In that definition, Mr. Chairman
, have I not included the whole object of penalty in the eye of civil government?
You observe that this must be
the whole object.
For instance,--a man who undertakes to commit murder, but does not do it, is guilty of murder in the eye of God.
If I load a pistol and fire it at a man, and miss him, I am a murderer in the eye of God; I am not a murderer in the eye of society.
Society looks upon the act, not upon the intention or motive of the individual; and, therefore, only that Being who fathoms motives, who lets down the plummet of His infinite knowledge into the complex machinery of the human heart, and learns how much good has been resisted, how much education has been smothered,--only He can punish.
If I am right in this, the only things left are restraint of the specific individual culprit, and restraint by deter.
That is the object of penalties.
Well, then, we come to the penalty of the gallows,--the taking away of life.
In the first place,--to look at it abstractly,--is it necessary in order to restrain the murderer, or to deter others from imitating him?
It manifestly is not necessary in order to restrain the murderer; because society is now so settled in its arrangements, so perfectly stereotyped in its shape and form, that you can put a man between four walls and keep him there his whole life.
can build prisons strong enough to keep a man, and enact statutes strong enough to prevent him from being pardoned out. No man will pretend before this Committee that that part of the object of penalty which would prevent the man from repeating his offence obliges you to take his life.
You can shut him up just as securely in a prison as in a grave.
It is not necessary, then, to restrain the criminal; nobody pretends it.
Is it necessary for the simple purpose of deterring