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sive that probably many of them have been nursed to death. Not long ago I read a paper written by some French writer in which he said that public trials of criminals are only schools of crime. Consequently he contended that all such trials should be in secret, as in the good old days.
When, in 1899, the peace conference met at The Hague the two great Anglo-Saxon nations, claiming to be in the van of civilization, refused to give up the dumdum bullets because just at that time they happened to be engaged in the spread of the gospel of peace among heathen nations.
Not long ago I heard an address which dealt with the question of friendly arbitration of disputes between nations. The orator gave a history of such arbitrations, and presented a glowing picture of the coming day when spears shall be beaten into plowshares, swords shall be beaten into pruning hooks, and the white dove of peace shall spread its wings over landscapes of universal reconciliation; but he wound up by telling us that there were a few wars so divine, so holy, so preeminently sacred, that they commended themselves to the universal conscience of mankind; and that chief among these, consecrated by all of the blessings of heaven, was our present war on the Filipinos. He then proceeded to develop a code of international morals, which, if not superior to the Sermon on the Mount, was at least different from it.
But notwithstanding all objections, and some vituperation and abuse, the book of Beccaria commended itself to most fair-minded and intelligent men.
His doctrines have not only changed the whole system m-7 of the criminal laws, but they have stimulated inquiries into civil laws as well, and have resulted in a new science of jurisprudence based on reason, and not dominated by ancient custom, or enslaved by wornout precedent.
Bentham, Romilly, Pastoret, and all of the great law reformers of the present century, have frankly acknowledged their obligations to the pioneer in their wide field of labor.
The rest of the life of Beccaria is soon told. For some years he and some of his friends published in Milan a periodical called the “Coffee House, after the manner of Addison's “Spectator.” Not long after the publication of his book on “Crimes and Punishments” he planned an extensive work on Legislation; but seeing that such a work would bring him in conflict with those who were in power, he abandoned the enterprise. He was like the mariner, who, having narrowly escaped shipwreck on his first voyage, resolves to tempt no more the stormy seas. He was happily married, and little children were growing up around him. He said himself: “I sought to defend humanity, without becoming its martyr.”
Beccaria was appointed professor of political economy in the Palatine College of Milan in 1768, a position in which he maintained himself with distinction. Two volumes of his lectures have been published since his death. In 1771 he was made a member of the supreme economic council; and in 1791 he was made a member of the board for the revision of the code, in which capacity he rendered valuable services. He died of apoplexy at the age of 60, “lamented,” as was said by a contemporary and a fellow countryman, “by all who knew him, and worthy of being known and lamented by the whole human race.”
His work was done. He had spoken a little word in due season, and it was destined to live forever. In the first edition of his book he had favored imprisonment for debt. In a later one he expunged the passage, and said: "I blush to have written so cruel a thing. I have been accused of being seditious and impious when I was neither; but when I attacked the sacred rights of humanity no one raised his voice against me."
Beccaria was extremely fortunate in the time of the publication of his famous book. Fifty years earlier it would have been fatal to its author; fifty years later his labors would probably have been forestalled. M. Dupin, one of the most distinguished of the French lawyers of this century, has said of Beccaria: “He was remarkable less for the profundity of his views than for the generosity of his sentiments; his treatise is rather an earnest plea for humanity than a scientific work; and the name of Beccaria will pass with posterity, not as that of a great publicist, but as that of one who deserved well of the human race.
Immanuel Kant, who was profound often even to obscurity, reproached Beccaria for leaning too much to humanitarianism.
Beccaria was no doubt a humanitarian, if that is good ground for censure; but he was not a sentimentalist, like Rousseau, who believed, or affected to believe, that all men would be good and happy if all laws were repealed. He stood for reasonable laws rigidly enforced; and he deprecated the injudicious use of the pardoning power as tending to bring the law into contempt. His book may not seem very profound as compared with studies in jurisprudence that have since appeared. He labored for practical results, and not to show his learning. It is the old story of Columbus and the egg. Anyone could stand the egg on end after Columbus had shown him how to do it. If Beccaria was not a great man he accomplished great results. Generations of able jurists had lived before him without seeing anything objectionable in the barbarous codes existing in their day. Men are the slaves of custom, and are apt to overlook the faults and incongruities of institutions that have always been unchallenged, and that have become venerable by reason of their antiquity. But Beccaria perceived the prime defects in the governments and laws of his time, and pointed them out with unerring accuracy, suggesting reformations that have been adopted in all civilized lands. There are no doubt many corporals in our army who, if furnished with modern appliances of warfare, could capture another Tyre in less time than it took Alexander; but it does not follow that they are greater than Alexander. It may be that Beccaria was not profound; but he was a thoroughly sane man, with that rare kind of common sense, possessed by men like Washington, which easily adjusts itself to great subjects. As a literary man he could not compare with his grandson, Manzoni, the poet, and the author of the only classic novel that Italy has produced; but the world could better have done without "The Betrothed” than to have done without the treatise on "Crimes and Punishments."
It does indeed seem not improbable that Beccaria sought to do good rather than to acquire fame. We may underestimate his abilities; but it would be hard to overestimate the value of the work which he accomplished.
If a shining angel had appeared in his chamber at night, and had shown him a book of gold, containing the names of all the great ones of the earth, and had told him that his own was not enrolled therein, Beccaria might have
spoke more low,