The Percy Anecdotes:
Ties of Kindred
A Modern Brutus
Just Reward of Treachery
A Tried Man
The Emperor Trajan
Philip of Macedon
To be Just in Trifles
Delay of Judgment
A Sovereign's Duty
Prompt and Signal Redress
The Emperor Julian
A Bribe well Weighed
A Fair Condition
Conflict of Affection and Duty
Modern Turkish Practice
Common Law of England
Escapes from the Gallows
Confinement in Irons
Sufferer for Conscience' Sake
Sir Thomas More
Prince Henry and Chief Justice Gascoigne
Verdict against Evidence
Lord Chancellor Bacon
Sir Edward Coke
Habeas Corpus Act
Supremacy of the Laws
Christian IV., King of Denmark
Lord Keeper Williams
Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury
Hanging an Alderman
Scandalizing a Princess
Chief Justice Holt
Privilege of Parliament
Clameur de Haro
Old Scotch Law
Secret Examination of Witnesses
Peter the Great
Responsibility Of Judges in Holland
Arnold the Miller
Frederick the Great
Emperor of China
Patriotic Dying Speech
Power of Conscience
Balance of Good and Ill
The Sleep of Innocence
Favour to Strangers
Sir Michael Foster
A Village Patriot
Submission to the Laws|
Crown Prince of Persia
Laws of War
Loss of a Pig
Winning a Loss
Benefits of Litigation
Murder will Out
Banishment from the Presence
Informer fitly Rewarded
Speaking for Time
Noureddin of Aleppo
Improbable, yet True
'An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth.'
Protection of Sanctuaries
Punishment in Kind
Trial by Ordeal
Wager of Battle
Peine Forte et Dure
The Maid and Magpie
THE severity of the laws of Draco is proverbial; he punished almost all sorts of faults with death; and was hence said by Demades 'to have written his laws, not with ink, but with blood.' To steal an apple was with him a crime of as deep a dye, as to commit sacrilege; even 'confirmed idleness' was punished with death. On Draco himself being once asked, 'Why he punished such petty crimes with death?' he made this severe answer: 'That the smallest of them did deserve that, and that there was not a greater punishment he could find out for greater crimes.'
A tragedy by Eschylus was once represented before the Athenians, in which it was said of one of the characters, 'that he cared not more to be just, than to appear so.' At these words all eyes were instantly turned upon Aristides, as the man who, of all the Greeks, most merited that distinguished character. Ever after he received, by universal consent, the surname of the Just, a title, says Plutarch, truly royal, or rather truly divine. This remarkable distinction roused envy, and envy prevailed so far as to procure his banishment for ten years, upon the unjust suspicion, that his influence with the people was dangerous to their freedom. When the sentence was passed by his countrymen, Aristides himself was present in the midst Of them, and a stranger who stood near and could not write, applied to him to write for him in his shell. 'What name?' asked the philosopher. 'Aristides ' replied the stranger. 'Do you know him then?' said Aristides, 'or has he in any way injured you?' ' Neither,' said the other, 'but it is for this very thing I would he were condemned. I can go nowhere but I hear of Aristides the Just.' Aristides inquired no further, but took the shell, and wrote his name in it as desired.
The absence of Aristides soon dissipated the apprehensions which his countrymen had so idly imbibed. He was in a short time recalled, and for many years after took a leading part in the affairs of the republic, without showing the least resentment against his enemies, or seeking any other gratification than that of serving his country with fidelity and honour. His disregard for money was strikingly manifested at his death; for though he was frequently treasurer as well as general, he scarcely left sufficient to defray the expenses of his burial.
The virtues of Aristides did not pass without reward. He had two daughters, who were educated at the expense of the state, and to whom portions were allotted from the public treasury.
Aristides being judge between two private persons, one of them declared that his adversary had greatly injured Aristides. 'Relate rather, good friend,' said he, interrupting him, 'what wrong he hath done thee for it is thy cause, not mine, that I now sit judge of.'
Being desired by Simonides, the poet, who had a cause to try before him, to stretch a point in his favour, he replied, 'As you would not be a good poet, if your lines ran contrary to the just measures and rules of your art; so neither should I be a good judge or an honest man, if I decided aught in opposition to law and justice.'
Anacharsis was wont to deride the endeavours of Solon, whose code of law superseded the bloody one of Draco, to repress the evil passions of his fellow-citizens with a few words, which, said he, 'are no better than spiders' webs, which the strong will break through at pleasure.'
'So like a fly the poor offender dies, But like the wasp, the rich escapes and flies.' DENHAM.
The reply of Solon was worthy of the lawgiver of a refined people. 'Men,' said he, 'will be sure to stand to those covenants, which will bring evident disadvantages to the infringers of them. I have so framed and tempered the laws of Athens, that it shall manifestly appear to all, that it is more for their interest strictly to observe, than in anything to violate and infringe them.'
While Athens was governed by the thirty tyrants, Socrates, the philosopher, was summoned to the Senate House, and ordered to go with some other persons, whom they named, to seize one Leon, a man of rank and fortune, whom they determined to put out of the way, that they might enjoy his estate. This commission Socrates positively refused. 'I will not willingly assist in an unjust act.' said he. Charicles sharply replied, 'Dost thou think, Socrates, to talk in this high tone and not to suffer?' 'Far from it,' replied he, 'I expect to suffer a thousand ills, but none so great as to do unjustly.'
Ties of Kindred.
Phocian, the Athenian general, never suffered domestic or private views to interfere with the public interest. He constantly refused to solicit any favour even for those most nearly allied to him. His son-in-law, Charicles, being summoned before the republic on a suspicion of having embezzled the public money, Phocion addressed him in these admirable terms: 'I have made you my son-in-law, but only for what is just and honourable.'
Mysias, the brother of Anigonus, King of Macedon, solicited him to hear a cause, in which he was a party, in his chamber. 'No, my dear brother,' answered Antigonus, 'I will hear it in the open court of justice; because I must do justice.'
Among the laws which Diocles gave to the Syracusans, there was one which enacted, 'that no man should presume to enter, armed, into an assembly of the people; in case any should, he was to suffer death.' One day an alarm was given of an enemy approaching, and Diocles hastened out to meet them, with his sword by his side. On the way he was informed that the people, indifferent to their common danger, had assembled to talk sedition in the forum; and, forgetting all inferior circumstances in his zeal for the public safety, he stepped, armed as he was, into the midst of the assembly, intending to use his best endeavours to recall them to a sense of their duty; but before he could address them, one of the busiest of the factious called out, 'that Diocles in arms among the people, had broken the laws which he had himself made.' Diocles, struck but not confounded, turning towards his accuser, replied, with a loud voice, 'Most true; nor shall Diocles be the last to sanction his own laws.'. On saying this, he drew his sword, and falling on it, expired.
A fate precisely similar is recorded of Charondas, the law-giver of the Thurians.
When the disgrace of Lucretia, daughter of Brutus, by the eldest son of Tarquinius Superbus, was known in Rome, the people determined to shake off the tyranny by which they were oppressed, and drive the proud and cruel monarch from the throne of which he had proved himself so unworthy. Brutus, as Captain of the Guards, called an assembly, in which he expatiated on the loss of their liberty, and the cruelties they suffered by the usurpation and oppressive government of Tarquin. The whole assembly applauded the speech, and immediately sentenced Tarquin, his wife and family, to perpetual banishment. A new form of government was proposed; and after some difficulties it was unanimously agreed to create in the room of the king, two consuls, whose authority should be annual. The right of election was left to the people, and immediately they chose Brutus and Collatinus consuls, who swore for themselves, their children, and posterity, never to recall either Tarquin or his sons, or any of his family, and that those who should attempt to restore monarchy, should be devoted to the infernal gods, and immediately put to death.
Before the end of the year a conspiracy was formed, in which many of the young nobility were concerned, and among the rest the two sons of Brutus the consul. Their object was to restore the Tarquins; and they were so infatuated by a supernatural blindness, says Dionysius, as to write under their own hands, letters to the tyrant, informing him of the number of conspirators, and the time appointed for despatching the consuls.
A slave of the name of Vindicius became acquainted with their designs, and gave information to the consuls, who immediately went with a strong guard, and apprehended the conspirators and seized the letters.
As soon as it was day, Brutus ascended the tribunal. The prisoners were brought before him, and tried in form. The evidence of Vindicius was heard, and the letters to Tarquin read; after which the conspirators were asked if they had anything to urge in their defence. Sighs, groans, and tears, were their only answer. The whole assembly stood with downcast looks, and no man ventured to speak. This mournful silence was at last broken with slow murmurs of Banishment! Banishment! But the public good which predominated over the feelings of a parent, urged Brutus to pronounce on them the sentence of death.
Never was an event more capable of creating at the same time feelings of grief and horror. Brutus, father and judge of the two offenders, was obliged by his office to see his own sons executed. A great number of the most noble youths suffered death at the same time, but the rest were as little regarded as if they had been persons unknown. The consul's sons alone attracted all eyes; and while the criminals were executing, the whole assembly fixed their attention on the father, examining his behaviour and looks, which in spite of his sad firmness, discovered the sentiments of nature, which he could not entirely stifle, although he sacrificed them to the duties of his office.
A Modern Brutus.
In the year 1526, James Lynch Fitzstephen, a merchant, who was at that time Mayor of Galway in Ireland, sent his only son as commander of one his ships to Bilboa, in Spain, for a cargo of wine. The credit which he possessed was taken advantage of by his son, who secreted the money with which he was entrusted for the purchase of the cargo; and the Spaniard who supplied him on this occasion, sent his nephew with him to Ireland to receive the debt and establish a farther correspondence. The young men, who were nearly of the same age, sailed together with that apparent confidence and satisfaction which congenial pursuits generally create among mankind. The ship proceeded on her voyage, and as every day brought them nearer the place of destination., and the discovery of the fraud of young Fitzstephen, he conceived the diabolical resolution of murdering his friend; a project in which, by promises of reward and fear, he brought the greatest part of the ship's crew to join. On the night of the fifth day, the unfortunate Spaniard was violently seized in his bed and thrown overboard. A few days more brought the ship to port. The father and friends of young Fitzstephen received him with joy, and in a short time bestowed a sufficient capital to enable him to commence business.
Security had now lulled every sense of danger, he sought the hand of a beautiful girl, the daughter of one of his neighbours.
His proposals were accepted, and the day appointed which was to crown his yet successful villany, when one of the sailors who had been with him on the voyage to Spain was taken ill, and finding himself on the point of death, sent for the father, and communicated a full account of the horrid deed his son had committed. The father, though struck speechless with astonishment and horror, at length shook off the feelings of the parent, and exclaimed, 'Justice shall take its course.' He immediately caused his son to be seized with the rest of the crew, and thrown into prison. They all confessed their crime - a criminal prosecution was commenced, and in a few days, a small town in the West of Ireland beheld a sight scarcely paralleled in the history of mankind; a father, like another Brutus, sitting in judgment on his son! and like him too, condemning him to die as a sacrifice to public justice! --A father consigning his only son to an ignominious death, and tearing away all the bonds of paternal affection, where the laws of nature were violated, and justice demanded the blow! -- A father with his own lips pronouncing that sentence which left him childless, and at once blasted for ever the honour of an ancient and noble family! 'Were any other but your wretched father your judge,' said the virtuous magistrate, 'I might have dropped a tear over my child's misfortunes, and solicited his life though stained with murder; but you must die. These are the last drops which shall quench the spark of nature; and if you dare hope, implore that heaven may not shut the gates of mercy on the destroyer of his fellow creature.' Amazement sat on the countenance of every one. The fellow citizens of the inflexible magistrate, who revered his virtues and pitied his misfortunes saw with astonishment the fortitude with which he yielded to the cruel necessity, and heard him doom his son to a public and ignominious death.
The relatives of the unhappy culprit surrounded the father, they conjured him by all the ties of affection, of nature, and of compassion, to spare his son. His wretched mother flew in distraction to the heads of her own family, and conjured them for the honour of their house, to rescue her from the ignominy the death of her son must bring upon their name. The citizens felt compassion for the father; affection for the man; every nobler feeling was roused, and they privately determined to rescue the young man from prison during the night, under the conviction that Fitzstephen having already paid the tribute due to justice and to his honour, would rejoice at the preservation of the life of his son. But they little knew the heart of this noble magistrate. By some accident their determination reached his ear; he instantly removed his son from the prison to his own house, which he surrounded with the officers of justice.
In the morning he partook with his son the office of the holy communion; after giving and receiving a mutual forgiveness, the father said, 'You have little time to live, my son, let the care of your soul employ the few moments; take the last embrace of your unhappy father.'
The son was then hung at the door of his father, a dreadful monument of the vengeance of heaven, and an instance of the exercise of justice, that leaves everything of the kind in modern times at an immeasurable distance.
The father immediately resigned his office; and after his death, which speedily followed that of his son, the citizens fixed over the door of the house a death's head and cross bones carved in black marble, to perpetuate the remembrance of this signal act of justice.
Just Reward of Treachery.
Tarpeia, the daughter of Tarpeius, the keeper of the Roman capitol, agreed to betray it into the hands of the Sabines, on this condition, 'that she should have for her reward, that which they carried upon their left arms, meaning the golden bracelets they wore upon them. The Sabines having been let in by Tarpeia, according to compact, Titius, their king, though well pleased with carrying the place, yet detesting the manner in which it was done, commanded the Sabines to give the fair traitor her promised reward, by throwing to her all they wore on their left arms; and therewith unclasping his bracelet from his left arm, he cast that, together with his shield, upon her. All the Sabines following the example of their chief, the traitoress was speedily overwhelmed with the number of bracelets and bucklers heaped upon her, and thus perished miserably under the weight of the reward which she had earned by the double treachery to her father and to her country.
An exchange of captives was agreed on between Fabius and Hannibal, and he that had the fewer in number, was to pay a piece in money, as the ransom of the remainder. Fabius informed the senate of this compact, and that on counting numbers it was found that the Roman captives exceeded by two hundred and forty the Carthaginian. The senate, however, refused to ratify the agreement, and withal reproached Fabius for doing so little honour to the Roman name, as to agree to free men whose cowardice had made them the slaves of their enemies. Fabius received the rebuke with calmness, convinced at the same time in his own mind, that however just it might be, there was something still more just in being faithful to an engagement, deliberately made by a public officer, on the public behalf. His private purse was not at the moment affluent enough to discharge the stipulated ransom, but rather than deceive Hannibal, he sent his son to Rome, with instructions to sell all his lands, and to return with the money to the camp. Young Fabius did so; the ransom of the Roman prisoners was paid; and the patriot general, by thus sacrificing his fortune to his honour, gave his character one more claim to that immortality which numberless great and good acts have conferred upon it.
M. Portius Cato raised himself many enemies by his stern and inflexible integrity, his honesty in doing right to the injured, and his severity in punishing offenders. He spared no man, nor was a friend to any one who was not so to the commonwealth. More than fifty accusations were successively brought against him; yet, by the common suffrage of the people, he was always declared innocent, and that not by the power of his riches or the interest of his friends, but by the justness of his cause. Cato was also as wise as he was just; for, being accused again in his old age, he requested that Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, one of his chief enemies, might alone sit in judgment upon him. This was granted, the cause of complaint examined into, and Gracchus pronounced him innocent. From a result so corresponding to the noble confidence shewn by Cato, he lived ever after in equal glory and security.
A Tried Man.
The boast of Portius Cato, that he had been fifty-one times tried and acquitted, though extraordinary enough, was greatly exceeded by that of the Athenian Aristophon, who prided himself in having been ninety-five times cited and accused before the public tribunals, and in every instance pronounced innocent.
Augustus Caesar was once sitting in judgment when Mecaenas was present, who, perceiving that the emperor was about to pass sentence of death on a number of persons, endeavoured to get up to him; but, being hindered by the crowd, he wrote on a piece it paper, 'Tandem aliquando surge, carnifex?' 'When are you going to rise, hangman?' and then threw the note into Caesar's lap. Caesar immediately rose without condemning any person to death; and far from taking the sarcastic admonition of Mecaenas amiss, he felt much troubled that he had given cause for it.
The Emperor Trajan.
The emperor Trajan would never suffer any one to be condemned upon suspicion, however strong and well grounded; saying it was better a thousand criminals should escape unpunished, than one innocent person be condemned. When he appointed Subarranus Captain of his Guards, and presented him according to custom with a drawn sword, the badge of his office, he used these memorable words: 'Pro me, si merear, in me:' 'Employ this sword for me, but if I deserve it, turn it against me.'
Trajan would not allow his freedmen any share in the administration. Notwithstanding this, some persons having a suit with one of them of the name of Eurythmus, seemed to fear the influence of the Imperial freedom: but Trajan assured them that the cause should be heard, discussed, and decided, according to the strictest laws of justice; adding, 'For neither is he Polycletus, nor I Nero.' Polycletus, it will be recollected, was the freedman of Nero, and as infamous as his master for rapine and injustice.
As Trajan was once setting out from Rome, at the head of a numerous army, glittering in all the pomp and circumstance of martial equipment, to make war in Wallachia, and when a vast concourse of people were gathered around to witness the proud spectacle, he was suddenly accosted by a woman, who called out in a pathetic but bold tone, 'To Trajan I appeal for justice!' Although the emperor was pressed by the affairs of a most urgent war, be instantly stopped, and alighting from his horse, heard the suppliant state the cause of her complaint. She was a poor widow, and had been left with an only son, who had been foully murdered. She had sued for justice on his murderers, but had been unable to obtain it. Trajan, having satisfied himself of the truth of her statements, decreed her on the spot the satisfaction which she demanded, and sent the mourner away comforted. So much was this action admired, that it was afterwards represented on the pillar erected to Trajan's memory, as one of the most resplendent instances of his goodness.
Cneius Domitius, tribune of the Roman people, eager to ruin his enemy, Marcus Scaurus, chief of the Senate, accused him publicly of several high crimes and. misdemeanours. His zeal in the prosecution tempted a slave of Scaurus, through hope of a reward, to offer himself privately as a witness. But justice here prevailed over revenge; for Domitius, without uttering a single word, ordered the perfidious wretch to be fettered and carried instantly to his master. So universally was this action admired, that it procured Domitius an accession of honours which he could scarcely have hoped for otherwise. He was successively elected consul, censor, and high priest.
Some soldiers of Gabinius wantonly put to death two sons of M. Bibulus, a person of distinction in the province of Syria. The afflicted father having appealed to Queen Cleopatra for justice on the murderers, she ordered them to be seized and sent to him, to be dealt with as he might see fit. Bibulus did as wisely as generously. He felt that, in private hands, punishment must have degenerated into revenge, and he was of the few who think that to repeat, is not the most rational way to show abhorrence of a deed of brutality. He commanded the culprits to be returned to the queen, thinking it revenge enough to have had the enemies of his blood in his power.
Brutus, the general, having conquered the Patarenses, ordered them on pain of death to bring him all their gold and silver, and promised rewards to such as should discover any hidden treasures. Upon this a slave belonging to a rich citizen, informed against his master, and discovered to a Centurion the place where he had buried his wealth. The citizen was immediately seized, and brought, together with the treacherous informer, before Brutus. The mother of the accused followed them, declaring, with tears in her eyes, that she had hidden the treasure without her son's knowledge, and that consequently she alone ought to be punished. The slave maintained that his master, and not the mother, had transgressed the edict. Brutus heard both parties with great patience, and being convinced that the accusation of the slave was chiefly founded on the hatred he bore to his master, he commended the tenderness and generosity of the mother, restored the whole sum to the son, and ordered the slave to be crucified. This judgment, which was immediately published all over Lycia, gained him the hearts of the inhabitants, who came in flocks to him from all quarters, offering of their own accord the money they possessed.
What a noble contrast does the conduct of Brutus form, to the base cruelty which disgraced the reign of James II. on an occasion not very dissimilar. During Monmouth's rebellion, one of his followers, knowing the humane disposition of a lady of the name of Mrs. Gaunt, whose life was one continued exercise of beneficence, fled to her house, where he was concealed and maintained for some time. Hearing, however of the proclamation which promised an indemnity and reward to those who discovered such as harboured the rebels, he betrayed his benefactress; and such was the spirit of justice and equity which prevailed among the ministers, that the ungrateful wretch was pardoned, and recompensed for his treachery, while his benefactress was burnt alive for her charity towards him.
The temple of Juno at Sparta was once robbed, and an empty flagon found, which had been left by the robbers. Much conjecture arose among the crowds who resorted to the temple, on the circumstance being known, when one man affecting to be wiser than the rest, said, his opinion, respecting the flagon, was, that the robbers had first drank the juice of hemlock before they entered the Temple, and had brought wine with them in the flagon, to drink in case they escaped being caught in the fact, wine being known to counteract the effect of the poison; but that should they be taken and suffer the hemlock to operate, they might die an easy death, rather than suffer the execution of the law. The company on hearing this, shrewdly inferred, that such an ingenious device could not come from one that barely suspected the matter, but from actual knowledge of the circumstance. Upon this they crowded about him, and inquired who he was? whence he came? who knew him? and how he had come to the knowledge he had stated? His answers were equivocal, and being closely pressed, he at last confessed that he was one of the men that had committed the sacrilege.
At Delft, a servant girl was accused of being accessary to the robbery of her master's house, on a Sunday, when the family were gone to church. She was condemned on circumstantial evidence, and suffered the severe punishment, allotted by the laws of Holland to servants who rob their masters. Her conduct whilst confined, was so exemplary, and her conduct had stood so fair previous to the imputed offence, that her master not only interceded to shorten her imprisonment, but received her again into his service.
Some time had elapsed after her release, when a circumstance occurred, which led to the detection of the real criminal, and consequently to the complete vindication of her innocence.
It happened as she was passing through the butchers' market at Delft that one of them, tapping her on the shoulder, whispered in her ear some words of very remarkable import. She instantly recollected having used these very words on the fatal Sunday of the robbery, while she was surveying herself in a glass in her dressing room, and when, as she supposed, no one was near. With a palpitating heart she hastened to her master, and told him what had occurred. He was a magistrate, and immediately instituted an inquiry into the circumstances of the suspected person, from which it appeared that he had suddenly got up in the world subsequent to the robbery, nobody could tell how. This circumstance was deemed sufficient to justify a search being made, and the measures of the police were so arranged, that it was made at one and the same time in his own house, and that of his nearest kindred. The result was, that various articles which had been stolen from the magistrate's house, at the time the maid servant had been accused, were found and taken away.
It seems that the robber had concealed himself in the turf-solder, or garret where the turf was stowed away, adjoining which was the servant's chamber; and whilst the poor girl was dressing, the villain overheard the words which led to his detection, effected the robbery, and got off unperceived.
He was broken alive upon the rack, and the city gave a handsome portion to the sufferer, by way of compensation for the wrongs she had suffered.
Philip of Macedon.
Philip of Macedon, rising from an entertainment at which he had sat some hours, was addressed by a woman who begged him to hear her cause. He complied with her request immediately, but upon her saying some things that were not very agreeable to him, he gave sentence against her. The woman promptly but calmly replied, 'Then I appeal.' 'How,' said Philip, 'from Your king? to whom then?' 'To Philip when fasting,' said the woman. The manner in which he received this answer was worthy of a great prince. He afterwards gave the cause a second hearing, found the injustice of his sentence, and condemned himself to make it good.
The same monarch being urged to use his influence with the judges in behalf of a person whose reputation would be quite lost by the sentence which was going to be pronounced against him, said, 'I had rather that the man should lose his reputation by an act of justice than that I should forfeit mine by violating it.'
One of the officers of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, of the name of Artibarzanes, solicited his majesty to confer a favour upon him, which, if complied with, would be an act of injustice. The king, learning that the promise of a considerable sum of money was the only motive that induced the officer to make such an unreasonable request, ordered his treasurer to give him thirty thousand dariuses, being a present of equal value with that which he was to have received. 'Here,' says the king, giving him an order for the money, 'take this token of my friendship for you; a gift of this nature cannot make me poor, but complying with your request would render me poor indeed, since it would make me unjust.'
To be Just in Trifles.
Nouschirvan, King of Persia, being hunting one day, became desirous of eating some of the venison in the field. Some of his attendants went to a neighbouring village, and took away a quantity of salt to season it, but the king, suspecting how they had acted, ordered that they should immediately go and pay for it. Then, turning to his attendants, he said, 'This is a small matter in itself, but a great one as it regards me; for a king ought ever to be just, because he is an example to his subjects; and if he swerves in trifles, they will become dissolute. If I cannot make all my people just in the smallest things, I can at least show them that it is possible to be so.'
Cambyses, King of Persia, was remarkable for the severity of his government, and his inexorable regard to justice. The prince had a favourite of the name of Sisamnes, whom he made a judge, but who presumed so far on the credit he had with his master, that justice was sold in the courts of judicature as openly as provisions in the market. When Cambyses was informed of these proceedings, enraged to find his friendship so ungratefully abused, the honour of his government prostituted, and the liberty and property of his subjects sacrificed to the avarice of this wretched minion, he ordered him to be seized and publicly degraded, after which he commanded his skin to be stripped over his ears, and the seat of judgment to be covered with it, as a warning to to others. At the same time, to convince the world that this severity proceeded only from the love of justice, he permitted the soli to succeed his father in the honours and office of prime minister, cautioning him that the same partiality and injustice should meet with a similar punishment. It is remarked of his successor, that he was one of the most upright judges that ever existed, but on many occasions he was observed to wriggle very much in his seat.
Delay of Judgment.
Juvenalis, a widow, complained to Theodoric, King of the Romans, that a suit of hers had been in court three years, which might have been decided in a few days. The king, being informed who were her judges, gave orders that they should give all expedition to the poor woman's cause, and in two days it was decided to her satisfaction. Theodoric then summoned the judges before him, and inquired how it was that they had done in two days what they had delayed for three years? 'The recommendation of your majesty,' was the reply. 'How,' said the King, 'when I put you in office, did I not consign all pleas and proceedings to you? You deserve death for having delayed that justice for three years, which two days could accomplish;' and, at that instant, he commanded their heads to be struck off.
A Sovereign's Duty.
The haughty Solyman, Emperor of the Turks, in his attack on Hungary, took the city of Belgrade, which was considered as the bulwark of Christendom. After this important conquest, a woman of low rank approached him, and complained bitterly that some of his soldiers had carried off her cattle, in which consisted her sole wealth. 'You must then have been in a deep sleep,' said Solyman, smiling, 'if you did not hear the robbers.' 'Yes, my sovereign,' replied the woman, 'I did sleep soundly, but it was in the fullest confidence that your highness watched for the public safety.'
The emperor, who had an elevated mind, far from resenting this freedom, made the poor woman ample amends for the loss she had sustained.
Prompt and Signal Redress.
The Emperor Camki, of China, being out hunting, and having strayed from his attendants, met with a poor old man, who wept bitterly, and appeared much afflicted for some extraordinary disaster. He rode up to him, and inquired the cause of his distress. 'Alas! sir, 'replied the old man, 'though I should tell you the cause of my distress, it is not in your power to remedy it.' 'Perhaps, my good man, I may serve you,' replied the emperor, upon which the man told him that all his sufferings were owing to a governor of one of the emperor's pleasure houses, who had seized upon a small estate of his near the royal house, and had reduced him to beggary. Not contented with this inhuman treatment, he had forced his son to become his slave, and thus robbed him of the only support of his old age.
The emperor was so affected with this speech, and so fully resolved to punish a crime committed under the sanction of his authority, that he determined on immediately accompanying the old man to the governor, but not knowing to whom he spoke, the old man remonstrated on the danger of such a mission; and being unable to dissuade him from it, pleaded his inability to keep pace with the emperor, who was mounted. 'I am young,' answered the emperor, 'do you get on horseback, and I will go on foot.' The old man not accepting the offer, the emperor took him up behind him, notwithstanding his ragged and filthy appearance, and they soon arrived at the house. The emperor asked for the governor, who, appearing, was greatly surprised, when the prince in accosting him, discovered to him the embroidered dragon, which he wore on his breast, and which his hunting dress had concealed. It happened, as if to render more famous this memorable act of justice and humanity, that most of the nobles, who had followed the emperor in the chase, came up at the time; and before this grand assembly, he reproached the old man's persecutor with his signal injustice; and after obliging him to restore to him his estate and his son, he ordered his head to be instantly cut off. He did more; he put the old man in his place, admonishing him to take care, lest fortune changing his manners, another might avail himself hereafter of his injustice, as he had now of the injustice of the governor.
The Emperor Julian.
When Numerius, governor of the Narbonnoise Gaul, was impeached of plundering hie province, he denied the charge and baffled his accusers: on which a famous lawyer cried out to the emperor, 'Caesar, who will ever be found guilty, if it is sufficient for a man to deny the charge?' To which Julian answered, 'But who will appear innocent, if a bare accusation is sufficient?'
Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt, though he had dominions enough of his own, was always ready when occasion offered to make free with those belonging to others. At his return from the siege of Mousul in Syria, without success, he seized the whole lordship of Emessa, in prejudice to the right of Nasir Eddin, the young prince who claimed it.
This he did upon pretence that the father of the youth had forfeited it, by giving countenance to confederacies against the sultan's interest. Saladin, however, ordered that proper care should be taken of the injured prince's education; and being desirous to observe what progress he made in his studies, he one day ordered him to be brought before him, and asked him, with much gravity, in what part of the Alcoran he was reading? 'I am come,' replied the young prince, to the surprise of all who were near him, 'to that verse which informs me, that he who devours the estates of orphans is not a king, but a tyrant.' The sultan was much startled at the turn and spirit of this repartee; but after some pause and recollection, returned the youth this generous answer: 'He who speaks with such resolution, would act with so much courage, that I restore you to your father's possessions, lest I should be thought to stand in fear of a virtue which I only reverence.'
Hakkam, the son and successor of Abdoubrahman Ill., wanting to enlarge his palace, proposed to purchase from a poor woman a piece of ground that lay contiguous to it; and when she could not be prevailed on to part with the inheritance of her ancestors, Hakkarn's officers took by force what they could not otherwise obtain. The poor woman applied to Ibn-Bechir, the chief magistrate of Corduba, for justice. The case was delicate and dangerous, and Bechir concluded that the ordinary methods of proceeding would be ineffectual, if not fatal. He mounted his ass, and taking a large sack with him, rode to the palace of the caliph. The prince happened to be sitting in a pavilion that had been erected in the poor woman's garden. Bechir, with his sack in his hand, advanced towards him, and after prostrating himself, desired the caliph would permit him to fill his sack with earth in that garden. Hakkam showed some surprise at his appearance and request, but allowed him to fill his sack. When this was done, the magistrate entreated the prince to assist him in laying the burden on his ass. This extraordinary request surprised Hakkam still more; but he only told the judge it was too heavy; he could not bear it. 'Yet this sack' replied Bechir, with a noble assurance, 'this sack, which you think too heavy to bear, contains but a small portion of that ground which you took by violence from the right owner. How then will you be able at the day of judgment to support the weight of the whole!' The remonstrance was effectual; and Hakkam without delay restored the ground, with the buildings upon it, to the former proprietor.
Bajazet the First was so incensed at the complaints constantly made to him of the corrupt conduct of his cadis in the administration of justice, that he came to the extraordinary resolution of assembling the whole of them together, and then causing the house in which they were to be set on fire, that they might all be consumed at once, and a lesson be thus given to their successors, on the beauty of being just, which they would not easily forget. Having given a hint of his intention to Hally Bassa, one of his councellors, a man of much prudence and moderation, the latter sought and found out a way to appease him. Bajazet had an Ethiopian boy, whom he took great delight in, and allowed to say whatever he pleased. Hally Bassa having instructed the boy what he should say, sent him in to the emperor, in a habit more gay than was usual with him. 'What is the matter, said Bajazet, 'that thou art thus gallant to-day?' 'I am,' said the boy, 'going from thee to the Emperor of Constantinople.' 'To him, that is our enemy?' replied the prince. 'What wilt thou do there?' 'I am going,' said he, 'to invite some old monks and devotees to do justice amongst us, since you are resolved to have all our cadis slain.' 'But my little Ethiop,' said Bajazet, 'what do they know of our laws?' On this Hally Bassa, who was standing by, reasonably observed, 'They know nothing, my lord; is it not worth while, therefore, to pause before you cut off those that do?' 'Why then,' asked the emperor, 'do they judge unjustly and corruptly?' 'I will discover to my lord the cause of it' said Hally; 'our cadis have no stipend allowed them out of the public treasury; they therefore indemnify themselves out of the purses of the suitors before them; place them above this temptation, and you will have effected the reform you wish.' Bajazet was pleased with the counsel, and commissioned Hally to fix such salaries as he should think fit. Hally accordingly ordered, and it afterwards remained the law, 'that every person who had an inheritance of so many thousand aspers, should, out of every thousand, allow twenty to the cadi of his district; and that for all instruments of marriage and similar contracts he should have twenty more.'
'And so,' says Knowles, 'their poverty was relieved, and justice duly administered.'
A Bribe well Weighed.
A poor man in Turkey claimed a house which a rich neighbour had usurped; he held his deeds and documents to prove his right, but his more powerful opponent had provided a number of witnesses to invalidate them; and to support their evidence more effectually, he presented the cadi with a bag containing five hundred ducats.
When the cause came to be heard, the poor man told his story, and produced his writings, but wanted that most essential and only valid proof, witnesses. The other, provided with witnesses, laid his whole stress on them, and on his adversary's defect in law, who could produce none; he therefore urged the cadi to give sentence in his favour.
After the most pressing solicitations, the judge calmly drew from under his seat the bag of five hundred ducats, which the rich man had given him as a bribe; saying to him very gravely, 'You have been much mistaken in this suit; for if the poor man could bring no witnesses in confirmation of his right, I myself can produce at least five hundred.' He then threw him the bag with reproach and indignation, and decreed the house to the poor plaintiff.
A Fair Condition.
A ship freighted at Alexandria by some Turks, to bring them and their merchandize to Constantinople, met with a violent storm in the passage. The master told those freighters who were on board, that he could not save the ship, nor their lives, but by throwing overboard all the goods on the deck. They consented to the sacrifice, as well for themselves as for other freighters at Constantinople; but when the ship arrived there, they united to prosecute the master for the value of the goods. The Moulah of Galata, before whom he was summoned, had the case fully represented to him, and his deputy, as usual, had the promise of a reward.
When the parties appeared, and the witnesses were examined, the Moulah reflected some time, took down his book, and gravely opening it, told them that the book declared, that the master should pay the true value of those very goods; that is, what the freighters could prove by witnesses any one would give for them, or what they were really worth, on board the ship, at the very moment the master was constrained to throw them into the sea, as the only means by which he could save the lives of his passengers, amongst whom were the persons who now sued him.
The freighters ran out of court to seek witnesses, but the judge, who knew none could be procured, without farther hesitation gave his written decree in favour of the master.
Conflict of Affection and Duty.
A grocer of the city of Smyrna had a son who with the help of the little learning the country could afford, rose to the post of Naib, or deputy of the Cadi; and as such visited the markets, and inspected the weights and measures of all retail dealers. One day as this officer was going his rounds, the neighbours who knew enough of his father's character to suspect that he might stand in need of the caution, advised him to remove his weights; but the old cheat trusting to his relationship to the inspector, laughed at their advice. The, Naib, on coming to his shop, coolly said to him, 'Good man, fetch out your weights that we may examine them.' Instead of obeying, the grocer endeavoured to evade the order with a laugh; but was soon convinced that his son was serious, by his ordering the officers to search his shop, The instruments of his fraud were soon discovered; and after an impartial examination, openly condemned and broken to pieces. He was also sentenced to a fine of fifty piastres, and to receive a bastinado of as many blows on the soles of his feet.
After this had been effected on the spot, the Naib, leaping from his horse, threw himself at the feet of his father, and watering them with his tears, thus addressed him: 'Father, I have discharged my duty to my God, my sovereign, and my country, as well as to the station I hold; permit me now, by my respect and submission, to acquit the debt I owe a parent. Justice is blind; it is the power of God on earth; it has no regard to the ties of kindred. God and our neighbours' rights are above the ties of nature; you had offended against the laws of justice, you deserved this punishment, but I am sorry it was your fate to receive it from me. My conscience would not suffer me to act otherwise. Behave better for the future; and instead of censuring me, pity my being reduced to so cruel a necessity.
So extraordinary an act of justice gained him the acclamations and praise of the whole city, and a report of it being made to the Sublime Porte, the Sultan advanced the Naib to the post of Cadi, and he soon after rose to the dignity of Mufti.
Modern Turkish Practice.
The administration of justice has in more recent times become notoriously and avowedly corrupt in Turkey. The testimony of a Mussulman of the most infamous character is always preferred to that of the most respectable Christian; and the slight disgrace imposed by the law on gross perjury, is seldom, if ever, inflicted in criminal cases; everything depends upon the mere caprice of the judge. The life of man, concerning which no deliberation can be too long, is hastily sentenced away, without reflection, according to the influence of passion, or the impulse of the moment. A complaint was preferred to the vizier against some soldiers who had insulted the gentlemen of the Russian embassy: the vizier made a horizontal motion with his hand, and before the conference was over, seven heads were rolled from a sack at the feet of Prince Repnin. A man, caught in the act of pilfering property during a fire, has been thrown into the flames by order of the vizier. A housebreaker detected in robbery, is hanged up, without process, at the door of the house he has robbed. Shopkeepers, or dealers, convicted of using false weights or measures, are fined, bastinadoed, or nailed by the ear to their own door-post. Punishment, too, is frequently inflicted on the innocent, while the guilty enjoy the fruits of criminality. A Swedish gentleman walking one day in the streets of Constantinople, saw the body of an Armenian hanging from the front of a baker's shop. He inquired of a bystander for what crime the poor wretch had suffered? 'The vizier' said he, 'in passing by early in the morning, stopped and ordered the loaves to be weighed; and finding them short of weight, immediately, ordered the execution of the person in the shop.' 'How severe a punishment for so slight a crime!' 'It was thought severe,' replied the Turk, 'for the Christian was but a servant whose wages were twenty paras a day, and whose master derived the whole benefit from the deficiency in the weight of the bread.' And yet other Armenians had already occupied the vacant place, and were serving the customers with the greatest indifference.
Common Law of England.
The appellation of common law originated with Edward the Confessor. The Saxons, though divided into many kingdoms, yet in their manners, laws, and languages, were similar. The slight differences which existed between the Mercian law, the West Saxon law, and the Danish law, were removed by Edward with great facility, and without any dissatisfaction; and he made his alteration rather famous by a new name, than by new matter; for, abolishing the three distinctions above mentioned, he called it the Common Law of England, and ordained that no part of the kingdom should be governed by any particular law, but all by one. The common law, as contradistinguished from the statute law, consists of those rules and maxims concerning the persons and property of men, that have obtained by the tacit assent and usage of the inhabitants of this country; the consent and approbation of the people being signified by their immemorial use and practice.
Escapes from the Gallows.
In Plott's 'History of Staffordshire,' we are told that in the reign of Henry III., one Judith de Balsham was condemned for receiving and concealing thieves, and hanged from nine o'clock on Monday morning, till sunrise on Tuesday following, and yet escaped with life! In evidence of this most incredible story, Plott recites verbatim, a royal pardon granted to the woman, in which the fact is circumstantially recorded. 'Quia Inetta de Balsham pro receptamento Latronum ei imposito nuper, per considerationem. Curie nostre suspendio adjudicata et ab hora nona diei Lune usque post ortum solis diei Martis sequen suspensa, viva evasit sicutex testimonio fide dignorum accepimus.' What can be said against such testimony as this? Nothing perhaps but that the thing is impossible. The days of Henry III. were days of priestly imposture; and there have been grosser juggles in the annals of unholy craft, than hanging a woman for twenty-four hours without killing her!
In the account of Oxfordshire, by the same author, we find a remarkable notice of the woman Greene, who, after being hanged, was recovered by Sir William Petty. [See Anecdotes of Science, p. 519.] The time of suspension, it may be necessary to observe, was not quite so long as that of Judith de Balsham; she hung only about half an hour. 'What was most remarkable,' says Plott, and distinguished the hand of Providence in her recovery, she was found to be innocent of the crime for which she suffered.'
Confinement in Irons.
When it was once urged to Lord Chief justice King, that irons were absolutely necessary to safe custody, his lordship, who was of opinion with Bracton, that such a mode of confinement is as contrary to law as to humanity, replied, 'That they might build their walls higher.' The neglect of this legal precaution can certainly be no excuse for the infliction of an illegal punishment. The truth is, as Mr. Buxton justly observes, 'a man is very rarely ironed for his own misdeeds, but very frequently for those of others; additional irons on his person are cheaper than additional elevation to the walls. Thus we cover our own negligence by increased severity on captives.'
In 1782, Lord Loughborough imposed a fine of twenty pounds on the keeper of Norwich Castle, for putting irons on a woman. And yet we are told by Mr. Neild, that on a recent survey of the gaol at Brecon, there were, among other persons, half-starved and cruelly treated, two women, without shoes and stockings, heavily loaded with double irons!!!
Sufferer for Conscience' Sake.
Among the prosecutions for conscience' sake, which disgraced the reign of Henry the Fourth, none is more interesting than that of Air. William Thorpe, a follower of Wickliffe, of which an account, written by himself, is preserved in Fox's 'Acts and Monuments.' It is not only interesting as an apparently authentic record of the proceedings, but as a specimen of the language and manners of the times. The trial took place before Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1407. In the pious exhortations of the Archbishop to this heretic, there is a mixture of argument, and scolding, and swearing, which is altogether very amusing. After a long conference, in which the archbishop seldom condescended to address him by any other appellation than that of 'Lewde Lossel,' he asked him definitively to submit to the ordinances of the church; but receiving only a conditional answer:-'Then the archebishop, striking with his honde ferseylye upon a cupborde, spake to me with a greate spyrite, saying, But yf thou leave soche additions, obliging the now here, without ony excepcion to mine ordinaunce, or that I go out of this place, I shall make the as sure as ony thefe that is in the pryson of Lantern. Advyse the now what thou wilt do.'
And in the same spirit of Christian meekness, his grace concluded by telling Thorpe, ' BY --- I shall settle upon thy shynes a pair of perlis, that thou shalt be gladde to change thy voice.'
Thorpe, resolute in his nonconformity, was committed to prison, and there is no record of what became of him, though it is probable that the worthy archbishop took the humane advice of the bystanders, some of whom mercifully advised his grace to burn him, and others to drown him in the sea.
Sir Thomas More.
When Sir Thomas More was lord chancellor in the reign of Henry VIII., he ordered a gentleman to pay a sum of money to a poor woman, whom he had wronged. The gentleman said, 'Then I hope your lordship will grant me a long day to pay it.' 'I will grant your motion,' said the chancellor; 'Monday next is St. Barnabas' Day, which is the longest day in the year; pay it to the widow that day, or I will commit you to the Fleet Prison.'
Louis XI. proposing to cajole his court of parliament of Paris, if it should refuse to publish certain new ordinances which he had made, and the masters of that court being informed of the king's intentions, went to him in their robes. The king inquired their business? 'Sir,' answered the President La Vacquery, 'we are come here, determined to lose our lives, every one of us, rather than by our connivance any unjust ordinances should take place.' The king, amazed at this answer of La Vacquery, and at the constancy of the parliament, gave them gracious entertainment, and commanded that the edicts which he intended to have published should be immediately cancelled in their presence; swearing that henceforth he never would make edicts that should not be just and equitable.
Morvilliers, keeper of the seals to Charles the Ninth of France, was one day ordered by his sovereign to put the seals to the pardon of a nobleman who had committed murder. He refused. The king then took the seals out of his hands, and having put them himself to the instrument of remission, returned them immediately to Morvilliers, who refused to take them again, saying, 'The seals have twice put me in a situation of great honour; once when I received them, and again when I resigned them.'
Louis the Fourteenth had granted a pardon to a nobleman who had committed some very great crime. M. Voisin, the chancellor, ran to him in his closet, and exclaimed, 'Sire, you cannot pardon a person in the situation of Mr. --' 'I have promised him,' replied the king, who was ever impatient of contradiction; 'go and fetch the great seal.' 'But, sire!' 'Pray, sir, do as I order you.' The chancellor returns with the seals; Louis applies them himself to the instrument, containing the pardon, and gives them again to the chancellor. 'They are polluted now, sire,' exclaims the intrepid and excellent magistrate, pushing them from him on the table, 'I cannot take them again.' 'What an impracticable man!' cries the monarch, and throws the pardon into the fire. 'I will now, sire, take them again,' said the chancellor; 'the fire, you know, purifies everything.'
Prince Henry and Chief Justice Gascoigne.
A favourite servant of King Henry V., when Prince of Wales, was indicted for a misdemeanor; and notwithstanding the interest he exerted in his behalf, was convicted and condemned. The prince was so incensed at the issue of the trial, that forgetting his own dignity and the respect due to the administration of justice, he rushed into court, and commanded that his servant should be unfettered and set at liberty. The Chief Justice, Sir William Gascoigne, mildly reminded the prince of the reverence which was due to the ancient laws of the kingdom; and advised him, if he had any hope of exempting the culprit from the rigour of his sentence, to apply for the gracious pardon of the king, his father, a course of proceeding which would be no derogation to either law or justice. The prince, far from being appeased by this discreet answer, hastily turned towards the prisoner, and was attempting to take him by force out of the hands of the officers, when the chief justice, roused by so flagrant a contempt of authority, commanded the prince on his allegiance instantly to leave the prisoner and quit the court. Henry, all in a fury, stepped up to the judgment seat, with the intention, as every one thought, of doing some personal injury to the chief justice; but he quickly stopped short, awed by the majestic sternness which frowned from the brow of the judge as he thus addressed him: 'Sir, remember yourself. I keep here the place of the king, your sovereign lord and father, to whom you owe double allegiance. In his name, therefore, I charge you to desist from your disobedience and unlawful enterprise, and henceforth give a better example to those who shall hereafter be your own subjects. And now, for the contempt and disobedience you have shown, I commit you to the prison of the King's Bench, there to remain until the pleasure of the king, your father, be known.'
Henry, by this time sensible of the insult he had offered the laws of his country, suffered himself to be quietly conducted to gaol by the officers of justice. His father, Henry IV., was no sooner informed of this transaction, than he exclaimed in a transport of joy, 'Happy is the king who has a magistrate possessed of courage to execute the laws; and still more happy in having a son who will submit to the punishment inflicted for offending them.'
The prince himself when he came to be king, speaking of Sir William Gascoigne, said, 'I shall ever hold him worthy of his place, and of my favour; and I wish that all my judges may possess the like undaunted courage to punish offenders, of what rank soever.'
Queen Mary, until her marriage with Philip the Second, appears to have been merciful and humane; for Hollinshed says, that when she appointed Sir Richard Morgan Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, she told him, 'that notwithstanding the old error which did not admit any witness to speak, or any other matter to be heard (her majesty being party), that her pleasure was, that whatsoever could be brought in favour of the subject, should be admitted to be heard; and moreover, that the justices should not persuade themselves to put in judgment, otherwise for her highness than for her subject.'
Persecution for religious opinions assumed the most terrific form in the reign of the sanguinary Mary. Among the proceedings of the furious Bonner, there is none more affecting than the trial of Archbishop Cranmer for treason and heresy. The following extract from the 'State Trials' exhibits a lively portrait of the degradation of Cranmer, and the exulting pride of his enemy:
'Then they invested him (Cranmer) in all manner of robes of a bishop and archbishop, as he is at his installing, saving that as everything then is most rich and costly, so everything in this is of canvas and old clouts, with a mitre and a pall of the same suit, done upon him in mockery, and then the crosier staff was put in his hand.
'This done, after the Pope's pontifical form and manner, Bonner, who, by the space of many years, had borne, as it seemeth, no great good will towards him, and now rejoiced to see this day wherein he might triumph over him, and take his pleasure at full, began to stretch out his eloquence, making his oration to the assembly after this manner of sort.
'This is the man that hath ever despised the Pope's holiness, and now is to be judged by him. This is the man who hath pulled down so many churches, and now is come to be judged in a church. This is the man that condemned the blessed sacrament of the altar, and now is come to be condemned before that blessed sacrament hanging over the altar. This is the man that like Lucifer, sat in the place of Christ upon an altar to judge others, and now is come before all altar to be judged himself.'
The story of Cranmer's recantation signed by him, on a promise of life, which was afterwards violated, is known to all our readers.
After he had signed it, Dr. Cole received secret orders from the court to preach in Cranmer's presence, in one of the churches of Oxford, an anticipation of his funeral sermon. On the day appointed, the archbishop was placed upon a stage in front of the pulpit in a ragged gown, with an old square cap, to hear the sermon, which was performed by Dr. Cole, to admiration. After expatiating on the justice of his sentence, the preacher addressed the audience, and bade them take warning by the fate of so great a man; then directing himself personally to Cranmer, he lauded him for his conversion, and exhorted him to imitate the 'rejoicing' of St. Andrew on the cross, and the 'Patience' of St. Laurence in the fire.
The account of Cranmer's shame and remorse during this edifying harangue, is very pathetic and striking. It is a powerful specimen of old English writing.
'Cranmer in all this meantime, with what grief of mind he stood hearing the sermon, the outward show of his body did better express than any man can declare; one while lifting up his hands and eyes unto heaven, and then again for shame letting them down to the earth. A man might have seen the very image and shape of perfect sorrow lively in him expresssed. More than twenty several times the tears gushed out abundantly, dropping down his fatherly face. They which were present do testify, that they never saw in any child more tears than burst out from him at that time, all the sermon while, but especially when they recited his prayers before the people. It is marvellous what commiseration and pity moved all men's hearts, that beheld so heavy a countenance and such abundance of tears in an old man, and of so reverend a dignity.'
An officer of rank in the army of Louis the Twelfth, of France, having ill-treated a peasant, the Monarch made him live for a few days upon wine and meat. The officer, tired of this very heating diet, requested permission to have some bread allowed him. The king sent for him, and said, 'How could you be so foolish as to ill-treat those persons who put bread into your mouth?'
1. -- A gentleman having been revelling abroad, was returning home late at night; but overcome with wine, he fell down in the street, and lay there in a state of insensibility. Soon after, two persons, who were passing, having quarrelled, one of them observing that the drunkard had a sword by his side, snatched it away, and with it ran his adversary through the body. Leaving the instrument sticking in his wound, he ran off as fast as he could. When the watchman of the night came in the course of his rounds to the scene of this tragedy, and saw one man lying dead, with a sword in his body, and another lying near him in a state of drunkenness, with his scabbard empty, he had no doubt whatever that the crime and the offender were both before him; and seizing the drunkard, he conveyed him to prison.
Next morning he was examined before a magistrate; and being unable to remove the strong presumption which circumstances established against him, he was committed for trial. When tried, he was found guilty; and immediately executed for the murder of which he was perfectly innocent.
The real criminal was some time after condemned to death for another offence; and in his last moments confessed how he had made use of the reveller's sword to execute his own private wrongs.
2. -- In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, a person was arraigned before Sir James Dyer, Lord Chief Justice of Common Pleas, upon an indictment for the murder of a man who dwelt in the same parish with the prisoner.
The first witness against him deposed, that on a certain day, mentioned by the witness, in the morning, as he was going through a close, which he particularly described, at some distance from the path, he saw a person lying dead, and that two wounds appeared in his breast, and his shirt and clothes were much stained with blood; that the wounds appeared to the witness to have been made by the puncture of a fork or some such instrument, and looking about he discovered a fork lying near the corpse, which he took up, and observed it to be marked with the initials of the prisoner's name; here the witness produced the fork in court, which the prisoner owned to be his.
The prisoner waived asking the witness any questions.
A second witness deposed, that on the morning of the day on which the deceased was killed, the witness had risen very early with an intention of going to a neighbouring market town, which he mentioned; that as he was standing in the entry of his own dwelling house, the street door being open, he saw the prisoner come by, dressed in a suit of clothes, the colour and fashion of which he described; that he (the witness) was prevented from going to market, and that afterwards the first witness brought notice to the town of the death and wounds of the deceased, and of the prisoner's fork being found near the corpse; that upon this report the prisoner was apprehended and carried before a justice of peace; that he, this witness, followed the prisoner to the justice's house, and attended his examination, during which he observed the exchange of clothes the prisoner had made since the time he had seen him in the morning; that all the witness charging him with having changed his clothes, he gave several shuffling answers, and would have denied it; that upon witness mentioning this circumstance of change of dress, the justice granted a warrant to search the prisoner's house for the clothes described by the witness as having been put off since the morning; that this witness attended and assisted at the search; that after a nice search of two hours and upwards, the very clothes the witness had described, were discovered concealed in a straw bed. He then produced the bloody clothes in court, which the prisoner owned to be his clothes, and to have been thrust in the straw bed with the intention to conceal them on the account of their being bloody.
The prisoner also waived asking this second witness any questions.
A third witness deposed to his having heard the prisoner deliver certain menaces against the deceased, whence the prosecutor intended to infer a proof of malice prepense. In answer to this the prisoner proposed certain questions to the court, leading to a discovery of the occasion of the menacing expressions deposed to; and from the witness's answer to those questions, it appeared that the deceased had first menaced the prisoner.
The prisoner being called upon for his defence, addressed the following narration to the court, as containing all he knew concerning the manner and circumstances of the death of the deceased. 'He rented a close in the same parish with the deceased, and the deceased rented another close adjoining to it; the only way to his own close was through that of the deceased; and on the day the murder in the indictment was said to be committed, he rose early in the morning in order to go to work in his close with his fork in his hand, and passing through the deceased's ground, he observed a man at some distance from the path, lying down as if dead or drunk; he thought himself bound to see what condition the person was in; and on getting up to him he found him at the last extremity, with two wounds in his breast, from which much blood had issued. In order to relieve him, he raised him up, and with great difficulty set him on his lap; he told the deceased he was greatly concerned at his unhappy fate, and the more so as there appeared reason to think he had been murdered. He entreated the deceased to discover if possible who it was, assuring him he would do his best endeavours to bring him to justice. The deceased seemed to be sensible of what he said, and in the midst of his agonies attempted to speak to him, but was seized with a rattling in his throat, gave a hard struggle, then a dreadful groan, and vomiting a deal of blood, some of which fell on his (the prisoner's) clothes, he expired in his arms. The shock he felt on account of this accident was not to be expressed, and the rather as it was well known that there had been a difference between the deceased and himself, on which account he might possibly be suspected of the murder. He therefore thought it advisable to leave the deceased in the condition he was, and take no further notice of the matter; in the confusion he was in when he left the place, he took the deceased's fork away instead of his own, which was by the side of the corpse. Being obliged to go to his work, he thought it best to shift his clothes, and that they might not be seen, he confessed that he had hid them in the place where they were found. It was true he had denied before the justice that he had changed his clothes, being conscious this was an ugly circumstance that might be urged against him, being unwilling to be brought into trouble if he could help it. He concluded his story with a most solemn declaration, that he had related nothing but the exact truth, without adding or diminishing one tittle, as he should answer for it to God Almighty.'
Being then called upon to produce his witnesses, the prisoner answered with a steady, composed countenance and resolution of voice, 'He had no witnesses but God and his own Conscience.'
The judge then proceeded to deliver his charge, in which he pathetically enlarged on the heinousness of the crime, and laid great stress on the force of the evidence, which, although circumstantial only, he declared he thought to be irresistible, and little inferior to the most positive proof. The prisoner had indeed cooked up a very plausible story; but if such or the like allegations were to be admitted in a case of this kind, no murderer would ever be brought to justice, such deeds being generally perpetrated in the dark, and with the greatest secrecy. The present case was exempted in his opinion from all possibility of doubt, and they ought not to hesitate one moment about finding the prisoner guilty.
The foreman begged of his lordship, as this was a case of life and death; that the jury might withdraw; and upon this motion, an officer was sworn to keep the jury locked up.
This trial came on the first in the morning, and the judge having sat till nine at night expecting the return of the jury, at last sent an officer to inquire if they were agreed on their verdict. Some of them returned for answer, that eleven of their body had been of the same mind from the first, but that it was their misfortune to have a foreman, who, having taken up a different opinion from them, was unalterably fixed in it. The messenger had no sooner gone, than the complaining members, alarmed at the thought of being kept under confinement all night, and despairing of bringing their dissenting brother over to their own way of thinking, agreed to accede to his opinion, and having acquainted him with their resolution, they sent an officer to detain his lordship a few minutes, and then went into court, and by their foreman brought in the prisoner not guilty.
His lordship could not help expressing the greatest surprise and indignation at this unexpected verdict; and after giving the jury a severe admonition, he refused to record the verdict, and sent them back again with directions that they should be locked up all night without fire or candle. The whole blame was publicly laid on the foreman by the rest of the members, and they spent the night in loading him with reflections, and bewailing their unhappy fate in being associated with so hardened a wretch. But he remained inflexible, constantly declaring he would suffer death rather than change his opinion.
As soon as his lordship came into court next morning., he sent again to the jury, on which the eleven members joined in requesting their foreman to go into court, assuring him they would abide by their former verdict, whatever was the consequence; and on being reproached with their former inconstancy, they promised never to desert or recriminate upon their foreman any more.
Upon these assurances they proceeded again into court, and again brought in the prisoner not guilty. The judge, unable to conceal his rage at a verdict which appeared to him in the most iniquitous light, reproached them severely, and dismissed them with the cutting reflection, 'That the blood of the deceased lay at their doors.'
The prisoner on his part fell down on his knees, and with uplifted eyes and hands to God, thanked him most devoutly for his deliverance; and addressing himself to the judge, cried out, 'You see, my lord, that God and a good conscience are the best witnesses.'
The circumstance made a deep impression on the mind of the judge; and as soon as he had retired from court, he entered into conversation with the high sheriff upon what had passed, and particularly examined him as to his knowledge of the foreman of the jury. The high sheriff answered his lordship, that he had been acquainted with him many years: that he had a freehold estate of his own of above £5o a year; and that he rented a very considerable farm besides; that he never knew him charged with an ill action, and that he was universally beloved and esteemed in his neighbourhood.
For further information, his lordship sent for the minister of the parish, who gave the same favourable account of his parishioner, with this addition; that he was a constant churchman, and a devout communicant.
These accounts increased his lordship's perplexity, from which he could think of no expedient to deliver himself, but by having a conference in private with the only person who could give him satisfaction; this he requested the sheriff to procure, who readily offered his service, and without delay brought about the desired interview.
Upon the foreman of the jury being introduced to the judge, his lordship retired with him into a closet, where his lordship opened his reasons for desiring that visit, making no scruple of acknowledging the uneasiness he was under on account of the verdict, and conjuring his visitor frankly to discover his reasons for acquitting the prisoner. The juryman returned for answer, that he had sufficient reasons to justify his conduct, and that he was neither afraid nor ashamed to reveal them; but as he had hitherto locked them up in his own breast and was under no compulsion to disclose them, he expected his lordship would engage upon his honour to keep what he was about to unfold to him a secret, as he himself had done. His lordship having done so, the juryman proceeded to give his lordship the following account. 'The deceased being the tythe-man where he (the juryman) lived, he had the morning of his decease been in his (the juryman's) grounds, amongst his corn, and had done him great injustice by taking more than his due, and acting otherwise in a most arbitrary manner. When he complained of this treatment, he had not only been abused with scurrilous language, but the deceased had struck at him several times with his fork, and had actually wounded him in two place, the scars of which wounds he then shewed his lordship. The deceased seemed bent on mischief, and the farmer having no weapon to defend himself, had no other way to preserve his own life but by closing in with the deceased, and wrenching the fork out of his hands; which having effected, the deceased attempted to recover the fork, and in the scuffle received the two wounds which had occasioned his death. The farmer was inexpressibly concerned at the accident which occasioned the man's death, and especially when the prisoner was taken up on suspicion of the murder. But the assizes being just over, he was unwilling to surrender himself and to confess the matter, because his farm and affairs would have been ruined by lying so long in gaol. He was sure to have been acquitted on his trial, for he had consulted the ablest lawyers upon the case, who all agreed that as the deceased had been the aggressor, he could only have been guilty of manslaughter at most. It was true he had suffered greatly in his own mind on the prisoner's account; but being well assured that imprisonment would be of less consequence to the prisoner than himself, he had suffered the law to take its course. In order, however, to render the prisoner's confinement as easy to him as possible, he had given him every kind of assistance, and had wholly supported his family ever since. And, to get him clear of the charge laid against him, he had procured himself to be summoned on the jury, and set at the head of them; having all along determined in his own breast rather to die himself, than to suffer any harm to be done to the prisoner.'
His lordship expressed great satisfaction at this account; and after thanking the farmer for it, and making this farther stipulation, that in case his lordship should survive him, he might then be at liberty to relate this fact, that it might be delivered down to posterity, the conference broke up.
The juryman lived fifteen years afterwards; the judge inquiring after him every year, and happening to survive him, delivered the above relation.
3. -- A man was tried for and convicted of the murder of his own father. The evidence against him was merely circumstantial, and the principal witness was his sister. She proved that her father possessed a small income, which with his industry enabled him to live with comfort; that her brother, who was his heir at law, had often expressed a great desire to come into possession of his father's effects; and that he had long behaved in a very undutiful manner to him, wishing, as the witness believed, to put a period to his existence 'by uneasiness and vexation;' that on the evening the murder was committed, the deceased went a small distance from the house to milk a cow he had for some time kept, and that witness also went out to spend the evening and to sleep, leaving only her brother in the house; that returning home early in the morning, and finding that her father and brother were both absent, she was much alarmed; and sent for some of the neighbours to consult with them, and to receive advice what should be done; that in company, with these neighbours she went to the hovel in which her father was accustomed to milk the cow, where they found him murdered in a most inhuman manner; that a suspicion immediately falling on her brother, and there being then some snow upon the ground, in which the footsteps of a human being, to and from the hovel, were observed, it was agreed to take one of her brother's shoes, and to measure therewith the impressions in the snow; this was done, and there did not remain a doubt that the impressions were made with his shoes. Thus confirmed in their suspicions, they immediately went to the prisoner's room, and after a diligent search, they found a hammer in the corner of a private drawer with several spots of blood upon it.
The circumstance of finding the deceased and the hammer, and the identity of the footsteps, as described by the former witness, were fully proved by the neighbours whom she had called; and upon this evidence the prisoner was convicted and suffered death, but denied the act to the last.
About four years after, the sister who had been chief witness was extremely ill; and understanding that there were no hopes of her recovery, she confessed that her father and brother having offended her, she was determined they should both die; and accordingly when the former went to milk the cow, she followed him with her brother's hammer and in his shoes; that she felled her father with the hammer, and laid it where it was afterwards found; that she then went from home, to give a better colour to the horrid transaction, and that her brother was perfectly innocent of the crime for which he had suffered.
She was immediately taken into custody, but died before she could be brought to trial.
4. -- An upholsterer of the name of William Shaw, who was residing at Edinburgh in the year 1721 had a daughter Catharine who lived with him, and who encouraged the addresses of John Lawson, a jeweller, contrary to the wishes of her father, who had insuperable objections against him, and urged his daughter to receive the addresses of a son of Alexander Robertson, a friend and neighbour. The girl refused most peremptorily.
The father grew enraged. Passionate expressions arose on both sides, and the words 'barbarity, cruelty, and death' were frequently pronounced by the daughter. At length her father left her, locking the door after him.
The apartment of Shaw was only divided by a slight partition from that of one Morrison, a watch-case maker, who had indistinctly heard the conversation and quarrel between Catharine Shaw and her father, and was particularly struck with the words she had pronounced so emphatically. For some time after the father had gone out all was silent; but presently Morrison heard several groans from the daughter. He called in some of the neighbours, and these listening attentively, not only heard the groans, but also heard her faintly exclaim, 'Cruel father, thou art the cause of my death!' Struck with the expression, they got a constable, and forced the door of Shaw's apartment, where they found the daughter weltering in her blood, and a knife by her side. She was alive, and speechless; but on questioning her as to owing her death to her father, she was just able to make a motion with her head, apparently in the affirmative, and then expired.
At this moment Shaw enters the room. All eyes are upon him! He sees his neighbours and a constable in his apartment, and seems much disordered; but at the sight of his daughter he turns pale, trembles, and is ready to sink. The first surprise and the succeeding horror leave little doubt of his guilt in the breasts of the beholders; and even that little is done away on the constable discovering that the shirt of William Shaw is bloody.
He was instantly hurried before a magistrate, and upon the deposition of the parties, committed for trial. In vain did he protest his innocence, and declare that the blood on his shirt was occasioned by his having blooded himself some days before, and the bandage having become untied. The circumstances appeared so strong against him that he was found guilty, was executed, and hung in chains at Leith. His last words were, 'I am innocent of my daughter's murder.'
There was scarcely a person in Edinburgh who thought the father innocent; but in the following year a man who had become the occupant of Shaw's apartment, accidentally discovered a paper which had fallen into a cavity on one side of the chimney. It was folded as a letter, and on opening it, it was found to contain as follows: Barbarous Father! your cruelty in having put it out of my power ever to join my fate to that of the only man I could love, and tyrannically insisting upon my marrying one whom I always hated, has made me form a resolution to put an end to an existence which is become a burthen to me.'
This letter was signed, 'Catharine Shaw,' and on being shown to her relations and friends it was recognised as her writing. The magistracy of Edinburgh examined it, and on being satisfied of its authenticity, they ordered the body of William Shaw to be taken from the gibbet, and given to his family for interment; and as the only reparation to his memory, and the honour of his surviving relations, they caused a pair of colours to be waved over his grave, in token of his innocence.
5. -- In the year 1736, Mr. Hayes, a gentleman of fortune, in travelling, stopped at an inn in Oxfordshire, kept by one Johathan Bradford. He there met with two gentlemen, with whom he supped, and in conversation unguardedly mentioned that he had then with him a considerable sum of money. Having retired to rest, the two gentlemen, who slept in a double-bedded room, were awakened by deep groans in the adjoining chamber. They instantly arose, and proceeded silently to the room whence the groans were heard. The door was half open, and on entering, they perceived a person weltering in his blood, in the bed, and a man standing over him, with a dark lantern in one hand, and a knife in the other. They soon discovered that the gentleman murdered was the one with whom they had supped, and that the man who was standing over him was their host. They instantly seized him, disarmed him of the knife, and charged him with being the murderer. He positively denied the crime, and asserted that he came there with the same intentions as themselves; for that hearing a noise, which was succeeded by groans, he got up, struck a light, and armed himself with a knife in his defence, and was but that minute entered the room before them.
These assertions were of no avail; he was kept in close custody until morning, when he was taken before a neighbouring justice of peace, to whom the evidence appeared so decisive, that on writing out his mittimus, he hesitated not to say, 'Mr. Bradford, either you or myself committed this murder.'
At the ensuing assizes at Oxford, Bradford was tried, convicted, and shortly after executed, still, however, declaring that he was not guilty of the murder. This afterwards proved to be true; the murder was actually committed by Mr. Hayes's footman, who, immediately on stabbing his master, rifled his pockets, and escaped to his own room, which was scarcely two seconds before Bradford's entering the chamber. The world owes this knowledge to a remorse of conscience of the footman on his death-bed, eighteen months after the murder; and dying almost inimediately after he had made the declaration, justice lost its victim.
It is, however, remarkable that Bradford, though innocent, and not at all privy to the murder, was nevertheless a murderer in design. He confessed to the clergyman who attended him after his sentence, that having heard that Mr. Hayes had a large sum of money about him, he went to the chamber with the same diabolical intentions as the servant. He was struck with amazement; he could not believe his senses; and in turning back the bedclothes to assure himself of the fact, he in his agitation dropped his knife on the bleeding body, by which both his hand and the knife became stained, and thus increased the suspicious circumstances in which he was found.
6. -- In the year 1742, a gentleman in travelling was stopped by a highwayman in a mask, within about seven miles of Hull, and robbed of a purse containing twenty guineas. The gentleman proceeded about two miles further, and stopped at the Bull Inn, kept by Mr. Brunell.
He related the circumstances of the robbery, adding, that as all his gold was marked, he thought it probable that the robber would be detected. After he had supped, his host entered the room, and told him a circumstance had arisen which led him to think that he could point out the robber. He then informed the gentleman that he had a waiter, one John Jennings, whose conduct had long been very suspicious; he had long before dark sent him out to change a guinea for him, and that he had only come back since he (the gentleman) was in the house, saying he could not get change; that Jennings being in liquor, he sent him to bed, resolving to discharge him in the morning; that at the time he returned him the guinea, he discovered it was not the same he had given him, but was marked, of which he took no further notice until he heard the particulars of the robbery, and that the guineas which the highwayman had taken were all marked. He added, that he had unluckily paid away the marked guinea to a man who lived at some distance.
Mr. Brunell was thanked for his information, and it was resolved to go softly to the room of Jennings, whom they found fast asleep; his pockets were searched, and from one of them was drawn a purse containing exactly nineteen guineas, which the gentleman identified. Jennings was dragged out of bed and charged with the robbery. He denied it most solemnly; but the facts having been deposed to on oath by the gentleman and Mr. Brunell, he was committed for trial.
So strong did the circumstances appear against Jennings, that several of his friends advised him to plead guilty, and throw himself on the mercy of the court. This advice he rejected; he was tried at the ensuing assizes, and the jury without going out of court found him guilty. He was executed at Hull a short time after, but declared his innocence to the very last.
In less than twelve months after this event occurred, Brunell, the master of Jennings, was himself taken up for a robbery committed on a guest in his house, and the fact being proved on his trial, he was convicted and ordered for execution.
The approach of death brought on repentance, and repentance confession. Brunell not only acknowledged having committed many highway robberies, but also the very one for which poor Jennings suffered. The account he gave was, that after robbing the gentleman, he arrived at home some time before him; that he found a man at home waiting, to whom he owed a small bill, and not having quite enough of money, he took out of the purse one guinea from the twenty which he had just possessed himself of, to make up the sum, which he paid to the man, and then went away. Soon after the gentleman came to his house, and relating the account of the robbery, and that the guineas were marked, he became thunderstruck. Having paid one of them away, and not daring to apply for it again, as the affair of the robbery and the marked guineas would soon become publicly known, detection, disgrace, and ruin, appeared inevitable. Turning in his mind every way to escape, the thought of accusing and sacrificing poor Jennings at last struck him; and thus to his other crimes he added that of the murder of an innocent man.
Lord Stourton was, in the year 1556, tried at Westminster Hall for the murder of a Mr. Hartgyl and his son, under very aggravated circumstances. The commission for trying him was directed to the judges, and some of the privy council. At first his lordship refused to plead, but the chief justice informed him that if he persisted in his refusal, his rank should not excuse him from being pressed to death. Upon this he confessed the fact, and was hanged in a silken halter at Salisbury. His monument was some years ago to be seen in the cathedral of that city, with the silken halter hanging over it.
The case of M. de Pivardiere is one of the most singular instances of criminal precipitation and iniquity that the annals of French justice furnish. Madame de Chauvelin, his second wife, was accused of having had him assassinated in his castle. Two servant-maids were witnesses of the murder; his own daughter heard the cries and last words of her father: 'My God! have mercy upon me!' One of the maid-servants, falling dangerously ill, took the sacrament; and while she was performing this solemn act of religion, declared before God that her mistress intended to kill her master. Several other witnesses testified that they had seen linen stained with his blood; others declared that they had heard the report of a gun, by which the assassination was supposed to have been committed. And yet, strange to relate, it turned out after all that there was no gun fired, no blood shed, nobody killed! What remains is still more extraordinary: M. de la Pivardiere returned home; he appears in person before the judges of the province, who were preparing everything to execute vengeance on his murderer. The judges are resolved not to lose their process; they affirm to his face that he is dead; they brand him with the accusation of imposture for saying that he is alive; they tell him that he deserves exemplary punishment for coining a lie before the tribunal of justice; and maintain that their procedure is more credible than his testimony! In a word, this criminal process continued eighteen months before the poor gentleman could obtain a declaration of the court that he was alive.
In the year 1770, a person of the name of Monthaille, without any accuser, witness, or any probable or even suspicious circumstances, was seized by the superior tribunal of Arras, and condemned to have his hand cut off, to be broken on the wheel, and to be afterwards burnt alive, for killing his mother. This sentence was executed. and his wife was on the point of being thrown into the flames as his accomplice, when she pleaded that she was enceinte, and gave the Chancellor of France, who was informed of the infernal iniquity that was perpetrating in the sacred name of justice, time to have the sentence as to her reversed. 'The pen trembles in my hand,' says Voltaire, 'when I relate these enormities! We have seen, by the letters of several French lawyers, that not one year passes in which one tribunal or another does not stain the gibbet or the rack with the blood of unfortunate citizens, whose innocence is afterwards ascertained when it is too late.'
Verdict against Evidence.
It has been well observed by a modern writer that 'we are very apt to mistake the foulness of a crime for certainty of evidence against the individual accused of it, or in proportion as we are impressed with its enormity, the less nice we become in distinguishing the offender.' A striking illustration of this remark once presented itself. An atrocious murder having been committed, an unfortunate individual was accused of being the murderer, and brought to trial. The judge charged the jury that no evidence had been produced against the prisoner, and that therefore they must of necessity acquit him. To the surprise of the court, however, the jury returned a verdict of 'guilty.' The verdict being recorded, the judge requested to know upon what shadow of proof it had been brought. 'My lord,' answered the foreman, 'a great crime has been committed; somebody ought to suffer for it; and we do not see why it should not be this man!'
Lord Chancellor Bacon.
Among the foremost in the ranks of the fawning, treacherous, and corrupt courtiers that surrounded James the First, we discover with pain one of the greatest men that our country or the world has produced. The friends of science must ever regret that this character should apply to so sublime a genius as Lord Bacon.
The proceedings in the case of Peacham show that there never was a more deliberate enemy to the liberties of his country, nor stauncher supporter of tyranny, even to its extreme verge. This unfortunate man was put to the torture, tried, convicted, and condemned as a traitor, for certain passages said to be treasonable in a sermon which was never preached, nor intended to be so, but only found in writing in his study. The minute made upon the occasion of his torture is still preserved. It is in the handwriting of Secretary Winwood, and states that he had been examined 'before torture, in torture, between torture, and after torture' and 'that nothing could be drawn from him,' he still persisting in his obstinate and insensible denials. This monument of tyranny is signed, among others, by Bacon; and as a fit associate in so barbarous procedure, also by Sir Jervis Elwis, Lieutenant of the Tower, who was condemned and executed two years afterwards for being an accessory to the detestable and treacherous murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.
The case of Wraynham, who was punished by the Star Chamber for slandering Lord Bacon, by accusing him of injustice, is still more melancholy and instructive. He had a cause in Chancery, on which his all depended, against Sir Edward Fisher; and after expending his whole fortune, and that of several compassionate friends who assisted him, he had at last obtained from Lord Bacon's predecessor in the chancery a favourable judgment; which Lord Bacon thought proper, without any cause assigned, to reverse. Wraynham applied for justice to the king, presenting him with a statement of his case, conveyed in language which, if reprehensible, was at least pardonable in a man in his unhappy situation. The king handed over the imprudent supplicant to the Star Chamber. The lords asked him how he dared to speak in the manner which he had done of so pure and upright a character as the lord chancellor? Wraynham replied by the following simple and affecting statement:
'In making this appeal, I mustered together all my miseries; I saw my land taken away which had been before established unto me; and after six-and-forty orders and twelve reports made in the cause; nay, after motions, hearings, and re-hearings, fourscore in number, I beheld all overthrown in a moment, and all overthrown without a new bill preferred. I discerned the representation of a prison gaping for me, in which I must from henceforth spend all the days of my, life without release; for in this suit I have spent almost £3000, and many of my friends were engaged for me, some injured, others undone; and with this did accompany many eminent miseries likely to ensue upon me, my wife, and four children, the eldest of which being but five years old; so that we, that did every day give bread to others, must now beg bread of others, or else starve, which is the miserablest of all deaths; and there being no means to move his majesty to hear the cause, but to accuse his lordship of injustice; this and all these moved me to be sharp and bitter, and to use words, though dangerous in themselves, yet I hope pardonable in such extremities.'
Mr. Sergeant Crew, on the part of the crown, by way of aggravating Mr. Wraynham's guilt, pronounced a most splendid eulogium on the lord chancellor, whose talents and integrity as a judge were such, he said, that it was a 'foul offence' to traduce him. The learned sergeant farther observed, that at all events the prisoner could not accuse the lord chancellor of corruption; 'for, thanks be to God, he hath always despised riches, and set honour and justice before his eyes; and where the magistrate is bribed, it is a sign of a corrupted state.'
The result of the business was, that the chamber imposed a fine on Wraynham, which completely ruined him.
Now mark the sequel! Two years after the sacrifice of this unfortunate man and his family to the purity of Lord Chancellor Bacon, his lordship was accused and convicted by his own confession of bribery and corruption, and gave in to parliament, under his own hand, a list of the bribes which he had received during the period of his filling the office of lord chancellor. In that list how revolting is it to perceive a bribe received in this very case, from the miserable Wraynham's opponent in the suit which reduced his family to beggary, and condemned himself to spend the remainder of his days in a jail!
Sir Edward Coke.
Preparatory to the trial of Peacham, Lord Chancellor Bacon, as appears by his own letters to the king, was employed by his majesty to overcome the scruples of some of the judges, who doubted whether the crime amounted to high treason. In this unconstitutional negociation he met with the stern opposition of Sir Edward Coke, who, after Lord Bacon had searched the record for precedents, and perverted his intellect to the utmost, in order to bring the case under the description of treason, gave his written opinion against him. The king was much enraged at the opposition, and bitterly accused Sir Edward of 'caring more for the safety of such a monster, than the preservation of the crown.'
Sir Edward Coke always displayed an unconquerable zeal for correcting abuses, for establishing the authority of the laws, and confining the prerogative to its proper bounds. In the parliament which met in 1621, he towered beyond all preceding patriots in the abilities he showed in guiding the councils of that assembly, in the strength and propriety of the arguments he urged for the authority and privileges of parliament, turning by his conduct the smiles of a court into a commitment to the Tower, and a rifling of his papers. He, to his everlasting honour, was in the succeeding reign the man who proposed and framed the petition of right. The cares of the greatest part of his life were not only for the age in which he lived, but that posterity might feel the advantages of his almost unequalled labours. He was the first who reduced the knowledge of the English laws into a system. His voluminous writings on this subject have given light to all succeeding lawyers; and the improvements which have been made in this science owe their source to this great original: the service he rendered his country in this respect is invaluable. But whilst he laboured to his very last moments to render the law intelligible, and consequently serviceable, to his fellow citizens, he was oppressed in the most illegal manner by the government. Secretary Windebank, by virtue of an order of the council for seizing certain seditious papers, entered his house at the time he was dying, and took away his 'Commentary upon Littleton,' his history of that judge's life, his 'Commentary upon Magna Charta,' his 'Pleas of the Crown and Jurisdiction of Courts,' with fifty-one other MSS., together with his will. The last was never returned, to the great distraction of his family affairs, and loss to his numerous posterity.
Habeas Corpus Act.
Bishop Burnett relates a curious circumstance respecting the origin of that important statute, the Habeas Corpus Act. 'It was carried,' says he, 'by an odd artifice in the House of Lords. Lord Grey and Lord Norris were named to be the tellers; Lord Norris being a man subject to vapours, was not at all times attentive to what he was doing: so a very fat lord coming in, Lord Grey counted him for ten, as a jest at first; but seeing Lord Norris had not observed it, he went on with this misreckoning of ten; so it was reported to the house, and declared that they who were for the bill were the majority, though it indeed went on the other side; and by this means the bill passed.'
Supremacy of the Laws.
'The King of Spain,' says Mr. Selden in his 'Table Talk,' 'was outlawed in Westmister Hall, I being of counsel against him; a merchant had recovered costs against him in a suit, which because he could not get, we advised him to have his majesty outlawed for not appearing, and so he was. As soon as Gondemar, the Spanish Ambassador, heard that, he presently sent the money: by reason if his master had been outlawed, he could not have had the benefit of the law, which would have been very prejudicial, there being then many suits between the King of Spain and our merchants.'
When the ambassador of Peter the Great was arrested for debt in London, in the latter end of Queen Anne's reign, the Czar expressed his astonishment and indignation, that the persons who had thus violated the respect due to the representative of a crowned head, were not immediately put to death. His astonishment was considerably increased when he was told, that the sovereign of the country himself had no power of dispensing with the laws of the land, to which he was himself subjected.
Christian IV., King of Denmark.
One Christopher Rosenkranz, in Copenhagen, demanded from the widow of Christian Tuul a debt of five thousand dollars. She was certain that she did not owe him anything; but he produced a bond signed by herself and her deceased husband, which, however, she declared to be forged. The affair was brought before a court of justice, and the widow was condemned to pay the demand. In her distress, she applied to King Christian IV., who promised to take the affair into consideration. 'He sent for Rosenkranz, questioned him closely, begged, exhorted, but all to no purpose. The creditor appealed to the written bond. The king asked for the bond, sent Rosenkranz away, and promised that he would very soon return it to him. The king remained alone to examine this important paper, and discovered after much trouble, that the paper manufacturer, whose mark was on the bond, had not begun his manufactory till many years after its date. The inquiries made confirmed this fact. The proof against Rosenkranz was irrefragable. The king said nothing about it, but sent for Rosenkranz some days after, and exhorted him in the most affecting manner to have pity on the poor widow, because, otherwise, the justice of heaven would certainly punish him for such wickedness. He unblushingly insisted on his demand, and even presumed to affect to be offended. The king's mildness went so far, that he still gave him some days for consideration; but all to no purpose. He was then arrested and punished with all the rigour of the laws.
A country gentleman once sent a present of a buck to judge Hales, before whom he had a cause coming on for trial. The cause being called, and the judge taking notice of the name, asked, 'If he was not the person that had presented him with a buck?' Finding that he was the same, the judge told him 'he could not suffer the trial to go on till he had paid him for his buck.' The gentleman answered, 'That he never sold his venison, and that he had done no more to his lordship than what he had always done to every judge who came that circuit.' Several gentlemen on the bench bore testimony to the truth of this statement, but nothing would induce the judge to give way; he persisted in refusing to allow the trial to proceed till he had paid for the venison. The gentleman on this, somewhat indignant, withdrew the record, saying, 'he would not try his cause before a judge who suspected him to be guilty of bribery by a customary civility.' A noble contest! between judicial integrity on one side, and honourable hospitality on the other! - a contest eminently characteristic of the English judge and English gentleman.
Lord Keeper Williams.
Williams, the lord keeper in the reign of James I., seeing a new church at Malden, inquired at whose cost it had been built? Mr. George Minors, who attended him, mentioned the name of the greatest contributor. 'And has he not a suit now depending in chancery?' said the keeper. 'The same,' answered Minors. 'Well,' said the keeper, 'he shall not fare the worse for building of churches.' This being told the gentleman, the next morning he sent a present of fruit and poultry to the lord keeper, who refused it, saying to Minors, 'Carry it back, George, and tell your friend he shall fare never the better for his fruit and poultry.'
On the trial of this nobleman for sedition, nine of the jury, with a single exception, were ineffectually challenged; but when Traquair, a minister of state, was admitted, it was no longer doubtful that the rest were industriously selected for their hostility to Balmerino, or their devotion to the crown. The experiment did not entirely succeed. One of the jurymen, Gordon of Buckie, had been engaged in the murder of the Earl of Murray, and was appointed, therefore, as a sure man on the present occasion. When the jury had withdrawn, Gordon addressed them unexpectedly in the most pathetic terms, and conjured them to reflect that the life of an innocent nobleman was at stake, whose blood would lie heavy on their souls to the last hour of their lives. While the tears streamed down his aged cheeks, he protested that his hands had once been imbrued in blood, for which he had procured a pardon from his sovereign; but that it had cost him many sorrowful days and nights to obtain a remission to his conscience from heaven. The jury were moved with this impressive address; but Traquair, their foreman, resumed the argument, that it belonged to the court to determine whether the law was severe, or the petition seditious; whether the prisoner had concealed it, was all that remained for them to decide. After a long altercation, the jury were equally divided; and, in consequence of the final suffrage of Traquair, their foreman, Balmerino was convicted of having heard and concealed a seditious petition, and of having foreborne to reveal the author. Sentence of death was immediately pronounced; but his execution, to the great umbrage of the prelates, was suspended during the pleasure of the king.
The account which is preserved in the state trials of the case of John Lilburn (afterwards Colonel Lilburn), prosecuted in the Star Chamber, 'for printing and publishing seditious books,' and written by Lilburn himself, displays much of the dauntless and noble spirit which oppression never fails to call forth, and which afterwards animated the singularly intrepid author of this curious production successfully to brave Cromwell himself, in the zenith of his power, when, to any other individual, the attempt must have been fatal.
Lilburn, at the time of his trial, was but twenty years of age. He was accused of sending over from Holland, for the purpose of being distributed in England, some of Dr. Bastwick's books; and though he was innocent of the charge, he disdained to screen himself, which he might easily have done, by taking what was termed the Star Chamber oath, because he conceived it to be unlawful. For this piece of contumacy, he was fined £500, and sentenced to be publicly whipped. This punishment was inflicted with great barbarity; and he was, the same day, in view of the Star Chamber judges, placed, with his back smarting under the pain of his lashes, on the pillory, where, in consequence of his haranguing the people, he was gagged, imprisoned in irons for two years and a half in the Fleet, and treated there with the utmost cruelty. This sentence the House of Commons, in 1641, voted to be 'Illegal, and against the liberty of the subject, and also bloody, cruel, wicked, barbarous, and tyrannical.'
A merchant in London of the name of Richard Chambers, having sustained some loss by a confiscation of part of his property by the custom-house officers, in a moment of passion unfortunately said, in the hearing of some of the privy council, 'that the merchants in England were more wrung and screwed than in foreign parts.' For this grievous offence he was brought before 'the honourable court of Star Chamber,' as it was termed, and fined £2000, for which he was imprisoned six years. The fine was by some of the members of the court considered to be too small; and, among the worthy personages who were of this opinion, we find the names of Bishops Laud and Neal, who were seldom, indeed, disposed to err on the side of lenity. Chambers appears to have possessed much of the laudable spirit of resistance which had now begun to rise in England. It was part of his sentence to sign a very mean submission, which was accordingly prepared; but when it was brought to him, he absolutely refused; and, with all the terrors of a prison in view, wrote under it, that 'he abhorred and detested it as unjust and false, and never till death would acknowledge any part of it.' In consequence of his determined opposition to the tyranny of the government, on this and other occasions, Chambers was utterly ruined; and it is painful to find, that though his case was admitted to be hard, and his conduct meritorious, the parliament in the day of retribution overlooked twenty-six years of suffering, and allowed this friendless and resolute champion of the people's rights, to die of poverty and a broken heart at the age of seventy.
When the meeting-house of the Quakers in Gracechurch Street was taken possession of by a body of soldiers, August 15, 1670, with the view of hindering them from assembling to worship God in their own way, their celebrated leader, William Penn, went and preached to them in the open air, in the immediate vicinity. The satellites of an arbitrary government were pleased to construe this into a breach of the peace; Penn, and one of his associates of the name of Mead, were arrested, indicted, and tried for the imputed offence at the Old Bailey, on the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th of September following.
Penn and his friend, agreeably to the custom of their sect, entered the court with their hats on; and on one of the officers pulling them off, the lord mayor exclaimed, 'Sirrah, who bid you put off their hats? Put on their hats again.'
Recorder to the Arisoners. 'Do you know where you are? Do you know it is the king's court?'
Penn. 'I know it to be a court, and I suppose it to be the king's court.'
Recorder. 'Do you not know that there is respect due to the court? and why do you not pull off your hats?'
Penn. 'Because I do not believe that to be any respect.'
Recorder. 'Well, the court sets forty marks a piece upon your heads, as a fine for your contempt of the court.'
Penn. 'I desire it may be observed, that we came into court with our hats off (that is, taken off); and if they have been put on since, it was by order of the bench, and therefore not we, but the bench, should be fined.'
After the witnesses for the prosecution had been examined, and the prisoners were called upon for their defence, Penn demanded to know upon what law the indictment was grounded?
Recorder. 'Upon the common law.'
Penn. 'Where is that common law?'
Recorder. 'You must not think that I am able to run up so many years, and ever so many adjudged cases, which we call common law, to answer your curiosity.'
Penn. 'This answer, I am sure, is very short of my question; for if it be common, it should not be so hard to produce.'
Recorder. 'Sir, I will you plead to your indictment?'
Penn reiterated his demand, to know on what law that indictment was founded.
Recorder. 'You are a saucy fellow; speak to the indictment.'
After some further altercation:
Recorder. 'You are an impertinent fellow; will you teach the court what law is? it is lex non scripta, that which many have studied thirty or forty years to know, and would you have me tell you in a moment?'
Penn. 'Certainly, if the common law is so hard to be understood, it is far from being common; but if the Lord Coke, in his Institutes, be of any consideration, he tells us that common law is common right, and that common right is the greater charter of privileges. I design no affront to the court; but to be heard in my just plea; and I must plainly tell you, that if you will deny me oyer of the law which you say I have broken, you do at once deny me an acknowledged right: and evidence to ion to the whole world, your resolution to sacrifice the privileges of Englishmen to your sinister and arbitrary designs.'
Recorder. 'Take him away.
Lord Mayor. 'Take him away, take him away; turn him in the bail dock.'
Penn was now dragged into the bail dock.
Mead being then called on, a scene exactly similar to the preceding took place, and he also was thrust into the bail dock.
The recorder charged the jury to bring in a verdict of guilty.
Penn. (With aloud voice from the bail dock.)
'I appeal to the jury, who are my judges, and this great assembly, whether the proceedings of the court are not most arbitrary, and void of all law. I have not been heard; neither can you of the jury legally depart the court, before I have been fully heard.'
Recorder. 'Pull the fellow down, pull him down.'
The jury were now desired to go upstairs, in order to agree upon a verdict, and the prisoners remained in the bail dock. After an hour and a half's time, eight came down agreed, but four remained above until sent for. The bench used many threats to the four that dissented: and the recorder addressing himself to one of them of the name of Bushel, said, 'Sir, you are the cause of this disturbance, and manifestly show yourself an abettor of faction; I shall set a mark upon you, sir.'
Alderman Sir. Robinson, Lieut. of the Tower. 'Mr. Bushel, I have known you near this fourteen years; you have thrust yourself upon this jury.'
Alderman Bludworth. 'Mr. Bushel. we know what you are.'
Lord Mayor. 'Sirrah, you are an impudent fellow; I will put a mark upon you.'
The jury being then sent back to consider their verdict, remained for some time; and on their return, the clerk having asked in the usual manner, 'Is William Penn guilty of the matter wherein he stands indicted, or not guilty?' The foreman replied, 'Guilty of speaking in Gracious (Gracechurch) Street.'
Court. 'Is that all?'
Foreman. 'That is all I have in commission.'
Recorder. 'You had as good say nothing.'
The jury were ordered to go and consider their verdict once more. They declared that they had given in their verdict, and could give in no other. They withdrew, however, after demanding and obtaining pen, ink, and paper; and returning at the expiration of half an hour, the foreman addressed himself to the clerk of the peace, and presenting the following written decision, said, 'Here is our verdict.' 'We, the jurors hereafter named, do find William Penn to be guilty of speaking or preaching to an assembly met together in Gracious Street on the 14th of August, 1670, and that William Mead is not guilty of the said indictment.
'Foreman, Thomas Veer, Edward Bushel,' &c.
Recorder. 'Gentlemen, you shall not be dismissed till we have a verdict that the court will accept, and you shall be locked up without meat, drink, fire, or tobacco; you shall not think thus to abuse the court; we will have a verdict by the help of God, or you shall starve for it.'
Penn. 'My jury, who are my judges, ought not to be thus menaced; I do desire that justice may be done me, and that the arbitrary resolves of the bench may not be made the measure of my jury's verdict.'
Recorder. 'Stop that prating fellow.'
Penn. 'The agreement of twelve men is a verdict in law; and such an one being given by the jury, I require the clerk of the peace to record it, as he will answer at his peril. And if the jury bring in another verdict contradictory to this, I affirm they are perjured men in law.' Then looking towards them, he emphatically added, 'You are Englishmen; mind your privilege, give not away your right.'
The court now swore several of its officers to keep the jury all night without meat, drink, fire, &c. and adjourned.
Next morning which happened to be Sunday, the jury were again brought up; when having persevered in their verdict, much abuse was heaped upon them, particularly on the 'factious fellow,' Bushel.
Bushel observed that he had acted 'conscientiously.'
The expression called forth some very pleasant jeers from the court; who, being still determined not to yield the point, sent back the jury a third time. The jury were, however, inflexible; a third time they returned with the same verdict.
The recorder at this greatly incensed and perplexed, threatened Bushel with the weight of his vengeance. 'While he had anything to do with the city, he would have an eye upon him.' The lord mayor termed him 'a pitiful fellow,' and added, 'I will cut his nose for this.'
Penn. 'It is intolerable that my jury should be thus menaced.'
Lord Mayor. 'Stop his mouth, jailor; bring him fetters, and stake him to the ground.'
Penn. 'Do your pleasure. I matter not your fetters.'
The court determined to make one trial more of the firmness of the jury. The foreman remonstrated in vain, that any other verdict 'would be a force on them to save their lives,' and the jury refused to go out of court, until obliged by the sheriff.
The court sat again next morning at seven o'clock, when the prisoners and the jury were brought up for the fourth time.
The Clerk. 'Is William Penn guilty or not guilty?'
Foreman. 'Not guilty.'
Clerk. 'Is William Mead guilty or not guilty?'
Foreman. 'Not guilty.'
Recorder. 'I am sorry, gentlemen, you have followed your own judgments and opinions, rather than the good and wholesome advice that was given you. God keep my life out of your hands! but for this the court fines you forty marks a man, and commands imprisonment till paid.'
Both jury and prisoners were both forced together into the bail-dock, for non-payment of their fines, whence they were carried to Newgate.
Mr. Bushel immediately sued out a writ of Habeas Corpus; and the cause having come to be heard, at length, before the twelve judges, they decided that the fining and imprisonment were contrary to law.
The jury were accordingly discharged; on which they respectively brought actions against the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, and Recorder, and obtained exemplary verdicts.
Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury.
Lord Shaftesbury, who had already filled up some great offices, was by Charles II., appointed to the dignified and illustrious one of Lord Chancellor, though he had never studied the law, and had never been called to the bar. On that account, he used to preside in the Court of Chancery in a brown, instead of a black silk gown. Dryden praises the conduct of his lordship, while he filled this great office, in the following lines:
'Yet fame deserv'd no enemy can grudge, The statesman we abhor, but praise the judge. In Israel's court ne'er sat an Abethdin With more discerning eyes, or hands more clean; Unbrib'd, unsought, the wretched to redress, Swift of despatch, and easy of access!'
Charles II. used to say of the same nobleman, that he possessed in him a chancellor who had more law than all his judges, and more divinity than all his bishops.
He is said to have been made chancellor, expressly on purpose to affix the great seal to the noted declaration, issued by Charles, in favour of the dissenters, and Popish recusants; but which the monarch was afterwards obliged by the party under whose domination he was, to cancel. During a debate in the House of Lords, on the subject of this declaration, Clifford, who was treasurer to the Duke of York, attacked it violently, while Shaftesbury of course spoke strongly in its favour. The Duke of York is reported to have said to Charles on the occasion, 'Brother, what a rogue you have of a Lord Chancellor.' To which Charles replied, 'Brother what a fool you have of a Lord Treasurer.'
A singular story is told of this truly infamous judge, which shows that when free from state influence, he was not without a sense of the natural and civil rights of men, and an inclination to protect them.
The mayor, aldermen, and justices of Bristol, had been in the practice of condemning criminals to be transported to the American plantations, and then selling them by way of trade; and finding the commodity turn to a good account, they contrived a method to make it more plentiful. When any petty rogue or pilferer was brought before them in a judicial capacity, they were sure to threaten him stoutly with hanging; and there was always some busy officer in attendance, who would advise the ignorant intimidated creature to pray for transportation, as the only way of escaping the gallows - an advice that was but too generally followed. Without any more ado, sentence of transportation was then made out; each alderman had and sold his man in rotation; and not unfrequently disputes arose about the order of preference in this nefarious traffic.
For many years this abominable prostitution of the judicial functions had gone on unnoticed, when it came to the knowledge of Chief Justice Jeffries, as he was on his sanguinary progress through the West, against the adherents of Monmouth. Finding upon inquiry, that the mayor was the leading agent in the practice, he made him descend from the bench where he was sitting, and stand at the bar in his scarlet robes, and plead with the rest of his brethren as common criminals. He then took security from them to answer informations; but the general amnesty, after the revolution, put a stop to the proceedings, and left the magistracy of Bristol to the secure enjoyment of their iniquitous gain.
The venerable author of Lord Guildford's Life, who narrates the preceding anecdote, tells us also, that when Jeffries was in temper, and matters between subject and subject came before him, no one became a seat of justice better. He talked fluently and with spirit; but his weakness was, that he could not reprove without scolding. He called it giving a lick with the rough side of his tongue. Jeffries took great pleasure in mortifying fraudulent attornies. A scrivener of Wapping having a cause before him, one of the opponent's counsel said that he was a strange fellow - that he sometimes went to church, sometimes to conventicles; and that none could tell what to make of him, though it was rather thought that he was a trimmer. At this, the chief justice was instantly fired. 'A trimmer!' said he; 'I have heard much of that monster, but never saw one; come forth, Mr. Trimmer, and let me see your shape.' And he treated the poor fellow of a scrivener so roughly, that when he came out of the hall, he declared that he would not undergo the terrors of that man's face again to save his life, and that while he lived, he should never forget the dreadful impression it had made on him.
How truly the frightened scrivener spoke will be seen by the sequel. When the Prince of Orange came over, and all was in confusion, Jeffries being justly obnoxious to the people, prepared to go beyond sea. He disguised himself in the dress of a sailor, and acting up to the assumed character, was drinking a pot of beer in a cellar, when the Wapping scrivener chanced to enter, in quest of some of his clients. His eye instantly caught the nevertobe forgotten visage of the chancellor; he gave a start of surprise but said nothing. Jeffries seeing himself observed, feigned a cough, and turned away his head; but Mr. Trimmer immediately went out and gave notice that he had discovered this most hated of men. A crowd of people rushed into the cellar, seized him, and carried him before the lord mayor, who sent him under a strong guard to the Lords of the Council, by whom he was committed to the Tower, where he ended his days, April 18, 1689.
Hanging an Alderman.
During the disturbances on the Exclusion Bill of the Duke of York, it was thought necessary, by the nefarious ministry of Charles the Second, to hang an Alderman of London, to intimidate the rest of the citizens from continuing their spirited and honourable opposition to the measures of that corrupt court. Sir Robert Clayton was the person first intended to have been thus scandalously sacrificed. The Chancellor Jeffries, however, who by the interest. of Sir Robert had been appointed Recorder of London, prevailed upon the administration to spare him, and to take Mr. Alderman Cornish in his stead; who accordingly suffered, to the disgrace of all who were concerned in this infamous perversion of justice.
Scandalizing a Princess.
When the news arrived in England, that Prague was taken from the Palsgrave of Bohemia, who had married the Princess Elizabeth, Mr. Edward Floyde, a Roman Catholic gentleman, who happened to be a prisoner at the time in the Fleet, was heard to remark that Goodman and Goody Palsgrave were now turned out of doors, and to make several other irreverent observations of the same kind.
The expressions were reported abroad, and so sinful were they deemed, that both Houses of Parliament thought it necessary to take them under their serious consideration.
Of the proceedings in the Upper House, the only record that remains is the sentence; but those of the Commons have been preserved for the edification of posterity. Witnesses were examined who proved the words, and that Floyde's countenance was in a very indecent degree joyful when he pronounced them. It was farther proved that he was 'a pernicious papist,' and a 'wicked fellow,' so that, in short, the poor gentleman had nothing to say for himself against the charge of having joked at the misfortunes of such high folks as 'Goodman and Goody Palsgrave.' The crime being thus established, a very strange debate arose as to the punishment to be inflicted on this most heinous offender.
Sir Robert Philips was of opinion, that since his offence had been without limitation, his punishment might likewise be without proportion. He would have him ride with his face to a horse's tail from Westminster to the Tower, with a paper on his hat, wherein should be written, 'A Popish wretch that hath maliciously scandalized his majesty's children, and that at the Tower he should be lodged in little ease, with as much pain as he shall be able to endure without loss or danger of life.'
Sir Francis Seymour was for standing more on the privilege and power of the house. He would have him go from thence to the Tower at a cart's tail with his doublet off, his beads about his neck, and that he should have as many lashes as he hath beads.'
Sir Edward Giles thought that besides being whipped. he should stand in the pillory.
Sir Francis Darcy 'would have a hole burnt through his tongue, since that was the member that offended.'
Sir Jeremy Horsey thought the tongue should be cut out altogether.
Sir George Goring agreed with none of the merciful gentlemen who had preceded him. 'He would have his nose, cars, and tongue cut off; to be whipped at as many stages as he hath beads, and to ride to every stage with his face to the horse's tail, and the tail in his hand, and at every stage to swallow a bead; and thus to be whipped to the Tower, and there to be hanged!'
Sir Joseph Jephson 'would have moved, that a committee might be appointed to consider of the heaviest punishments that had been spoken of; but because he herceived the house inclined to mercy! he would have him whipped more than twice as far,' &c.
The debate was adjourned without anything being definitively agreed on; and before it was resumed, the House of Lords being resolved to be something more than sharers in the honour of punishing 'so vile and undutiful a subject,' objected to the power of punishment assumed by the Commons, as an invasion of their privileges. The Commons, after long and violent debates, were at last obliged, after inserting a protest in their journals, to give up the point; and Floyde was now left to the upper House, who equally 'inclined to mercy,' pronounced the following sentence: '1. That the said Edward Floyde shall be incapable to bear arms as a gentleman, and that he shall be ever held an infamous person, and his testimony not to be taken in any court or cause. 2. That on Monday next, in the morning, he shall be brought to Westminster Hall, and there set on horseback, with his face to the horse's tail, holding the tall in his hand, with papers on his head and breast declaring his offence, and so to ride to the pillory in Cheapside, and there to stand two hours on the pillory, and there to be branded with a letter K on his forehead. 3. To be whipped at a cart's tail, on the first day of the next term, from the Fleet to Westminster Hall, with papers on his head declaring his offence, and then to stand on the pillory there two hours. 4. That he shall be fined to the king in £5000. 5. That he shall be imprisoned in Newgate during his life.'
This inhuman sentence was carried into execution, with the exception of the third branch of it, which was suspended on a motion of the Prince of Wales (Charles I.) till the pleasure of the house should be known. It is worthy of notice too, that the only opposition that was made to these proceedings, was by the king, who sent a message to the House of Commons, in which, after complimenting them for their great loyalty, he remarked with characteristic shrewdness, that 'out of too great a zeal comes heresy;' and added that the lawyers who were present at the debate were inexcusable.
Chief Justice Holt.
In the time of this eminent judge, a riot happened in London, arising out of a wicked practice then very common, of kidnapping young persons of both sexes, and sending them to the plantations. Information having gone abroad that there was a house in Holborn which served as a lock-up place for the persons so ensnared, till an opportunity could be found of shipping them off, the enraged populace assembled in great numbers, and were going to pull it down. Notice of the tumult being sent to Whitehall, a party of the guards were commanded to march to the spot; but an officer was first sent to the lord chief justice, to acquaint him with the state of matters, and to request that he would send some of his officers along with the soldiers; in order to give a countenance to their interference.
The officer having delivered his message, Lord Chief Justice Holt said to him, 'Suppose the populace should not disperse at your appearance, what are you to do then?' 'Sir,' answered the officer, 'we have orders to fire upon them.'
'Have you, sir?' replied his lordship; 'then take notice of what I say; if there be one man killed, and you are tried before me, I will take care that you, and every soldier of your party, shall be hanged.
'Sir,' continued he, 'go back to those who sent you, and acquaint them that no officer of mine shall attend soldiers; and let them know at the same time, that the laws of this kingdom are not to be executed by the sword; these matters belong to the civil power, and you have nothing to do with them.'
The lord chief justice then went himself in person, accompanied by his tipstaffs, and a few constables, to the scene of the disturbance; and by his reasonable expostulations with the mob, succeeded without the least violence in making them all disperse quietly.
The integrity and uprightness of Holt as a judge, are celebrated in the 'Tatler,' No. 14, under the excellent character of Verus, the Magistrate.
Privilege of Parliament.
In the year 1704, several persons who claimed to be freemen of the Borough of Aylesbury were refused the privilege of voting at an election for member of parliament, and brought an action against the returning officer for the penalties which the law imposes in such cases. The House of Commons conceiving this appeal to the courts to be an evasion of their privileges, passed an order, declaring it to be penal in either judge, or counsel, or attorney, to assist at the trial. The lord chief justice (Holt) and several lawyers were, notwithstanding, bold enough to disregard this order, and proceeded with the action in due course. The house, extremely offended at this contempt of their order, sent the sergeant-at-arms to command the judge to appear before them; but this resolute administrator of the laws refused to stir from his seat. On this the Commons sent a second message by their speaker, attended by a great many of their members. After the speaker had delivered his message, his lordship replied to him in the following memorable words:- 'Go back to your chair, Mr. Speaker, within these five minutes, or you may depend on it I'll send you to Newgate. You speak of your authority! But I tell you I sit here as an interpreter of the laws, and a... distributor of justice; and were the whole House of Commons in your belly, I would not stir one foot.' The speaker was prudent enough to withdraw, and the house with equal prudence let the matter drop.
The following curious facts illustrative of retributive justice have been collected by De Foe. The era of the circumstances is the reign of Charles the First, and the trouble that followed it. The extraordinary coincidence of the dates of some of the events, seems to designate the particular crime which provoked the punishment of its perpetrators.
The English parliament called in the Scots to invade their king; and were invaded themselves by the same Scots in defence of the king, whose case, and the designs of the parliament, the Scots had mistaken.
The parliament which raised an army to depose Charles, was deposed by the army it had raised. This army broke three parliaments, but was at length broken by a free parliament.
Sir John Hotham, who repulsed his majesty, and refused him admittance into Hull before the war, was seized by the parliament for which he had done it, on the same 10th day of August two years after he spilled the first blood in that war. His son, Captain Hotham, was executed on the 1st of January, which was the day on which he had assisted Sir Thomas Fairfax in the first skirmish with the king's forces on Bramham Moor.
On the 6th day of August, 1641, the parliament voted to raise an army against the king; the same day and month in 1648, the parliament was turned out of doors by that very same army.
The Earl of Holland deserted the king who had made him general of horse, and went over to the parliament. The king sent to him for his assistance 'on the 11th of June, 1641, which the earl refused; and on the 11th of July, 1648, seven years after, he was taken by the parliament at St. Neots, and beheaded on the 9th of March, 1649, 0.S.; on which day in the year 1641, he had carried the declaration of the Commons, which was filled with reproaches, to the king.
The parliament voted to approve of Sir John Hotham's resistance to the king at Hull, on the 28th of April, 1641; the day on which in the year 1660, they first debated in the house the restoration of Charles the Second.
Thus much for the days of Charles; nor are testimonies of similar occurrences, apparently connected by the same singularity of time, wanting in the earlier reigns.
Cranmer was burnt at Oxford the same day and month that he gave Henry the Eighth the advice to divorce his Queen Catherine.
Queen Elizabeth died the same day and month that she resolved, in her privy council, to behead the Queen of Scots; and her successor, James, died the same day and month that he published his book against Bellarmine.
Clameur de Haro.
In the time of Rollo of Normandy, a custom prevailed in that country, that in all cases of invasion of property, or personal violence, requiring immediate remedy, the party a-grieved called aloud on the name of the duke three several times, and the aggressor was instantly, at his peril, to forbear attempting anything further. The words of this invocation form a phrase still common in Jersey, Ha Ro a l'aide, mon Prince! Aa, or Ha, is the exclamation of a person suffering; Ro, is the duke Rollo's name abbreviated. Such is that famous Clameur de Haro, which subsisted in practice long after Rollo was no more, and is so much praised by all who have written on the Norman laws.
A memorable example of the power of this appeal was exhibited about one hundred and seventy years after Rollo's death, at the funeral of William the Conqueror.
It seems that in order to build the great abbey of St. Stephen at Caen, where he desired to be interred after his decease, the conqueror had caused several houses to be pulled down to enlarge the area, and among them one whose owner had received no satisfaction for his loss. The son of this person (others say the person himself,) observing the grave of William to be dug on that very spot of ground which had been the site of his father's house, went boldly into the midst of the funeral assemblage, and forbade them, in the name of Rollo, to bury the body there.
Paulus AEmilius, who relates the story, says that he addressed himself to the company in these words:
'He who oppressed kingdoms by his arms has been my oppressor also, and has kept me under a continual fear of death. Since I have outlived him who injured me, I mean not to acquit him now he is dead. The ground wherein you are going to lay this man is mine; and I affirm, that none may in justice bury their dead in ground which belongs to another. If, after he is gone, force and violence are still used to detain my right from me, I APPEAL To ROLLO, the founder and father of our nation, who though dead, lives in his laws. I take refuge in those laws, owning no authority above them.'
This bold speech, uttered in presence of the departed king's own son, Prince Henry, afterwards King Henry I., wrought its effect; the Ha-Ro was respected; the man had compensation made him for his wrongs, and all opposition ceasing, the dead king was laid in his grave.
In the life of William the Conqueror, in the Harleian collection, the incident is thus related:
'When the bishop had finished his sermon, one Anselm Fitz-Arthur stood up among the multitude, and with a high voice said, "This ground whereupon we stand, was some time the floor of my father's house, which that man, of whom you have spoken, when he was Duke of Normandy, took violently from my father, and afterwards founded thereon this religious building. This injustice he did not by ignorance or oversight, nor by any necessity of state; but to content his own covetous desire: now therefore I do challenge this ground as my right; and do here charge you, as you will answer it before the fearful face of Almighty God, that the body of the spoiler be not covered with the earth of my inheritance."'
When the bishops and noblemen that were present heard this, and understood by the testimony of many that it was true, they agreed to give him three pounds presently for the ground that was broken for the place of burial; and for the residue which was claimed, they undertook he should be fully satisfied. This promise was performed in a short time after by Henry, the king's son, who only (of his sons) was present at the funeral; at whose appointment Fitz-Arthur received, for the price of the same ground, one hundred pounds.'
In the reign of James the First, Lord Sanquhar was tried for procuring the murder of John Turner, a fencing master. His lordship and Turner were playing at foils at the house of Lord Norreys In Oxfordshire, when Lord Sanquhar told him, he played only as a scholar, not as a master. It was always a rule to spare the face; yet Turner pushed at his lordship's eye, and put it out. His lordship, though indignant at the injury he had received, passed it over for the time, without seeking any revenge; but going to the court of France, Henry IV. asked him how he had lost his eye? and being told by his lordship, the king exclaimed, 'Does the man live!' This made such an impression on the young nobleman, that he returned to England, and caused Turner to be murdered in the Whitefriars. The king would not suffer nobility to be a shelter to villany, and ordered Sanquhar to be indicted in the Court of King's Bench. He challenged his trial by peers; but that was denied him, as he was only a lord in Scotland, and not a lord in parliament, nor possessing any English barony. He was accordingly arraigned and found guilty, and executed in Great Palace Yard, before Westminster Hall gate, on a gibbet erected for the purpose.
Carlile and Irving, the two persons who murdered Turner, were hanged against the great gate of Whitefriars in Fleet Street. One of the gibbets was higher than the other, and Carlile being a gentleman, insisted that the manner of Scotland was, that when a gentleman was hanged with a man of a meaner quality than himself, the gentleman had the honour of the highest, and thought himself wronged if it was not allowed him.
Old Scotch Law.
At the restoration, the Scotch courts of law became highly tyrannical; and those which possessed a criminal jurisdiction, displayed what indeed was, in former times, no novelty in that country, a very abominable spirit of injustice.
Among the expedients which the lawyers for the crown devised to degrade jurymen to become senseless instruments of tyranny, there was one which vested the power of convicting in the judges, when the jury doubted not only of the criminality of the fact, but even of the fact itself. For this purpose they drew up their indictments very circumstantially, not only stating the crime, but also the minute facts, trifling or important, from which they inferred the prisoner's guilt. When it was suspected that a jury would scruple to find a crime in general proved, they were required to return a special verdict. Accordingly, they were often weak enough to return a verdict, finding proved a long chain of circumstances specified in the indictment, leaving it entirely in the breast of the judges to determine whether these circumstances did establish the fact charged.
Thus, in the trial of Robert Carmichael, schoolmaster (14th September, 1699) for the murder of one of his scholars, it was proved, that the boy was in perfect health at two in the afternoon when he went to school, and that before three he was carried out of it dead. It was found by the jury that the prisoner did three times successively make the deceased be held up, and severely lashed him on the back, 'and in rage and fury, did drag him from his desk, and beat him with his hand upon the head and back with heavy and severe strokes, and after he was out of his hands he immediately died.' That after the boy's death, the side of his head was swelled, and there were livid marks on it, and the marks of many stripes on the back and thighs. Although these circumstances, as well as a rattling noise in his breast upon the third beating, and a good quantity of blood being found under his body after death which had issued from the stripes on his back, afford Complete conviction (the body was not opened) that he died of the beating; yet the lenity of the court in this instance seemed to increase with the barbarity of the criminal, and they only sentenced him to receive seven stripes, and to be banished Scotland for life.
Secret Examination of Witnesses.
Voltaire, in his 'Commentary on Beccaria's Treatise on Crimes and Punishments,' speaks thus of the French practice, with regard to the examination of witnesses in secret: 'With us everything is done secretly; a single judge, with his clerk, hears every witness, the one after the other. This practice, established by Francis I., was authorized by the commissioners who prepared the ordinance of Louis XIV. in 1670. A mistake alone was the cause of it.' Voltaire then explains from Bernier that a passage in the civil law had been misunderstood, enjoining witnesses, 'intrare judicii secretum,' which only signifies that they should enter the judge's private chamber, but does not direct that they should be secretly examined.
In the Island of Seriphus, no man was of old ever put to death, however great the crime might be which he committed. In the opinion of the people, the severest punishment which could possibly be inflicted, was to banish them for ever from their native soil; and such accordingly was their highest penal enactment.
The love of country is generally stronger among islanders than with the inhabitants of continental countries; and hence the opposite policy of the Emperor Claudius, who made it one of his heaviest punishments to prohibit persons from stirring beyond the compass of three miles from the city of Rome.
Dr. Moore mentions an instance of a young and noble Venetian, who was banished to the Isle of Candia, and who, in the hopes of seeing again the walls of his native country, of embracing again his friends and family, committed a new crime, which he knew to be capital, in order that he might be recalled to Venice, to take his trial, and die on the scaffold.
Peter the Great.
There was at Moscow a very learned counsellor in the law, whose reputation reaching the ears of Peter the Great, he raised him to the rank of Chief judge, or Governor of the province of Novogorod. On appointing him to this office, his majesty declared to him in the most formal manner, that he had as much confidence in his integrity as in his skill in settling disputes impartially; and that he trusted he would continue to distribute justice in a disinterested manner throughout the extent of his jurisdiction.
The new judge faithfully discharged his duties for some time; but after a few years had elapsed, it was publicly reported that he received presents; that he perverted the laws, and committed flagrant acts of injustice. Peter, who flattered himself that he had not been deceived in his choice, considered it at first a calumny; but on making the necessary inquiry, found that the judge, upright as he had thought him, was no longer so; but that, corrupted by presents, he had more than once made a trade of justice.
The monarch determined on questioning the judge, who confessed that he had suffered himself to be seduced by bribes in several affairs submitted to his judgment, and that he had pronounced sentences contrary to law. On being reproached by the king, he pleaded the lowness of his salary, which would not enable him to provide anything for his wife and children, or permit him to live in a condition suitable to the rank to which he had been raised. 'How much, then,' said the Czar, 'would it require to put you above the necessity of receiving presents, and making a trade of justice?' 'Twice the income I enjoy at present,' answered the judge. 'Will that be sufficient,' said the Czar 'to enable you to discharge the duties of your office with fidelity?' The judge declared it would, and pledged himself to future good conduct. 'Well, then,' said the Czar, 'I pardon you for this time; you shall enjoy double your present salary, and I will add to it half as much more, on condition that you keep your word.'
The governor, transported with joy, fell at the feet of his sovereign to return him thanks. His conduct for more than a year was comformable to the wishes of the Czar, and he administered justice faithfully; but fancying at last that the monarch had long ceased from watching his conduct, he began to take presents again, and to commit acts of oppression and injustice. The Czar being informed of it, the judge was tried and found guilty; a message from the sovereign was sent to him, intimating that as he had not kept his word, the prince was under the necessity of keeping his; and the corrupt judge was accordingly hanged.
Responsibility Of Judges in Holland.
A servant girl was erroneously convicted at Middleburg of robbing her master; the property was found locked up in her box, her mistress had placed it there. She was flogged, brand marked, and confined to hard labour in the rasp house. Whilst she was suffering her sentence, the guilt of her mistress was discovered. The mistress was prosecuted, condemned to the severest scourging, a double brand, and hard labour for life. The sentence was reversed, and a heavy fine inflicted on the tribunal, and given to the innocent sufferer as an indemnification.
Arnold the Miller.
A miller, of the name of John Michael Arnold, bought the lease of a mill belonging to the estate of Count Schmettau, of Pommerzig, situated in the New Marche of Brandenburgh, near the city of Custrin. This mill, at the time when Arnold bought the lease of it, was plentifully supplied with water, by a rivulet, which empties itself into the river Warta. During six years, Arnold made several improvements in the mill, and paid the rent regularly; but at the end of that period, the proprietor resolving to enlarge a fish pond contiguous to his seat, caused a canal to be cut from the rivulet, by which means the stream was lessened, and the quantity of water so much diminished, that the mill could only work during two or three weeks in spring, and about as many in autumn.
The miller remonstrated, but in vain; and when he sought redress in a court of judicature at Custrin, his lord, being a man of fortune and influence, found means to frustrate his endeavours to obtain justice. Under these circumstances the miller could no longer procure his livelihood, and pay his rent. The miller's lease, utensils, goods, and chattels, were seized to pay the arrears of rent, and the expenses of a most iniquitous lawsuit commenced by the proprietor, and thus poor Arnold and his family were reduced to want and wretchedness.
A flagrant injustice like this could not pass unnoticed by some friends to humanity, who well knew the benevolent and equitable intentions of their sovereign, Frederick the Great. They advised and assisted the miller to lay his case before the king; who, struck with the simplicity of the narrative, and the injustice that had apparently been committed, resolved to inquire minutely into the affair, and if the miller's assertions were true, to punish in an exemplary manner the authors and promoters of such an unjust sentence.
The most rigid inquiries were immediately instituted, and his majesty was soon convinced that the sentence against the miller was an act of the most singular injustice and oppression. He then ordered his High Chancellor, Baron Furst, and the three counsellors, who had signed the sentence, into his cabinet, and on their arrival he put the following questions to them.
1. - When a lord takes from a peasant who rents a piece of ground under him, his waggon, horse, plough, and other utensils, by which he earns his living, and is thereby prevented from paying his rent, can a sentence of distress, in justice, be pronounced against that peasant
They all answered in the negative.
2. - Can a like sentence be pronounced upon a miller for non-payment of rent for a mill, after the water which used to turn his mill is wilfully taken from him, by the proprietor of his mill?
They also answered this question in the negative.
'Then,' said the king, 'you have yourselves acknowledged the injustice you have committed,' and he immediately stated the case of the miller, and ordered the sentence, with their respective signatures, to be laid before him. The king ordered his private secretary to read the resolutions which he had dictated to him, and signed: in which he declared the sentence against the miller, to be an act of singular injustice, and one which he was determined to punish. 'For,' said his majesty, 'the judges are to consider, that the meanest peasant, nay, even a beggar, is a man as well as the king, and consequently equally entitled to impartial justice; as in the presence of justice all are equal, whether it be a prince who brings a complaint against a peasant, or a peasant who prefers one against a prince; in similar cases justice should act uniformly, without any respect to rank or person. This ought to be an universal rule for the conduct of judges; for an unjust magistrate, or a court of law, guilty of wrong, and subservient to oppression, is more dangerous than a band of robbers, against whom any man may be on his guard; but bad men, entrusted with authority, who, under the cloak of justice practise their iniquities, are not so easily guarded against; they are the worst of villains, and deserve double punishment.'
The king then dismissed his chancellor, and commanded the three counsellors who with him had signed the iniquitous sentence, to be committed to prison. The president, judges, and counsellors at Custrin, were also arrested, and a commission appointed to proceed against them according to law. And in consideration of the injustice, the king presented the miller, Arnold, with the sum of fifteen hundred dollars. He also ordered that a sum equal to that produced by the sale of the miller's effects, be stopped, and paid to him, from the salaries due to the respective judges, &c. who had any share in the unjust sentence; and moreover condemned the proprietor of the mill to reimburse to the miller, all the rent he had received from the time when he first opened the canal.
Frederick the Great.
When Frederick the Second of Prussia built the palace of Sans Souci, there happened to be a mill, which greatly limited him in the execution of his plan; and he desired to know how much the miller would take for it. The miller replied, that for a long series of years his family had possessed the mill, which had passed from father to son, and that he would not sell it. The king used solicitations, offered to build him a mill in a better place, and to pay him beside any sum which he might demand; but the obstinate miller still persisted in his determination to preserve the inheritance of his ancestors. The king irritated at his resistance, sent for him, and said in an angry tone, 'Why do you refuse to sell your mill, notwithstanding all the advantages which I have offered you?' The miller repeated all his reasons. 'Do you know,' continued the king, ' that I could take it without giving you a farthing?' ' Yes,' replied the miller, 'if it were not for the chamber of justice at Berlin.' The king was extremely flattered with this answer, which shewed that he was incapable of an act of injustice. He dismissed the miller without further entreaty, and changed the plan of his gardens.
Emperor of China.
The Viceroy of one of the Provinces of China , very remote from the Imperial city, had wrongfully confiscated the estate of an honest merchant, and reduced his family to extreme misery. The poor man having found means to travel as far as Pekin, obtained a letter from the emperor to the viceroy, commanding him to restore the goods which he had taken so illegally; but, far from obeying this command, the viceroy threw the bearer of it into prison. Here he remained for some time, but making his escape, he went once more to the capital, where he threw himself at the emperor's feet, who treated him with humanity, and gave orders that he should have another letter. The merchant wept at this resolution, and represented how ineffectual the first had proved, and the reason he had to fear that the second would be as little regarded. The emperor, who had been detained by this complaint, as he was going in great haste to dine with one of his favourites, felt a little discomposed, and answered with some emotion, 'I can do no more than send my commands; and if the viceroy refuses to obey them, put thy foot on his neck.' 'I implore your majesty's compassion,' replied the merchant, holding fast the emperor's robe, 'his power is too mighty for my weakness, and your justice prescribes a remedy which your wisdom has never examined.'
The emperor had by this time recovered himself, and raising the merchant from the ground, he said, 'You are in the right; to complain of the viceroy was your part, but it is mine to see him punished. I will appoint commissioners to go back with you, and make search into the ground of his proceeding, with power if they find him guilty, to deliver him into your hand, and leave you viceroy in his stead; for since you have taught me how to govern, you must be able to govern for me.'
Patriotic Dying Speech.
On the 3rd of June, 1734, one Michael Carmody, a journeyman weaver, was executed in the County of Cork, in Ireland. His branch of business had long been in a very declining way, owing to the wearing of cottons, which was highly destructive to the woollen manufacture, and in general injurious to the kingdom. The criminal was dressed in cotton; and not only the hangman, but the gallows, was decorated too. When Carmody was brought to the place of execution, his whole thoughts were turned upon the distresses of his country; and instead of making use of his last moments with the priest, the poor fellow addressed the surrounding multitude in the following extraordinary oration: 'Give ear, 0 good people, to the words of a dying sinner! I confess I have been guilty of many crimes that necessity obliged me to commit; which starving condition I was in, I am well assured, was occasioned by the scarcity of money that has proceeded from the great discouragement of our woollen manufactures.'
'Therefore, good Christians, consider, that if you go on to suppress your own goods by wearing such cottons as I am now clothed in, you will bring your country into misery, which will consequently swarm with such unhappy malefactors as your present object is, and the blood of every miserable felon that will hang, after this warning from the gallows, will lie at your doors.
'And if you have any regard for the prayers of an expiring mortal, I beg you will not buy of the hangman the cotton garments that now adorn the gallows, because I can't rest quiet in my grave if I should see the very things worn that brought me to misery, thievery, and this untimely end; all which I pray of the gentry to hinder their children and servants, for their own characters' sakes, though they have no tenderness for their country, because none will hereafter wear cottons, but oyster-women, criminals, hucksters, and common hangmen.'
Perhaps sentiments of a more patriotic nature could not have been uttered by a Sydney or a Russell, than what were expressed in the coarse unstudied harangue of this unfortunate malefactor.
Power of Conscience.
Dr. Fordyce, in his 'Dialogues on Education,' relates the following striking incident, which he says occurred in a neighbouring state. A jeweller, a man of good character and considerable wealth, having occasion to leave home on business at some distance, took with him a servant. He had with him some of his best jewels and a large sum of money. This was known to the servant, who, urged by cupidity, murdered his master on the road, rifled him of his jewels and money, and suspending a large stone round his neck, threw him into the nearest canal.
With the booty he had thus gained, the servant set off to a distant part of the country, where he had reason to believe that neither he nor his master were known. Then he began to trade; at first in a very humble way, that his obscurity might screen him from observation; and in the course of many years, seemed to rise by the natural progress of business into wealth and consideration; so that his good fortune appeared at once the effect and reward of industry and virtue. Of these he counterfeited the appearance so well, that he grew into great credit, married into a good family, and was admitted into a share of the government of the town. He rose from one post to another, till at length he was chosen chief magistrate. In this office he maintained a fair character, and continued to fill it with no small applause, both as governor and a judge; until one day as he presided on the bench with some of his brethren, a criminal was brought before him, who was accused of murdering his master. The evidence came out fully; the jury brought in their verdict that the prisoner was guilty, and the whole assembly waited the sentence of the president of the court with great suspense.
'The president appeared to be in unusual disorder and agitation of mind; his colour changed often; at length he arose from his seat, and descending from the bench, placed himself close to the unfortunate man at the bar, to the no small astonishment of all present. 'You see before you,' said he, addressing himself to those who had sat on the bench with him, 'a striking instance of the just awards of heaven, which, this day, after thirty years' concealment, presents to you a greater criminal than the man just now found guilty.' He then made a full confession of his guilt, and of all its aggravations. 'Nor can I feel,' continued he, 'any relief from the agonies of an awakened conscience, but by requiring that justice be forthwith done against me in the most public and solemn manner.)
We may easily suppose the amazement of all the assembly, and especially of his fellow judges. However, they proceeded upon his confession to pass sentence upon him, and he died with all the symptoms, of a penitent mind.
The longest suit on record in England, is one which existed between the heirs of Sir Thomas Talbot, Viscount Lisle, and the heirs of a Lord Berkeley, respecting some property in the country of Gloucester, not far from Wotton-under-edge. It began at the end of the reign of Edward IV., and was depending until the beginning of that of James I., when it was finally compounded, being a period of not less than one hundred and twenty years!
The most extraordinary punishment which is perhaps on record, is to be found in Morryson's 'Account of Germany.' 'Near Lindau I did see a malefactor hanging in iron chains on the gallowes, with a mastive dogge hanging on each side by the heels, as being nearly starved, they might eat the flesh of the malefactor before himself died by famine; and at Frankforde I did see the like punishment of a Jew.'
The only thing which may serve to lessen our surprise at this shocking refinement in cruelty, is the reflection that it happened in a country so pre-eminent for the horrid nature of its punishments, that no one can be prevailed upon to accept the office of executioner, but he who by being the son of a hangman, is obliged to be trained up, and take upon himself the necessary employment.
The practice of privately influencing judges concerning causes before them, prevailed even in remote times of supposed simplicity. Hesiod, who had a troublesome law-suit with his brother Perseus, inveighs strongly against it; he calls the Boeotian judges, devourers of Presents.
In England it was anciently the established usage, to pay fines for delaying proceedings, even affecting the. defendant's life; at other times they were paid to expedite process, and to obtain right; and in some cases the parties litigant offered part of what they might recover, to the crown, as a bribe for its favour. Madox mentions many instances of fines for 'the king's favour,' and particularly of the dean of London's paying twenty marks to the king, that he might assist him against the bishop in a law-suit.
The county of Norfolk (always represented as a litigious county, in so much, that the number of attornies allowed to practise in it, was limited by a statute of Henry VI. to eight) paid an annual composition at the Exchequer, that it might be fairly dealt with.
Daniel asserts, that the influence of Alice Pierce was so great, that she used to sit on the bench with the judges in Westminster Hall, when she interested herself in a cause. She was forbidden by a writ of Edward III. from interfering, under pain of banishment.
Charles II. in appeals to the House of Lords, used to go about whilst the cause was hearing, and solicit particular lords for appellant or respondent. The practice had indeed increased to a most shameful extent, just previous to the revolution; and all historians agree, that nothing gave deeper sensations of disgust, than the corrupt decisions which by such means were procured from the base and timid men who filled the seat of judgment.
Whitelocke in his Memoirs, p. 113, says,
My father did often and highly complain against this way of sending to the judges for their opinion before hand ; and said, that if Bishop Laud went on in this way, he would kindle a flame in the nation.' How truly he predicted need not be told.
Dr. Donne, in his fifth satire, has the following witty allusion to the practice:
Judges are gods; and he who made them so, Meant not men should be forced to them to go, By means of angels.'
The satirist here plays on the double sense of the word 'angels,' signifying both a coin and a messenger.
In Scotland so shamelessly did they go about the work of corruption of old, that there is actually extant an order of the Court of Session, or Act of Sederunt, as they call it, which appoints the particular hours of the day, at which the judges may be solicited at their own houses!
Amidst the systematic corruption which we find prevailed before the revolution, some solitary instances of an opposite character are however to be met with, which would have done honour to the purest periods of our judicial history.
A nobleman of the first distinction went once to the chamber of Sir Matthew Hale, when Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and told him, 'that having a suit in law to be tried before him, he had come to acquaint his lordship with it, that he might the better understand the matter when it should come into court.' Hale immediately interrupted him, and said, 'he did not deal fairly to come to his chamber about such affairs, for he never received information of any causes but in open court, where both parties were to be heard alike.' The nobleman went away not a little dissatisfied, and complained to the king (Charles II.) of judge Hale's conduct, as a rudeness that was not to be endured. His majesty desired him to he content that he had been used no worse, adding, 'that he verily believed the baron would have used himself no better, had he gone to solicit him privately in any one of his own causes.'
Balance of Good and Ill.
The Persians held of old this very charitable maxim, that to be good, it was not necessary never to do amiss, but to do for the most part that which was right. When a person accordingly was accused of any breach of the laws, and even clearly proved to be guilty, they did not immediately condemn him to be punished, but proceeded to make a scrupulous enquiry into the whole course of his life, in order to see whether the good or evil actions in it predominated; if the good weighed heaviest in the scale, he was acquitted: and it was only if otherwise that he was condemned.
The Sleep of Innocence.
Titus Caelius was found murdered in his bed, and the only persons on whom suspicion of the crime rested, were two of his own sons, who slept in the same room. The brothers were arraigned for the crime; but it appearing from the evidence, that when the mangled body was first discovered by some persons stepping into the chamber, both the sons were seen fast asleep on the bed adjoining, the judges ordered their acquittal. It was justly considered, that nature could not permit a man to sleep over the bleeding remains of a newly-murdered father.
Favour to Strangers.
One of the strongest instances of favour to a stranger, in obtaining his right by action, appears to have been shown to Fynes Morrysoil, at Lindau, in Germany; where he not only obtained immediate satisfaction from the judge, but his advocate would not take any fee from him, as being a foreigner.
Tavernier mentions, that one of his fellow travellers happening to die in a Persian town, a seal was immediately put upon the effects of the deceased, which on his return a year afterwards had not been removed.
The report of the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, on the state of the British forts on the western coast of Africa, contains the following account of the mode of trial for offences among the natives:
'Trial proceeds, for the most part, upon evidence; but in particular cases the ordeal, or doom, is resorted to. Doom is a poisonous bark, and is thus administered with great ceremony. The accused person, or a proxy, is stripped quite naked, and seated on the ground in a public place; a certain quantity is given, which he or she must eat; immediately after, a large calabash of water is placed before the person, who drinks as much as the stomach will contain, when vomiting consequently takes place. If the doom is thrown up, the person is considered innocent; if it remains on the stomach, it is an indication of guilt: the latter seldom occurs; however, there have been some instances which have proved fatal. The idea of doom strikes such a terror into the minds of the natives, that I am of opinion very few submit to the trial who are not perfectly innocent.'
To the Right Honourable the Lord Commissioners of His Vajesty's Treasury.
The humble petition of Ralph Griffith, Esq., High Sheriff of the County of Flint, for the present year, 1769, concerning the execution of Edward Edwards, for burglary;
That your petitioner was at great difficulty and expense by himself, his clerks, and other messengers and agents he employed, in journies to Liverpool and Shrewsbury, to hire an executioner; the convict being a native of Wales, it was almost impossible to procure any of that country to undertake the execution.
Travelling and other expenses on that occasion, £15 10s.
A man at Salop engaged to do this business. Gave him in part - £5 5s. Two men for conducting him, and for their search of him on his deserting from them on the road, and charges on enquiring for another executioner £4 10s---£9 15s.
After much trouble and expense, John Babington, a convict in the same prison with Edwards, was by means of his wife, prevailed on to execute his fellow prisoner. Gave to the wife £6 6s. and to Babington £6 6s. £12 12S.
Paid for erecting a gallows, materials, and labour, a business very difficult to be done in this country, £4 12S.
For the hire of a cart to convey the body, a coffin, and for the burial, £2 10s.; and for other assistance, trouble, and petty expenses on the occasion, at least £5-£7 10s.
Which humbly hope your lordships will please to allow your petitioner, who, &c.
Persons who reflect only on the deeds of horror. with the recollection of which the name of the guillotine must ever be associated, may be apt to regard as a monster the man who invented it. It is a curious fact, however, that it was the device of one of the most gentle and humane of men; and that its introduction was solely prompted by a desire of diminishing the severity of capital punishment. M. Guillotin, whose name was transferred to his invention, was a physician at Paris; and being appointed a member of the National Assembly, attracted attention chiefly by a great mildness of disposition. On the 1st of December, 1789, he made a speech on the penal code, remarkable for its philanthropic views; and concluded by a proposal for substituting as less cruel than the halter, the machine which has given to his name an odious immortality. Nobody, we have been assured, deplored more bitterly than M. Guillotin, the fatal use which was speedily made of his invention. He is described by those who were best acquainted with him, as being a clever, placid, reserved man, of unblemished integrity. When he perceived the course which the revolution was taking, he withdrew from all share in its direction, to the practice of his profession, in which he became distinguished as much by his humanity as his skill.
Sir Michael Foster.
Each judge was true and steady to his trust As Mansfield wise, and as old Foster just.'
The Princess Amelia, daughter of King George II., having, as Ranger of Richmond Park, directed that a common footway through the park should be stopped, some spirited inhabitants of the neighbourhood brought an indictment for the obstruction against Martha Gray, Keeper of East Sheengate.
The cause was for a long time depending without the prosecutors being able to bring the question of right to a trial, in consequence of the technical difficulties thrown in the way by the counsel for the princess, and the backwardness of the judges to go into a case where royalty was so nearly concerned. It came on at length for trial before that honour to the bench, Sir Michael Foster, whom Lord Chief Justice De Grey, on an important occasion, characterized by the emphatic appellation of 'the Magna Charta of Liberty, of persons as well as fortunes.' After the prosecutors had gone through part of their evidence, Sir Richard Lloyd , who was counsel on the part of the crown, said that it was needless for them to go upon the right, as the crown was not prepared to try that, this being an indictment which could not possibly determine it, because the obstruction was charged to be in the parish of Wimbledon, whereas it was in that of Mortlake, &c.
The judge turned to the jury, and said he thought they were come there to try a right which the subject claimed to a way through Richmond Park, and not to cavil about little low objections which had no relation to that right. He thought it below the honour of the crown, after this business had been pending three assizes, to send one of its select counsel to stickle on so small a point as this.
Sir R. Lloyd replied in a speech, in which he enlarged much on the gracious disposition of the king, in suffering the cause (an indictment) to be tried at all, since he could have suppressed it with a single breath, by ordering a nolle prosequi to be entered.
Justice Foster said he was not of that opinion. The subject was interested in such indictments as these, for removing nuisances, and could have no remedy but this, if their rights be encroached upon; wherefore he should think it a denial of justice in the king to stop a prosecution for a nuisance which his whole prerogative does not extend so far as to pardon.
The evidence was then gone through and the judge summed up shortly, but clearly, for the prosecutors, for whom a verdict was returned.
Lord Thurlow (when a counsel) speaking of this case in a letter to Mr. Ewen, one of the nephews and co-executors of Justice Foster, observes, 'It gave me, who am a stranger to him, great pleasure to hear that we have an English judge, whom nothing can tempt or frighten, ready and able to hold up the laws of his country as a great shield of the rights of the people.'
A Village Patriot.
The footway from Hampton Wick through Bushy Park (a Royal demesne) to Kingstonupon-Thames, had been for many years shut up from the public. An honest shoemaker, Timothy Bennett, of the former place, unwilling (it was his favourite expression to leave the world worse than he found it,) consulted an attorney upon the practicability of recovering this road for the public good, and the probable expense of a legal process for that purpose. 'I do not mean to cobble the job,' said Timothy, 'for I have seven hundred pounds, and I should be willing to give up the awl, that great folks might not keep the upper leather wrongfully.' The lawyer informed him that no such sum would be necessary to try the right; then, said the worthy shoemaker, 'as sure as soles are soles I'll stick to them to the last;' and Lord Halifax, the then Ranger of Bushby Park, was immediately served with the regular notice of action; upon which his lordship sent for Timothy, and on his entering the lodge, his lordship said, with some warmth, 'And who are you that has the assurance to meddle in this affair?' 'My name, my lord, is Timothy Bennett, shoemaker, of Hamptonwick. I remember, an't please your lordship, to have seen, when I was a young man sitting at work, the people cheerfully pass by my shop to Kingston market; but now, my lord, they are forced to go round about, through a hot sandy road, ready to faint beneath their burden; and I ant unwilling to leave the world worse than I found it. This, my lord, I humbly represent, is the reason why I have taken this work in hand.' 'Begone,' replied his lordship, 'you are an impertinent fellow.' However, upon mature reflection, his lordship, convinced of the equity of the claim, began to compute the shame of a defeat by a shoemaker, desisted from his opposition notwithstanding the opinion of the crown lawyers, and re-opened the road, which is enjoyed - by the public - without molestation to this day. Honest Timothy died about two years after, in the 77th year of his age, and was followed to the grave by all the populace of his native village.
In the year 1787, there happened to be a dispute between the Dutch Factory and the Hottentots at the Cape of Good Hope. One of the former being up the country, was killed by a Hottentot, upon which the chief, or heads of the people, were summoned to find out the offender and bring him to the Bar of Trade, and there punish him, according to their laws, for so great a crime. This was carried into execution in the following singular manner. The Hottentots made a great fire, and brought the criminal, attended by all his friends and relations, who took their leave of him, not in sorrowful lamentations, but in feasting, dancing, and drinking. When the unfortunate criminal had been plentifully supplied with liquor till he became insensibly drunk, his, friends made him dance till he was quite spent with fatigue; in that state they threw him into the fire, and concluded the horrid scene with a hideous howl which they set up immediately after the criminal was despatched.
Some time after this, one of the Factory killed a Hottentot, upon which the great men came and demanded justice for the blood of their countryman; but the offender happened to be one of the best accountants, and a person whom the Factory could ill spare. However, the crafty Dutchmen devised means to render satisfaction to the natives, under a colour of justice, by the following scheme. They appointed a day for the execution of the murderer, when the Hottentots assembled in great numbers, little conscious of the trick that was to be imposed upon them. A scaffold was erected, and the criminal was brought forth, dressed in white, attended by a minister; after praying, singing psalms, &c., the mock executioner presented him with a flaming draught, which the poor Hottentots supposed was to render an atonement for the loss of their deceased countrymen. The criminal received his potion, which was no other than a little burning brandy, with all the outward signs of horror and dread; his hand shook, his body trembled, and his whole frame appeared in the most violent agitation; he at last with seeming reluctance swallowed the draught, and after observing the farce of trembling, &c., for a few minutes, he fell down apparently dead, and a blanket was immediately thrown over him. The Hottentots then made a shout that rent the air, and retired perfectly pleased; observing, 'The Dutch have been more severe than ourselves; for they have put fire into the criminal, whereas we only put the criminal into the fire.'
Jeremy Bentham quotes this anecdote to show, that if the same effect can be produced by the appearance as by the reality of punishment, the former ought to be preferred. But of this it is certainly not an illustration. The end of all punishment, as Mr. Bentham knows, is less to satisfy the injured than to deter the evil-minded. And who will say that drinking a goblet of burnt brandy was a punishment fitted to deter Dutchmen in future from sporting with the lives of the inoffensive Hottentots? The natives were deceived, but the colonists were not.
Submission to the Laws.
Diodorus Siculus tells us that among the Ethiopians such was the high respect paid to the mandates of justice, that it was thought even less disgraceful to suffer an ignominious death than to escape it by flight. The custom was to send a lictor to the malefactor with the sign of death, and to leave him to choose his own way of going out of the world. Diodorus mentions a case where an individual to whom the final doom had been sent, having resolved to save himself by flying out of the country, his mother suspecting his design, rather than permit him so to disgrace himself, fastened her girdle about his neck, and strangled him with her own hands!
A Jew had ordered a French merchant in Morocco to furnish him with a considerable quantity of black hats, green shawls, and red silk stockings. When the articles were ready for delivery, the Jew refused to receive them. Being brought before the emperor, who administers justice himself, he denied having given him the order, and maintained that he did not even know the French merchant. 'Have you any witness?' said the emperor to the Frenchman. 'No.' 'So much the worse for you; you should have taken care to have had witnesses; you may retire.' The poor merchant, completely ruined, returned home in despair. He was, however, soon alarmed by a noise in the street; he ran to see what it was. A numerous multitude were following one of the emperor's officers, who was making the following proclamation at all the cross roads:- 'Every Jew, who within four-and-twenty hours after this proclamation, shall be found in the streets without a black beaver hat on his head, a green shawl round his neck, and red silk stockings on his legs, shall be immediately seized, and conveyed to the first court of our palace, to be there flogged to death.' The children of Israel all thronged to the French merchant, and before evening the articles were purchased at any price he chose to demand for them.
Crown Prince of Persia.
Abbas Mirza, Crown Prince of Persia, is one of the most remarkable men of the present times. He is not a mere soldier, but his finer qualities render him still more worthy of succeeding to the Persian throne. Moritz Von Kotzebue relates the following honourable anecdote of him:- 'The Russian ambasador,' says he, 'perceived in the garden belonging to the prince a projecting corner of an old wall, which made a very ugly contrast with the rest, and disfigured the prospect. He asked Abbas Mirza why he did not have it pulled down? "Only think," replied the prince; "I have bought this garden from several proprietors in order to make something magnificent; the proprietor of the place where the wall projects is an old peasant, the only person who positively refused to sell me his piece of land, as he would not part with it at any price, it being an old family possession. I must confess it is very vexatious; but, notwithstanding, I honour him for his attachment to his forefathers, and still more for his boldness in refusing it me; but I will wait till an heir of his shall be more reasonable."'
Laws of War.
General Theodore Von Reding, who commanded the Swiss troops in the service of Spain, at the battle of Baylen, and by his intrepidity, personal valour, and sound judgment greatly contributed to the success of that day, was as distinguished for his justice and clemency as for his courage. On the evening before the battle several dragoons of one of the most distant picquets of cavalry, brought into the camp about twenty Andalusian peasants, who were conducting a number of mules and asses laden with water, by a secret road, to the French, when they were seized by the Swiss. The heat was so excessive, that persons of eighty years of age remembered nothing equal to it. The peasants trembling, awaited their sentence before the generals tent well knowing that death was the consequence of their crime. At last the commander appeared. Curiosity had drawn together some young officers, to whom Reding said, 'Gentlemen, form a circle. These men,' continued he, addressing the officers with great seriousness, 'were conveying to the enemy, who are, we know, suffering for want of water, that necessary article; now determine their punishment; I will collect your votes.' 'The gallows, according the laws of war,' said the first, the second, and the third. The peasants turned pale. Some voted for shooting them; the most compassionate for drawing lots, and punishing every fifth man.
'But do not let us,' said the general, 'decide too hastily in a case of such importance; which of you, gentlemen, can know how many of us may survive to-morrow? What induced you (turning to the peasants) to act in this manner? You ought to contribute to our success; - you whose interest it is to do the French all possible harm, even you bring provisions to the enemy's camp!' 'Generals we have done wrong,' said one of the peasants, 'but have some excuse to offer. Our huts and corn were a prey to the flames. We are all fathers of families, and no prospect but starvation remained to us for the approaching winter. We knew very well that the French paid two reals for a glass of water; with this money we hoped to relieve ourselves from want. Our sons are here in the army, and we also are prepared to die fighting for our country. A part of this very money was intended for powder, as we are too poor to procure our ammunition, as is required of us.' Tears sparkled in the eyes of the hero. He went into his tent, came out with a purse in his hand, and gave every peasant a piece of gold worth five ducats, saying, 'Divide the water among your countrymen, and leave the French to me: to-morrow they will have something to drink.' He would not stop to receive their thanks, but immediately after this noble action withdrew.
The Morlacchi, a warlike people inhabiting the inland mountains of Dalmatia, are faithful in their friendships, and not implacable in their revenge. A Morlack who has killed another of a powerful family, is commonly obliged to save himself by flight, and to keep out of the way for several years. If during that time he has been fortunate enough to escape the search of his pursuers, and has got a small sum of money, he endeavours to obtain pardon and peace; and, that he may treat about the conditions in person, he asks and obtains a safe conduct, which is faithfully maintained, though only verbally granted. Then he finds mediators; and, on the appointed day, the relations of the two hostile families are assembled, and the criminal is introduced, dragging himself along on his hands and feet, with the musket, pistol, or cutlass, with which he committed the murder, hung about his neck! and while he continues in that humble posture, one or more of the relations recite a panegyric on the dead, which sometimes rekindles the flames of revenge, and puts the poor prostrate in no small danger. It is the custom in some places for the offended party to threaten the criminal, holding all kind of arms to his throat, and after much entreaty, to consent at last to accept of his ransom. These pacifications cost dear in Albania; but the Morlacchi make up matters at a small expense; and everywhere the business is concluded with a feast at the offender's charge.
Loss of a Pig.
Mr. Robertson, in his 'Notes on Africa,' gives the following anecdote of the administration of justice in that uncivilized quarter of the globe.
'At Tantum, the mother of a child was attracted by its cries, which was caused by a pig having stolen something from it, of which it had been eating; as was natural, the woman struck the pig with a stick which happened to be near. This blow, the owner of the pig contended, caused its death; the affair, however, remained many years unnoticed; but it was at length brought forward, and urged: with such vigour, that many persons were involved in it who were not born at the time the transaction took place. As the animal was a female, the damages were calculated at a higher rate; and the result was, that everyone connected by the most distant affinity with the unhappy mother, to the number of thirty-two, husband, children, and all that was most dear, were sold as a remuneration for the loss of a pig. The avarice of the chiefs, who received a proportion of the spoil, was only restrained when there was nothing more to be disposed of. The same monstrous practice is adopted on the loss of fowls; and the claims calculated in the same way; whole families have been sold for a single chicken.'
In the year 1785, an Indian murdered a Mr. Evans at Pittsburg. When, after a confinement of several months, his trial was to be brought on, the chiefs of his nation (the Delaware) were invited to be present at the proceedings, and see how the trial would be conducted, as well as to speak in behalf of the accused, if they chose. These chiefs, however, instead of going as wished for, sent to the civil officers of that place the following laconic answer: 'Brethren! you inform us that N. N. who murdered one of your men at Pittsburk, is shortly to be tried by the laws of your country, at which trial you request that some of us may be present. Brethren! knowing N. N. to have been always a very bad man, we do not wish to see him. We therefore advise you to try him by your laws, and to hang him, so that he may never return to us again.'
A conspiracy was formed against the life of the celebrated Nadir-Shah, in which his son, Riza-Kouli-Mirza, whom he tenderly loved, acted a principal part. When Nadir's son, whose guilt was clearly proved, was brought before him, he addressed him with a tenderness which does honour to his character. 'Consider,' said he, 'that I am your general, your sovereign, your friend, your father. By all these titles I implore of you one sole favour; that is, to live to be happy, and to reign gloriously when it shall please Providence to bring my days to a close. You are entirely in my power; your fate depends on my will; but all that I ask of you is to abjure your animosity towards me, which is as unjust as it is inexplicable,'
But the heart of Riza-Kouli-Mirza was hardened. and he answered his father to his face:
'You are a tyrant; you merit death; and if the world is not already rid of you, it is no fault of mine. I fear you not. Do your worst. The worst is death, and death I brave.'
Mirza gave other proofs of determined disobedience; and according to the practice of the East, he had his eyes put out. Some days after the punishment, when brought into the presence of his father, he thus addressed him: 'You have indeed put out my eyes, but you have, at the same time, darkened the light of Persia.'
If Mirza had been animated by the impulse of a genuine spirit of patriotism, his conduct might in some degree excite our admiration; but the truth was, that he was a monster of obduracy and vice.
Winning a Loss.
In the canton of Schwitz, many years ago, a man named Frantz came one evening to Gaspard, who was working in his field, and said to him, 'Friend, it is now mowing time; we have a difference about a meadow, you know, and I have got the judges to meet at Schwitz, to determine the cause, since we cannot do it for ourselves; so you must come with me before them to-morrow.' 'You see, Frantz,' replied Gaspard, 'that I have mown all this field; I must get in this hay to-morrow; I cannot possibly leave it.' 'And,' rejoined Frantz, 'I cannot send away the judges now they have fixed the day; and besides, one ought to know whom the field belongs to before it is mown.' They disputed the matter some time; at length Gaspard said to Frantz, 'I will tell you how it shall be; go to-morrow to Schwitz, tell the judges both your reasons and mine, and then there will be no need for me to go.' 'Well,' said the other, 'if you choose to trust your cause to me, I will manage it as if it were my own.' Matters thus settled, Frantz went to Schwitz, and pleaded before the judges his own and Gaspard's cause as well as he could. When sentence was pronounced, Frantz returned to Gaspard. 'Gaspard,' said he, 'the field is yours; I congratulate you, neighbour; the judges have decided for you, and I am glad the affair is finished.' Frantz and Gasnard were friends ever after.
Benefits of Litigation.
The spirit of litigation was, perhaps, never carried to a greater extent, than in a cause between two eminent potters of Handley Green, Staffordshire, for a sum of two pounds, nine shillings, and one pence. After being in chancery eleven years, from 1749 to 1760, it was put an end to by John Morton and Randle Wilbraham., Esquires, to whom it was referred: when they determined that the complainant filed his bill without any cause, and that he was indebted to the defendant, at the same time, the sum for which he had brought this action. This they ordered him to pay, with a thousand guineas of costs!
A circumstance happened at the Old Bailey sessions in 1777, which shows how cautious and well-informed it is necessary a jury should be in the discharge of their duty. A young man was tried for a capital felony, and through the inexperience of the foreman, a verdict was returned to the extreme of the charge. When the convicts were brought up to receive sentence, the court was thrown into an alarm by the Middlesex jury, who declared that they had resolved to find the prisoner guilty merely of the felony in stealing the goods, the punishment for which would not take away his life; that when they were deliberating upon the evidence, so far were they from any intention of finding the prisoner guilty of the capital charge, that they observed among themselves he was a very proper object for the ballast lighters. The recorder endeavoured to soften the rigour of the verdict, and to that purpose made a strict enquiry who was the cause of this egregious error; but it turned out that it belonged not to his province to comply with the compassionate wishes of the jury. The verdict was recorded, and the only method to save the poor fellow from the disgrace and horror of a violent death, was a petition from the jury to the king, which the recorder promised to deliver, and aid their attempt to mend the mistake. The prisoner seemed to be shocked exceedingly. When called upon to show cause why sentence should not be pronounced against him, he said, 'I never imagined I was found guilty of a capital offence, till I was fetched from the cell.' The petition, we need not say, had the desired effect.
During the assizes at Oxford, some years ago, a man was tried for some felony; the judge had charged the jury, and called on the foreman, a decent farmer, for a verdict. While the judge turned his head to speak to some person on the bench, the foreman of the jury, who had not paid any attention to the evidence, or the judge's charge, asked a stranger, (the late Mr. Richard Lovell Edgeworth,) who happened to sit behind him, what verdict he should give? Struck with the injustice and illegality of this procedure, Mr. Edgeworth stood up, and addressed the judges, Wills and Smith. 'My lords,' said he. 'Sit down, sir,' said the judge. 'My lord, I request to be heard for a moment.' The judge grew angry, and threatened to punish him for contempt of court if he persisted. By this time the eyes of the whole court were turned upon Mr. E., who feeling that he was in the right, still persevered. 'My lord,' said he, 'I must lay a circumstance before you which has just happened.' The judge still thinking that he had some complaint to make of a private nature, ordered the sheriff to remove him; but while he was doing this, Mr. E. again addressed their lordships, and said, 'My lords, you will commit me if you think proper; but in the meantime, I must declare, that the foreman of this jury is going to deliver an illegal verdict, for he has not paid any attention to the evidence, and he has asked me, who am not of the jury, what verdict he ought to give!' The judge then made an apology to Mr. E. for his hastiness, adding a few words of strong approbation.
When Lord Mansfield one day took his seat as Lord Chief Justice of England, a man was brought into court to receive judgment for an assault, of which he had been convicted. He wore remarkable large whiskers, and was known to be very proud of them. His affidavit stated that he was unable to pay any pecuniary fine, and the court was unwilling to imprison him. On this being intimated to Mr. Dunning, the counsel for the prosecution, he instantly replied, 'Then, if it please your lordship, we will consent to mulct him of his mustachoes, and humbly pray your lordship that he may be shaved!'
A highwayman, named Bolland, confined in Newgate, sent for a solicitor to know how he could defer his trial; and was answered, 'by getting an apothecary to make affidavit of his illness.' This was accordingly done in the following manner: 'The deponent verily believes, that if the said James Bolland is obliged to take his trial at the ensuing sessions, he will be in imminent danger of his life.' To which the learned judge on the bench answered, 'That he verily believed so too.' The trial was ordered to proceed immediately.
Murder will Out.
Mr. Martin, receiver of taxes at Bilguy, in France, having, in the year 1818, been out collecting the taxes, was returning home along the high road, when he was shot through the heart, at one o'clock in the afternoon. He had only one hundred francs about him, of which he was robbed, as well as of his watch and ring. The manner in which the murderer was discovered, was extremely singular. The charge of the gun had been rammed down with a written paper; part of this wadding had been found, and carefully carried away with the body; the writing was still legible. On this piece of paper there were phrases which are used in glass manufactories, and a date of fifteen years previous. Upon this single indication the judge went to the owner of the glass manufactory at Bilguy, examined his books, and succeeded in finding an entry relative to the delivery of some glass, of which the paper in question was the invoice. The suspicion immediately fell on the son-in-law of this individual; the latter had been out of the country for ten years. Orders were given to arrest the person suspected. When the officers came to him, he was on his knees praying. In his fright he confessed the deed; and even showed where the watch and ring were concealed, under the thatch of his house.
It was one of the laws of Stagira, that 'no one should take up what he never laid down.' Biblius used to say, 'It was a kind of blossom of injustice to seize upon what was so found;' and in the practice of his life, never was a man more scrupulously reserved in this respect.
About the year 1766, a young woman who lived servant with a person of very depraved habits in Paris, having rejected certain dishonourable proposals that he made her, became the object of his revenge. He clandestinely put into the box where she kept her clothes, several things belonging to himself and marked with his name; he then declared that he had been robbed, sent for a constable, and made his depositions. The box was opened, and he claimed several articles as belonging to him.
The poor girl being imprisoned, had only tears for her defence; and all that she said to the interrogatories was, that she was innocent. The judges, who in those days seldom scrutinized any case very deeply, pronounced her guilty, and she was condemned to be hanged. She was led to the scaffold, and very unskilfully executed, it being the first essay of the executioner's son in this horrid profession.
A surgeon bought the body; and as he was preparing in the evening to dissect it, he perceived some remains of warmth; the knife dropped from his hand, and he put into bed the unfortunate woman he was going to dissect.
His endeavours to restore her to life succeeded. At the same he sent for an ecclesiastic, with whose discretion and experience he was well acquainted, as well to consult him on this strange event, as to make him witness of his conduct.
When the unfortunate girl opened her eyes and saw the figure of the priest (who had features strongly marked) standing before her, she thought herself in the other world. She clasped her hands with terror, and exclaimed,
'Eternal Father! you know my innocence; have mercy on me.' She did not cease to invoke the ecclesiastic, and it was long before she could be convinced that she was not dead, so strongly had the idea of punishment and death impressed her imagination. Nothing could be more affecting or expressive than the exclamation of an innocent soul to Him whom she considered as her Supreme judge. What a picture for the painter! what a theme for the philosopher! what a lesson for judges!
The poor girl being recovered, quitted the house of the surgeon that night, and concealed herself in a distant village, while the base villain who had been the author of all her misery remained unpunished.
By the side of a small fountain near the house of Glengarry, in the highlands of Scotland, a pyramidal monument is to be seen, on the top of which are represented seven heads, with hideous distortion of feature, clutched by the hair in an enormous hand, a sword in which appears as if it had been the instrument of their decollation. On the four sides of the pyramid there is written, in Gaelic, English, French, and Latin, the following inscription:
OF THE PROMPT AND SIGNAL VENGEANCE WHICH THE ORDERS OF LORD MACDONELL AND AROSS DIRECTED ACCORDING TO THE RAPID COURSE OF FEUDAL JUSTICE, INFLICTED ON THE AUTHORS OF THE HORRIBLE ASSASSINATION OF THE KEPPOCH FAMILY, A BRANCH OF THE POWERFUL AND ILLUSTRIOUS CLAN, OF WHICH HIS LORDSHIP WAS THE CHIEFTAIN, This Monument is Erected BY COLONEL M'DONELL GLENGARRY, HIS SUCCESSOR AND REPRESENTATIVE, THE YEAR OF OUR LORD, 1812. THE HEADS OF THE SEVEN MURDERERS WERE BROUGHT TO THE FEET OF THE NOBLE CHIEFTIAN IN THE HOUSE OF GLENGARRY, AFTER HAVING BEEN WASHED IN THAT FOUNTAIN: AND SINCE THAT EVENT, WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE FIRST YEARS OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY, IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN KNOWN BY THE NAME OF The Fountain of Heads.
The seven individuals were, it appears, beheaded, without any form of trial; circumstances pointed them out as the authors of the crime; and without more ado the chieftain gave orders to his satellites to bring him their heads. 'May my feeble voice,' says a French traveller, M. Dupin, 'make known this infamous monument from one end of Europe to the other; and may people feel what difference there is between the arbitrary sentences, the prompt, the glorious exterminations, of feudal times, and the constitutional judgments of free juries.'
The Athenians had a law, that no woman should be permitted to plead her own cause. It had its origin from a case in which the celebrated Phryne was concerned. Afraid of trusting her defence to any hired advocate, she appeared in her own behalf; and such is said to have been the enchanting effect of her personal beauty on the judges, that contrary to evidence they pronounced her guiltless.
In modern times men have learned to be less susceptible in themselves, and more just towards the sex; and since women must be prosecuted at times, we do not add to their comparative helplessness by depriving them of any means of defence with which nature may have provided them.
The right of pleading for themselves in courts of justice is one, however, of which females in modern times have rarely availed themselves; but there is one instance of recent occurrence which shows that a woman may achieve for herself what no male advocate could do (in all human probability), and that not by the meretricious influence of personal charms, but by sound argument and common sense. The instance to which we allude is that of Miss Tucker, tried at Exeter assizes for a libel. The lady pleaded her own cause, and in a way so contrary to what the lawyers call practice (their practice), as greatly to excite the compassion of the judge, who more than once interfered to remind the fair pleader how little she was speaking to the purpose, mixing with his admonitions an expression of regret that she had not entrusted her defence to some gentleman of the bar, who would have known how to conduct it! Miss T. (obstinate woman!) was not to be turned from her own way; she had nothing to gain by mere deference to the opinion of the judge; all she wanted, all she hoped for, and all she was striving for, was to gain her own cause. The judge (charitable in vain!) abandoned her to her fate; and when she had done 'talking to no purpose,' charged the jury in a sense by no means favourable to her acquittal. The jury brought in a verdict of not guilty.
When King John took possession of his brother's dominions, and confirmed his usurpation by the murder of his nephew Arthur, Philip Augustus, King Of France, summoned him as his vassal to the court of his peers. John demanded, a safe conduct. 'Willingly,' said Philip, 'let him come unmolested.' 'And return?' inquired the English envoy. 'If the judgment of his peers permit him' replied the king; 'for by all the saints in France, he shall not return unless acquitted.' The Bishop of Ely still remonstrated that the Duke of Normandy could not come without the King of England, they being the same person; nor would the barons of the country permit their sovereign to run the hazard of death or imprisonment. 'What of that, my Lord Bishop?' cried Philip; 'it is well known that my vassal, the Duke of Normandy, acquired England by violence; but if a subject attains any accession of dignity, shall his paramount lord therefore lose his rights?' John, not appearing to his summons, was declared guilty of felony, and his fiefs confiscated. Philip poured his troops into Normandy, and in two years that province, with Maine and Anjou, were irrecoverably lost to the crown of England.
Charondas, the legislator of the Thurians, enacted that every person guilty of calumny should be led through the streets with a crown of tamarind on his head, to notify to the public that he had arrived at the last degree of malevolence. Many against whom this mortifying sentence had been denounced, prevented its execution by suicide. The security of the law made the crime very rare, and greatly promoted the tranquillity and happiness of the state.
Alfred of England had a law against slander more severe; but not attended, we believe, with quite so good an effect, owing doubtless to its being imperfectly administered, 'Qui falsi rumoris in vulgus sparsi auctor est lingua proeciditor.'
By the laws of the Goths, whilst in Spain, it was made penal to say of a great man that he was gouty; they thought it, we presume, hard enough that a man should have to suffer such a torment without being twitted about it.
Banishment from the Presence.
One of the French parliaments condemned a person of the name of Aujay, for having insulted a lady of quality, to withdraw himself from all places in which she should appear under pain of some severe punishment.
Madame Montbason received from the Queen of Austria a similar sentence, for having in like manner offended the Princess of Conde.
A belief in witchcraft was universal throughout Europe till the sixteenth century, and even maintained its ground with tolerable firmness till the middle of the seventeenth.
Vast numbers of reputed witches were condemned to death every year. As late as the time of the civil wars, upwards of eighty were hanged in Suffolk, on the accusation of Hopkins, the witch finder.
In the eighteenth volume of the 'Statistical Account of Scotland,' there is a most curious account of the trial of two witches, William Coke, and Alison Dick, in Kirkaldy, in 1636. The evidence on which they were condemned is absolutely ridiculous; they were however burnt for witchcraft. The following is an account of the expenses to which the town and kirk session were put on this occasion:
Imprimis. To Mr. James Miller, when he sent to Prestowe for a man to try them £2 7 0
Item. To the man of Culross (the executioner) when he went away the first time 0 12 0 Item. In purchasing the commission 9 3 0 Item. For coals for the witches 1 4 0 Item. For one to go to Finmouth for the laird to sit upon the assize as judge.0 6 0 Item. For harden to be jumps to them 3 10 0 Item. For making of them 0 8 0 ___
Sumna for the kirk's part (Scots) .£17 10 0
The town's part of the expenses debursed extraordinarily upon William Coke and Alison Dick:
For ten loads of coals to burn them, five merks £3 6 8 Item. For a tar barrel. 14f. 0 14 0 Item. For towes 0 6 0 ltem. To him that brought the executioner2 18 0 Item. To the executioner for his pains 8 14 0 Item. For his expenses here 0 16 4 Item. For one to go to Finmouth for the laird .. 0 6 0 ___
Summa town part (Scots) £17 1 0 Both 34 11 0 Or (Sterling) 2 17 7
The methods of discovering witches were various. One was to weigh the supposed criminal against the church Bible, which, if she was guilty, would outweigh her; another, to make her attempt to say the Lord's Prayer; this no witch was able to repeat entirely, but would omit some part or other of it. A witch could not weep more than three tears, and that only out of the left eye. This want of tears was by the witch finders, and even by the judges, considered as a very decisive proof of guilt. Swimming a witch was another kind of popular ordeal generally practised. For this, the unhappy individual was stripped naked, and cross bound, the right thumb to the left toe, and the left thumb to the right. Thus prepared, she was thrown into a pond or river, in which, if guilty, she could not sink; for having by her compact with the devil, renounced the benefit of the water baptism, that element in its turn renounced her, and refused to receive her in its bosom!
It cannot fail to be remarked, of all these modes of punishment, that they are extremely favourable to the accused, and appear as if they had been devised by some persons who, superior to the darkness of the times in which they lived, resorted to these ingenious expedients to give a harmless turn to a folly which they could not cure. It is to be regretted, indeed, that they were not as generally used as from their humanity they deserved to be; for we see from the old records, that thousands of unfortunate creatures, chiefly women, were notwithstanding, on the accusation of children, old women, and fools, condemned for witchcraft and burned at the stake.
The latest general frenzy of this sort occurred in New England about the year 1692, when a thirst for denouncing and executing persons for witchcraft became so general, that, invading all the charities of private life, it proved as wasteful as even the sword or the pestilence. The mania rose at last to so hideous and intolerable a height, that the government, to save the people from utter extermination, ordered all prosecutions for witchcraft to be dropped, and the prisoners to be set at liberty. It was remarked, not without wonder, that as soon as the power of prosecuting was at an end, all reports of witchcraft ceased.
In Europe generally at the present day, a belief in witchcraft is still not wholly eradicated from the minds of the vulgar; as has been too well evinced by several melancholy instances, in which, no longer able to satiate their fury under the mask of law, persons have taken the work of vengeance in their own hands, and have in their turn been justly punished for it.
At Wingrove, in Hertfordshire, so recently as the year 1759, a case occurred of the old popular trial by weighing against the church Bible, which as one of the last curious relics of this sort of justice, may be worth relating. One Susannah Hannokes, an elderly woman was accused by a neighbour of being a witch, and the overt-act offered in proof was, that she had bewitched this said neighbour's spinning wheel, so that she could not make it go round either one way or the other! The complaining party offered to make oath of the fact before a magistrate; on which the husband of the poor woman, in order to justify his wife, insisted that she should be tried by the Church Bible, and that the accuser should be present. The woman was accordingly conducted by her husband to their ordeal, attended by a great concourse of people, who flocked to the parish church to witness the ceremony. Being stript of nearly all her clothes, she was put into one scale and the Bible into another, when, to the no small astonishment and mortification of her accuser, she actually outweighed it, and was honourably acquitted of the charge.
Informer fitly Rewarded.
When General Pichegru entered Maestricht, he experienced some difficulty in obtaining quarters for his troops. A merchant who considered himself very patriotic, called on him, and gave him a list of Orangists who had soldiers quartered on them, though not in sufficient numbers, in the opinion of this demagogue, who wished that the aristocrats should have their houses filled with troops, from the cellar to the garret. 'I am obliged to you for this information,' said Pichegru; 'and have they sent you any soldiers, citizen?' 'Yes, general.' 'How many?' 'Four.' 'That will do.' The merchant had no sooner returned home, than forty more soldiers arrived, and took possession of his house. He hastened back to the general, and informed him that some mistake had taken place. 'Oh, no,' said Pichegru, 'I only removed my men from those vile Orangists, who I knew would illtreat them, to place them in the house of a patriot like you, where I am sure they will bereceived hospitably.'
Speaking for Time.
The most successful, if not the most eloquent, effort that Mr. Curran made at the bar, was in the defence of Patrick Finney, who was tried for high treason in 1798. It was also the most important, since the fate of fifteen other persons depended on it. The principal witness on this trial was the informer, James O'Brien, whose subsequent crimes rendered him so notorious in Ireland. This fellow had extorted money by assuming the character of a revenue officer, and Mr. Curran, with great skill, contrived to make him develope his own character to the jury, in the course Of a very curious cross-examination. But this was not sufficient; a witness necessary to prove O'Brien's perjury, lived a few miles from Dublin; and in order to afford time for his being brought, it was agreed by Mr. Curran, that his colleague, Mr. McNally, should commence the prisoner's defence, and continue speaking as long as he could find a syllable to say. This he did with great ability until he was exhausted, and the evening so far advanced, that the court consented to a temporary adjournment; and before it resumed its sitting, the material witness arrived.
Noureddin of Aleppo.
Noureddin, who was lord of the powerful state of Aleppo during the twelfth century, though the greatest Mussulman of the age, was as simple in his dress as the meanest peasant. In his reign, the laws were so well administered, that Damascus was crowded with strangers. The public revenues were never disturbed by the king, except in the presence of the doctors of the law; and so small a portion did he reserve for the support of his dignity, that his queen complained of his parsimony: but he replied, 'I fear God, and am no more than the treasurer of the Moslems. Their property I cannot alienate, but I still possess three shops in the City of Hems: these you may take, and these alone I can bestow.' In every part of his dominions, he built mosques and hospitals, and places of refreshment for travellers. The ascetic too might find a convent, and the studious a school. But the most beneficent of all his institutions was a tribunal for the redress of wrongs which emirs and governors had committed on their subjects. Power acknowledged the dignity of genius; for men of learning were so much the objects of his attention, that he arose to meet them, and never required them to observe the Asiatic custom of standing in the presence of the sovereign.
Improbable, yet True.
In the reign of Charles the Second, a French refugee of the name of Du Moulin was tried for coining, and never perhaps was evidence from circumstances more conclusive of a man's guilt. It was proved beyond all doubt that he had been often detected in uttering false gold; and that he had even made a practice of returning counterfeit coins to persons from whom he had received money, pretending that they were among the pieces which had been paid him. When the officers of justice went to arrest him and search his premises they found a great number of counterfeit coins in a drawer by themselves; others packed along with good money in different parcels; some aqua-regia, several files, a pair of moulds, and many other implements for coining.
Du Moulin solemnly denied the charge. The bad money, he said, which was found in a heap, he had thrown together, because he could not trace the person from whom he had received it; the other parcels of money he had kept separate, in order that he might know to whom to apply, should any of it prove bad; as to the implements of coining, he knew nothing of them, and could not possibly account for their being found where they were. A likely story truly! So thought the jury, and so whispered every person who heard it. Du Moulin was found guilty, and received sentence of death.
A few days before Du Moulin was to be executed, a person of the name of Williams, a seal engraver, met with his death by an accident; his wife miscarried from the fright, and sensible she could not live, she sent for the wife of Du Moulin, and revealed to her that Williams, her husband, had been one of four whom she named, who had for many years lived by counterfeiting gold coin; that one of these persons had hired himself as a servant to Du Moulin: and being provided by the gang with false keys, had disposed of very considerable sums of money, by opening his master's escritoire, and leaving the pieces there instead of an equal number of good ones which he took out.' The wife of Williams appeared in great agony of mind while she gave the account, and as soon as it was finished, fell into convulsions and expired.
The parties she had named were, on the information of Madame du Moulin, instantly apprehended, and after a short time one of them turned king's evidence. The one who had been servant to Du Moulin persisted in asserting his innocence, until some corroborating circumstances were produced, so unexpected and decisive, that he burst into tears, and acknowledged his guilt. On being asked how the instruments for coining came into his master's escritoire, he replied, 'that when the officers came to apprehend his master, he was terrified lest they should be found in his (the servants) possession and hastened to his box in which they were deposited, opened the escritoire with his false key, and had just time to shut it before the officers entered the apartment.'
Du Moulin was of course pardoned, and the servant and his associates most deservedly suffered in his stead.
A question was agitated in Spain, in the eleventh century, whether the Musarabic liturgy and ritual, which had been used in the churches of Spain, or that approved by the see of Rome, which differed in many particulars from the other, contained the form of worship most acceptable to the Deity? The Spaniards contended zealously for the ritual of their ancestors. The Popes urged them to receive that to which they had given their infallible sanction. A violent contest arose. The nobles proposed to decide the controversy by the sword. The king approved of this method of decision. Two knights in complete armour entered the lists. John Ruys de Matanca, the champion of the Musarabic liturgy, was victorious. But the queen, and the Archbishop of Toledo, who favoured the other form, insisted on having the matter submitted to another trial, which was granted. A great fire was kindled. A copy of each liturgy was thrown into the flames; and it was agreed that the book which stood this proof, and remained untouched, should be received in all the churches of Spain. The Musarabic liturgy triumphed likewise upon this trial; for if we may believe Roderigo de Toledo, remained unhurt by the fire, when the other was reduced to ashes. The queen and archbishop had power or art to elude this decision also; and the use of the Musarabic liturgy was permitted only in certain churches - a determination no less extraordinary than the whole transaction.
In the year 1580, a bill of complaint was prepared before the criminal judge of Rieux, in France, by a woman of the name of Bertrand de Rols, whose cause of grievance was of the following extraordinary nature. She said, that she had at an early age been married to one Martin Guerre, who after living with her about ten years, had deserted her, and gone no one knew whither; that at the end of eight years a man came who had so exactly the features, stature, and complexion of Martin Guerre, that she had taken him for her true husband; and had unsuspectingly lived with him as such for the space of three years, during which she had two children by him; that to her surprise she now found out, that the man was not the real Martin Guerre, but one Arnaud du Tilh, of Sagias, commonly called Pansette, who had artfully taken the advantage of his resemblance to her husband, to impose himself upon her; and besides usurping the conjugal rights of Martin Guerre, had obtained possession of all the property that belonged to him.
In answer to this strange story, the man said to be Arnaud du Tilh, protested that the prosecution was nothing more than a wicked conspiracy which his wife and relations had hatched to get rid of him; that if he was not the real Martin Guerre, he did not know who he was; that he had had this name as far back as he could remember; that it was he who had married when a youth the complainant, Bertrand de Rols, and had lived with her so many years; that not only she had received him on his return with all the warmth of a loving and affectionate wife, but that all the family of the Guerres, and among others, four sisters, had instantly and gladly recognised him as their own long-lost Martin Guerre.
The judge made both parties undergo a severe personal examination, first separately, and then in presence of each other; and the answers of the man were on every point, even of the most minute and private description, such as, in all human belief, none but the real Martin Guerre could have given.
Witnesses were then examined to the number of nearly one hundred and fifty. Of these, between thirty and forty, including the four sisters, swore that he was the true Martin Guerre: that they had known him and conversed with him from his infancy, that they were perfectly acquainted with his person, manners, and tone of voice; and that they were moreover convinced of the truth of what they asserted, by certain scars and secret marks, which it was impossible for time to efface. A great many, on the contrary, swore quite as positively that he was no other than Arnaud du Tilh, called Pansette, and they had known him as long, and been as familiarly acquainted with him, as those who pretended that he was Martin Guerre. The rest of the witnesses declared, that there was so strong a resemblance between the two persons in question, that it was impossible for them to determine whether the accused was Martin Guerre, or Arnaud du Tilh.
The judge on weighing the whole case, inclined to the belief that the man was not the real Martin Guerre, but Arnaud du Tilh, and condemned him as a wretched impostor, to suffer the punishment of death.
From this sentence the accused appealed to the parliament of Toulouse, who ordered an Inquisition to be taken as to the principal facts in dispute, with this limitation, that none but new witnesses should be examined. But so far was this ordinance from eliciting any new lights, that it served only to render the affair still more obscure than it was before. Of thirty new witnesses examined, nine or ten were positive that he was the true Martin Guerre; seven or eight were as positive that he was Arnaud du Tilh; the rest having weighed all circumstances, and being afraid of injuring their consciences, declared plainly that they were not able to say who he was.
Among the witnesses who negatived most positively his identity with Martin Guerre, was a shoemaker who used to make shoes for Martin; he deposed that Martin's foot reached to the twelfth mark, whereas the foot of the accused reached no farther than the ninth mark upon his rule. Another witness swore that Martin Guerre was dexterous in wrestling, of which this man did not pretend to know anything.
But on the other hand, among those who had formerly sworn that he was the true Martin Guerre, and still persisted in their depositions, were the four sisters of Martin, who were all brought up with him, and who all had the reputation of being women of good sense; two of the brothers-in-law of Martin; and all the parties who were present at the nuptials of Martin and Bertrand de Rols. All, or at least the greater part of these witnesses, agreed that Martin Guerre had two scars under his eyebrow, that his left eye was bloodshot, the nail of his first finger crooked, that he had three warts on his right hand, and another on his little finger; and all of these peculiarities were to be found on the accused.
The parliament began now to incline to the part of the accused, and had thoughts of reversing the judgment of the inferior judge, when of a sudden, as if he had dropped out of the clouds, a man calling himself the true Martin Guerre, but with a wooden leg, appeared. He asserted that he came from Spain, where he had lost his leg in battle: and that the person who had assumed his name had been his companion in arms, and had thus doubtless got so well acquainted with all the particulars of his private history.
He was interrogated by the court as to the same facts on which the accused had been questioned. All his answers were true, yet they were neither so clear, so positive, nor so exact, as those given by the accused. He was next confronted with the supposed Arnaud, when the latter treated him as an impostor, as a fellow picked out by his relations to support this character, and take away his life. The accused, to make this the clearer, asked him a number of questions, as to several family transactions; and these he answered faintly and with some confusion. The court on this directed Arnaud to withdraw, and then put several questions to the Martin with one leg, that were new, and had never been asked before, and his answers were very full and satisfactory. They then called Arnaud, and questioned him as to the same points; but to the great surprise and confusion of the court, the answers of Arnaud were not only as full and satisfactory as those of Martin, but perfectly corresponded with them.
The court, resolving to clear up this unaccountable obscurity, directed that now both the pretenders being present: the four sisters of Martin Guerre; the husbands of two of them; Peter Guerre, an uncle; the brothers of Arnaud du Tilh, and some of those witnesses who were most obstinate in insisting that the accused was Martin Guerre, should be called in and obliged to point out which of the two they should now judge to be the true Martin. Accordingly all these persons appeared, except the brothers of Arnaud du Tilh. The first who drew near the two persons claiming the name of Martin Guerre, was the eldest of the sisters, who after she had looked upon them for a moment, ran to the Martin with the wooden leg, embraced him, and having let fall a shower of tears, addressed herself to the commissioners in these words: 'See, gentlemen,' said she, 'my brother Martin Guerre. I acknowledge the error into which this wretched man (pointing to Arnaud), drew me and many others, and in which, by a multitude of artifices, he has made us persist so long.' Martin all this time mingled his tears with those of his sister, and received her embraces with the utmost affection. All the rest knew him as soon as they saw him; and there was not one of all the witnesses who did not acknowledge that the matter was now plain, and that Arnaud du Tilh was an imposter.
No doubt now remaining as to the guilty Arnaud, the court condemned him to death, and he was executed accordingly in front of Martin Guerre's house, testifying his sincere repentance for the extraordinary course of imposture in which he had been engaged.
'An Eye for an Eye and a Tooth for a Tooth.'
Mr. Andrew Layton was the principal partner in a house of considerable capital and respectability at Mogadore. One afternoon in the year 1802, he went out on horseback, accompanied by two or three gentlemen, with some greyhounds, and on his return towards Mogadore, one of the dogs attacked a calf belonging to a neighbouring village: a Shelluh, who was the owner of the calf, shot the dog; on this a fray ensued, and the village was soon in an uproar; in the scuffle, some Shelluh women were seen to throw stones, and one of the party (M. Barre) was considerably bruised; Layton also gave and received several blows. The party returned to Mogadore, when Mr. Layton immediately made a complaint to the governor, who promised him justice should be done. The governor accordingly sent for the villagers, who on their part insisted on satisfaction being awarded to them, alleging that a woman had had two of her teeth knocked out by Layton, and in the name of God and the Prophet, they appealed for justice to the emperor himself. This appeal obliged the governor to write to the emperor, and the parties were ordered up to Morocco. Witnesses were then adduced against Layton, who declared that he had knocked the woman's teeth out with the thick end of his whip; and the emperor was pleased to order two of his teeth to be pulled out, as a satisfaction to the lady for the loss of hers. His majesty however did not appear disposed to put the sentence in execution; but the people, who had assembled in immense numbers on the occasion, exclaimed loudly for retaliation. When the tooth-drawer approached, Mr. Layton requested that he might have two of his back teeth taken out in lieu of two of his front teeth, which request the emperor granted. His majesty was pleased with the courage with which Layton suffered the operation, and next day he apologized to him for the injury, saying, that he would not have allowed the sentence of the law to have been executed, had it not been necessary to allay the fury of the people. He then desired him to ask any favour, and he would grant it. Mr. Layton accordingly requested permission to load a cargo of wheat, which was granted; and, we believe, free of duty. His majesty afterwards conferred upon him similar favours. Some general remonstrance was made by all the European consuls collectively respecting this affair, and the emperor, it appeared, would have made a proper apology to the British consul, had it been demanded with energy and resolution; which on some account or other was not done. The influence of Great Britain suffered by not supporting her subject; and ever since this transaction, encroachments have been making on the privileges of Europeans.
Perillus, an Athenian, cast a brazen bull for Phalaris, the tyrant of Sicily, which was so constructed, that when it was heated and offenders put into it, their cries seemed not like those of human beings, but like the roarings of a bull. When he went to Phalaris, in the hope of being nobly recompensed for so admirable a refinement of cruelty, the tyrant, just for once, ordered him to be thrown into the bull, in order that he might show the excellence of his own invention. Whence Ovid,
'Et Phalaris tauro violenti membra Perilli Torruit, infelix imbuit autor opus.'
Perillus, roasted in the bull he made, Gave the first proof of his own cruel trade.
Protection of Sanctuaries.
Eutropius, the minion and favourite of Arcadius the emperor, was the first who introduced a law that any guilty person might be taken out of a sanctuary by force; and it is remarkable, that he himself fell a victim to his own law. Being accused of a conspiracy against the emperor, he was sentenced to death, but fled to the temple or sanctuary. from which, by virtue of his own law, he was dragged out and slain.
A follower of Pythagoras had bought a pair of shoes from a cobbler, for which he promised to pay him on a future day. He went with his money on the day appointed, but found that the cobbler had in the interval departed this life. Without saying anything of his errand, he withdrew, secretly rejoicing at the opportunity thus unexpectedly afforded him of gaining a pair of shoes for nothing. His conscience, however, says Seneca, would not suffer him to remain quiet under such an act of injustice; so, taking up the money, he returned to the cobbler's shop, and, casting in the money, said, 'Go thy ways, for though he is dead to all the world besides, yet he is alive to me.'
Punishment in Kind.
Early in the fifteenth century, a band of Highland robbers, headed by one Macdonald of Rosse, having taken two cows from a poor woman, she vowed that she would wear no shoes till she had complained to the king. The savages, in ridicule of her oath, nailed horse-shoes to the soles of her feet. When her wounds were healed, she proceeded to the royal presence, told her story, and showed her scars. The just monarch instantly despatched an armed force to secure M'Donald, who was brought to Perth, along with twelve of his associates. The king caused them all to be shod in the same manner as they had done by the poor woman; and after they had been for three days exhibited through the streets of the town as a public spectacle, M'Donald was beheaded, and his companions hung.
Trial by Ordeal.
In the dark ages of Modern Europe, the absurd practice of trial by ordeal was held in high esteem. The chief modes were by fire, by water, by walking blindfold among heated ploughshares, and by swallowing consecrated bread. The last, styled by Muratori the judicium panis et casei, and introduced about the time of Pope Eugene, was simple enough. A piece of bread or cheese of about an ounce in weight was blessed by the priest, and given to the accused person, who was to try and swallow it, after first praying of the Almighty that it might choke him, cause convulsions, paleness, &c., if he were guilty.
Blackstone remarks, that the remembrance of this custom still subsists in certain phrases of the common people, as 'May this morsel be my last;' 'May I be choked if it is so,' and the like. The custom was evidently borrowed from the Mosaic law, in which we find it particularly prescribed. An example of its practice occurs in the New Testament, in the story of Ananias and Sapphira.
Among the most remarkable trials by ordeal in our ancient history, was that of Queen Emma. The charges against her were preferred by Robert, Archbishop of Canterbury. She was accused both of consenting to the death of her son Alfred, and of preparing poison for her son Edward (the Confessor) also. Edward listened to those charges, and his mother, according to the law of the land, claimed the ordeal, or trial by burning ploughshares. The Queen Dowager, on the night preceding the trial, prayed for help in the Abbey of St. Swithune, at Winchester; and she passed the nine ploughshares unhurt. Her innocence being held to be thus established, the king seems to have been enjoined penance for his credulity, and the archbishop to have fled the kingdom; compelled either by the law which held him to be a false accuser, or by the odium of his reputed guilt, or probably by the persecutions of the Queen Dowager's friends.
A mode of trial for murder got into vogue at a no very late period, which is, perhaps, quite as absurd as any we have mentioned. When a person was murdered, it was said that at the touch or on the approach of the murderer, blood would gush out of the body. In various parts of Europe, this was actually held as an undoubted proof of guilt; and with the vulgar it is still a very prevailing article of belief, that murder in this way is sure to be found out. Beard says, that the practice originated in the following occurrence:
'Certain gentlemen in Denmark being on an evening together in an inn, fell out amongst themselves, and from words went to blows; the candles being put out in this blind fray, one of them was stabbed by a poniard. The murderer was unknown by reason of the number, although the gentlemen accused a pursuivant of the king's of it, who was one of them in the room. Christernus the Second, then king, to find out the homicide, caused them all to come together in the room ; and standing round about the dead corpse, he commanded that they should one after another lay their right hand on the slain gentleman's naked breast, swearing they had not killed him. The gentlemen did so, and no sign appeared to witness against them: the persuivant only remained, who (condemned before in his own conscience) went first of all and kissed the dead man's feet; but as soon as he laid his hand on his breast, the blood gushed forth in great abundance, both out of his wound and nostrils, so that urged by this evident accusation, he confessed the murder, and by the king's own sentence, was immediately beheaded. Hereupon arose that practice (which is now ordinary in many places) of finding out unknown murderers, which, by the admirable power of God, are for the most part revealed, either by the bleeding of the corpse, or the opening of its eyes, or some other extraordinary sign as daily experience teaches.'
Of the marvellous efficacy of this sign the same author obliges us with the following, among other equally veritable proofs.
Henry Renzovius, Lieutenant to the King of Denmark in the dukedom of Holsatia, in a letter of his to David Chytreus, writes thus: 'A traveller was found murdered in the highway, near to Itzeho in Denmark; and because the murderer was unknown, the magistrates of the place caused one of the hands of him that was slain to be cut off, and hung up by a string on the top of the room in the town prison. About ten years after, the murderer coming upon some occasion into the prison, the hand that had been there a long time dry, began to drop blood upon the table that stood underneath it, which the gaoler beholding, stayed the fellow, and gave notice of it to the magistrates; who examining him, the murderer confessed his guilt, and submitted himself to the rigour of the law, which was inflicted on him, as he well deserved.'
Among the Hindoos of the present day, the trial by ordeal is held in the same reverence, which it was by the ancient Europeans, and is practised with much greater variety. One of their most singular ordeals is the trial by balance, which is thus performed. The accused is placed in a pair of scales and carefully weighed; he is then taken down, when the pundits write the substance of the accusation against him on a piece of paper, which they stick on his forehead. At the end of six minutes he is weighed again, when, if lighter than before, he is pronounced innocent; if heavier, guilty. Another of their ordeals is literally a casting of lots. Two images of gods, one of silver and one of iron, are thrown into a large earthen jar; or two pictures of a deity, one on white and the other on black cloth, are rolled up and thrown into ajar; if the accused on putting in his hand draws out the silver image or the white picture, he is deemed innocent; if the contrary, guilty.
Wager of Battle.
Of the absurdity of the ancient practice of determining doubtful accusations by single combat, we have abundance of instances on record, but we meet with none more distressing than the following, which occurred between two Scotch gentlemen in the reign of Edward VI., in which 'the villain triumphed, and the injured fell.' It arose out of the war which originated in the refusal of the Scotch to consummate a marriage of Mary their young Queen, with Edward VI., according to the contract made in the reign of her father. The Scotch lost a number of strongholds, and among others the castle of Yester, which surrendered to the English general, Lord Grey, on condition that he should spare the lives of all the garrison with the exception of one man, who was reported to have said some unpardonable things of the King of England. 'Now,' say the old chroniclers, 'as the garrison marched out of the castle in their shirts, and made their most humble obeisance, as became them, to the Lord Grey, he caused very strict search to be made for the base railer, who was excepted from pardon, and he was found to be one Mr. Newton, a native of Scotland.'
'This man, finding the great danger he was in, bethought himself of no other way to save his life, than by throwing the accusation upon one Mr. Hamilton: now these two gentlemen charging each other with the fact, the general could find no other way to decide it than by combat, which they demanded; and the Lord Grey assenting thereto, judgment was pronounced to have it tried; and this he was the more induced to agree to, because all persons seemed resolute for the decision of the truth; as in a very just cause, by the loss of their lives to gain an immortal name, according to that line, 'Mors spernenda viris, ut fama perennis alatur.'
'No time was lost in making due preparation for this combat, so that the champions entered the lists at the appointed time, which were erected for that end in the market-place of Hadington; having only their doublets and hose on, and armed with sword, buckler, and dagger. Hamilton, at his first entrance into the lists, kneeling down, put up hearty prayers to God Almighty, that he would be pleased to vindicate the truth, and grant him victory over his enemy; and at the same time he made most solemn protestations, that he never spoke any such words against the King of England as his adversary charged upon him. On the other side, Newton seemed as if he had been daunted with his false accusation; and the generality of the spectators entertained an opinion of his guilt to his prejudice. Be it as it will, both of them being ready, they fell busily to it, and exchanged several fierce blows. Hamilton, in the opinion of all the people, seeming to rely upon his innocence, laid stoutly about, and forced his adversary to retreat almost to the end of the lists; to which, if he had quite driven him, he had, by the law of arms, won the victory. Newton, finding himself thus upon the point of being worsted, advanced again, and gave Hamilton such a great gash in the leg, that he was not able to stand any longer, but down he dropped, and Newton falling upon him, presently slew him with his dagger.
'There were several gentlemen there present, who taking it for granted that Newton was the offender, thought fortune had favoured him in the combat, who would readily have ventured their lives against him, man for man, if the general would have allowed it; but Newton laying claim to the law of arms, the Lord Grey not only gave him the benefit of it, but also presented him with his own gown, besides his own backplate, and a gold plate which he wore at the time. 'Thus,' adds the historian, 'he was well rewarded, whatever his desert might be; but he did not come off so, for riding afterwards on the borders of both kingdoms, he was there slain, and cut in pieces.'
Peine Forte et Dure.
The horrid punishment of pressing to death, which the English law imposes on persons standing mute when put on their trial, was frequently inflicted in former times, and some instances of it are even to be met with of as late a date as the reign of George II.
At the Kilkenny assizes, in 1740, one Mathew Ryan was tried for highway robbery. When he was apprehended, he pretended to be a lunatic, stripped himself in the gaol, threw away his clothes, and could not be prevailed on to put them on again, but went as he was to the court to take his trial. He then affected to be dumb, and would not plead; on which the judges ordered a jury to be impanneled, to enquire and give their opinion whether he was mute and lunatic by the hand of God, or wilfully so. The jury returned in a short time, and brought in a verdict of 'Wilful and affected dumbness and lunacy.' The judges on this desired the prisoner to plead; but he still pretended to be insensible to all that was said to him. The law now called for the peine forte et dure; but the judges compassionately deferred awarding it until a future day, in the hope that he might in the meantime acquire a juster sense of his situation. When again brought up, however, the criminal persisted in his refusal to plead: and the court at last pronounced the dreadful sentence, that he should be pressed to death. This sentence was accordingly executed upon him two days after, in the public market-place of Kilkenny. As the weights were heaping on the wretched man, he earnestly supplicated to be hanged; but it being beyond the power of the sheriff to deviate from the mode of punishment prescribed in the sentence, even this was an indulgence which could no longer be granted to him.
In England, the latest instance (we believe) of a similar kind occurred in a case where Baron Thompson presided as judge. It is an odious and revolting mode of satisfying public justice; yet is only a necessary adjunct of that fondness of capital punishments which pervades, and is a stain to the whole of the English penal code.
Hobbes thinks it a great singularity and severity in the laws of England, that if a man intending to steal deer (a case put by Sir Edward Coke) shoots at a buck and the arrow glances on a bystander, this should be deemed murder, as being the consequence of the felonious act in which the man was engaged. He asks, if a boy stealing apples from a tree falls upon the head of a person under it, and kills him, whether this should be considered as murder?
Locke also puts a very singular case of homicide. A man with a sword in his hand demands my purse on the highway, when perhaps I have not twelve pence in my pocket; this man I may lawfully kill. To another I deliver £100 to hold whilst I alight, which he refuses to restore to me, and draws his sword to defend possession of it by force, if I endeavour to retake it. The mischief this man does me is a hundred, or probably a thousand times more than the other perhaps intended me (whom I killed before he did me any), yet I may lawfully kill the one, and cannot so much as hurt the other.
Dr. Donne says, 'there may be many cases where a person may do his country good and service by libelling; for where a man is either too great, or his vices too general, to be brought under judiciary accusation, there is no way but this extraordinary method of accusation; and I have heard, that nothing hath suppled and allayed the Duke of Lerma so much as the frequent libels made upon him.' Hobbes asserts, that among the Greeks there was no law against contumely by words and gesture; the fact is, that they looked upon any resentment for such contumely to arise from the pusillanimity of him who was offended by it. The Greenlanders generally show their resentment for injuries, by giving their adversaries fair notice that they will recite a libel against them on such a day; and it is reckoned a want of spirit, if the antagonist does not attend and give a very smart answer.
The Statutum de Judaismo, said to be of 4th Edward I., contains some curious particulars with regard to the terms on which Jews were tolerated in this country. By the second section, the good Christians are not to take above half their substance. By the eighth, no Christian is permitted to lie in their houses. Voltaire, in speaking of the persecution of the Jews, says, 'C'est le meme chose de coucher avec un Juif el un chien, et ce sont nos peres.'
Howell tells the following story of a Jew in the time of Henry III. He had by accident fallen into a foul pit on his sabbath, Saturday, and would not suffer any one to take him out, though rather a necessary work. The Earl of Gloucester hearing of this, would not suffer any one to take him out on a Sunday, as being the sabbath of the Christians. The Jew by this cruel joke was suffocated.
Sir Edward Coke relates, that a great number of Jews were once persuaded by the master of a ship to take a walk upon the sands whilst the tide was coming in (which he represented to ebb); and by this deceit they were surrounded by the sea, and drowned. The reflection which Sir Edward Coke makes on this abominable act of treachery, is not very creditable to his sense of either justice or humanity. He merely says, 'Thus perished these infidel Jews.'
One of the causes of the persecution of the Jews, arose from a notion that they killed the children of Christians in order to use their blood in medicine. Gower says, that this was prescribed to Constantine for the cure of the leprosy; but he refused to try the medicine; and as a reward for abstaining from so wicked a remedy, was miraculously cured.
Among the modern Greeks, when a man has received, or fancies he has received, a serious injury from his neighbour, and is unwilling to seek redress by the ordinary modes of justice, he betakes himself to what is called building up a curse against his adversary. This is done by raising a round barrow, or mound of stones. He first lays himself some large ones for a foundation, and leaves room enough for his relatives or friends, or any passing traveller who may take an interest in his cause, to add a pebble to his anathema. He then solemnly calls upon the Fates to shower down every species of calamity upon the head of the offender; and not unfrequently joins the arch fiend, the author of all evil, in his invocation. Sometimes it opportunely happens, that the pistol of a Turk, or a malaria fever, soon after takes off the devoted victim; and the anathematizer is to ensure to be regarded with a species of reverential awe by the neighbourhood, and esteemed as a person under the special protection of heaven.
In the reign of Edward the Sixth, there was an insurrection in Cornwall on account of the alteration of the religion, and the county was placed under martial law, which in those times consisted simply of a provost marshal's going about, and hanging up whomsoever he pleased. Of the wanton manner in which Sir William Kingston, the provost marshal on this occasion, executed his commission, the following memorable instances are recorded.
One Boyer, Mayor of Bodmin, had been among the rebels, not willingly, but by compulsion. Kingston, without inquiring into the circumstances, sent him notice, that on a certain day he would come and dine with him. The mayor made, accordingly, great preparations for receiving the marshal, who failed not to come at the time appointed. A little before dinner, the marshal took the mayor aside, and whispered him in the ear. 'That an execution must that day take place in the town, and that a gallows would require to be set up against the time the dinner should be done.' The mayor promised that one should be ready without fail; and gave orders to that effect to his officers. Meanwhile a sumptuous dinner was served up, to which they sat down in the greatest good humour imaginable. The mayor spared no effort to please his guest, who seemed on his part as if he had never been more delighted. When the entertainment was over, the marshal taking the mayor by the hand, requested him to lead him to the place where the gallows was erected. They accordingly walked forth hand in hand; and on reaching the spot, the marshal asked Boyer, 'If he thought the gallows was strong enough?' '0 yes,' answered the mayor, 'doubtless it is.' 'Well, then,' said the marshal, coolly, 'get you up speedily, for it is provided for you.' ' Nay,' rejoined the mayor, 'surely you mean not as you speak?' 'I' faith,' said the marshal, 'there is no other remedy; you have been a busy rebel, so get up instantly.' And so, add the chroniclers, imitating in their style the brevity of the atrocious deed they record, 'without respite or defence was the poor Mayor of Bodmin hanged.'
Near the same town there dwelt a miller, who had actually been very busily concerned in the rebellion. Dreading the approach of the marshal, he told a sturdy fellow, his servant, that he had occasion to go for sometime from home, and that he wished him to take charge of his concerns till his return; that some strangers would probably be inquiring after him about an intended purchase of the mill; and in case they should, that he (the servant) should pass for the miller, and say nothing of his being from home. The servant readily consenting to all this, the miller took his leave. Not long after, a party of strangers made their appearance, as expected, at the mill; it was Kingston and his men. 'Ho! there,' exclaimed Kingston, 'miller, come forth.' The servant stepped out, and inquired what was his pleasure? 'Are you the owner of this mill?' 'Yes.' 'How long have you kept it?' 'These three years' (the time his master had kept it). 'Aye, aye!' exclaimed Kingston, 'the very rogue we want.' He then commanded his men to lay hold on the fellow, and hang him on the next tree. On hearing this, the astonished servant instantly called out, 'That he was not the miller, but the miller's man.' 'Nay, sir,' said Kingston, 'I must take you at your word. If thou bee'st the miller, thou art a busy knave; if thou art not, thou art a false lying knave; and howsoever, thou canst never do thy master better service than to hang for him.' All the poor fellow's supplications were in vain; he was instantly despatched.
The Maid and Magpie.
A citizen of Paris having lost several silver forks, accused his maidservant of the robbery; she was tried, and circumstances appeared so strong against her that she was found guilty and executed. Six months afterwards, the forks were found under an old roof, behind a heap of tiles, where a magpie had hid them. It is well known that this bird, by an inexplicable instinct, steals and collects utensils of gold and silver. When it was discovered that the poor innocent girl had been condemned unjustly, an annual mass was founded at St. John-en-Grese, for the repose of her soul. The souls of the judges had more occasion for it.
This story has been made the subject of interesting dramatic representations, both in France and in this country.
A Spaniard insists upon his horse or arms not being taken in execution; a Frenchman, according to the ancient laws of France, has his dress privileged; a Scotchman is content if his working tools are left to him, which are all that the laws of his country privilege from seizure.
The right of self-defence admits of fewer exceptions than almost any right which is recognised in society. The laws of Spain go farther in this respect than those of most other countries. So far from imposing any forfeiture in the case of homicide committed in the defence of one's person, they exhort every one to resist personal injury to the utmost, considering it better that a man should defend himself when alive, than to leave it to others to avenge him after he is killed. Self-defence is indeed forbidden by the law of Japan. Kempfer says, that if the aggressor is killed, the survivor hath only permission to be his own executioner. The Japanese, however, are not only 'toto divisos orbe,' by situation, they are still more so by their laws and customs.
In the bishopric of Autun, the rats had multiplied to such a degree, from about the year 1522 to 1530, as, from the devastation they committed, to cause an apprehension of famine. All human means appearing insufficient, the ecclesiastical judge of the diocese was petitioned to excommunicate them. But the sentence about to be hurled against them by the spiritual thunder, would not, it was imagined, be sufficiently efficacious, unless regular proceedings were instituted against the devoted objects of destruction.
The proctor accordingly lodged a formal complaint against the rats, and the judge ordered that they should be summoned to appear before him. The period for their appearance having expired without the animals having presented themselves, the proctor obtained a first judgment by default against them, and demanded that the definite judgment should be proceeded in.
The judge deeming it but fair that the accused should be defended officially, named Barthelemi Chassanee their advocate.
Chassanee, sensible of the opprobrious light in which his singular clients were held availed himself of many dilatory exceptions, in order to give time for prejudices to subside.
He at first maintained that the rats being dispersed among a great number of villages, a single summons was not sufficient to warn them all. He therefore demanded, and it was ordered, that a second notification should be given to them by the clergyman of each parish at the time of his sermon.
At the expiration of the considerable delay occasioned by this exception, he made an excuse for the new default of his parties, by dwelling on the length and difficulty of the journey; on the danger they were exposed to from the cats, their mortal enemies, who would lay in wait for them in all directions. &c.
When these evasive means were exhausted, he rested his defence upon considerations of humanity and policy. 'Was there anything more unjust than those general proscriptions levelled at whole families, which punished the offspring for the guilt of the parents, which involved without distinction those of tender years, and even those whose incapacity equally rendered them incapable of crime,' &c.
We are not informed what award was made by the judge. The President de Thou, who relates the fact, only observes that Chassanee's reputation commenced from this cause, and that he afterwards rose to the chief offices of the magistracy.
The Saxons were particularly curious in fixing pecuniary compensation for injuries of all kinds, without leaving it to the discretion of the judge to proportion the amends to the degree of injury suffered. Those penalties were more or less, according to the time or place in which the crime was committed, or the part of the body or member which was injured. The cutting off an ear involved a penalty of thirty shillings; if the hearing was lost, sixty shillings. Striking out the front tooth was punished with a fine of eight shillings; the canine tooth, four shillings; the grinders, sixteen shillings. If a common person was bound with chains, the amends were ten shillings; if beaten, twenty shillings; if bung up, thirty shillings. A man who mutilated an oxs horn was to pay a fine of tenpence; but if it was a cow, the fine was only twopence, To fight or make a brawl in the court or yard of a common person was punished with a fine of six shillings; to draw a sword in the same place, even though there was no fighting, was a fine of three shillings; if the party in whose yard or court this happened was worth six hundred shillings, the amends were treble.
The notion of compensation ran through the whole criminal law of the Anglo-Saxons, who allowed a sum of money as a recompense for every kind of crime, not excepting murder. Every man's life had its value, called a were or capitis estimatis. This had varied at different periods; therefore in the time of King Athelstan a law was made to settle the were of every order of persons in the state. The king, who on this occasion was only distinguished as a superior personage, was rated at 30,000 thrymsae; an archbishop or earl at 15,000; a bishop or alderman at 8,ooo; Belli Imperator or summus praefectus at 4,000; a priest or thane at 2,000; and a common person at 267 thrymsae.
The Egyptians had a very remarkable ordinance to prevent persons from borrowing imprudently. An Egyptian was not permitted to borrow without giving to his creditor in pledge the body of his father. It was deemed both an impiety and an infamy not to redeem so sacred a pledge. A person who died without discharging that duty was deprived of the customary honours paid to the dead.
Lord Robert de Willoughby, says Sir Edward Coke, addressing the counsellors at the bar of the court, said, 'I have seen the time, when if you had pleaded an erroneous plea, you would have been sent to prison.' In one of the speeches which Coke made in the Temple Hall, in the year 1614, on a call of sergeants, he mentions the following anecdote with regard to the scruples of Littleton and Coke, about a false plea. They were in the time of Henry VI. entreated to save a default in a real action on this plea; that by the greatness of the waters, their client could not pass for sixteen days. Holding this to be untrue, they refused to plead it.
By a statute of James I. of Scotland, every advocate is ordered to take the following oath:-
'Illud juretur, quod lis sibi justa videtur,
Et si quaeretur, verum non inficietur.
Nil promittetur, nec falsa probatio detur,
Ut lis tardetur, dilatio nulla petetur.'
The Percy Anecdotes: