Page:Essay on Crimes and Punishments (1775).djvu/43

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31
CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS.

The first, which are of the highest degree, as they are most destructive to society, are called crimes of Leze-majesty.[1] Tyranny, and ignorance, which have confounded the clearest terms and ideas, have given this appellation to crimes of a different nature, and consequently have established the same punishment for each; and on this occasion, as on a thousand others, men have been sacrificed, victims to a word. Every crime, even of the most private nature, injures society; but every crime does not threaten its immediate destruction. Moral, as well as physical actions, have their sphere of activity differently circumscribed, like all the movements of nature, by time and space; it is therefore a sophistical interpretation, the common philosophy of slaves, that would confound the limits of things, established by eternal truth.

To these succeed crimes which are destructive of the security of individuals. This security being the principal end of

  1. High-Treason.