Page:Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1775).djvu/38

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26
AN ESSAY ON

grees, there is nothing to deter men from committing the greater, as often as it is attended with greater advantage.

CHAPTER VII.


Of estimating the Degree of Crimes.


THE foregoing reflections authorise me to assert, that crimes are only to be measured by the injury done to society.

They err, therefore, who imagine, that a crime is greater or less, according to the intention of the person by whom it is committed; for this will depend on the actual impression of objects on the senses, and on the previous disposition of the mind; both which will vary in different persons, and even in the same person at different times, according to the succession of ideas, passions, and circumstances. Upon that system, it would be necessary to form, not only a particular code for every individual, but a new penal law for every crime. Men, often with the best intention, do the greatest in-