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So thus Death grew to them most holy sweet;
A bringer and a taker of all love;
The link to that which lay beneath their feet,
The bond of all they looked for from above.
His gentleness was on them, and His duty
Gave all their future life redoubled beauty.


THE First of November will be an epoch in
the administration of justice in this country.
On that day will come into operation the Act
which was passed in the last session of Parliament
for admitting the evidence, in civil trials,
of the parties to them:- A change, the
magnitude and importance of which can only be
estimated by those whose duties as lawyers,
or whose misfortunes as suitors, have made
them familiar with the course of trial which
has hitherto been observed in all our higher
courts; and which, until of late years, (when
it has been, by the authority of the Legislature,
abandoned in the County Courts,) was
the general rule of our law.

Thus, those who are in general best
acquainted with the facts which it is the object
of the trial to establish, have been hitherto
prevented from speaking in their own behalf,
and from being questioned on behalf of their
opponents. This rule of practice has been
persevered in, from the assumption that the testimony
of plaintiff or defendant was so sure to
be false, that it would be a waste of time and
a misleading of the judge and jury to hear it.
Cross-examinationon which so much stress
is laid, when it is desired to glorify our
method of trialwas here rejected, as
furnishing, it was thought, no safeguard. Moral
and religious obligations to speak the truth
were treated as of no power over the mind
of the interested witness; and the law of
England aspersed all men as being utterly
untrustworthy: while, at the same time, it
would have punished each for a libel if he
had applied to individuals the stigma thus
fixed upon the body at large.

Eight years only have elapsed since the
slightest amount (even to one farthing) of
interest in a cause disqualified any witness
from being heard upon it; the law carrying
the presumption of which we have spoken to
its full extent. So far it operated logically
and consistently, though not with wisdom;
because, when a course is erroneous,
inconsistency becomes an excellence; for it is
better to be nearly right than wholly wrong.

In a score or two of years the existence of
such a state of things will be incredible to
these who are not familiar with legal history.
Probably (although the change is far more
recent) many of our readers do not know that
formerly a prisoner on trial tor his life could
not employ counsel to address the jury in his
defence, unless the charge against him was
high treason. Going further back, we come
to a period when, even in cases of treason, he
laboured under the same disability; although
struggling for his life against the enormous
power of the crown; neither were his
witnesses permitted to be sworna distinction
which the judge seldom failed to point out to
the jury, as depriving their testimony of all
weight when opposed to that of the witnesses
for the crown.

Yet, when all these absurditiescruel and
revolting as they arewere in daily practice,
the Law of England was the theme of
unbounded panegyric; and, although these
monstrosities have departed, they have left other
evils and inconsistencies behind, quite gross
enough to ensure the astonishment of
posterity at our powers of endurance in regard
to the wrongs ofothers.

Let one wrong suffice for a sample:- When
Dr. Websterwho was executed last year at
Boston, in the state of Massachusetts, for the
murder of his brother professor, Dr. Parkman
was on his trial, the counsel against him,
in observing on the absence of certain evidence,
(which, if it existed, would have been adduced
on the part of the prisoner,) boasted, and
with great justice, that the Treasury of
the State was thrown open to prisoners to
pay for bringing up from any distance all
the witnesses required for their defence.
The same law is in operation in Belgium,
and perhaps elsewhere: but in England we
shut up an accused person until his trial;
often oppose obstacles to his free communication
with those who come to his aid; give
him not one sixpence towards his expenses;
try him at a distance from the scene of his
imputed crime; and then, although he is
known to be without a farthing, we gravely
ask him if he have any witnesses to call?
Then, and after his conviction, for the want
perhaps of evidence that might have been
adduced, he goes back to his cell writhing
under the bitter agony of injustice; while we
go to dinner, and thence to the Assize Ball.

Lord Brougham's lasting, though we trust
not last, great public service, the Evidence
Act, operates, on popular principles, to the
advancement of justice. The demagogue, if
he were not a vain, selfish, and ignorant blockhead,
instead of a real teacher of the people,
(as the name by its derivation imports), would
have called public attention to the hardship,
on the man in humble life, of our former Law
of Evidence. In transacting business with his
richer neighbour, the poor man acts for
himself; the rich man by his clerks or servants.
Their evidence was admissible; his was
excluded. Observe the cruel inequality of such a
law. The clerk or servant might give evidence
of a conversation between the poor man and
himself, which had taken place when they were
alone together; knowing that whatever he
might choose to say, could not be
contradicted when repeated in court. Now, the
great rule of hearing both sides, applies to
no testimony with so much force as to
evidence respecting words spoken. How difficult
does the intelligent and disinterested