« PreviousContinue »
of his family, the man is allowed one cow, and receives for wages two pounds sterling annually, in the form of clothes. With this the family, consisting of six individuals, must contrive to clothe themselves. How they are clothed, it is scarcely necessary to say: covered they are not, nor did there appear to be a blanket in the house; the only substitute for a bed being an excavation in the wall, strewed, as it seemed, with ashes and straw.Such is the violence of the wind in this region, that not even the solid mass of a Highland hut can resist it. The house is therefore excavated in the earth, the wall required for the support of the roof scarcely rising two feet above the surface. The entrance to this subterranean retreat is through a long, dark, narrow, and tortuous passage, like the gallery of a mine, commencing by an aperture not three feet high, and very difficult to find. With little trouble it might be effectually concealed; nor, were the fire suppressed, could the existence of a house be suspected, the whole having the appearance of a collection of turf stacks and dunghills. Although our conference had lasted some time, none of the party discovered that it was held on the top of the house. The interior strongly resembled that of a Kamschatkan hut; receiving no other light than that from the smoke hole, being covered with ashes, and festooned with strings of dried fish, filled with smoke, and having scarcely an article of furniture. Such is life in North Rona; and though the women and children were half naked, the mother old, and the wife deaf, they appeared to be contented, well fed, and little concerned about what the rest of the world was doing.– The only desire that could be discovered, after much inquiry, was that of getting his two younger children christened, and for this purpose, he intended to visit Lewes, when his period of residence was expired. Yet I shall not be surprised, if, after the accomplishment of his only wish, he should again long for his now habitual home; and expect that some future visitor will, twenty years hence, find Kenneth M‘Cagie wearing out his life in the same subterranean retreat of his better days.
SHERIDAN ON OATH. . In the trial of the Earl of Thanet, Mr. Fergusson, and others, for an attempt to rescue O'Connor, at Maidstone Assizes, in 1799, the celebrated Richard Brinsley Sheridan appeared as a witness for the defendants. The following are extracts from the examination of this distinguished individual.
Mr. Erskine. Do you know Mr. Fergusson ?
Q. If he had been upon the table, flourishing and waving a stick in the manner that has been described, in his bar dress, must you not have seen it?
A. Yes; it must have been a remarkable thing indeed, for a counsel in his bar dress to have a stick flourishing in his hand; he had a roll of paper in his hand.
Q. Does that enable you to swear that Mr. Fergusson was not in that situation ?
Q. Do you think if he had taken such a part in the riot, in the presence of the judges, that you must have observed it?
A. I must have observed it.
Cross-examined by Mr. Law, (afterwards Lord Ellenborough).
Q. You have said you saw Lord Thanet going towards the judges, as if he was going to complain ; did you hear him make any complaint to the judges ?
A. I did not hear him, certainly.
Q. I will ask you, whether you do or do not believe that Lord Thanet and Mr. Fergusson meant to favour O'Connor's escape, upon your oath.
A. Am I to give an answer to a question which amounts merely to an opinion ?
Q. I ask, as an inference from their conduct, as it fell under your observation, whether you think Lord Thanet or Mr. Fergusson, or either of them, meant to favour Mr. O'Connor's escape, upon your solemn oath ?
A. Upon my solemn oath, I saw them do nothing that could be at all auxiliary to an escape.
Q. That is not an answer to my question.
A. I do not wish to be understood to blink any question; and if I had been standing there, and been asked whether I should have pushed or stood aside, I should have had no objection to answer that question.
Q. My question is, whether from what you saw of the conduct of Lord Thanet and Mr. Fergusson, they did not mean to favour the escape of O'Connor, upon your solemn oath?
A. The learned counsel need not remind me that I am upon my oath: I know as well as the learned counsel does, that I am upon my oath; and I will say, that I saw nothing that could be auxiliary to an escape.
Q. After what has passed, I am warranted in reminding the honourable gentleman that he is upon his oath. My question is, whether from the conduct of Lord Thanet or Mr. Fergusson, or either of them, as it fell under your observation, you believe that either of them meant to favour O'Connor's escape?
A. I desire to know how far I am obliged to answer that question. I certainly will answer it in this way, that from what they did, being a mere observer of what passed, I should not think myself justified in saying that either of them did. Am I to say whether I think they would have been glad if he had escaped ? That is what you are pressing me for.
Q. No man can misunderstand me; I ask, whether from the conduct of Lord Thanet or Mr. Fergusson, or either of them, as it fell under your observation, you believe, upon your oath, that they meant to favour the escape of O'Connor ?
A. I repeat it again, that from what either of them did, I should have no right to conclude that they were persons assisting the escape of O'Connor.
Q: I ask you again, whether you believe from the conduct of Lord Thanet or Mr. Fergusson, or either of them, upon your oath, that they did not mean to favour the escape of O'Connor?
A. I have answered it already.
Lord Kenyon. If you do not answer it, to be sure we must draw the natural inference.
Mr. Sheridan. I have no doubt that they wished he might escape; but from any thing I saw them do, I have no right to conclude that they did.
Mr. Law. I will have an answer; I ask you again, whether from their conduct, as it fell under your observation, you do not believe they meant to favour the . escape of O'Connor ?
A. If the learned gentleman thinks he can entrap me, he will find himself mistaken. Mr. Erskine. It is hardly a legal question. Lord Kenyon. I think it is not an illegal question.
Mr. Law. I will repeat the question-whether from their conduct, as it fell under your observation, you do not believe they meant to favour the escape of O'Connor?
A. My belief is, that they wished him to escape; but, from any thing I saw of their conduct upon that occasion, I am not justified in saying so.
Q. I will ask you, whether it was not previously intended that he should escape, if possible ?
A. Certainly the contrary.
Q. Nor had you any intimation that it was intended to be attempted ?
A. Certainly the contrary. There was a loose rumour, of another warrant, and that it was meant that he should be arrested again, which was afterwards contradicted. Then the question was mooted, whether the writ could be issued before he was dismissed from custody. Certainly there was no idea of a rescue. There was no friend of Mr. O'Connor's, I believe, but saw with regret any attempt on his part to leave the court.
Re-examined by Mr. Erskine. You were asked by Mr. Law, whether you believed that the defendants wished or meant to favour the escape of Mr. O'Connor. I ask you, after what you have sworn, whether you believe these gentlemen did any act to rescue Mr. O'Connor?
A. Certainly not; and I have stated upon my oath, that every man in the narrow gateway endeavoured to
stop him: I remarked it particularly; because, there being a common feeling among Englishmen and he being acquitted, I thought they might form a plan to let him escape.
Q. You have stated that you saw no one act done or committed by any one of the defendants indicative of an intention to aid Mr. O'Connor's escape.
Q. I ask you, whether you believe they did take any part in rescuing Mr. O'Connor ?
A. Certainly not.
IRISH EVIDENCE. At a late assize in Limerick, a boy was brought forward as a witness for the prosecution in a case of murder. · He appeared so young and so ignorant, that the Judge (Solicitor-General Bushe) thought it necessary to examine him as to his qualifications for a witness, when the following dialogue took place :
Q. Do you know, my lad, the nature of an oath?
Q. Do you mean to say that you do not know whať an oath is?
Q. Do you know any thing of the consequence of telling a lie ?
A. I met him on the mountain one day, and he bid me hold his horse, and be — to me.
Judge. Go down: you are not fit to be sworn.