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Laws of England
IN FOUR BOOKS
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE, Knight
One of the Justices of His Majesty's Court of Common Pleas
NOTES SELECTED FROM THE EDITIONS OF ARCHBOLD, CHRISTIAN, COLE-
MODIFYING THE TEXT
WILLIAM DRAPER LEWIS, Ph. D.
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.
THE LAWS OF ENGLAND.
BOOK THE FOURTH.
of Public Wrongs.
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).