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prayed the court that he might be brought in guilty, as he had no money to pay the fees ; expecting, from the nature of the offence of which he had been accused, that if condemned to suffer its penalty in prison, his chance of getting out would be much better than to go in for the fees !
“ Is it law ?" said Mr. Hawes, M. P.
Mr. Dawson, the clerk of the peace, said, “It is immemorial usage." (Hear, hear.) “Hear! hear!” This is genuine English feeling. “Custom is Gospel," no matter how absurd; no matter how unjust or cruel. I do not mean by this to impeach the character of the community. No. It is real, substantial English virtue that keeps things steady; so that you may know what to depend upon; and it operates generally for public good. “Immemorial usage," in any civilized country, if it concerns everybody, and relates to practical, every-day interests, is generally right, and may be presumed so. Hence, if an English custom, being called in question before an English court, social or authoritative, be proved “immemorial,”“Hear! hear!”-and it will be hard to get it changed.
But if a custom be very limited in its application, as in the present instance, it is not of course to be presumed right.
“ Can this fee be recovered ?" said Mr. Hawes. “Certainly,” said Mr. Lawson. It was therefore agreed to appoint a committee “to take into consideration the legality of the custom," &c.; and they will no doubt come to the proper decision, as in Middlesex. But the custom is law prescriptive, until annulled by the proper authority. It is forty or fifty years old; and the principle that makes it valid is the same with the argument of Sir Robert Peel for the inviolability of church property, namely, “that it is even three hundred years” since another church was robbed of the wherewithal to endow the present Established Church of England, if, indeed, it be robbery for the state to touch it now.
If we inquire into the reasons of this said fee of ten shillings and sixpence, extorted from an innocent man, for the crime of being innocent, in addition to his injury by the loss of time and character in having been arraigned, and thus rendered suspicious-an injury not easily repaired--it will open one of the hidden secrets of corruption in society. It was doubtless founded on the helpless condition of the unfortunate! A poor and innocent man has been frightened by the grasp of law, and so far threatened to be ruined. On examination, however, he is acquitted. In the flutter of his excited and wild pulsations, when reason and selfpossession have lost their seat, grateful to be rescued on any terms, this cormorant of justice-justice miscalled-this unfeeling wretch, is permitted to add insult to misfortune, and approach this unmanned man with the inexorable demand -“Sir, you cannot go hence till you have paid me ten shillings and sixpence !” And he must pay it, or be committed to prison! He is too poor, and has too little influence to make an appeal to society; and for forty or fifty years this practice has prevailed in British courts of justice l-a practice first introduced to add to the perquisites of an official menial, and afterward becoming the permanent right of the station; so that it cannot be taken away without furnishing an equivalent. It was foreseen, that ninety-nine times in a hundred, if not nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand, the poor man, or his friends, would contrive to pay the demand, however difficult it might be, without remonstrance. “I have lived too long," said a great and good man, “to wonder at any thing."
STONEHENGE is about eight miles from Salisbury, situated in the heart of Salisbury Plain, and standing isolated in all the grandeur of its mysterious and hitherto unexplained history. It is a truly sublime object-sublime in itself, as filling the mind with wonder, where the stones came from, how they could have been brought there, and placed in their relative positions! The heaviest columns are rated at seyenty tons—the whole number being ninety-four, as near as can be ascertained, although the present confusion of the assemblage renders it difficult to count them. It is supposed to have been a Druidical temple, where human sacrifices were offered-a superstition as sublime as it was diabolical, as mysterious as cruel! The rude grandeur of the work demonstrates the rudeness and barbarity of the age. There are no indications that this place of sacrifice was ever enclosed by walls, or covered by a roof. It is encircled indeed by the traces of a ditch and a corresponding embankment, and the columnar ranges of stones were set up in circular lines, at greater distance from each other than the spaces occupied. About half an acre is enclosed by the circumvallation, and a quarter of an acre occupied by the temple itself. The only junction of the structure, if struc, ture it can be called, appears to have been the resting of the amazing cross and horizontal slabs on the largest columns, about twenty feet high and fifteen asunder, most of which have fallen, some are inclined, and a few only stand erect. Tenons were left on the top of the perpendicular columns, entering grooves of the horizontal pieces laid upon them. It would indeed be easy enough for the mechanical powers of this age to set up an edifice like this; but the rudeness of the work does not naturally suggest the knowledge and application of such powers at the time of its creation. Hence the wonder.
It is said by some, that the same material is not to be found in the island. It is incredible, however, that these immense rocks should have been shipped; and almost equally incredible, that they should have been transported by land any considerable distance; yet they were never found in this vicinity. Many of them are reduced to nearly right angles, but more exhibit a smooth, or properly plane surface. There is nothing like the skill of masonry bestowed upon them. They were, perhaps, purposely left in this rude state, as emblematic of the stern and inexorable rites which they were set up to witness. The supposed altar-piece lies in the centre, imbedded in the earth, and directly behind it two of the largest columns once supported the heaviest cross-beam-but the columns have inclined and dropped their burden.
There are other relics of the kind in the island, but none $0 stupendous. All the parts of a similar temple have been transferred at great expense from the Island of Jersey, and set up on the estate of a private gentleman at Henley-onThames, now the property of Mr. Maitland. I stumbled upon it in rambling over the grounds with a friend, and found it perched on a hill some four or five hundred feet above the bed of the Thames. It was brought over by a former governor of the island, Gen. Conway, who then owned Park Place, on which it now stands. It is of course a small chapel, compared with Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain —but many of the stones are of several tons weight. They are rude and shapeless.
There are numerous marks of ancient military fortifications scattered over Salisbury Plain ; and tumuli of the ancient dead, such as are to be found in the western regions of our own country, lift up their heads in various quarters, and sometimes in groups.
My sensations in visiting Stonehenge were the result of a singular combination of the grateful recollections of Mrs. More's Shepherd and his family, and of the actual scenes before me." The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain” was continually ringing in my ear, and all his history passing in re. view before me, as I rode over these undulating, naked, and apparently boundless fields, among the tumuli and traces of ancient fortifications, and came at last to gaze upon and admire this wonder-exciting and unaccountable relic of a barbarous age and bloody superstition. What a demonstra. tion of man's susceptibilities of religious affections, of a sense of guilt, of his need of atonement, and of the dreadful errors into which he may be plunged without the guidance of Divine revelation!
TRAGICAL DEATH OF COLONEL BRERETON.
LONDON, Jan. 16, 1832.—The Bristol tragedy has presented another sad development. Col. Brereton, the commandant of the troops stationed at Bristol at the time of the riot, being on trial before a court-martial, under charge of defect of duty on that occasion, anticipating the judgment of this tribunal, has suddenly made his appeal to the tribunal of his God, and compelled his prosecutors and judges here to a solemn and awful pause. On Friday morning last, at 3 o'clock, he shot himself through the heart, by his own pistol, in his bedchamber. The announcement of this intelligence has, if possible, shed a deeper gloom over the public mind, than the outrages and massacres out of which it has grown-and awakened sympathy of a different kind indeed, but not less than that which was divided and wasted over a whole community. It is individual misfortune, after all, which chains our attention, provokes our tears, and makes us feel the weakness of those who have suffered, and suffer with them. Col. Brereton's fate is absolutely and in the highest degree tragical. “Truth is strange-stranger thanfiction."
A weak, irresolute, inefficient magistracy-not made for such a time as the Bristol riots—when the scene was all over, feeling themselves oppressed by the public reprobation concentrating upon them from all quarters, had found it necessary to defend themselves by sacrificing one of their fellow-beings. And how could an individual withstand such a host, before such a tribunal, and in such circumstances, confronted by witnesses who were at least deeply interested, by a common sympathy, in the condemnation of the accused? Admitting the exact verity of every several allegation -(of which there were eleven of formidable show,) yet had the prisoner done otherwise—had he pursued the course directly opposite, it would probably have been a certain and quicker ruin to himself personally, and brought down upon him the rage of those who now coolly sought his destruction, under the name of justice. What could a man in such a situation have done? The exigencies of the Bristol riots could not have been anticipated. It is easy enough, indeed, since the scene has become a subject of review, to tell what might have been done to avert the calamity. Who could not do this? But in the midst of the confusion and general consternation of that fearful and threatening hour, when the magistrates themselves retired to their chambers and barri.
caded their doors for fear of what should come ; when the military could not act decisively without orders from the municipal authorities, themselves undecided and knowing not what to do; when an exasperated mob of thirty thousand pressed from all quarters upon the little band of seventy or eighty men, this being all the force under Col. Brereton's command; when the vulgar hatred towards the military was known and felt, and the first determined charge was likely to provoke the immense and intoxicated rabble to a general and desperate conflict, to overwhelm and annihilate the troops-what could be done? As has since been proved at Lyons, there was every probability that the mob in extremities would prove victorious. Who would assume the sole discretion, the whole responsibility of a desperate encounter in such circumstances? If the colonel had acted without being authorized from the magistracy, and saved the city, it doubtless would have ruined him personally ; because the magistrates would have been able to show-the present history out of existence-that it was unnecessary for him to assume such responsibility; and when the authority did come, it came too late. Because Col. Brereton did not work miracles-because he did not save the city, when the magistrates would not let him save it, in spite of themselvesthe only atonement which they could render to the world for their delinquencies was the ruin of this man.
Commissions are demanded and issued, the tribunal is created, and the colonel is brought a prisoner to its bar, to answer and defend himself against charges and witnesses got up to defend the magistracy and town of Bristol, and to vindicate their character before the world. His fate is evident at the first glance, to himself as well as to all others. He must fall. He must be cashiered, disgraced, his name covered with infamy, and himself, after thirty-three years of service in the army, in various parts of the world, without reproach, and to the establishment of his credit as a gallant officer, thrown upon the world, with two helpless and dependant babes, without any qualifications to enter upon a new course of life. His habits were only those of a soldier, and all his sympathies confined to those circles in society in which a soldier is accustomed to move. * * * * *
No sooner had the smoke of the Bristol burnings passed off, than a dark and menacing cloud came over the colonel's prospects of future life. And every day it grew thicker and darker. His trial came, but no relief. A darker and still more threatening cloud filled the whole sky before him. And in a sad and desperate hour he resolves to cut short the investigation, and throw himself beyond the decisions of an earthly tribunal. It was the anniversary of the death of a beloved wife, three years deceased-or not unlikely supposed by him to be so, although he had erred in his