In the present case

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Most righteous judge! a sentence. — Come, prepare.
Merchant of Venice.
It is by no means my intention to describe minutely the forms of a Scottish criminal trial, nor am I sure that I could draw up an account so intelligible and accurate as to abide the criticism of the gentlemen of the long robe. It is enough to say that the jury was impanelled, and the case proceeded. The prisoner was again required to plead to the charge, and she again replied, “Not Guilty,” in the same heart-thrilling tone as before.
The crown counsel then called two or three female witnesses, by whose testimony it was established, that Effie’s situation had been remarked by them, that they had taxed her with the fact, and that her answers had amounted to an angry and petulant denial of what they charged her with. But, as very frequently happens, the declaration of the panel or accused party herself was the evidence which bore hardest upon her case.
In the event of these tales ever finding their way across the Border, it may be proper to apprise the southern reader that it is the practice in Scotland, on apprehending a suspected person, to subject him to a judicial examination before a magistrate. He is not compelled to answer any of the questions asked of him, but may remain silent if he sees it his interest to do so. But whatever answers he chooses to give are formally written down, and being subscribed by himself and the magistrate, are produced against the accused in case of his being brought to trial. It is true, that these declarations are not produced as being in themselves evidence properly so called, but only as adminicles of testimony, tending to corroborate what is considered as legal and proper evidence. Notwithstanding this nice distinction, however, introduced by lawyers to reconcile this procedure to their own general rule, that a man cannot be required to bear witness against himself, it nevertheless usually happens that these declarations become the means of condemning the accused, as it were, out of their own mouths. The prisoner, upon these previous examinations, has indeed the privilege of remaining silent if he pleases; but every man necessarily feels that a refusal to answer natural and pertinent interrogatories, put by judicial authority, is in itself a strong proof of guilt, and will certainly lead to his being committed to prison; and few can renounce the hope of obtaining liberty by giving some specious account of themselves, and showing apparent frankness in explaining their motives and accounting for their conduct. It, therefore, seldom happens that the prisoner refuses to give a judicial declaration, in which, nevertheless, either by letting out too much of the truth, or by endeavouring to substitute a fictitious story, he almost always exposes himself to suspicion and to contradictions, which weigh heavily in the minds of the jury.
The declaration of Effie Deans was uttered on other principles, and the following is a sketch of its contents, given in the judicial form, in which they may still be found in the Books of Adjournal.
The declarant admitted a criminal intrigue with an individual whose name she desired to conceal. “Being interrogated, what her reason was for secrecy on this point? She declared, that she had no right to blame that person’s conduct more than she did her own, and that she was willing to confess her own faults, but not to say anything which might criminate the absent. Interrogated, if she confessed her situation to any one, or made any preparation for her confinement? Declares, she did not. And being interrogated, why she forbore to take steps which her situation so peremptorily required? Declares, she was ashamed to tell her friends, and she trusted the person she has mentioned would provide for her and the infant. Interrogated if he did so? Declares, that he did not do so personally; but that it was not his fault, for that the declarant is convinced he would have laid down his life sooner than the bairn or she had come to harm. Interrogated, what prevented him from keeping his promise? Declares, that it was impossible for him to do so, he being under trouble at the time, and declines farther answer to this question. Interrogated, where she was from the period she left her master, Mr. Saddletree’s family, until her appearance at her father’s, at St. Leonard’s, the day before she was apprehended? Declares, she does not remember. And, on the interrogatory being repeated, declares, she does not mind muckle about it, for she was very ill. On the question being again repeated, she declares, she will tell the truth, if it should be the undoing of her, so long as she is not asked to tell on other folk; and admits, that she passed that interval of time in the lodging of a woman, an acquaintance of that person who had wished her to that place to be delivered, and that she was there delivered accordingly of a male child. Interrogated, what was the name of that person? Declares and refuses to answer this question. Interrogated, where she lives? Declares, she has no certainty, for that she was taken to the lodging aforesaid under cl nike free run 2 review oud of night. Interrogated, if the lodging was in the city or suburbs? Declares and refuses to answer that question. Interrogated, whether, when she left the house of Mr. Saddletree, she went up or down the street? Declares and refuses to answer the question. Interrogated, whether she had ever seen the woman before she was wished to her, as she termed it, by the person whose name she refuses to answer? Declares and replies, not to her knowledge. Interrogated, whether this woman was introduced to her by the said person verbally, or by word of mouth? Declares, she has no freedom to answer this question. Interrogated, if the child was alive when it was born? Declares, that — God help her and it! — it certainly was alive. Interrogated, if it died a natural death after birth? Declares, not to her knowledge. Interrogated, where it now is? Declares, nike free 5.0 v4 she would give her right hand to ken, but that she never hopes to see mair than the banes of it. And being interrogated, why she supposes it is now dead? the declarant wept bitterly and made no answer. Interrogated, if the woman, in whose lodging she was, seemed to be a fit person to be with her in that situation? Declares, she might be fit enough for skill, but that she was an hard-hearted bad woman. Interrogated, if there was any other person in the lodging excepting themselves two? Declares, that she thinks there was another woman; but her head was so carried with pain of body and trouble of mind, that she minded her very little. Interrogated, when the child was taken away from her? Declared that she fell in a fever, and was light-headed, and when she came to her own mind, the woman told her the bairn was dead; and that the declarant answered, if it was dead nike free running shoes it had had foul play. That, thereupon, the woman was very sair on her, and gave her much ill language; and that the deponent was frightened, and crawled out of the house when her back was turned, and went home to Saint Leonard’s Crags, as well as a woman in her condition dought.1
Interrogated, why she did not tell her story to her sister and father, and get force to search the house for her child, dead or alive? Declares, it was her purpose to do so, but she had not time. Interrogated, why she now conceals the name of the woman, and the place of her abode? The declarant remained silent for a time, and then said, that to do so could not repair the skaith that was done, but might be the occasion of more. Interrogated, whether she had herself, at any time, had any purpose of putting away the child by violence? Declares, never; so might God be merciful to her — and then again declares, never, when she wa nike free s in her perfect senses; but what bad thoughts the Enemy might put into her brain when she was out of herself, she cannot answer. And again solemnly interrogated, declares, that she would have been drawn with wild horses, rather than have touched the bairn with an unmotherly hand. Interrogated, declares, that among the ill-language the woman gave her, she did say sure enough that the declarant had hurt the bairn when she was in the brain fever; but that the declarant does not believe that she said this from any other cause than to frighten her, and make her be silent. Interrogated, what else the woman said to her? Declares, that when the declarant cried loud for her bairn, and was like to raise the neighbours, the woman threatened her, that they that could stop the wean’s skirling would stop hers, if she did not keep a’ the founder.2
And that this threat, with the manner of the woman, made the declarant conclude, that the bairn’s life was gone, and her own in danger, for that t cheap nike free run 2 he woman was a desperate bad woman, as the declarant judged from the language she used. Interrogated, declares, that the fever and delirium were brought on her by hearing bad news, suddenly told to her, but refuses to say what the said news related to. Interrogated, why she does not now communicate these particulars, which might, perhaps, enable the magistrate to ascertain whether the child is living or dead; and requested to observe, that her refusing to do so, exposes her own life, and leaves the child in bad hands; as also that her present refusal to answer on such points is inconsistent with her alleged intention to make a clean breast to her sister? Declares, that she kens the bairn is now dead, or, if living, there is one that will look after it; that for her own living or dying, she is in God’s hands, who knows her innocence of harming her bairn with her will or knowledge; and that she has altered her resolution of speaking out, which she entertained when she left the woman’s lodging, on account of a matter which she has since learned. And declares, in general, that she is wearied, and will answer no more questions at this t ime.”
Upon a subsequent examination, Euphemia Deans adhered to the declaration she had formerly made, with this addition, that a paper found in her trunk being shown to her, she admitted that it contained the credentials, in consequence of which she resigned herself to the conduct of the woman at whose lodgings she was delivered of the child. Its tenor ran thus:—
“Dearest Effie — I have gotten the means to send to you by a woman who is well qualified to assist you in your approaching streight; she is not what I could wish her, but I cannot do better for you in my present condition. I am obliged to trust to her in this nike free run 3.0 present calamity, for myself and you too. I hope for the best, though I am now in a sore pinch; yet thought is free — I think Handie Dandie and I may queer the stifler3 for all that is come and gone.
You will be angry for me writing this to my little Cameronian Lily; but if I can but live to be a comfort to you, and a father to your babie, you will have plenty of time to scold. — Once more, let none knew your coun cheap nike free run sel — my life depends on this hag, d — n her — she is both deep and dangerous, but she has more wiles and wit than ever were in a beldam’s head, and has cause to be true to me. Farewell, my Lily — Do not droop on my account — in a week I will be yours or no more my own.”
Then followed a postscript. “If they must truss me, I will repent of nothing so much, even at the last hard pinch, as of the injury I have done my Lily.”
Effie refused to say from whom she had received this letter, but enough of the story was now known, to ascertain that it came from Robertson; and from the date, it appeared to have been written about the time when Andrew Wilson (called for a nickname Handie Dandie) and he were meditating their first abortive attempt to escape, which miscarried in the manner mentioned in the beginning of this history.
The e nike free trainers uk vidence of the Crown being concluded, the counsel for the prisoner began to lead a proof in her defence. The first witnesses were examined upon the girl’s character. All gave her an excellent one, but none with more feeling than worthy Mrs. Saddletree, who, with the tears on her cheeks, declared, that she could not have had a higher opinion of Effie Deans, nor a more sincere regard for her, if she had been her own daughter. All present gave the honest woman credit for her goodness of heart, excepting her husband, who whispered to Dumbiedikes, “That Nichil Novit of yours is but a raw hand at leading evidence, I’m thinking. What signified his bringing a woman here to snotter and snivel, and bather their Lordships? He should hae ceeted me, sir, and I should hae gien them sic a screed o’ testimony, they shauldna hae touched a h nike free review air o’ her head.”
“Hadna ye better get up and tryt yet?” said the Laird. “I’ll mak a sign to Novit.”
“Na, na,” said Saddletree, “thank ye for naething, neighbour — that would be ultroneous evidence, and I ken what belangs to that; but Nichil Novit suld hae had me ceeted debito tempore.” And wiping his mouth with his silk handkerchief with great importance, he resumed the port and manner of an edified and intelligent auditor.
Mr. Fairbrother now premised, in a few words, “that he meant to bring forward his most important witness, upon whose evidence the cause must in a great measure depend. What his client was, they had learned from the preceding witnesses; and so far as general character, given in the most forcible terms, and even with tears, could interest every one in her fate, she had already gained that advantage. It was necessary, he admitted, that he should produce more positive testimony of her innocence than what arose out of general character, and this he undertook to do by the mouth of the person to whom she had communicated her situation — by the mouth of her natural counsellor and guardian — her sister. — Macer, call into court, Jean, or Jeanie Deans, daughter of David Deans, cowfeeder, at Saint Leonard’s Crags!”
When he uttered these words, the poor prisoner instantly started up, and stretched herself half-way over the bar, towards the side at which her sister was to enter. And when, slowly following the officer, the witness advanced to the foot of the table, Effie, with the whole expression of her countenance altered, from that of confused shame and dismay, to an eager, imploring, and almost ecstatic earnestness of entreaty, with outstretched hands, hair streaming back, eyes r nike free 3.0 review aised eagerly to her sister’s face, and glistening through tears, exclaimed in a tone which went through the heart of all who heard her — “O Jeanie, Jeanie, save me, save me!”
With a different feeling, yet equally appropriated to his proud and self-dependent character, old Deans drew himself back still farther under the cover of the bench; so that when Jeanie, as she entered the court, cast a timid glance towards the place at which she had left him seated, his venerable figure was no longer visible. He sate down on the other side of Dumbiedikes, wrung his hand hard, and whispered, “Ah, Laird, this is warst of a’— if I can but win ower this part — I feel my head unco dizzy; but my Master is strong in his servant’s weakness.” After a moment’s mental prayer, he again started up, as if impatient of continuing in any one posture, and gradually edged himself forward towards the nike free 3.0 sale place he had just quitted.
Jeanie in the meantime had advanced to the bottom of the table, when, unable to resist the impulse of affections she suddenly extended her hand to her sister. Effie was just within the distance that she could seize it with both hers, press it to her mouth, cover it with kisses, and bathe it in tears, with the fond devotion that a Catholic would pay to a guardian saint descended for his safety; while Jeanie, hiding her own face with her other hand, wept bitterly. The sight would have moved a heart of stone, much more of flesh and blood. Many of the spectators shed tears, and it was some time before the presiding Judge himself could so far subdue his emotion as to request the witness to compose herself, and the prisoner to forbear those marks of eager affection, which, however natural, could not be permitted at that time, and in that presence.
The solemn oath — “the truth to tell, and no truth nike free run plus to conceal, as far as she knew or should be asked,” was then administered by the Judge “in the name of God, and as the witness should answer to God at the great day of judgment;” an awful adjuration, which seldom fails to make impression even on the most hardened characters, and to strike with fear even the most upright. Jeanie, educated in deep and devout reverence for the name and attributes of the Deity, was, by the solemnity of a direct appeal to his person and justice, awed, but at the same time elevated above all considerations, save those which she could, with a clear conscience, call Him to witness. She repeated the form in a low and reverent, but distinct tone of voice, after the Judge, to whom, and not to any inferior officer of the Court, the task is assigned in Scotland of directing the witness in that solemn appeal which is the sanction of his testimony.
When the Judge had finished the established form, he added in a feeling, but yet a monitory tone, an advice, which the circumstances appeared to him to call for.
“Young woman,” these were his words, “you come before this Court in circumstances, which it would be worse than cruel not to pity and to sympathise with. Yet it is my duty to tell you, that the truth, whatever its consequences may be, the truth is what you owe to your country, and to that God whose word is truth, and whose name you have now invoked. Use your own time in answering the questions that gentleman” (pointing to the counsel) “shall put to you. — But remember, that what you may be tempted to say beyond what is the actual truth, you must answer both here and hereafter.”
The usual questions were then put to her:— Whether any one had instructed her what evidence she had to deliver? Whether any one had given or promised her any good deed, hire, or reward, for her testimony? Whether she had any malice or ill-will at his Majesty’s Advocate, being the party against whom she was cited as a witness? To which questions she successively answered by a quiet negative. But their tenor gave great scandal and offence to her father, who was not aware that they are put to every witness as a matter of form.
“Na, na,” he exclaimed, loud enough to be heard, “my bairn is no like the Widow of Tekoah — nae man has putten words into her mouth.”
One of the judges, better acquainted, perhaps, with the Books of Adjournal than with the Book of Samuel, was disposed to make some instant inquiry after this Widow of Tekoah, who, as he construed the matter, had been tampering with the evidence. But the presiding Judge, better versed in Scripture history, whispered to his learned brother the necessary explanation; and the pause occasioned by this mistake had the good effect of giving Jeanie Deans time to collect her spirits for the painful task she had to perform.
Fairbrother, whose practice and intelligence were considerable, saw the necessity of letting the witness compose herself. In his heart he suspected that she came to bear false witness in her sister’s cause.
“But that is her own affair,” thought Fairbrother; “and it is my business to see that she has plenty of time to regain composure, and to deliver her evidence, be it true, or be it false — valeat quantum.”
Accordingly, he commenced his interrogatories with uninteresting questions, which admitted of instant reply.
“You are, I think, the sister of the prisoner?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Not the full sister, however?”
“No, sir — we are by different mothers.”
“True; and you are, I think, several years older than your sister?”
“Yes, sir,” etc.
After the advocate had conceived that, by these preliminary and unimportant questions, he had familiarised the witness with the situation in which she stood, he asked, “whether she had not remarked her sister’s state of health to be altered, during the latter part of the term when she had lived with Mrs. Saddletree?”
Jeanie answered in the affirmative.
“And she told you the cause of it, my dear, I suppose?” said Fairbrother, in an easy, and, as one may say, an inductive sort of tone.
“I am sorry to interrupt my brother,” said the Crown Counsel, rising; “but I am in your Lordships’ judgment, whether this be not a leading question?”
“If this point is to be debated,” said the presiding Judge, “the witness must be removed.”
For the Scottish lawyers regard with a sacred and scrupulous horror every question so shaped by the counsel examining, as to convey to a witness the least intimation of the nature of the answer which is desired from him. These scruples, though founded on an excellent principle, are sometimes carried to an absurd pitch of nicety, especially as it is generally easy for a lawyer who has his wits about him to elude the objection. Fairbrother did so in the present case.
“It is not necessary to waste the time of the Court, my Lord since the King’s Counsel thinks it worth while to object to the form of my question, I will shape it otherwise. — Pray, young woman, did you ask your sister any question when you observed her looking unwell? — take courage — speak out.”
“I asked her,” replied Jeanie, “what ailed her.”
“Very well — take your own time — and what was the answer she made?” continued Mr. Fairbrother.
Jeanie was silent, and looked deadly pale. It was not that she at any one instant entertained an idea of the possibility of prevarication — it was the natural hesitation to extinguish the last spark of hope that remained for her sister.
“Take courage, young woman,” said Fairbrother. —“I asked what your sister said ailed her when you inquired?”
“Nothing,” answered Jeanie, with a faint voice, which was yet heard distinctly in the most distant corner of the Court-room — such an awful and profound silence had been preserved during the anxious interval, which had interposed betwixt the lawyer’s question and the answer of the witness.
Fairbrother’s countenance fell; but with that ready presence of mind, which is as useful in civil as in military emergencies, he immediately rallied. —“Nothing? True; you mean nothing at first — but when you asked her again, did she not tell you what ailed her?”
The question was put in a tone meant to make her comprehend the importance of her answer, had she not been already aware of it. The ice was broken, however, and with less pause than at first, she now replied — “Alack! alack! she never breathed word to me about it.”
A deep groan passed through the Court. It was echoed by one deeper and more agonised from the unfortunate father. The hope to which unconsciously, and in spite of himself, he had still secretly clung, had now dissolved, and the venerable old man fell forward senseless on the floor of the Court-house, with his head at the foot of his terrified daughter. The unfortunate prisoner, with impotent passion, strove with the guards betwixt whom she was placed. “Let me gang to my father! — I will gang to him — I will gang to him — he is dead — he is killed — I hae killed him!”— she repeated, in frenzied tones of grief, which those who heard them did not speedily forget.
Even in this moment of agony and general confusion, Jeanie did not lose that superiority, which a deep and firm mind assures to its possessor under the most trying circumstances.
“He is my father — he is our father,” she mildly repeated to those who endeavoured to separate them, as she stooped — shaded aside his grey hairs, and began assiduously to chafe his temples.
The Judge, after repeatedly wiping his eyes, gave directions that they should be conducted into a neighbouring apartment, and carefully attended. The prisoner, as her father was borne from the Court, and her sister slowly followed, pursued them with her eyes so earnestly fixed, as if they would have started from their sockets. But when they were no longer visible, she seemed to find, in her despairing and deserted state, a courage which she had not yet exhibited.
“The bitterness of it is now past,” she said, and then boldly, addressed the Court. “My Lords, if it is your pleasure to gang on wi’ this matter, the weariest day will hae its end at last.”
The Judge, who, much to his honour, had shared deeply in the general sympathy, was surprised at being recalled to his duty by the prisoner. He collected himself, and requested to know if the panel’s counsel had more evidence to produce. Fairbrother replied, with an air of dejection, that his proof was concluded.
The King’s Counsel addressed the jury for the crown. He said in a few words, that no one could be more concerned than he was for the distressing scene which they had just witnessed. But it was the necessary consequence of great crimes to bring distress and ruin upon all connected with the perpetrators. He briefly reviewed the proof, in which he showed that all the circumstances of the case concurred with those required by the act under which the unfortunate prisoner was tried: That the counsel for the panel had totally failed in proving, that Euphemia Deans had communicated her situation to her sister: That, respecting her previous good character, he was sorry to observe, that it was females who possessed the world’s good report, and to whom it was justly valuable, who were most strongly tempted, by shame and fear of the world’s censure, to the crime of infanticide: That the child was murdered, he professed to entertain no doubt. The vacillating and inconsistent declaration of the prisoner herself, marked as it was by numerous refusals to speak the truth on subjects, when, according to her own story, it would have been natural, as well as advantageous, to have been candid; even this imperfect declaration left no doubt in his mind as to the fate of the unhappy infant. Neither could he doubt that the panel was a partner in this guilt. Who else had an interest in a deed so inhuman? Surely neither Robertson, nor Robertson’s agent, in whose house she was delivered, had the least temptation to commit such a crime, unless upon her account, with her connivance, and for the sake of saying her reputation. But it was not required of him, by the law, that he should bring precise proof of the murder, or of the prisoner’s accession to it. It was the very purpose of the statute to substitute a certain chain of presumptive evidence in place of a probation, which, in such cases, it was peculiarly difficult to obtain. The jury might peruse the statute itself, and they had also the libel and interlocutor of relevancy to direct them in point of law. He put it to the conscience of the jury, that under both he was entitled to a verdict of Guilty.
The charge of Fairbrother was much cramped by his having failed in the proof which he expected to lead. But he fought his losing cause with courage and constancy. He ventured to arraign the severity of the statute under which the young woman was tried. “In all other cases,” he said, “the first thing required of the criminal prosecutor was to prove unequivocally that the crime libelled had actually been committed, which lawyers called proving the corpus delicti. But this statute, made doubtless with the best intentions, and under the impulse of a just horror for the unnatural crime of infanticide, ran the risk of itself occasioning the worst of murders, the death of an innocent person, to atone for a supposed crime which may never have been committed by anyone. He was so far from acknowledging the alleged probability of the child’s violent death, that he could not even allow that there was evidence of its having ever lived.”
The King’s Counsel pointed to the woman’s declaration; to which the counsel replied —“A production concocted in a moment of terror and agony, and which approached to insanity,” he said, “his learned brother well knew was no sound evidence against the party who emitted it. It was true, that a judicial confession, in presence of the Justices themselves, was the strongest of all proof, insomuch that it is said in law, that ‘in confitentem nullae sunt partes judicis.’ But this was true of judicial confession only, by which law meant that which is made in presence of the justices, and the sworn inquest. Of extrajudicial confession, all authorities held with the illustrious Farinaceus and Matthaeus, ‘confessio extrajudicialis in se nulla est; et quod nullum est, non potest adminiculari.’ It was totally inept, and void of all strength and effect from the beginning; incapable, therefore, of being bolstered up or supported, or, according to the law phrase, adminiculated, by other presumptive circumstances. In the present case, therefore, letting the extrajudicial confession go, as it ought to go, for nothing,” he contended, “the prosecutor had not made out the second quality of the statute, that a live child had been born; and that, at least, ought to be established before presumptions were received that it had been murdered. If any of the assize,” he said, “should be of opinion that this was dealing rather narrowly with the statute, they ought to consider that it was in its nature highly penal, and therefore entitled to no favourable construction.”

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