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dation. Every morning the Bristol tolsey or court-house saw a crowd of those wretched captives—clerks out of employment, unruly apprentices, street boys without parents, and occasionally children of honest birth, ay, of patrician lineage, whose prompt removal from their native land was desired by brutal fathers or vindictive guardians ; and every morning a mockery of judicial investigation was perpetrated in the name of justice. Standing in a crowd the prisoners were informed of the offences charged against them ; huddled together in the dock, like cattle in a pen, they caught stray sentences from the lips of the perjured rascals who had seized them in the public ways; and whilst they thus in a frenzy of surprise and fear listened to the statements of counsel for the prosecution, and to the fabrications of lying witnesses, agents of the court whispered to them that if they wished to save their lives they must instantly confess their guilt, and implore the justices to transport them to the plantations. Ignorant, alarmed, and powerless, the miserable victims invariably acted on this perfidious counsel ; and forth with the magistrates ordered their shipment to the West Indies, where they were sold as slaves—the money paid for them by West India planters in due course finding its way into the pockets of the Bristol justices. It is asserted that the wealthier aldermen, through caution, or those few grains of conscience which are often found in the breasts of consummate rogues, forbore to share in the gains of this abominable traffic ; but it cannot be gainsaid that the least guilty magistrates winked at the atrocions conduct of their brother-justices.
Vowing vengeance on the Bristol kidnappers Jeffreys entered their court-house, and opened proceedings by crying aloud that "he had brought a broom to sweep them with.” The Mayor of Bristol was in those days no common mayor ; in Assize Commissions his name was placed
before the names of Judges of Assize ; and even beyond the limits of his jurisdiction he was a man of mark and influence. Great therefore was this dignitary's astonishment when Jeffreys ordered him-clothed as he was in official scarlet and furs—to stand in the dock. For a few seconds the local potentate demurred; but when the Chief Justice poured upon him a cataract of blasphemy, and vowed to hang him instantly over the entrance to the tolsey unless he complied immediately, the humiliated chief magistrate of the ancient borough took his place at the felon's bar, and received such a rating as no thief, murderer or rebel had ever heard from George Jeffrey's abusive mouth. Unfortunately the affair ended with the storm. Until the arrival of William of Orange the guilty magistrates were kept in fear of criminal prosecution ; but the matter was hushed up and covered with amnesty by the new government, so that "the fright only, which was no small one, was all the punishment which these judicial kidnappers underwent ; and the gains," says Roger North, "acquired by so wicked a trade, rested peacefully in their pockets.” It should be remembered that the kidnapping justices whom the odious Jeffreys so indignantly denounced - were tolerated and courted by their respectable and prosperous neighbors; and some of the worst charges, by which the judge's fame has been rendered odious to posterity, depend upon the evidence of men who, if they were not kidnappers themselves, saw nothing peculiarly atrocious in the conduct of magistrates who systematically sold their fellow-countrymen into a most barbarous slavery.
Amongst old circuit stories of questionable truthfulness there is a singular anecdote recorded by the biographers of Chief Justice Hale, who, whilst riding the Western Circuit, tried a half-starved lad on a charge of burglary. The prisoner had been shipwrecked upon the Cornish
coast, and on his way through an inhospitable district had endured the pangs of extreme hunger. In his distress, the famished wanderer broke the window of a baker's shop and stole a loaf of bread. Under the circumstan. ces, Hale directed the jury to acquit the prisoner: but, less merciful than the judge, the gentlemen of the box returned a verdict of Guilty'-a verdict which the Chief
. Justice stoutly refused to act upon. After much resistance, the jurymen were starved into submission; and the youth was set at liberty. Several years elapsed ; and Chief Justice Hale was riding the Northern Circuit, when he was received with such costly and excessive pomp by the sheriff of a northern county, that he expostulated with his entertainer on the lavish profuseness of his con
“My lord," answered the sheriff, with emotion, “don't blame me for showing my gratitude to the judge who saved my life when I was an outcast. Had it not been for
you, I should have been hanged in Cornwall for stealing a loaf, instead of living to be the richest landowner of my native county."
A sketch of circuit-life in the middle of the last century may be found in ‘A Northern Circuit, Described in a Letter to a Friend: a Poetical Essay. By a Gentleman of the Middle Temple. 1751.'-a piece of doggrel that will meet with greater mercy from the antiquary than the poetical critic.
In seeking to avoid the customary exactions of their office, the sheriffs of the present generation were only following in the steps of sheriffs who, more than a century past, exerted themselves to reduce the expenses of shrievalties, and whose economical reforms were defended by reference to the conduct of sheriffs under the last of the Tudors. In the days of Elizabeth, the sheriffs demanded and obtained relief from an obligation to supply judges on circuit with food and lodging ; under Victoria they
have recently exclaimed against the custom which required them to furnish guards of javelin-bearers for the protection of Her Majesty's representatives; when George II. was king, they grumbled against lighter burdens--for instance, the cost of white kid-gloves and payments to bell-ringers. The sheriff is still required by custom to present the judges with white gloves whenever an assize has been held without a single capital conviction; but in past times, on every maiden assize, he was expected to give gloves not only to the judges, but to the entire body of circuiteers—barristers as well as officers of court.* Wishing to keep his official expenditure down to the lowest possible sum, a certain sheriff for Cumberland-called in ‘A Northern Circuit,'Sir Frigid Gripus Knapper-directed his under-sheriff not to give white gloves on the occasion of a maiden assize at Carlisle, and also through the mouth of his subordinate, declined to pay the officers of the circuit certain customary fees. To put the inno-vator to shame, Sir William Gascoigne, the judge before whom the case was laid, observed in open court, “ Though I can ompel an immediate payment, it being a demand of right, and not a mere gift, yet I will set him an example by gifts which I might refuse, but will not, because they are customary,” and forthwith addressing the steward, added-“Call the sheriff's coachman, his pages, and musicians, singing-boys, and vergers, and give them the accustomed gifts as soon as the sheriff comes.” From this direction, readers may see that under the old system of presents a judge was compelled to give away with his left hand much of that which he accepted with his right. It appears that Sir William Gascoigne's conduct had the desired effect; for as soon as the sheriff made his appearance, he repudiated the parsimonious conduct of the under-sheriff, though it is not credible that the subordinate acted without the direction or concurrence of his superior. “I think it," observed the sheriff, in reference to the sum of the customary payments, “as much for the honor of my office, and the country in general, as it is justice to those to whom it is payable ; and if any sheriff has been of a different opinion it shall never bias
* With regard to the customary gifts of white gloves Mr. Foss says : -"Gloves were presented to the judges on some occasions : viz., when a man, convicted for murder, or manslaughter, came and pleaded the king's pardon; and, till the Act of 4 & 5 William and Mary c. 18, which rendered personal appearance unnecessary, an outlawry could not be reversed, unless the defendant came into court, and with a present of gloves to the judges implored their favor to reverse it. The custom of giving the judge a pair of white gloves upon a maiden assize has continued till the present time.” An interesting chapter might be written on the ancient ceremonies and usages obsolete and extant, of our courts of law. Here are a few of the practices which such a chapter would properly notice :-The custom, still maintained, which forbids the Lord Chancellor to utter any word or make any sign, when on Lord Mayor's Day the Lord Mayor of London enters the Court of Chancery, and by the mouth of the Recorder prays his lordship to honor the Guildhall banquet with his presence; the custom-extant so late as Lord Brougham's Chancellorshipwhich required the Holder of the Seals, at the installation of a new Master of Chancery, to install the new master by placing a cap or hat on his head; the custom which in Charles II.’s time, on motion days at the Chancellor's, compelled all bar, risters making motions to contribute to his lordship's 'Poor's Box'-barristers within the bar paying two shillings, and outer barristers one shilling—the contents of which box were periodically given to magistrates, for distribution amongst the deserving poor of London; the custom which required a newly-created judge to present his colleagues with biscuits and wine; the barbarous custom which compelled prisoners to plead their defence, standing in fetters, a custom enforced by Chief Justice Pratt at the trial of the Jacobite against Christopher Layer, although at the trial of Cranburne for complicity in the 'Assassination Plot,' Holt had enunciated the merciful maxim, “When the prisoners are tried they should stand at ease;" the custom which-in days when forty persons died of gaol fever caught at the memorable Black Sessions (May, 1750) at the Old Bailey, when Captain Clark was tried for killing Captain Innes in a duel-strewed rue, fennel, and other herbs on the ledge of the dock, in the faith that the odor of the herbage would act as a barrier to the poisonous exhalations from prisoners sick of gaol distemper, and would protect the assembly in the body of the court from the contagion of the disease.