This was published in 1767 in The Virginia Gazette. It is taken from “Eighteen Discourses and Dissertations upon various and interesting Subjects” by Patrick Delany, D.D. and Dean of Down in Ireland.
Delany was an Irish clergyman and described by A Compendium of Irish Biography as “an eloquent preacher, a man of wit and learning.” He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, which he entered as a sizar, rising to be Senior Fellow. He became well known as a preacher at St. Werburgh’s, attracting the attention of Lord Carteret, then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Exchanging the Fellowship for the office of Chancellor of Christ Church, Dublin, impoverished him in the late 1720s, but in 1731 he married Mrs. Margaret Tenison, “a rich Irish widow, and again found himself in a position to gratify his hospitable disposition and indulge his literary tastes.”
“Eighteen Discourses and Dissertations upon various and interesting Subjects” by Patrick Delany, D.D.
I cannot help observing with concern, that the laws of our land, in the case of theft, are the most unrighteous and unequitable that can be imagined.
Here, the stealing of a cow, or a sheep, is death by the law! Now, what can be more unrighteous, or absurd, than that the life of a man should be estimated by that of a cow or a sheep? And, besides this, it is putting the highest and the lowest guilt upon a monstrous foot of equality: A man must go to the gallows for stealing a sheep, and he can only go thither for murder, and with this advantage that be hath sometimes a better chance of escaping in the latter case.
Is not this reviving all the cruelty and iniquity of Draco’s laws, where death was the punishment of the lowest crimes, as well as of the highest?
Published weekly in Williamsburg, Virginia between 1736 and 1780, The Virginia Gazette
contained news covering all of Virginia and also included information from other colonies, Scotland, England and additional countries. The paper appeared in three competing versions from a succession of publishers over the years, some published concurrently, and all under the same title.