primogeniture, because the eldest son is most likely to be capable of punishing the culprit; and, for the same reason, to modifications of primogeniture, by the preference of the brother before the grandson, and of the male line before the female. A practice which appears barbarous is, therefore, one of the foundations of civilisation, and the origin of some of the refinements of law. In this state of society there is no distinction between civil and criminal law; an injury is looked upon as a private wrong, not, as religion considers it, a sin, or, as the State considers it, a crime.
Something very similar occurs in feudal society. Here all the barons were virtually equal to each other, and without any superior to punish their crimes or to avenge their wrongs. They were, therefore, compelled to obtain safety or reparation, like sovereigns, by force of arms. What war is among States, the feud is in feudal society, and the vengeance of blood in societies not yet matured into States—a substitute for the fixed administration of justice.
The assumption of this duty by the State begins with the recognisance of acts done against the State itself. At first, political crimes alone are visited with a public penalty; private injuries demand no public expiation, but only satisfaction of the injured party. This appears in its most rudimentary form in the lex talionis. Society requires that punishment should be inflicted by the State, in order to prevent continual disorders. If the injured party could be satisfied, and his duty fulfilled without inflicting on the criminal an injury corresponding to that which he had done, society was obviously the gainer. At first it was optional to accept or to refuse satisfaction; afterwards it was made obligatory.Where property was so valuable that its loss was visited on the life or limb of the robber, and injuries against property were made a question of life and death, it soon followed that injury to life could be made a question of payment. To expiate robbery by death, and to expiate murder by the payment of a fine, are correlative ideas.