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The bowers of pleasure perish e'en like these,
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE.
ONE of my friends used to boast, that the most beautiful woman in the world could never make him forget his duty as a judge. "I believe you," I replied; "but every magistrate is a man before he is a judge. The first emotion will be for the fair plaintiff, the second for justice;" and then I related to him this tale.
"A countess, handsome enough to prejudice the most rigid judge in favour of the worst cause, was desired to take the part of a colonel in the army against a tradesman. The tradesman was in conference with the judge, who found his claim so clear, and so just, that he assured him of success. At the moment, the charming countess appeared in the anti-chamber. The judge ran to meet her. Her address, her hair, her eyes, the tone of her voice, such an accumulation of charms were so persuasive, that in a moment he felt more as a man than a judge, and he promised the lovely advocate that the colonel should gain his cause. Here the judge was engaged on both sides. When he returned to his study, he found the tradesman in despair. I have seen her,' cried the poor man, out of his senses, 'I have seen the lady who solicits against me, she is as handsome as an angel. O Sir! my cause is lost.'- Put yourself in my place,' said the judge, quite confused. Could I refuse
her? and saying this, he took an hundred pistoles from his purse, which was the amount of the tradesman's demand, and gave them to him. The lady heard of this; and as she was scrupulously virtuous, she was fearful of lying under too great an obligation to the judge, and immediately sent him the hundred pistoles. The colonel, who was as gallant as the lady was scrupulous, repaid her the money, and so in the end every one did what was right. The judge feared to be unjust, the countess was cautious of lying under too great an obligation, the colonel paid his debt, and the tradesman received his due."
The above anecdote is an instance of the old adage, summum jus summa injuria, reversed; for here, strict justice arises from a gross perversion of justice. Happily for this country, it is impossible that such a series of events could happen here. In an age of dissipation and extravagance like the present, it would be folly to say that the people of England are proof against influence and corruption: but the stream of justice always flows free, and unsullied even by the breath of calumny. A judge would consider a present, or even a visit, from a party in a cause coming before him, as the grossest affront, and would be as much dishonoured by the idea even of being actuated by any influence whatsoever, as an officer would by being kicked at the head of his regiment. Indeed, there is such a regular course of gradual appeal, from the lowest magistrate to the highest, and the proceedings of every court are made so public over the whole island, by the circulation of newspapers, that any bias towards corruption or partiality, must be followed by public disgrace, and exemplary punishment.
Voltaire puts these words into the mouth of an Englishman, in one of his dialogues:-"Les plaideurs ne sollicitent jamais leurs juges: ce seroit dire, Je veux vous séduire. Un juge qui recevroit une visite d'un plaideur seroit déshonoré. Ils ne recherchent point cet honneur ridicule, qui flatte la vanité d'un bourgeois; on ne vendent point chez nous un place de magistrat comme une metairie."
The satirical writings of all the other nations of Europe, are full of models of the corrupt administration of public justice. In this the French, while they had any laws at all, were eminently conspicuous.
Ir is said that many persons still maintain that PATCH was innocent of the murder of Mr. Blight. I am not of this opinion; but the following is a remarkable instance of the fallaciousness of circumstantial evidence, though of the strongest nature, and may serve to caution juries against depriving a fellow-creature of his life, upon such testimony, where there is " a single loop to hang a doubt upon."
Extraordinary Case of Jonathan Bradford, who was executed at Oxford, for the Murder of Christopher Hayes, Esq. in the year
JONATHAN BRADFORD kept an inn in Oxfordshire, on the London road to Oxford; he bore an unexceptionable character. Mr. Hayes, a gentleman of fortune, being on his way to Oxford, on a visit to a relation, put up at Bradford's. He there joined company with two gentlemen, with whom he supped, and in conversation unguardedly mentioned that he had then about him a large sum of money. In due time they retired to their respective chambers; the gentlemen to a two-bedded room, leaving, as is customary with many, a candle burning in the chimney corner. Some hours after they were in bed, one of the gentlemen being awake, thought he heard a deep groan in the adjoining chamber; and this being repeated, he softly awaked his friend. They listened together, and the groans increasing as of one dying, they both instantly arose, and proceeded silently to the door of the next chamber, from whence they heard the groans, and the door being ajar, saw a light in the room; they entered, but it is impossible to paint their consternation, on perceiving a person weltering in his blood in the bed, and a man standing over him, with a dark lanthorn in one hand and a knife in the other. The man seemed as petrified as themselves, but his terror carried with it all the terror of guilt! The gentlemen soon discovered the person was the stranger with whom they had that night supped, and that the man who was standing over him was their host. They seized Bradford directly, disarmed him of his knife, and charged him with being the murderer: he assumed by this time the air of innocence, positively denied the crime, and
asserted that he came there with the same humane intentions as themselves; for that, hearing a noise, which was succeeded by a groaning, he got out of bed, struck a light, armed himself with a knife for his defence, and was but that minute entered the room before them.
These assertions were of little avail, he was kept in close custody till the morning, and then taken before a neighbouring justice of the peace. Bradford still denied the murder, but nevertheless, with such an apparent indication of guilt, that the justice hesitated not to make use of this extraordinary expression, on writing out his mittimus; "Mr. Bradford, either you or myself committed this murder."
This extraordinary affair was the conversation of the whole county. Bradford was tried and condemned over and over again, in every company. In the midst of all this predetermination came on the assizes at Oxford: Bradford was brought to trial, he pleaded not guilty. Nothing could be more strong than the evidence of the two gentlemen: they testified to the finding Mr. Hayes murdered in his bed; Bradford at the side of the body with a light and a knife; that knife and the hand which held it bloody; that on their entering the room he betrayed all the signs of a guilty man; and, that a few moments preceding, they had heard the groans of the deceased.
Bradford's defence on his trial was the same as before the gentlemen: he had heard a noise; he suspected some villany transacting; he struck a light; he snatched a knife (the only weapon near him) to defend himself; and the terrors he discovered were merely the terrors of humanity, the natural effects of innocence as well as guilt, on beholding such a horrid scene!
This defence, however, could be considered but as weak, contrasted with the several powerful circumstances against him. Never was circumstantial evidence more strong! There was little need left of comment from the judge in summing up the evidence! No room appeared for extenuation! And the jury brought in the prisoner Guilty, even without going out of the box.
Bradford was executed shortly after, still declaring he was not the murderer, nor privy to the murder of Mr. Hayes, but he died disbelieved by all.
Yet were those assertions not untrue! The murder was actually committed by Mr. Hayes's footman; who, immediately on stabbing his master, rifled his breeches of his money, gold watch, and snuff
box, and escaped to his own room, which could have been, from the after circumstances, scarcely two seconds before Bradford's entering the unfortunate gentleman's chamber. The world owes this knowledge to a remorse of conscience in the footman (eighteen months after the execution of Bradford) on a bed of sickness: it was a death-bed repentance, and by that death the law lost its victim!
It is much to be wished that this account could close here; but it cannot! Bradford, though innocent, and not privy to the mur der, was, nevertheless, the murderer in design. He had heard, as well as the footman, what Mr. Hayes had declared at supper, as to his having a large sum of money about him, and 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 bed-clothes, 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 bloody. These circumstances Bradford acknowledged to the clergyman who attended him after his sentence.
THE ATHANASIAN CREED.
FROM THE LOUNGER'S COMMON-PLACE BOOK.
THE ATHANASIAN CREED is a form of words occasionally read as part of the liturgy of the church of England.
This collection of complicated definitions, which, at last, leaves the point in question unexplained, has proved a stumbling block to many conscientious men; it excited the inquisitive scruples of Chillingworth, and the candid doubts of Waterland and Clarke; Archbishop Tillotson, in a letter to Dr. Burnett, (Oct. 23d, 1694) wishes the church well rid of it; and Bishop Taylor confesses, that it cannot be deduced from the language, or be supported by the authority of holy writ.
Yet a creed which has maintained its ground for almost nine hundred years, and which, excepting the damnatory clauses, is said, by its supporters, to derive its origin from an evangelist, the precursor and herald of Jesus Christ; a creed which has received the open assent or silent subscription of ten thousand sincere Christians and excellent divines, ought not to be hastily rejected.