Page:Democracy in America (Reeve, v. 1).djvu/84

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civilized people was thus applied to an enlightened and moral community. The consequence was that the punishment of death was never more frequently prescribed by the statute, and never more rarely enforced towards the guilty.

The chief care of the legislators, in this body of penal laws, was the maintenance of orderly conduct and good morals in the community: they constantly invaded the domain of conscience, and there was scarcely a sin which was not subject to magisterial censure. The reader is aware of the rigour with which these laws punished rape and adultery; intercourse between unmarried persons was likewise severely repressed. The judge was empowered to inflict a pecuniary penalty, a whipping, or marriage[1], on the misdemeanants; and if the records of the old courts of New Haven may be believed, prosecutions of this kind were not unfrequent. We find a sentence, bearing date the 1st of May 1660, inflicting a fine and a reprimand on a young woman who was accused of using improper language, and of allowing herself to be kissed[2]. The Code of 1650 abounds in preventive measures. It punishes idle-

  1. Code of 1650, p. 48. It seems sometimes to have happened that the judges superadded these punishments to each other, as is seen in a sentence pronounced in 1643, (p. 114, New Haven Antiquities,) by which Margaret Bedford, convicted of loose conduct, was condemned to be whipt, and afterwards to marry Nicolas Jemmings her accomplice.
  2. New Haven Antiquities, p. 104. See also Hutchinson's History for several causes equally extraordinary.