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any man's ruin. Therefore he desired to be farther satisfied what I meant by law, and the dispensers thereof, according to the present practice in my own country: because he thought nature and reason were sufficient guides for a reasonable animal, as we pretended to be, in shewing us what we ought to do, and what to avoid.
I said, there was a society of men among us bred up from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves. For example, if my neighbour hath a mind to my cow, he hires a lawyer to prove that he ought to have my cow from me. I must` then hire another to defend my right, it being against all rules of law, that any man should be allowed to speak for himself. Now in this case I, who am the right owner, lie under two great disadvantages; first, my lawyer, being practised almost from his cradle in defending falsehood, is quite out of his element, when he would be an advocate for justice, which is an unnatural office he always attempts with great awkardness, if not with ill-will. The second disadvantage is, that my lawyer must proceed with great caution, or else he will be reprimanded by the judges, and abhorred by his brethren, as one that would lessen the practice of the law. And therefore I have but two methods to preserve my cow. The first is, to gain over my adversary's lawyer with a double fee; who will then betray his client by insinuating,
sinuating, that he hath justice on his side. The second way is, for my lawyer to make my cause appear as unjust as he can, by allowing the cow to belong to my adversary; and this, if it be skilfully done, will certainly bespeak the favour of the bench. Now your honour is to know, that these judges are persons appointed to decide all controversies of property, as well as for the trial of criminals, and picked out from the most dexterous lawyers who are grown old or lazy; and having been biassed all their lives against truth and equity, lie under such a fatal necessity of favouring fraud, perjury, and oppression, that I have known some of them refuse a large bribe from the side where justice lay, rather than injure the faculty by doing any thing unbecoming their nature or their office.
It is a maxim among these lawyers, that whatever hath been done before, may legally be done again and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice, and the general reason of mankind. These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions, and the judges never fail of directing accordingly.
In pleading they studiously avoid entering into the merits of the cause; but are loud, violent, and tedious in dwelling upon all circumstances which are not to the purpose. For instance, in the case already mentioned: they never desire to know what claim or title my adversary hath to my 13
cow; but whether the said cow were red or black; her horns long or short; whether the field I graze her in be round or square; whether she was milked at home or abroad; what diseases she is subject to, and the like; after which they consult precedents, adjourn the cause from time to time, and in ten, twenty, or thirty years come to an
It is likewise to be observed, that this society hath a peculiar cant and jargon of their own, that no other mortal can understand, and wherein all their laws are written, which they take special care to multiply; whereby they have wholly confounded the very essence of truth and falsehood, of right and wrong; so that it will take thirty years to decide, whether the field left me by my ancestors for six generations belongs to me or to a stranger three hundred miles off.
In the trial of persons accused for crimes against the state, the method is much more short and commendable: the judge first sends to sound the disposition of those in power, after which he can easily hang or save a criminal, strictly preserving all due forms of law.*
SWIFT. Gulliver's Travels, part iu. cb. v. CEP MY
* Swift, as appears from this passage, did not foresee the spirit and independence that would be displayed by British Juries in the year 1794. It is not necessary to refer to other trials and their juries, to show the accuracy of his estimate with respect to the issue of state prosecutions in general.
My cause came on in one of the courts of parliament, and it was unanimously given against me. My counsellor told me, that in another court I should as unanimously have gained it. "Very sin"gular," said 1, "then so many courts so many "laws," "Yes," said he, "there are no less "than twenty-five commentaries on the common "law at Paris; that is, the Paris common law "has been twenty-five times proved to be ambi66 guous, and were there twenty-five courts, there "would be twenty-five different bodies of laws. "We have," continued he, "a province called "Normandy, about fifteen leagues from Paris, and "there your cause would have been decided quite "otherwise than here." This made me desirous of seeing Normandy, and I went thither with one of my brothers. At the first inn we came to was a young man storming most furiously. I asked him what was the matter? "Matter enough," answered he; "I have an elder brother."-" Where "is the mighty misfortune of having a brother?" said I to him, "my brother is my elder, and yet "we live very easy together."-" But here, sir, said he, "the damned law gives every thing to "the elder, and the younger may shift for them
selves."" If that be the case," said I," you "may well be angry; with us things are equally "divided; yet sometimes brothers do not love sone another the better for it,"
These little adventures led me to some very profound reflections on laws, and I found them to be like our garments. At Constantinople it is
to wear a doliman, and at Paris a coat.
then oxen, and William put a yoke upon us, " and goaded us along. Since those times we are "become men, but with our horns still remaining, we are sure to gore any one that will make "us plough for him and not for ourselves."
Full of these reflections, I was pleased to find, that there is a natural law independent of all human conventions: that the fruit of my labour should be my own; that I have no right to my neighbour's life, nor my neighbour to mine, &c. But when it came into my mind, that, from Chedolaomer down to Mentzel, colonel of hussars, it has been customary to shew one's loyalty by effusion of human blood, and to pillage one's neighbour by patent, I was touched to the heart.
I am told that robbers had their laws, and that war has also its laws. On my asking what were those laws of war? I was answered, It is to hang up a prisoner, if one of your men has been hanged