Cyprian, although inspired by lofty notions of the prerogatives of the church, and inclined to severity of opinion towards heretics, and especially heretical dissentients from the belief in the divine authorship of the episcopal order and the unity of Christendom, was leniently disposed towards those who had temporarily fallen from the faith.
This diversity of jurisdiction, and subjection of the clergy only to the sentences of judges bribed by their esprit de corps to judge leniently, led to the adoption of a scale of punishments for the offences of clerks avowedly much lighter than that which was inflicted for the same crimes on laymen; and this in turn led to the survival in England, long after the Reformation, of the curious legal fiction of benefit of clergy (see below), used to mitigate the extreme harshness of the criminal law.
In September 1876 the massacre of a large number of girls (who had married men of their own age instead of the men of an older regiment, for whom Cetywayo had designed them) provoked a strong remonstrance from the government of Natal, inclined as that government was to look leniently on the doings of the Zulu.
Vallandigham had returned to his home in defiance of his banishment beyond military lines, and was leniently suffered to remain.
At first he seemed disposed to treat the conspirators leniently, but at the same time he so roused the people against them by the publication of Caesar's will and by his eloquent funeral oration, that they were obliged to leave the city.