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[53] steal or even to hamstring a sheep1 was as much pun-
chap. III.} 1763.
ished by death as murder or treason. During the reign of George the Second, sixty-three new capital offences had been added to the criminal laws, and five new ones, on the average, continued to be discovered annually;2 so that the criminal code of England, formed under the influence of the rural gentry, seemed written in blood, and owed its mitigation only to executive clemency.

But this cruelty, while it encouraged and hardened offenders,3 did not revolt the instinct of submission in the rural population. The tenantry, for the most part without permanent leases, holding lands at a moderate rent, transmitting the occupation of them from father to son through many generations,

With calm desires that asked but little room,

clung to the lord of the manor as ivy to massive old walls. They loved to live in his light; to lean on his support, to gather round him with affectionate deference rather than base cowering; and, by their faithful attachment, to win his sympathy and care; happy when he was such an one as merited their love. They caught refinement of their superiors, so that their cottages were carefully neat, with roses and honeysuckles clambering to their roofs. They cultivated

1 ‘Recently a boy was hanged for hamstringing some sheep which a butcher intended to have stolen.’ Sir William Meredith: Debates, 9th May, 1770, in Cavendish, II. 12.

2 Previous to the Revolution, the number of capital offences did not exceed 50. During the reign of George II 63 new ones were added; and at the present moment they amount to no fewer than 154.‘Ibid.’ Let a gentleman only come down to this House and say that a man has done so and so but cannot be hanged for it, the cry is, “Oh, let us make a law, and hang him up immediately!” Speech of Sir William Meredith, 27th Nov. 1770; in Cavendish, II. 89.

3 Charles Fox: in Cavendish, II. 12.

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