Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXIII.: THE IDEA OF REFORMATION. - An Essay on Crimes and Punishments
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CHAPTER XXIII.: THE IDEA OF REFORMATION. - Cesare Bonesana di Beccaria, An Essay on Crimes and Punishments 
An Essay on Crimes and Punishments. By the Marquis Beccaria of Milan. With a Commentary by M. de Voltaire. A New Edition Corrected. (Albany: W.C. Little & Co., 1872).
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THE IDEA OF REFORMATION.
Magistrates are in themselves so respectable, that the inhabitants of the only country in which they are venal, sincerely pray to be delivered from this custom: they wish that the civilian may by his merit establish that justice, which in his writings he hath so nobly defended. We may then possibly hope to see a regular and uniform system of laws.
Shall the law of the provinces be always at variance with the law in the capital? Shall a man be right in Britanny, and wrong in Languedoc? Nay, there are as many laws as there are towns; and, even in the same parliament, the maxims of one chamber are not the maxims of another.
What astonishing contrariety in the laws of one kingdom! In Paris, a man who has been an inhabitant during one year and a day, is reputed a citizen. In Franche-Comte, a freeman who, during a year and a day, inhabits a house in mortmain, becomes a slave; his collateral heirs are excluded from inheriting his foreign acquisitions, and even his children are deprived of their inheritance, if they have been a year absent from the house in which the father died. This province is called Franche, but where is their freedom?
Were we to attempt to draw a line between civil authority and ecclesiastical customs, what endless disputes would ensue? In short, to what side soever we turn our eyes, we are presented with a confused scene of contradictions, uncertainty, hardships, and arbitrary power. In the present age, we seem universally aiming at perfection; let us not therefore neglect to perfect the laws, on which our lives and fortunes depend.