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Cesare Beccaria: Biography & Crime and Punishment

He was known as the father of criminal and penal theory, based on this groundbreaking title. By the time he left school, Voltaire had decided he wanted to be a writer.

His father then obtained a job for him as a secretary to the French ambassador in the Netherlands. Most of Voltaire's early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for critiques of the government and religious intolerance. These activities were to result in two imprisonments and a temporary exile to England.

Beccaria’s Biography

The adoption of the name "Voltaire" following his incarceration at the Bastille is seen by many to mark Voltaire's formal separation from his family and his past. From , he began to champion unjustly persecuted people, the case of Jean Calas being the most celebrated.

This Huguenot merchant had been tortured to death in , supposedly because he had murdered his son for wanting to convert to Catholicism. His possessions were confiscated and his remaining children were taken from his widow and were forced to become members of a monastery.

PREFACE OF THE TRANSLATOR.

If he be not guilty, you torture the innocent; for, in the eye of the law, every man is innocent whose crime has not been proved Crimes are more effectually prevented by the certainty than the sever ity of punishment. In proportion as punishments become more cruel, the minds of men, as a fluid rises to the same height with that which surrounds it, grow hardened and insensible; and the force of the passions still continuingg in the space of an hundred years the wheel terrifies no more than formerly the prison.

That a punishment may produce the effect required, it is sufficient that the evil it occasions should exceed the good expected from the crime, including in the calculation the certainty of the punishment, and the privation of the expected advantage. All severity beyond this is superfluous, and therefore tyrannical.


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The punishment of death is pernicious to society, from the example of barbarity it affords. If the passions, or the necessity of war, have taught men to shed the blood of their fellow creatures, the laws, which are intended to moderate the ferocity of mankind, should not increase it by examples of barbarity, the more horrible as this punishment is usually attended with formal pageantry.

Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves? It is better to prevent crimes than to punish them. This is the fundamental principle of good legislation, which is the art of conducting men to the maximum of happiness, and to the minimum of misery, if we may apply this mathematical expression to the good and evil of life Would you prevent crimes?

Let the laws be clear and simple, let the entire force of the nation be united in their defence, let them be intended rather to favour every individual than any particular classes of men; let the laws be feared, and the laws only.

An Essay on Crimes and Punishments - Cesare marchese di Beccaria, Voltaire - Google книги

The fear of the laws is salutary, but the fear of men is a fruitful and fatal source of crimes. Ingraham, trans. Philadelphia: H.

An Essay on Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria, Voltaire #Audiobook

Nicklin, ,pp. This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.