failed in their duty.It If, of which they were deprived by his however, from any singular circumpredecessor, except as to certain atro- stance they agreed in the justice of the cious crimes which it became neces- conviction, the culprit was degraded sary more uniformly to punish. At and compelled to do penance. $S As the same time, some of the more this seldom occurred, and the most enormous evils attendant on
this daring perjuries were thus perpetually general impunity were done away. committed, the courts of common law Murder, poisoning, burglary, high- were soon aroused 10 abridge the way robbery, and sacrilege, were ex- power of these clerical tribunals. cepted from all that privilege which 'They, therefore, sometimes delivered was confirmed as to inferior offences. Il over the privileged of felony, when But peers of the realm for the first his guilt was very atrocious, without offence were to be discharged in every allowing him to make purgation; the case, except murder and poisoning, effect of which proceedings was his even though unable to read. | perpetual in prisonment and incapacity But here we must pause
to acquire personal or to enjoy real we proceed to follow the gradual estate, unless released by his Majesty's improvement of this privilege, to pardon.)!!! But the severity of this enquire what was originally done proceeding almost rendered it useless ; with an offender to whom it was and it became absolutely necessary allowed, by those ecclesiastical autho- for the legislature to interfere in order rities who claimed the right of judging to prevent the contemptible perjuries
which this absurd ceremony produced
under the sanction and pretence of * 2 Hale, 272, 8. Kel. 100, 101,
religion. This desirable object was 102. Hawk. b. 2. c. 33. s. 5. Williams, J. Felony, V. See Mode of Admission of Defendant convicted of Manslaughter. 1
** Hob. 291. 4 Bla. Com. 368. Salk. 61.
++ Hob. 291. 3 P. Wms. 447, 8. + 4 Hen. VII. c, 13.
4 Bla. Com. 368. 1 28 Hen. VIII. c. 1. s. 7. 32 Heq. 11 Hob. 291. 3 Pr. Wms. 447, 8. VIII. c. 3. s. 8.
Bla. Com. 364. f 1 Edw. VI. c. 12. S. 10.
$$ Hob. 289. 4 Bla. Com. 364. || Id. Ibid.
Hill 3 Pr. Wms. 448, 9. 4 Bła. Com, s | Edw. VI, c. 12. s. 14.
Origin and History of Benefit of Clergy.
447 effected in the reign of Elizabeth, and crime itt and, therefore, bg 5 Ann, the party, after being allowed his c. 6, the idle ceremony of reading was clergy and barnt in the hand, was to abolished, 11. and all those who were be discharged without any interference before entitled to clergy on reading, of the church to annul his convic- were now to be admitted without any tion.*
such form to its benefits. At the same The clerical process being thus time it was sensibly felt that the 'abolished, it was thought proper, at branding, which had dwindled into the same time, to empower the tem- a mere form, and the year's imprisonporal judges to inflict a further punish- ment which the judges were iminent where they should regard it as powered to inflict, were very inadeproper. The 18 Eliz. c. 7. empowered quate punishments for many clergyable them, therefore, to direct the convict offences; and, therefore, the court to be imprisoned for a year or any were authorized to colomit the shorter period. But the law on this offenders to the house of correction, subject was still in many respects im- for any time noi less than six months perfect. Females were still liable to nor exceeding two years, and to the punishment of death without any double it in case of escaping. $$ exeinption, in all cases of simple Further alterations hare since been felony; because being never eligible made in the penalties consequent to the clerical office, they were not upon clergy. The 4 Geo. I. c. 11, !!!! included in any of the extensions of and 6 Geo. I. c. 23, provide, that the the benefit of clergy. No other proof court on the allowance of this benefit, need be adduced to show the absurdity for any larceny whether grand or of the very foundations of the system. petit, or other felonious theft not exAt length it was enacted that women cluded from the statutable indulgence, convicted of simple larcenies under may, instead of judgment of burning the value of 10s. should be punished in case of inen, and whipping in that with burning in the hand and whip- of females, direct the offender to be ping, exposure in the stocks, or im- transported for seven years to America, prisonment for any period less than a which has been since altered to any year. I. And in the reign of William part of his majesty's colonies. TT TO and Mary they were admitted to all return within the period was, at the the privileges of men, in clergyable same time, made felony without felonies, on praying the benefit of the benefit of clergy. And by several substatute ;$ though they can only once sequent provisions, many wise alterabe allowed this means of escaping.il tions have been made respecting In the same reign, the punishment of transportation, and the mode of treating burning in the hand was changed for offenders while under its sentence.*** a more visible stigma on the cheek, T At length the burning in the hand but was soon afterwards brought back was entirely done away, and the to the original practice.**
judges are einpowered to sentence the Hitherto all laymen except peers, criminal, in its room and in addition who, on their conviction, were found to the former penalties, to a pecuniary unable to read, were liable to suffer fine, or, except in the case of mandeath for every clergyable felony. slaughter, to private whipping, not But it was m. length discovered, that more than thrice to be inflicted, in the ignorance instead of an aggravation presence of three witnesses. fuht Prowas an excuse for guilt, and that the visions were at the same time made ability to read was no extenuation of for the employment of this description
of convicts in penitentiary houses, * 19 Eliz. c. 7. 2 Sess. C. 266 to 289. 9 P. W. 444, 5, 6.
tt Fost. 305, 6. + Fost. C. L. 305, 6. 2 Hale, 371, :1 Fost. 305, 6. 3 P. W, 443, 4, 978.
$8.5 Ann, c. 6. $. 9. 21 Jac. I, c. 6. Fost. 305, 6.
II ll See observations on this statute, $ 8 & 4 W. & M. c. 9. S. 5. Fost. 3 P. W. 490. 906.
TT 19 Geo. III. c. 74. 4 & 5 W. & M. c. 24. s. 18.
*** 16 Geo. II. c. 15. S Geo. III. c. 15. | 10 & 11 W. III. c. 23. 3 P. W. 19 Geo. III. c. 74. 31 Cheo. III. 6. 46. 451.
84 Geo. III. Sess. 2. c. 56. ** s Ann, c. 6. 3 P. W. 451,
ttt 19 Geo, III. c. 74. 8. 8.
where a system of reformalion might the infirmities of the human frame, be adopted, and an experiment inade exempting offending individuals in how far punishment might become some cases froin the punishment of conducive to its poblest aoul most death, and sahjecting them to milder legitimate use--le reforntation and punishment; and therefore in the benefit of the offender. But this case of clergyable felonies, we now regulation, phongh applauded by profess to measure the degree of Blaclsime, f and other hunane wri. qunishment by the real enormity, of ters, I after having been continued the offence, and not as the ignorance by sercral subsequent acis, was and superstition of formet tiines surrecently suffered to expire!!! It ap- gested, by a blind respect for sacred pears froin these screral modern persons or sacred functions, nor by an regulations, that, as observed by Mr. absurd distinction between subject and Justice Foster, now consider subject originally owing to impudent benefit of clergy, or rather the benefit pretension on one hand, and to mere of the statutes, as a relaxation of the fanaticisin on the other. 9 rigour of the law, á condescension to
Kilwerthy, near Twistock, the object is previously described, of Sir,
Jiely 30, 1816. specified. The Article is only an ta's notion of the Greek Article tended, it does no more: thus the index been stated to the ancient Philosophers of a barometer points to the mercury, of Athens, they wonki probably have but the eye ascertains the degree of its inquired—" May we know what this elevation. Mr. Tooke, in his “ Dinew doctrine, whereof thou speakest, rersions of Purley," says that the Article is?" Aristotle regarded the Article as is “a mere substitute for a particular a term of no signification in itself, de term"—to do that which, on the contached from the sentence in which it trary is done by another principle, occurs. ä сh pou dé OTI beri &orpos, namely the eye or the mind. ή λόγου αρχήν, ή τέλος, ή διορισμών “ Sed pulchrum est Digito Monstari, et Čragi, C. 20, De Poetica. In his esti
dicier, Hic est." Persius. mation, the Article served only as indi
It is perhaps worthy of observation, cative of a certain object of sense, or of that both Aristotle and Euclid freintelligence.
quently omit the Article in their reApollouius, the grammarian, re
spective detinitions as to the subject, marks that some indications are ocular, and predicate. θεο δε ενέργεια, and Soie are mental.-τας μέν την αθανασία Τατο δε εστι ζωή αίδιος. όψεων είναι δειξεις, τας δε τα ν8. Arist. de Cælo, L. 2, C.3. De Syntaxi, L. 2, C. 3.
The inscription on the Altar at The primary force of the definite Ar- Athens, to which the Apostle alluded ticle consists 'merely in directing the in his speech on Marshill, was without cye, or the attention to an object; and the Article Ayuwatu tew but Paul the definitive power assigned to it is tather an effect of the sight, where the applies the Article to the name of the
Deity, which he announced. object is present, or of the mind in
Dr. Middleton asserts that the Greek drawing the necessary inference, where
Arưicle is the pronoun relative to,
which, he thinks, has no resemblauce 19 Geo. III. c. 74. . 5 to 27.
to the definitive Article-ih-in En+ 4 Bla. Coni, 871, 2.
* See Montague's Collection of glish; but though it be granted that's Opinions on the Punishment of Death,
was originally a pronoun, it is no inore
a pronoun now, than it is a verb or § 24 Geo. III. st. 2. C. 56." 28 Geo. adjective. The Monthly Reviewer of
34 Geo. UI, C. 60. 39 Geo. his book, has justly maintained the suIII. c. 52.
periority of the English over the Greek !! 25 March, 1802.' 2 Will. J. 448.
f Fost. 305, 6.
111. c. 94.
Mr. Howe on Moral Improvement.
449 in precision, by the means of the in- the subjects of these Tealms, even the definite-an-in combination with the poorest among them, to the honourable definitive.
rank of kings, without endangering Dr. Carpenter has truly remarked, their allegiance to our rightful sovereign that Dr. Middleton's exceptions and King George. Should it on the pe limitations furnish sufficient testimo- rusal meet with your approbation, it is nies that Mr. Sharp's construction of very much at your service for insertion the controverted passages is not required in your valuable Repository. by the Greek idiom.
Dr. M. savs Your occasional Correspondent, " that all nouns are excluded from the
T. HOWE ralc, except those which are significant AMBITION is natural to man, and of character." When 9:05 is subject the mind destitute of all species of it, to the rule, it signifies nothing more if such a supposition may be admitted; than a divine character; to which would be dormant and inactive. Feels erery Christian ought to aspire. ing no stimulus for exertion, it would
l'am desirous of expressing a hope remain stationary, and make no imthat your able correspondent, Dr. provement in science, or any other exCharles Lloyd, will not allow" the cellent attainment. It would resemble victory to be silently conceded." Si- a vessel on the bosom of the ocean, so lence is not always an occasion of becalmed as to make no progress in any triumph. The Trojan Chief, though direction. Motives of ambition of some clad in the armour of Achilles, boasted kind or other are as necessary to put the not of victory, while the Grecian Hero mind in motion, and call forth its la. was silent in his tént.
tent énergies, as the wind at sea to waft Why will not Dr. Lloyd himself, or the sailing ships to their desired ports. his worthy friend, Mt. R: Taylor, pro- Whether in any supposed case it he mote the interests of Biblical criticism, crnsterable or laudalle, depends upon the by conímunicating to your Repository oljęct to which it is directed. Froin their view of those principles, which early association of ideas, from hearing prove to demonstration that the Deity the pleasures, riches and honours of the of Christ is not to be inferred by any world highly extolled, young persons right application of the Article io are led to estimate them beyond theit passages in the New Testament.- due valae. As they advance in years, * Truth," says Berkeley, “is the cry some or other of these objects present of all, but the game of a few." If they themselves to excite their ambition. interfere to decide this controversy, we Rank and pre-eminence among their may then say with the hard-, fellow creatures, are the wish of most “ This battle fares like to the morning's persons, and the aim of those who are war,
placed in such situations, as to give When dying clouds contend with grow- them a chance of obtaining them. To ing light."
be, however, in some of the highest A doctrine that depends, like the Deity conditions of society, is the lot but of of the Logos, on the application of an few. To sit on the throne and wear Article, in a dead' language, while in the crown of royalty, is the peculiar living languages it varies with the honour of one only of our fellow morthoughts of men, and their natural tals, till incapacity or death makes way idioms, inay be pronounced, in the for his successor. This at least is the Latin of Papal Benediction, to be constitution of our own country. It ~ In arliculo mortis."
inay therefore at the first view excite I am, Sir, with great respect, &c. the astonishment of my readers to be
WILLIAM EVANS. told, that the present writer has a plan P.S. Such a contribution as I have to communicate to the public, (which thùs solicited would not supersede å indeed did not originate with himself,} separate publication, prepared by Dr. whereby all persons may become kings, Lloyd, on the Greek pre-positive Ar- and exercise regal governinent. Let ticle. Professor Porson communicated not the zealous royalist be alarmed; he seven of his “ Letters to Travis,” to be may be assured that there is no treason inserted in the Gentleman's Magazine. in the proposal : it does not interfere
with the allegiance due to his Majesty. - SIR, Bridport, July 5, 1816. The plan indecd, if duly executed, THE following communication would make persons of all classes of
contains a plan for elevating all the comniunity kings (even the meapest