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for trial, without continuing to press the hesitating and bewildered old Peery into any detailed evidence ; his nature seemed to rise against the task, and he said to the steward—“ I have enough off facts for making out a committal; if you think the father will be necessary on the trial, subpæna him."
The steward objected that Peery would abscond, and demanded to have him bound over to prosecute, on two sureties, solvent and respectable. The magistrate assented; Peery could name no bail; and consequently he also was marched to prison, though prohibited from holding the least intercourse with Michaul.
The assizes soon came on. Michaul was arraigned; and, during his plea of “ not guilty,” his father appeared, unseen by him, in the gaoler's custody, at the back of the dock, or rather in an inner dock. The trial excited a keen and painful interest in the court, the bar, the jury-box, and the crowds of spectators. It was universally known that a son had stolen a sheep, partly to feed a starving father ; and that out of the mouth of that father it was now sought to con demn him. “What will the old man do?” was the general question which ran through the assembly: and while few of the lower orders could contemplate the possibility of his swearing to the truth, many of their betters scarcely hesitated to make out for him a case of natural necessity to swear falsely.
The trial began. The first witness, the herdsman, proved the loss of the sheep, and the finding the dismembered carcass in the old barn. The policemen and the steward followed to the same effect, and the latter added the allusions which he had heard the father make to the son, upon the morning of the arrest of the latter. The steward went down from the table. There was a pause, and complete silence, which the attorney for the prosecution broke by saying to the crier deliberately, “ Call Peery Carroll.” “ Here, Sir," immediately answered Peery, as the gaoler led him by a side door, out of the back dock to the table. The prisoner started round; but the new witness against him, had passed for an instant into the crowd.
The next instant, old Peery was seen ascending the table, assisted by the gaoler and by many other commiserating hands, near him. Every glance fixed on his face. The barristers looked wistfully up from their seats round the table; the judge put a glass to his eye and seemed to study his features attentively. Among the audience there ran a low but expressive murmur of pity and interest.
Though much emaciated by confinement, anguish and suspense, Peery's cheeks had a flush, and his weak blue eyes glittered. The half-gaping expression of his parched and haggard lips was miserable to see. And yet he did not tremble much, nor appear so confounded as upon the day of his visit to the magistrate.
The moment he stood upright on the table, he turned himself fully to the judge, without a glance towards the dock. “ Sit down, sit down, poor man,” said the judge. “ Thanks to you, my lord, I will," answered Peery, "only, first I'd ax you to let me kneel, for a little start;” and he accordingly did kneel, and after bowing his head, and forming the sign of the cross on his forehead, he looked up, and said—“My Judge in heaven above, 'tis you I pray to keep me to my duty, afore my earthly judge, this day :amen; ”-and then repeating the sign of the cross, he seated himself.
The examination of the witness commenced, and humanely proceeded as follows-(the counsel for the prosecution taking no notice of the superfluity of Peery's answers). “Do you know Michaul, or Michael, Carrol, the prisoner at the bar ?” “ Afore that night, Sir, I believed I knew him well; every thought of his mind, every bit of the heart in his body: afore that night, no living creatur could throw a word at Michaul Carrol, or say he ever forgot his father's renown, or his love of his good God ;-an' sure the people are afther telling you by this time, how it come about that night-an: you, my lord, an' ye, gintlemen,-an' all good christians that hear me ;-here I am to help to hang him—my own boy, and my only one but, for all that, gintlemen, ye ought to think of it; 'twas for the weenoch and the ould father that he done it ;-indeed, an’deed, we hadn't a pyatee in the place; an' the sickness was among us, a start afore; it took the wife from him, and another babby; an'id had himself down, a week or so beforehand; an' all that day, he was looking for work, but couldn't get a hand's turn to do; an' that's the way it was; not a mouthful for me an' little Peery; an', more betoken, he grew sorry for id, in the mornin', an' promised me not to touch a scrap of what was in the barn,-ay, long afore the steward and the peelers came on us,but was willin' to go among the neighbours an' beg our breakfast, along wid myself, from door to door, sooner than touch it.” “It is my painful duty,” resumed the barrister, when Peery would at length cease," to ask you for closer information. You saw Michael Carrol in the barn, that night?-" " Musha-The Lord pity him and me~I did, Sir.” “ Doing what?”- “ The sheep between bis hands,” answered Peery, dropping his head, and speaking almost inaudibly. “I must still give you pain, I fear ;-stand up; take the crier's rod; and if you see Michael Carrol in court, lay it on his head.” “ Och, musha, musha, Sir, don't ax me to do that !” pleaded Peery, rising, wringing his hands, and for the first time weeping—“och, don't my lord, don't, and may your own judgment be favourable, the last day.” “I am sorry to command you to do it, witness, but you must take the rod,”
answered the judge, bending his head close to his notes, to hide his. own tears; and, at the same time, many a veteran barrister rested his forehead on the edge of the table. In the body of the court were heard sobs. “Michaul, avich! Michaul, a corra-ma-chree !” exclaimed Peery, when at length he took the rod, and faced round to his son, -" is id your father they make to do it, ma-buuchal ?" "My father does what is right," answered Michael, in Irish. The judge immediately asked to have his words translated ; and when he learned their import, regarded the prisoner with satisfaction. “We rest here, my lord," said the counsel, with the air of a man freed from a painful task.
The judge instantly turned to the jury-box.
“Gentlemen of the jury. That the prisoner at the bar stole the sheep in question, there can be no shade of moral doubt. But you have a very peculiar case to consider. A son steals a sheep that his own famishing father and his own famishing son may have food. His aged parent is compelled to give evidence against him here for the act. The old man virtuously tells the truth, and the whole truth, before you and me. He sacrifices his natural feelings and we have seen that they are lively- to his honesty, and to his religious sense of the sacred obligations of an oath. Gentlemen, I will pause to ob serve, that the old man's conduct is strikingly exemplary, and even noble. It teaches all of us a lesson. Gentlemen, it is not within the province of a judge to censure the rigour of the proceedings which have sent him before us. But I venture to anticipate your pleasure that, notwithstanding all the evidence given, you will be enabled to acquit that old man's son, the prisoner at the bar. I have said there can not be the shade of a moral doubt that he has stolen the sheep, and I repeat the words. But, gentlemen, there is a legal doubt, to the full benefit of which he is entitled. The sheep has not been identified. The herdsman could not venture to identify it (and it would have been strange if he could) from the dismembered limbs found in the barn. To his mark on its skin, indeed, he might have positively spoken ; but no skin has been discovered. There fore, according to the evidence, and you have sworn to decide by that alone, the prisoner is entitled to your acquittal. Possibly, now that the prosecutor sees the case in its full bearing, he may be pleased with this result.”
While the jury, in evident satisfaction, prepared to return their verdict, Mr Evans, who had but a moment before returned home, entered the court, and becoming aware of the concluding words of the judge, expressed his sorrow aloud, that the prosecution had ever been undertaken; that circumstances had kept him uninformed of
it, though it had gone on in his name; and he begged leave to as sure his lordship that it would be his future effort to keep Michaul Carrol in his former path of honesty, by finding him honest and ample employment, and, as far as in him lay, to reward the virtue of the old father.
While Peery Carrol was laughing and crying in a breath, in the arms of his delivered son, a subscription, commenced by the bar, was mounting into a considerable sum for his advantage.
THE SQUIRE'S PEW.
A SLANTING ray of evening light
Shoots through the yellow pane,
And gilds the fringe again;
How many a cloudless day,
Hath come and passed away!
The cunning hand must be,
Acorn and fleur-de-lis,
In mimicking the chisel's art.
In days of yore as now we call,
When the first James was king,
Hither his train would bring ;
All reverently they knelt,
In ancient English spelt,
Now streaming down the vaulted aisle
The sunbeam long and lone,
Of their inscription-stone,
He and my lady fair,
In attitude of prayer,
The numerous offspring bend,
As if they did intend
Those mellow days are past and dim,
But generations new,
Still fill the stately pew,
With all his train appear,
At season of the year,
The hollow sounding floor,
Which shall, as heretofore,
In all its wonted state,
And stop before the gate,
Each in their narrow beds,
Shine gaily o'er their heads,