페이지 이미지

splendor, from the glassy, smooth expanse of ice, that spread across, and up and down the broad river, far as the eye could see.

The smoke of the village chimneys rose straight into the air, looking like so many inverted pyramids, spreading gradually broader and broader, until they melted away, and mixed imperceptibly with ether. Scarce was the sun above the horizon, when the village was alive with rosy boys and girls, dressed in their new suits, and going forth with such warm anticipations of happiness, as time and ex perience imperceptibly fritter away into languid hopes, or strengthening apprehensions.

'Happy New Year!' came from every mouth and every heart. Spiced beverages and lusty cakes were given away with liberal, open hand; everybody was welcomed to every house; all seemed to forget their little heart-burnings and disputes of yore; all seemed happy, and all were so; and the Dominie, who always wore his coat with four great pockets on new-year day, came home and emptied them seven times of loads of new-year cookies.

When the gay groups had finished their rounds in the village, the ice in front was seen all alive with the small fry of Elsingburgh, gamboling and skating, sliding and tumbling, helter-skelter, and making the frost-bit ears of winter glad with the sounds of mirth and revelry. In one place, was a group playing at hurley with crooked sticks, with which they sometimes hit the ball, and sometimes each other's shins; in another, a knot of sliders, following in a row, so that, if the foremost fell, the rest were sure to tumble over him.

A little farther might be seen a few, that had the good fortune to possess a pair of skates, luxuriating in that most graceful of all exercises, and emulated by some half a dozen little urchins, with smooth bones fastened to their feet, in imitation of the others, skating away with a gravity and perseverance worthy of better implements. All was rout, laughter, revelry and happiness, and that day the icy mirror of the noble Delaware, reflected as light hearts as ever beat together in the new world.

At twelve o'clock, the jolly Heer, according to his immemorial custom, went forth from the edge of the river, distributing apples, and other dainties, together with handfuls of wampum, which, rolling away on the ice in different directions, occasioned innumerable contests and squabbles

among the fry, whose disputes, tumbles, and occasional buffetings for the prizes, were inimitably ludicrous upon the slippery element.

Among the most obstreperous and mischievous of the crowd was that likely fellow Cupid, who made more noise, and tripped up more heels, that day, than any half a dozen of his contemporaries. His voice could be heard above all the rest, especially after the arrival of the Heer, before whom he seemed to think it his duty to exert himself, while his unrestrained, extravagant laugh, exhibited that singular hilarity of spirit, which distinguishes the deportment of the African slave, from the invariable gravity of the free red man of the western world.

All day, and until after the sun had set, and the shadows of night succeeded, the sports of the ice continued, and the merry sounds rung far and near, occasionally interrupted by those loud noises, which sometimes shoot across the ice like a rushing earthquake, and are occasioned by its cracking, as the water rises or falls.


Anecdote of Sir Matthew Hale.-ANONYMOUS.

A GENTLEMAN of considerable independence in England had two sons, the eldest of whom caused him much anxiety from his dissipated character and conduct: the young man himself, tired of restraint, asked permission of his father to go to some foreign clime, which was readily granted, and a sum of money advanced him for that purpose.

He had not, however, long left home, before the ship he was on board of was taken by the Algerines, and consequently he was taken prisoner to Algiers, where he remained a considerable number of years, without the least opportunity offering of his sending, or hearing from home; at length, however, he fortunately effected his escape, and returned to his native land, almost destitute of clothing, and entirely pennyless; when he arrived at the village where he drew his first breath, in answer to his first inquiry, he was informed that his father had been dead many years, and his younger brother in full possession of the estates; on this information he proceeded immediately to his brother's house, where 666367 A

on his arrival, he stated who he was, and recounted his misfortunes.

He was at first received with evident tokens of surprise; but what was his astonishment, after his brother had a little recovered himself, to find that he (the younger brother) was determined to treat him as an impostor, and ordered him to quit the house, for that he had a number of witnesses to prove the death of his elder brother abroad!

Being thus received, he returned to the village, but met with no success, as those who would have been likely to give him assistance were either dead, or gone away; in this predicament, he succeeded in finding an attorney at a little distance, to whom he related the circumstances exactly as they stood, and requested his advice.

The attorney seeing the desperate state in which the affair stood, observed that as his brother was in possession, he would be likely to have recourse to every unjust means, by suborning witnesses, &c.; but, however, he would undertake to advocate his cause, on condition that if he proved successful, he should be paid a thousand pounds; if the contrary, said the attorney, (as you have nothing to give) I shall demand nothing. To this proposal, of course, the elder brother agreed.

It should be remarked that at this time, bribery and corruption were at such a pitch, that it was no uncommon circumstance for judge, jury, in short, the whole court, to be perverted on one side or the other; the lawyer naturally concluded, this being the case, that the elder brother stood but a very indifferent chance, although he himself had no doubt of the validity of his claim.

In this dilemma he resolved to take a journey to London and lay the case before Sir Matthew Hale, then Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, a character no less conspicuous for his abilities, than for his unshaken integrity and strict impartiality.

Sir Matthew heard the relation of the circumstances with patience, as likewise the attorney's suspicions of the means, that would be adopted to deprive the elder brother of his right. He (Sir Matthew) desired him to go on with the regular process of the law, and leave the rest to him.

Thus matters rested until the day of trial came on; a few days previous to which, Sir Matthew left home, and travelled till he came within a short distance of the town where the matter was to be decided, when passing a miller's house,

he directed his coachman to stop, while he alighted from his carriage and went into the house. After saluting the miller, he told him he had a request to make, which he hoped would be complied with, which was, to exchange clothes with him, and allow him to leave his carriage there until he returned (in a day or two.)

The miller at first thought Sir Matthew was joking; but on being convinced to the contrary, he would fain have fetched his best suit; but no, Sir Matthew would have none but the working dress the miller had on. The exchange soon effected, and Sir Matthew, equipped with the miller's clothes, hat, and wig, proceeded on foot the following morning.


Understanding the trial between the two brothers was to take place that day, he went early to the yard of the court hall, without having had communication with any one on the subject. By mixing in the crowd, he had soon an opportunity of having the elder brother pointed out to him.

He soon after accosted him with Well, my friend, how is your cause likely to go on?' 'I do not know, (replied he,) but I am afraid but badly, for I have every reason to suppose that both judge and jury are deeply bribed; and for myself, having nothing but the justice of my cause to depend on, unsupported by the property which my brother can command, I have but faint hopes of succeeding.'

He then recounted to the supposed miller the whole of his tale, and finished by informing him of the agreement which had taken place between him and the lawyer: although Sir Matthew was in possession of the principal part of the circumstances, yet the ingenuous relation he had now heard, left no doubt in his mind of his being the person he represented himself, and consequently heir to the estate in question.

[ocr errors]

Sir Matthew being determined to act accordingly, he, with this view, begged of the elder brother not to be lowspirited on the subject, for (says he,) perhaps it may be in my power to be of service to you-I don't know that it will, being, as you see, but a poor miller, but I will do what I can: if you will follow my advice, it can do you no harm, and may be of use to you.' The elder brother willingly caught at any thing that might give the least prospect of success, and readily promised to adopt any reasonable plan he might propose.

'Well, then,' says the pretended miller, 'when the names

· of the jury are called over, do you object to one of them, no matter whom: the judge will perhaps ask you what your objections are; let your reply be, I object to him by the rights of an Englishman, without giving my reasons why; you will then, perhaps, be asked whom you would wish to have in the room of the one you have objected to: should that be the case, I'll take care to be in the way; you can look round and carelessly mention me. If I am empanneled, although I cannot promise, yet I entertain great hopes of being useful to you.'

The elder brother promised to follow these directions, and shortly after the trial came on, when the names of the jury were calling over, the elder brother, as he had been instructed, objected to one of them. ́ And pray,' says the judge, in an authoritative tone, why do you object to that gentleman as a juryman?' 'I object to him, my lord, by the rights of an Englishman, without giving you my reasons why. And whom,' says the judge, do you wish to have in the room of that gentleman?' I would wish to have an honest man, my lord, no matter who,' looking round, ‘suppose yon miller be called.' 'Very well,' says his lordship, 'let the miller be sworn.'

[ocr errors]

He was accordingly called down from the gallery, where he had been standing in view of the elder brother, and empanneled with the rest of the jury. He had not been long in the box, when he observed a little man very busy with the jury, and presently he came to him, and slipped five guineas into his hand, intimating it was a present from the younger brother; and after his departure the miller discovered, on inquiry of his neighbors, that each of them had received double that sum.

He now turned his whole attention to the trial, which appeared to lean decidedly in favor of the younger brother; the witnesses having sworn, point blank, to the death and burial of the elder brother. His lordship proceeded to sum up the evidences, but without taking notice of several palpable contradictions, which had taken place between the younger brother and his witnesses.

After having perfidiously expatiated on the evidence in favor of the younger brother, he concluded; and the jury being questioned in the usual manner if they were all agreed, the foreman was about to reply, not expecting any opposition; when the miller stepped forward, calling out, 'No, my lord,' we are not all agreed! • And pray,

« 이전계속 »