« НазадПродовжити »
him ; but Mercy, without design, took a surer way. She never said a word; but sometimes, when the discussions were at their height, she turned her dove-like eyes on him, with a look so loving, so humbly inquiring, so timidly imploring, that his heart melted within him.” So with Janet Dempster, in George Eliot's story of clerical life, who “was not to be made meek by cruelty ; she would repent of nothing in the face of injustice, though she was subdued in a moment by a word or a look that recalled the old days of fondness.” In fine, we may conclude with the conclusion of old Master Knowell, in the Elizabethan play:
“There is a way of winning more by love,
HAMAN HANGED ON HIS OWN GALLOWS.
Esther vii. 10. I TARBONAH was one of the chamberlains of that king TT Ahasuerus, who reigned from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces. And Harbonah it was that said before the king,—when Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews' enemy, had gone one step too far in his enmity to the Jews, and had let his vaulting ambition overleap itself in his insolent confidence in royal favour,—Harbonah it was that prompted royal vengeance with the suggestive reminder,—“Behold also, the gallows fifty cubits high, which Haman had made for Mordecai, who had spoken good for the king, standeth in the house of Haman.” Then the king said-catching at once at the chamberlain's suggestion—“Hang him thereon.” “So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai.”
Somewhat musty is the adage that no law is more equitable than that by which the deviser of death perishes by his own
device : nec lex est æquior ulla, quam necis artificem arte perire suâ. Musty it might be even in Harbonah's days ; but the chamberlain, in the excitement of so signal an example, would feel that time cannot stale, nor custom wither, the force and import of that retributive law.
Mr. de Quincey, in his memorable narrative of the revolt of the Tartars, or flight of the Kalmuck Khan and his people from the Russian territories to the frontiers of China (1771), relates in conclusion how Zebek-Dorchi, the author and originator of this great Tartar exodus, perished after a manner specially gratifying to those who compassed his ruin; the Chinese morality being exactly of that kind which approves in everything the lex talionis. “Finally, Zebek-Dorchi was invited to the imperial lodge, together with all his accomplices; and under the skilful management of the Chinese nobles in the emperor's establishment, the murderous artifices of these Tartar chieftains were made to recoil upon themselves, and the whole of them perished by assassination at a great imperial banquet.” Iterated and reiterated in holy writ is the retributive law that the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness; that transgressors shall be taken in their own naughtiness; that he that seeketh mischief it shall come unto him. The presidents and princes under King Darius, who sought occasion against Daniel, and persuaded their reluctant sovereign to cast the prophet into the den of lions, who however wrought him no manner of hurt, upon them the lex talionis vindicated its literal severity when they in their turn were cast into the lions' den, and the lions had the mastery of them, and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottom of the den.
The early ballads of almost every literature delight in these retributive surprises. Genuine was the zest of our fathers for such a retort as that of William of Cloudesly on the Justice who is having him measured for his grave :
66! I have seen as great a marvel,' said Cloudesly,
As between this and prime He that maketh a grave for me
Himself may lie therein.'"
So fond is popular history of teaching this sort of philosophy by examples, that examples to the purpose are widely accepted which are yet not historical. Cardinal Balue, under Louis XI., is pointed out in his iron cage, as a malignant inventor punished in and through his own invention; but Michelet has exposed the fallacy of supposing Balue the inventor of those iron cages which had long been known in Italy. Still he had the “merit” of being their importer into France; and the lex talionis has its application to him. One remembers of course the Regent Morton hugged to death by the “maiden” he had been the means of introducing into Scotland. The French doctor, Guillotin, is even now not uncommonly believed to have perished in the reign of terror by the instrument invented by and named after him ; whereas he quietly died in his bed, many, many years later than that. But the Revolution history is well stored with instances like that of Châlier, condemned to death by the criminal tribunal at Lyons,—the guillotine, which he had sent for from Paris to destroy his enemies, being first destined to sever his own head from his body. A bungling executioner prolonged the last agonies of this man, who in fact was hacked to death, not decapitated. He tasted slowly, as Lamartine says, of the death, a thirst for which he had so often sought to excite in the people ; "he was glutted with blood, but it was his own.” Alison recognises in the death of Murat a memorable instance of the moral retribution which often attends upon “great deeds of iniquity, and by the instrumentality of the very acts which appeared to place them beyond its reach.” He underwent in 1815 the very fate to which, seven years before, he had consigned a hundred Spaniards at Madrid, guilty of no other crime than that of defending their country; and this, as Sir Archibald adds, “ by the application of a law to his own case, which he himself had introduced, to check the attempts of the Bourbons to regain a throne which he had usurped.” No man, Lord Macaulay affirms, ever made a more unscrupulous use of the legislative power for the destruction of his enemies than Thomas Cromwell ; and it was by an unscrupulous use of the legislative power that he was himself destroyed. Those who tauntingly reminded Fenwick, when attainted in 1696, that he had supported the bill which attainted Monmouth, were warned that they might perhaps themselves be tauntingly reminded in some dark and terrible hour, that they had supported the bill which attainted Fenwick. “God forbid that our tyrants should ever be able to plead, in justification of the worst that they can inflict upon us, precedents furnished by ourselves !” Again, it is in recording how, late in life, a horrible calumny settled upon Cicero, that Mr. de Quincey, without lending a moment's credit to the foul insinuation, nevertheless is free to recognise the equity of this retribution revolving upon one who, he asserts, had so often slandered others in the same malicious way. “At last the poisoned chalice came round to his own lips, and at a moment when it wounded the most acutely.” Sæpe, as Seneca has it, in magistrum scelera redierunt sua.
" in these cases
Plutarch rejoices in showing in Hercules an avenger who adapted the special mode of vengeance to the distinctive deserts of the wrong-doer. He punished with the very mode of punishment devised by those who were now made to suffer it. Antæus he killed in wrestling, and Termerus by breaking his skull,—it being the specialité of Termerus to destroy the passengers he met by dashing his head against theirs. Theseus was the imitator of Hercules in this retributive system ; he punished Sinis, a bandit,—who used to kill travellers by binding them to the boughs of two pine-trees, which were then allowed to swing back and separate—by making an end of him in the self-same way; Procrustes again he stretched on his own bed. Phalaris, the tyrant of Agrigentum, infamous for his cruelty, and specially for the device devised for him by Perillus of a brazen bull in which he burnt his victims—this Phalaris first tried the device on this perillus; and when Phalaris was deposed an indignant mob practised upon him the self-same torture to which he had subjected so many. And ever memorable among other tales of antiquity,--old wives' fables if you will, but then have not all fables a moral ?-is that of Diomedes, who was devoured by the horses he had himself taught to feed on the flesh and blood of men. “Ashes always fly back in the face of him that throws them," is a proverb in the Yoruba language, quoted by Archbishop Trench as equivalent to our “Harm watch, harm catch," and perhaps to the Spanish, “He that sows thorns, let him not walk barefoot.” An overruling Power disposes of what the malignity of man proposes,
- Thus doth it force the swords of wicked men
To turn their own points on their masters' bosoms.”
The psalmist felt that he was praying in accordance with the Divine will, when he prayed that the ungodly might fall into their own nets together, while he ever escaped them. So again with his prayer that the mischief of their own lips might fall upon the heads of them that compassed him about. For it was a matter at once of faith and of experience with the psalmist, that the evil deviser and evil-doer, travailing with mischief, conceiving sorrow, and bringing forth ungodliness, who had graven and digged up a pit, was apt to fall himself into the destruction that he made for other. “For his travail shall come upon his own head, and his wickedness shall fall on his own pate.” Owen Feltham delights to recall, from the stores of ancient and mediæval story, how Bagoas, a Persian nobleman, having poisoned Artaxerxes and Artamenes, was detected by Darius, and forced to drink poison himself; how Diomedes, as we have already seen, for the beasts he had fed on human flesh was by Hercules made food ; and how Pope Alexander VI., having designed the poisoning of his friend Cardinal Adrian, by his cup-bearer's mistake of the bottle, took the draught himself, “and so died by the same engine which he himself