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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/674

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

double sin of the deceased, denies him respectable burial (honesta sepultus), and dooms the poor remains to dog-burial (canina sepultus) at some cross-roads, with or without a stake driven through. It then proceeds to render his family infamous by attainder and to impoverish his heirs by confiscation of all their property. There being nothing left to destroy, Theresa's code here suspends hostilities against the suicide.

In the gradation of crimes, blasphemy was held infinitely worse than all others; while second in enormity was apostasy from the ruling faith. This is carefully limited to those who have been within the fold and have backslidden, thus excluding the different offense of heresy. The omission of heresy from the book shows that it fell within the special province of ecclesiastical courts, or else that there was a glimmering of spiritual toleration in those days.

The third great class of crimes, transcending in awfulness treason, murder, and all that follow, comprised the imaginary delusions called magic, witchcraft, and sorcery. There is an extreme effort made in this chapter by the solemn wise men of 1769 to be very judicious, calm, and reasonable. A full translation of this treatise on the ghastly joke called witchcraft, would form an exquisite satire on the self-complacent wisdom of that or any other age. It enjoins on judges great care to avoid the errors and foolish superstitions of the ignorant lower classes, and warns them never to convict, except upon positive proof that the accused is a genuine witch or sorcerer. It argues and establishes the actual existence of the black art, the evil eye, and possession by devils. Then it sets all the wheels and screws of torture at work against "all those God-forgetting wretches who commune with the devil, raise great storms, bring about cattle-plagues, or go sailing through the sky upon a goat."

The forty-odd other classes of crimes follow in descending order, each having a little chapter containing its special code and commentary, with the following usual subdivisions:

Definition and general principles of the offense.

Different gradations of its enormity.

Amount and character of evidence necessary for issuing the warrant and arresting the suspect.

Evidence requisite to show probability of guilt and justify use of torture on trial to secure confession.

List of special interrogatories for each crime, to be used before and during torture.

General and special directions to the magistrate for unusual cases.

List of possible circumstances tending to aggravate the offense and calling for additional severity.