« PreviousContinue »
12. Forcibly marrying a woman against her will; acknowledging a fine, bail, &c. in another's name ; poisoning where death does not ensue, within a year and a day; perjury ; stealing a record; burning an uninhabited house ; counterfeiting any deed, or will, (not affecting real estate,) bill, or note, (not negotiable,) warrant, or order, (not being a bill of exchange,) and every offence above petit larceny, not otherwise provided for, is gene rally punishable with imprisonment in the state prison, not exceeding four. teen years, nor less than three.
13. Petit larceny is defined to be, the stealing of goods of the value of swelve dollars and fifty cents, or under; if over that value, it is grand larceny. Petit larceny is punishable with imprisonment not exceeding three years. Convicts in New-York are sent to the penitentiary, and compelled to hard labour on the roads, or on public buildings.
Misdemeanors punishable by Fine and Imprisonment. Disturbing an election ; secreting, or taking away wrecked goods,
setting woods on fire, or refusing to help to extinguish the fire ; gaming ; digging up dead bodies ; extortion by sheriffs ; tearing down notice of sheriffs' sales ; concealing insolvent's estate ; justifying fraudulent conveðances; unauthorized arrests in the name of another; embracing and corrupting jurors ; buying or selling an office; and many others; as conspiracy to cheat, champerty, maintenance of suits, &c.
Of Witnesses, Oath, Affirmation, and Evidence. 1. Witnesses are compellable to attend courts, by process of subpoena, and attachment; and in criminal cases, they may be also held under recognizance to appear; or be committed for that purpose, if they cannot give security.
2. Persons insane cannot be witnesses ; children capable of understand. ing an oath, and its moral obligation, may be witnesses, without regard to age.
3. Juries are judges of the extent to which witnesses are to be credited; and they are also judges both of the law, and the fact, in criminal cases.
4. Atheists, and infidels, professing no religion that bind their consciences to speak the truth, are excluded from being witnesses.
5. A Gentoo, Mahommedan, or Pagan, may be a witness, if he believe in the obligation of an oath, and be sworn according to that form of oath, which, according to his creed, he holds to be obligatory.
6. Quakers affirm, and are competent witnesses, in all cases. Persons convicted of crimes, are incompetent, unless pardoned.
7. Accomplices are admitted to testify, from a principle of public policy; as without their testimony it is not possible, in certain cases, of the worst of crimes, to detect the guilty. In such cases the accomplice confesses his guilt, testifies against his associates, and relies on the mercy of the executive power. It is in the discretion of courts to admit them or not, al they deem proper.
8. All witnesses interested in the events of a cause are to be excluded.
9. Witnesses are bound to speak the whole truth, except an attorney or counsel, who is not to reveal confidential communications made by his client. And an interpreter between the attorney or counsel, and client, receives those communications on the same conditions of secrecy.
10. To convict a man of treason, and of perjury, there must be two witnesses.
11. All evidence is either positive, or presuntptive. 12. The best evidence which the case admits of must be adduced. Heat say evidence is not good, except in cases of pedigree, as to time of birth, birth-place, or questions of custom.
13. No man is bound to give evidence against himself.
14. All proof is in reference to some fact already known and admitted. If twenty witnesses swear A. murdered B. no one would believe it, if B. be not missing.
15. One thing is, because another is not. It is not day, therefore it is night.
16. One thing is, therefore another is. The sun is risen, therefore it is day.
17. One thing is not, therefore another is. It is not night, therefore it is day.
18. One thing is not, therefore another is not. He is not rational, therefore he is not a man. These are rules by Quintilian, and are less useful than curious.
19. The king of Siam believed every thing the European Ambassador told him, until he was informed, that the rivers, and sea in Europe, were occasionally made so hard by the cold, that people could walk on them; and this story the king totally disbelieved and rejected, as repugnant to every thing which he had known or heard of ; and the ground of his disbelief was perfectly rational; because
20. The principles of evidence are founded on what we have seen, or believe to have been passing in real life ; such principles, therefore, will be adapted to the manners and habits of the times.
21. Hence it is asserted by some eminent writers on evidence, that " All proof is arbitrary, and depends wholly on the feelings of the judges.'
22. It is likely several things may happen, which are not likely. 23. The most probable things may prove false.
23. When any given hypothesis explains many phenomena, and contradicts none; and when every other hypothesis is inconsistent with some of the phenomena, the given hypothesis is proved to be true, by the highest de gree of evidence. This is the principle of evidence, on which Sir Isaac Newton founded his philosophy, in relation to the motion of the heavenly bodies.
of Law Maxims. Ignorantia legis neminem exccusat. Ignorance of the law excuses no man from its pains and penalties. Our laws are published, after being passed in public ; and every man is supposed to know them. This maxim applies not to infants of tender years, or to ideots.
2. Religion is a chief object of the law. An act contrary to the law of God is void. As if a law be passed, that no one shall give alms.
3. Sunday is no day in Law.
4. A contract without any consideration is void. A promise to give lands or money cannot be enforced, unless the promise be made for some valuable consideration,
5. Communis error facit jus. Common error makes right. This is established upon custom ; because the law favoureth the common good.
6. All that a married woman hath appertaineth to her husband.
8. Lex neminem cogit ad impossibilia. The law compels no one to impossibilities.
9. Qui per alium facit, per seipsum facere videtur.. He who acts by ano. ther, is held to act by himself.
10. If my servant tell my goods to another in debt, I may suppose he bought them of me. If I declare by my last will, that A. B. shall alien my land, and he doth so, it is my alienation by him.
11. Consueludo est altera lex. Custom is a second law. But no custom should be so construed, as to enable a person to do a wrongful act.
12. When contrary laws come in question, the four following rules are to be observed.
1. The inferior law must give place to the superior.
4th, Man's law to God's law. Of the Rights of Conscience, and of the freedom of Speech, and of the Press.
1. The right of personal security, in the United States, inclades not only the enjoyment of life, limb, body, health, and reputation, but also the unin. terrupted enjoyment of a free conscience, in all matters respecting religion, and of opinion, in all matters of a civil nature.
2. Thus every man, in United America, may worship GOD, HIS CREATOR, in that mode which his own reason dictates, without the intervention of any human authority. The Jew and the Catholic, equally enjoy the blessing of an undisturbed religious freedom ; and the cross, the rack, the inquisition, and the dungeon, can be used by neither the one 'nor the other. Both are alike entitled to all the privileges and honours of the government, without any of those civil incapacities, which, in all other governments, pollute the fountains of national peace.
3. “Man worships not himself, but his maker. The liberty of conscience, which he claims, is not for his own service, but for that of his God. To interfere between the worshipping being, and the great Being, who is worshipped, is not only presumptuous, but blasphemous. Who will dare to say, how God shall, or shall not, receive devotion from the soul he has created? Yet the intoleration, which declares to man the mode in which he shall worship his God, at the same time declares, that God shall receive worship in no other mode!
4. “Who art thou, vain dust and ashes ! by whatever name thou art called, whether a king, a bishop; a church, or a state ; a parliament, or any thing else, that obtrudest thine insignificance between the soul of man, and its Maker!
5. “ In the United States may religion lourish! The people cannot be great or happy, if it does not. But let it be a better religion, than most of those which have been hitherto professed, in the world. Let it be a religion, which enforces moral obligations ; not a religion, which relaxes and evades them; a religion of peace and charity, not a religion which persecutes, curses, and damns. In a word, let it be the genuine gospel cor peace, lifting above the world, warming the heart with the love of God, and his creatures, and sustaining the fortitude of good men, by the assured hope of a future deliverance from death, and an infinite reward in the everlasting kingdom of our LORD and SAVIOUR."
6. Liberty of speech, and of discussion in all speculative matters, consists in the absolute, and uncontroulable right of speaking, writing, and publishing, on opinions concerning any subject, whether religious, philosophical, or political ; and of inquiring into, and examining the nature of truth, whether moral, or metaphysical; the expediency, or inexpediency of all public measures, with their tendency, and probable effect; the conduct of public men, and generally, every other subject, without restraint; except as to the injury of any other individual, in his person, property, or good name.
7. Thought and speech are equally the immediata gifts of the Creator;
the one being intended as the vehicle of the other. They are free in America, but in no other civilized nation.
8. When the introduction of letters, among men, afforded a new mode of disclosing, and the invention of the press, a more expeditious method of diffusing their sentiments, writing and printing became subjects of legal coercion. In England, before the year 1694, the freedom of the press, and the right of vending books, was restrained to very narrow limits. No book could be printed without a licence; and no one could sell books, but a licensed shopkeeper. These restrictions placed all knowledge, by the communication of books, under the control of those interested in keeping the nation in the darkness of ignorance.
9. The constitution of the United States did not provide any barrier against encroachments of that kind; and the omission gave rise to great complaints, among the states. In consequence of those complaints, the amendment was made, whercby it is declared, that « Congress should make Do law abridging the frecdom of speech, or of the press."
Of Imprisonment for Debt. Imprisonment for debt, which is a species of slavery, exists in the United States, and is a custom opposed to the constitution, and the professed religion of the land. While the creditor has the power of imprisoning the debtor, the latter is a slave to the former. But if a man cannot sell his liberty, a creditor cannot take it from a debtor, even if the debtor assent to it, without infringing the principles of justice. No statute can alter the immu. table law of God. If liberty be the gift of God, and if it be, as admitted, an upalienable right, no misfortune of a debtor can clothe his creditor, with a right to take away that gift. It can be forfeited only by crime, which crime must be tried by a jury, upon presentment, or indictment. The truth begins to be understood, and is rapidly making its progress in the United States. We have a law in the State of New York, cntitled, An act for abolishing imprisonment for debt. A similar law has lately passed the legislature of Pennsylvania. And it is to be confidently hoper, that all those statesmen of the north, who are so ready to censure their brethren of the south, for holding black slaves, will soon seize an opportunity, in their own states, to banish that species of white slavery, which exists under the law of debtor and creditor.
Of Morals, or Ethics. 1. The science of morals treats of the actions of intelligent beings, whether right or wrong; and considers the former as the object of approbation, and reward, and the latter of censure and punishment.
2. We might inquire, whether virtue consists in benevolence, in propriety, or in the pursuit of our own happiness? Is virtue recommended to us by self love? which points it out to us by our interest; or by reason which proves it to be our duty; or by a moral sense? which is pleased with the beauty of virtue, and disgusted with its opposite.
3. The preservation and bealthful state of the body seem to be our frst object of care. Attention and foresight are necessary for providing means to satisfy our natural appetites ; of procuring pleasure, and avoiding pain. The desire of being respected among our equals, is one of our strongest appetites, and the wish to obtain a fortune proceeds from that desire.
4. To secure and improve our fortune, knowledge in our profession, industry in the exercise of it, and frugality in our expenses are necessary, Prudence combined with other virtues constitutes the noblest, and the want of it combined with other vices constitutes the vilest of all characters.
6. Every person must influence the happiness of others, by his disposition, either to hurt or benefit them. Proper resentment for injustice attempted, or actually committed, is the only motive that can justify our disturbing the happiness of our neighbour.
6. A sacred regard for the happiness of others, so as not to disturb it, even when no law protects them, constitutes the character of a just man.
7. After himself, a man's family are naturally the objects of his warmest affection. Children have our highest sympathy. Our tenderness for them is more active than our reverence and gratitude for our parents. The weakness of children interests the affections of the most brutal; while the infirmities of old age are objects of contempt to all but the good.
8. Next to the relations of parents and children, are those of brothers
and sisters, and so on through all the relations of consanguinity. Their • habitual intercourse produces habitual sympathy, called affection. The
good and virtuous regard these ties, and the dissipated and profligate desa pise them.
9. Next to our relatives come those who are recommended by their personal qualities. This is founded upon approbation of an individual's conduct, confirmed by long acquaintance, and is called by the venerable and sacred name of friendship.
10. Benefactors, who have rendered us a kindness, have a natural claim upon our gratitude. Those also who are distinguished by their extraordinary situations excite our attention. As the greatly fortunate, and the greatly unfortunate ; the rich and the powerful,
and the poor and wretched. The peace and order of society depend on our respect for the former ; the relief of buman misery, on our compassion for the latter.
11. The state, or sovereignty, in which we are born and educated, is next recommended to our affection. Not only we ourselves, but all the objects of our love, our children, our parents, our relatives, our friends, ow benefactors, are all comprehended in it. Every good citizen loves his country, respects its laws, and wishes to promote, by every means in his power, the welfare of the whole society, in which he lives.
12. A good man loves all mankind, because they all are under the special care of that great, benevolent, and all wise Being, who created, maintains, and directs all things, at all times, for the general good.
13. A fatherless world is the most melancholy of all reflections. The highest splendour cannot enlighten the gloom, which such an idea spreads over the imagination. Nor can the most afflicting adversity disturb the joy of the good man, under the conviction that this world has a wise and benevolent Father for its Protector and Guide.
14. From this view of a Providence, man discovers himself to be a moral agent, bound to take care of his own happiness, that of his family, his friends, and bis country; making his own interest his motive, and God's will his rule of conduct. This rule is known from God's declarations in the scriptures, or by his works, denominated the law of nature.
15. The method of coming at the will of God, concerning any action, by the light of nature, is to inquire into the tendency of the action to promote or diminish the general happiness. It is evident, that God, when he made man, willed and wished his happiness. Every child at its sport, even the most trivial occurrence, demonstrates the finger of God.
16. Therefore, he who best promotes his own happiness, that of his family, his friends, his country, and of mankind, acts most consistently with the will of God, and thus performs, in the most perfect inanner, his moral obligations.