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ON THE

Laws of England

IN FOUR BOOKS

BY

SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, Knight

One of the Justices of His Majesty's Court of Common Pleas

WITH

NOTES SELECTED FROM THE EDITIONS OF ARCHBOLD, CHRISTIAN, COLE-
RIDGE, CHITTY, STEWART, KERR, AND OTHERS; AND IN ADDITION
NOTES AND REFERENCES TO ALL TEXT BLOKS AND
DECISIONS WHEREIN THE COMMENTARIES HAVE
BEEN CITED, AND ALL STATUTES

MODIFYING THE TEXT

BY

WILLIAM DRAPER LEWIS, Ph. D.
Dean of the Department of Law of the University of Pennsylvania

BOOK 4

PHILADELPHIA

REES WELSH & COMPANY

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1897,

By REES WELSH & COMPANY, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

199513

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COMMENTARIES

ON

THE LAWS OF ENGLAND

BOOK IV

OF PUBLIC WRONGS

COMMENTARIES

ON

THE LAWS OF ENGLAND.

BOOK THE FOURTH.

of Public Wrongs.

CHAPTER I.

OF THE NATURE OF CRIMES, AND THEIR PUNISHMENT.

We are now arrived at the fourth and last branch of these commentaries, which treats of public wrongs, or crimes and misdemeanors.

For we may remember that, in the beginning of the preceding book, (a) wrongs were divided into two species: the one private, and the other public.(1) Private wrongs, which are frequently termed civil injuries, were the subject of that entire book: we are now therefore, lastly, to proceed to the consideration of public wrongs, or crimes and misdemeanors;(2) with the means of their prevention and punishment. In the pursuit of which subject I shall consider, in the first place, the general nature of crimes and punishments; secondly, the

persons capable of committing crimes; thirdly, their several degrees of *2] guilt as principals, or accessaries; *fourthly, the several species of

crimes, with the punishment annexed to each by the laws of England; fifthly, the means of preventing their perpetration; and, sixthly, the method of inflicting those punishments which the law has annexed to each several crime and misdemeanor.

First, as to the general nature of crimes, and their punishment; the discussion and admeasurement of which forms in every country the code of criminal law; or, as it is more usually denominated with us in England, the doctrine of the pleas of the crown;(3) so called because the king, in whom centres the majesty of the whole community, is supposed by the law to be the person injured by every infraction of the public rights belonging to that community, and is therefore in all cases the proper prosecutor for every public offence. (b) (4) (a) Book iii. ch. 1.

(b) See book i. p. 268.

(1) State v. Rickey, 4 Halsted (N. J.) 293, 305 (1827). (2) The Queen v. The Mayor, etc. of Fredericton, 3 New Brunswick, 139, 149 (1879). (3) Bowyer's Commentaries on the Constitutional Law of England, 340.

(4) A criminal action is an action at law, and is within the jurisdiction of a court having common-law powers. Territory v. Flowers, 2 Montana, 531, 534 (1877).

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