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name and feal of their fovereign: and after Haarlem had been buried in blood and afhes, and Leyden had fuftained that memorable fiege, which exhibits fuch a dreadful. fpectacle in the records of hiftory, the univerfity of this latter city was erected by WILLIAM I. by letters patent in the name of PHILIP II.Where now is the parallel?
We fhall fay little, because there is little to be faid, of this third volume of M. Cerifier's hiftory. We muft, however, do him the juftice to obferve, that the ftile and compofition are fomewhat more tolerable in this, than in the preceding volumes, though he has not, even here, got quite rid of his propensity to regale his reader with trivial anecdotes and dirty ftories. It begins with the year 1555, and ends with 1584; and thus contains the history of Philip II. fo far down as the death of William I. prince of Orange.-This portion of Belgic history has been often treated; many pens have been employed about it and about it; and yet the subject still deserves a more advantageous and interefting exhibition than it has hitherto met with... One defect in particular will ftrike the most candid reader in M, CERISIER's work, and that is, his perpetual efforts to exaggerate the diforders committed by the Proteftants, in their refentment and indignation against Romish tyranny and fuperftition, so as to bring them as near as is poffible, and nearer than is true, to the intolerant and perfecuting spirit of his own church, of which he has the humanity and good fenfe to be afhamed, and which, indeed, he characterizes, in many places, with the greateft energy, and in the very ftrongest terms of difapprobation...
Prix de la Juftice & de l' Hun.anité.-Prize held up by Juftice and Humanity. 8vo. London (i. e. Paris). 1778.
E fhould, perhaps, have paffed in filence this fmall work, as a fober production, which contains fome fenfible reflexions, and many trite ones; and on the whole is not above mediocrity, if we had not good reafons to believe that it is the work, nay, even the laft work, of M. de VOLTAIRE: that is, the laft in order of publication. Befide the word of one of our worthy fellow-labourers for this, which is truth itfelf in all cafes where he is well informed, there is fomething in the manner of this compofition, that bears evident marks of that celebrated Author, who has been fo long and fo juftly the object of admiration and contempt, of panegyric and fatire. The man is now dead-and we do not remember to have seen a more natural and eloquent funeral oration than that which our candid affociate above-mentioned compofed in three lines of a hafty letter to the author of this article; it is as follows: "Poor Voltaire! We have loft an excellent contributor to our Journal, at
Voltaire's Prize held up by Juftice and Humanity.
Laft in the article of entertainment!-What shall we do for another
None but himself can be his parallel.
The Book before us now demands a moment's confideration; after which, we shall give a general sketch of the intellectual, moral, and literary portrait of this celebrated man.
The Book was occafioned by an article inferted in the Gazette of Berne, February 15th, 1777; by which we learn, that an humane perfon, deeply fenfible of the inconveniencies that arife from the imperfection of penal laws in most of the states of Europe, had remitted to the Oeconomical Society of that city, a prize of fifty louis d'ors, to be given to the Author of the best Memoir on the following fubject: The compofition of a complete and finished plan of legislation, relative to criminal cafes, under these three articles or points of view: 1ft, A confideration of the nature of crimes, and of the proportion to be obferved in the punishment of them. 2dly, The nature and ftrength of proofs and prefumptions. 3dly, The manner of obtaining evidence by a criminal procefs, fo that clemency and mildnefs in the mode of trial and punishment may not be incompatible with the fpeedy and exemplary chaftilement of the guilty, &c.
M. de VOLTAIRE feeing this advertisement, and having long imbibed the fpirit of a civil as well as of a literary legiflator, thought fit to addrefs, to the competitors for this well-judged prize, his ideas, or (what he calls his) doubts on this important fubject, that they may remove his difficulties (fays he modeftly), if they think them worthy of difcuflion.
The articles on which M. de VOLTAIRE propofes his ideas and doubts, are twenty-eight in number, and relate to The proportion between Crimes and Punishments-Theft-Murder-Duelling-Suicide-Mothers who kill their Children-Many other Crimes ftuffed into one article-Herefy-Sorcerers-Sacrilege--Criminal Procedures on fcholaftic Difputes-Bigamy and Adultery – Marriages between Perfons of different Sects-Inceft-Rapes-Proflitution of their Children by Fathers and Mothers-Debauchery of Women with their Domeftics-Sodomy-Obedience to the unjuft Order of a lawful Power-Defamatory Libels-The Expediency of allowing Counsel to the accufed-Torture-Prifons, and the apprehending of Prisoners— Punishments in which Invention has contrived Refinements of Cruelty -Confifcation-The Laws of Lervis XVI. concerning Defertion
The greatest part of these articles are old morfels of jurisprudence and legiflation, which have been ferved up feveral times, and have furnished entertainment under various forms. Some of them are ftill nourishing, and may be fed upon; others are light, fiimfy, and infipid.
We shall begin our account of this work with the fecond article concerning Theft, which contains feveral ufeful leffons of reafon and good fenfe, mixed with fome keen ftrokes of pleafantry and fatire.
Filching, larceny, and theft (fays M. de VOLTAIRE) being generally the crimes of the poor, and the laws being made by the rich, don't you think, that all governments, which are naerally in the hands of the latter, ought to begin by endeavour
ing to deftroy beggary, inftead of fpying out the opportunities
In the third article, relative to Murder, M. de VOLTAIRE follows the ideas of B.ccaria, and thinks this crime might be more ufefully punished by other means than by the death of the convict. But (says he) I hear a multitude of citizens calling out against me, for the execution of the lex talionis-That villain, fays one, has put out my eye-That affaflin, fays another, has murdered my brother. We mutt be revenged: give me an eye of the aggreffor, who put out mine; give me the blood of the murderer, who cut my brother's throat.-To anfwer these people, you have only to addrefs yourfelf to them in the follow
ing terms: When he, who has put out your eye, has himself
Our Author does not mean here to justify the barbarous manners and cuftoms of the age of Charlemagne, when every affaffination had its price eftimated by the rank of the perfons whofe throats were cut. Inftead of encouraging murder, he only propofes (fays he) the method of punishing one murder,. fo as to prevent its becoming the occafion of another; for (continues he) if there be any, cate, where juftice requires that one citizen fhould be hired and paid by the ftate to maffacre another, it can only be where this butchery is neceffary to fave the lives of others. The killing a mad dog is a cafe of this kind. In all other cafes, the criminal ought to be condemned to live, that he may be ufeful-damage is to be repayed, but death neither repays nor repairs any thing.
Under the tenth article, the fubject of which is Sacrilege, M. de VOLTAIRE has a fair occafion of fhewing the odious bare barity of the penal laws in France, which in a multitude of cafes, both civil and ecclefiaftical, excite horror, fhock humanity, and create ftrong fufpicions, that we must not judge of the national character of the French by their gaiety and politenefs. He relates, in a fpirited train, the monftrous story of Abbeville, which happened in 1766, where fome children (as our Author calls them), or rather young men, were condemned to have their hands cut off, their tongues plucked out, and then to be burnt alive. Their crime was irreverence to a wooden image of the Virgin, and an idle fong, fung at table in a drunken frolic: the judges were three magiftrates, of which one