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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Hawkie on trial by jury: Justice and judgement


YOUR jurymen, at least the maist o’ them that I ha’e seen —and I’m thankfu’ I was never before ony—micht ha’e been born and brocht up in a cabbage bed; ye may see, ony day, as mony sensible-looking kail stocks, wi’ their curly heads looking ower the creels in the green market— and your special jury are nae better—they only differ in the length o’ their shanks. Every man worth twa hunner pounds is fit to sit on a man and murder, transport him, or put him to gang up a wooden turnpike for a month, and get nae far’er up than twa or three steps; for though he’s gaun up a’ the time, he gets na oot o’ the bit, which maks a perfect fule o’ a reasonable creature.

It’s no the rent o’ a house that a man lives in that should qualify him for the jury, for there’s mony a twa-legged calf that owns a castle; it’s no the number o’ his acres, for mony o’ your lairds are of as muckle value to the community aneath the earth as aboon it. They cam’ oot o’ yerd— a’ they were worth was yerd—they gaed to yerd at last when death had done his darg wi’ them.

It’s no the claith that covers the carcass; the tailor wi’ his shears, needle, and goose can thus qualify for office, for if this be a’ that’s necessary, a cuddy ass can carry claes; nor is’t being able to jabber Greek and Latin—being brocht up at college; for they come oot wi’ heads as naked as a sheep aff the shears. I wad advise a’ thae numskulls to be made writers o’, if they can sign their ain name; they’ll tak’ care o’ themsel’s—and there’s nae animal that I ken grips the grass sae near .the grund as a goose.

So it’s nane o’ thae possessions or adornments that, wi’ justice and humanity to poor criminals, should ever determine between guilt and innocence; but it’s the man that has a heart an’ head, that kens his ain heart, and what crimes are there, though uncommitted—depend on’t it’s no his faut that they wer’na—a man wha’s tongue keeps within the teeth when he does guid to his neighbour— happin’ the naked, an’ fillin' the mouth o’ the hungry—and instead o’ wishing puir wretches on the tread-mill, or to let hangie put a runnin’ knot roun’ their neck, would help to hide the puir wretch if they thoct that he wouldna do’t again.

Were such like folk set up as judges o’ richt an’ wrang, innocence and guilt, in our kintra, from the Lord Chancellor, wha’s head is whiles nae better filled than his seat, to a magistrate o’ the Sautmarket—wi’ some feasibility it might be said that justice and judgment had their place among us.


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