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.