Of the Influence of Time and Place in Matters of Legislation

Jeremy Bentham

Chapter 1, Footnote #01
Usefulness of the table of circumstances influencing sensibility

The table of the circumstances influencing sensibility is of continual use, It is applicable to a variety of the most important purposes, of which this now before us is but one. It was first thought of as a necessary implement to the estimating the mischief of an offence: then for the purpose of adjusting the quantum of satisfaction: then again for estimating the force of a lot of punishment: in all these cases, the country of the party injured, the party who is to be punished, on whom punishment is to be inflicted, being given. Montesquieu had already taken the principal part of them into consideration, with a view, more or less explicit, of giving a different adjustment to the laws, in consideration of the different exigencies of the inhabitants of different countries: placing in the front of his inquiries those secondary circumstances, as I have styled them, which only operate through the medium of those others which I have termed primary. Before Montesquieu, a man who had country given him to make laws for, would have made short work of it. ``Name to me the people'', he would have said; ``Reach me down my Bible and the business is done at once. The laws they have been used to, no matter what they are, mine shall supersede them. manners, they shall have mine, which are the best in nature; religion, they shall have mine too, which is all of it true, and the only one that is so.'' Since Montesquieu, the number of documents which a legislator would require is considerably enlarged. ``Send the people'', he will say, ``to me, or me to the people; lay open to me the whole tenor of their life an conversation; paint to me the face and geography of the country; give me as close and minute a view as possible of their present laws, their manners, and their religion.''

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Timeplace, Chapter 1 Principles to be Followed in Transplanting Laws.