Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. X.: Of Penalties. - The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 1
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CHAP. X.: Of Penalties. - Sir William Petty, The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, vol. 1 
The Economic Writings of Sir William Petty, together with The Observations upon Bills of Mortality, more probably by Captain John Graunt, ed. Charles Henry Hull (Cambridge University Press, 1899), 2 vols.
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THe usual Penalties are Death, Mutilations, Imprisonment, Publick disgrace, Corporal transient pains, and great Tortures, besides the Pecuniary Mulcts. Of† which last we shall most insist, speaking of the others but in order to examine whether they may not be commuted for these.
2. There be some certain Crimes, for which the Law of God appoints death; and these must be punished with it, unless we say that those were but the Civil Laws of the Jewish ‖ Commonwealth, although given by God himself; of which opinion certainly most modern States are, in as much as they punish not Adulteries, &c. with death, as among the Jewes, and yet punish small Thefts with Death instead of multiple reparation.
3. Upon this supposition we shall venture to offer; whether the reason of simple Death be not to punish incorrigible Committers of great faults?
4. Of publick Death with Torments, to affright men from Treasons, which cause the deaths and miseries of many thousand innocent and useful people?
5. Of Death secretly executed, to punish secret and unknown Crimes, such as Publick Executions would teach to the World? Or else to suffocate betimes some dangerous Novelties in Religion, which the patient suffering of the worst man would much spread and encourage.
6. Mutilations suppose of Ears, Nose, &c. are used for perpetual disgrace, as standing in the Pillory is for temporary and transient; which and such other punishments have (by the way) made some corrigible offenders, to become desperate and incurable.
7. Mutilations of parts as of Fingers, are proper to disable such as have abused their dextrous use of them, by Pocket-picking, Counterfeiting of Seals and Writings, &c. Mutilations of other parts, may serve to punish and prevent Adulteries, Rapes, Incests, &c. And the smaller Corporal pains, serve to punish those, who can pay no pecuniary mulcts.
8. Imprisonment seems rather to be the punishments of suspected then guilty persons, and such as by their carriage give the Magistrate occasion to think, either they have done some smaller particular Crime, as Thefts, &c. or that they would commit greater; as Treasons and Seditions. But where Imprisonment is not a securing men until their Trialls, but a sentence after Triall, it seems to me proper onely to seclude such men from conversation, whose Discourses are bewitching, and Practices infectious, and in whom neverthelesse remains some hopes of their future Amendments, ‖ or usefulnesse for some service not yet appearing.
9. As for perpetual Imprisonment by sentence, it seems but the same with death it self, to be executed by nature it self, quickened with such Diseases, as close living, sadness, solitude, and reflections upon a past and better condition, doth commonly beget: Nor do men sentenced hereunto live longer, though they be longer in dying.
10. Here we are to remember in consequence of our opinion, [That Labour is the Father and active principle of Wealth, as Lands are the Mother] that the State by killing, mutilating, or imprisoning their members, do withall punish themselves; wherefore such punishments ought (as much as possible) to be avoided and commuted for pecuniary mulcts, which will encrease labour and publick wealth.
11. Upon which account, why should not a man of Estate, found guilty of man-slaughter, rather pay a certain proportion of his whole Estate, then be burnt in the hand?
12. Why should not insolvent Thieves be rather punished with slavery then death? so as being slaves they may be forced to as much labour, and as cheap fare, as nature will endure, and thereby become as two men added to the Commonwealth, and not as one taken away from it; for if England be under-peopled, (suppose by half) I say that next to the bringing in of as many more as now are, is the making these that are, to do double the work which now they do; that is, to make some slaves; but of this elsewhere.
13. And why should not the solvent Thieves and Cheats be rather punished with multiple Restitutions then Death, Pillory, Whipping? &c. But it will be asked, with how manifold Restitutions should picking a pocket (for example) be punished? I say, ‘twere good in order to the solution hereof, to enquire of some candid Artists in that Trade, how often they are taken one time with another practising in this work? If but once in ten times, then to restore even but seven-fold, would be a fair profit; and to restore but ten-fold, were but an even lay; wherefore to restore twenty-fold, that is, double to the hazard, is rather the true ratio and measure of punishment by double reparation.
14. And surely the restoring two, three, four, and seven- fold mentioned in Moses Law must be thus understood, or else a man might make thieving a very fair and lawful profession.
15. The next question is, in such multiple Restitutions how many parts should be given to the sufferer. To which I answer, never above one, and scarce that, to oblige him to more care, and self-preservation, with three parts to discoverers, and the rest to publick uses.
16. Thirdly, In the case of Fornications, most of the punishments not made by pecuniary mulcts and commuted, are but shame, and that too but towards some few persons, which shame for ever after obdurates the Offender, what ever it work upon such whose fames are yet intire: Of all which men take little consideration, standing upon the brink of such precipices as makes them giddy; and when they are in danger of such faults as are rather madnesses, distempers, and alienations of the minde and reason, as also insurrections of the passions, then deliberate acts of the understanding.
17. Moreover, according to that Axiom of, In quo quis peccat, in eodem puniatur; if the Ratio formalis of the sin of Concubitus Vagi, be the hindering of procreation, let those who by their miscarriages of this kinde are guilty thereof, repair unto the State the misse of another pair of hands with the double labour of their own, or which is all one, by a pecuniary mulct; and this is the practice of some wise States in punishing what they will never be able to prevent: Nor doth the Gospel specifie any punishment in this world, onely declaring they shall not be received into the joyes of the next.
18. I could instance in more particulars, but if what I have already said be reasonable, this little is enough; if not, then all the rest would be too little also: wherefore I shall adde but one instance more, as most suitable to our present times and occasions, which is the way of punishing Heterdox Professors of Religion.
19. That the Magistrate may punish false Believers, if he believe he shall offend God in forbearing it, is true; for the same reasons that men give for Liberty of Conscience, and ‖ universal tolleration; and on the other side, that he may permit false Worships, seems clearly at least by the practice of all States, who allow Ambassadours their freedom (be the† Worship never so abominable) even when they come to negociate but upon temporal and small matters.
20. Wherefore, since the Magistrate may allow or connive at such Worships as himself thinks fit, and yet may also punish; and since by Death, Mutilations, and imprisonments of the Subjects, the State not onely punisheth it self, but spreadeth the Pseudodoxies; it follows, that pecuniary Mulcts are the fittest wayes of checking the wantonness of men in this particular: forasmuch as that course savours of no bitterness at all, but rather argues a desire to indulge, provided such indulgence may consist with the indempnity of the State; for no Heterodox‡ will desire to be tollerated longer then he keeps the Publick Peace; the which if he means to do, he cannot take it ill of the Magistrate, to keep him steddy unto that his duty, nor grudge to contribute towards so much charge for that purpose as himself occasions.
21. Moreover, as there seems a reason for indulging some conscientious misbelievers, so there is as much for being severe towards Hypocrites, especially such as abuse holy Religion to cloak and vizzard worldly ends: Now what more easie and yet effectual way is there to discern between these two, then well proportioned pecuniary mulcts? for who desiring to serve God without fear, and labouring ten hours per diem at his Calling, would not labour one hour more for such a freedom? even as religious men spend an hour per diem more then the looser sort do at their Devotions; or who weaving† Cloth of one and twenty shillings the yard, would not be contented with that of twenty shillings, for the same advantage of his liberty in Worship? Those that kick at this, being unwilling either to do or suffer for God, for whose sake they pretend so much.
22. It may be here objected, that although some bad Religions might be tollerated, yet that all may not, viz. such as consist not with the Civil Peace. To which I answer. ‖
First, that there is no Schisme or Separation, be it never so small, consistent with that unity and peace as could be wisht; nor none so perfectly conscientious, but may also be civilly most pernicious: For that Venner1 and his Complices acted upon internal motives, the most free exposing of themselves to death may evince; and yet their holding the King to be an Usurper upon the Throne and Right of Jesus Christ was a Civil mischief neither to be pardoned or parallel'd.
23. And yet on the other hand there is no Pseudodoxy so great, but may be muzzled from doing much harm in the State, without either Death, Imprisonment, or Mutilation: To make short, no opinion can be more dangerous, then to disbelieve the immortality of the Soul, as rendring man a beast, and without conscience, or fear of committing any evil, if he can but elude the penaltie of humane Laws made against it, and letting men loose to all evil thoughts and designs whereof man can take no notice: Now I say, that even this Misbeliever may be adæquately punished if he be kept as a beast, be proprietor of nothing, as making no conscience how he gets; be never admitted in Evidence or Testimony, as under no obligation to speak truth; be excluded all Honours and Offices, as caring onely for himself, not the protecting of others; and be withall kept to extream bodily labour, the profit whereof to the State is the pecuniary Mulct we speak of, though the greatest.
24. As for opinions less horrible then this, the Mulct may be fitted to each of them respectively, according to the measure of danger which the Magistrate apprehends from their allowance, and the charge necessary to prevent it.
25. And now we are speaking of the wayes how to prevent and correct Heterodoxies in Religion, which we have hitherto done by designing punishments for the erring sheep, I think it not amiss to adde, That in all these cases the Shepherds themselves should not wholly scape free: For if in this Nation there be such abundance of Free-Schools, and of liberall Maintenance provided in our Universities and elsewhere for instructing more then enough in all such learning as is fit to ‖ defend the established Religion, together with superabundant Libraries for that purpose. Moreover, if the Church-preferments be so numerous and ample both for Wealth, Honour, and Power, as scarce any where more; it seems strange that when by the laziness, formality, ignorance, and loose lives of our Pastours, the sheep have gone astray, grown scabbed, or have been devoured by Wolves and Foxes, that the Remedy of all this should be onely sought by frighting those that have strayed from ever returning again, and by tearing off as well the skins as the wool of those that are scabbed; whereas Almighty God will rather require the blood even of them that have been devoured, from the shepheards themselves.
26. Wherefore if the Minister should lose part of the Tythes of those whom he suffers to dissent† from the Church, (the defector not saving, but the State wholly gaining them) and the defector paying some pecuniary Mulct for his Schisme, and withall himself defraying the charge of his new particular Church and Pastorage, me thinks the burthen would be thus more equally born.
27. Besides, the judicious world do not believe our Clergy can deserve the vaste preferments they have, onely because they preach, give a better accompt of Opinions concerning Religion then others, or can express their conceptions in the words of the Fathers, or the Scriptures, &c. Whereas certainly the great honour we give them, is for being patterns of holiness, for shewing by their own self-denials, mortifications, and austerities, that ‘tis possible for us to imitate them in the precepts of God; for if it were but for their bare Pulpit-discourses, some men might think there is ten thousand times as much already printed as can be necessary, and as good as any that ever hereafter may be expected. And it is much suspected, that the Discipline of the Cloisters hath kept up the Roman Religion, which the Luxury of the Cardinals and Prelates might have destroyed.
28. The substance therefore of all we have said in this discourse concerning the Church is, that it would make much for its peace, if the Nursery of Ministers be not too bigg, that ‖ Austerities in the Priests lives would reconcile them to the people; and that it is not unreasonable, that when the whole Church suffers by the defection of her Members, that the Pastours of it by bearing a small part should be made sensible of the loss; the manner and measures of all which I leave unto those unto whom it belongs.
29. Concerning Penalties and Penal Laws I shall adde but this, that the abuse of them is, when they are made not to keep men from sin, but to draw them into punishment; and when the Executors of them keep them hid until a fault be done, and then shew them terrible to the poor immalicious offender: Just like Centinels, who never shew men the advertisements against pissing near their Guards, till they have catcht them by the coats for the forfeiture they claim.
[†]read [on] for [of]
[†]read [their] for [the]
[‡]after [Heterodox] interline [Believer]
[†]read [wearing] for [weaving]
Thomas Venner, the London wine-cooper, who led the revolt of the Fifth Monarchy Men, 6 January, 1661. See A relation of the Arraignment and Trial of those who made the late Rebellious Insurrection in London, 1661, in Somers’ Tracts (1812), VII. 469–472; Howell, State Trials, VI. 105–120, 67–70 n.; Burnet, Own Time, I. 160–161.
[†]read [defect] for [dissent]