Two young gentlemen, great friends,
went together to the theatre in Glasgow, supped at the lodgings of one of
them, and passed a whole summer night over their punch. In the morning a
kindly wrangle broke out about their separating or not separating, in the
course of which, by some rashness, if not accident, one of them was
stabbed, not violently, but in so vital a part that he died on the spot.
The survivor was tried, and was convicted of culpable homicide. It was one
of the sad cases where the legal guilt was greater than the moral; and,
very properly, he was sentenced to only a short term of imprisonment.
Lord Hermand, who was renowned as a
boon companion, felt that discredit had been brought on the cause of
drinking—then so common and fashionable, even in the best society. And he
had no sympathy with the tenderness of his temperate brethren on the
judicial bench, but was vehement for transportation.
"We are told, my laards," said he,
"that there was no malice, and that the prisoner must have been in liquor.
In liquor! Why, he was drunk! and yet he murdered the very man who had
been drinking with him! They had been carousing the whole night, and yet
he stabbed him! after drinking a whole bottle of rum with him! My laards!
if he will do this when he is drunk, what will he not do when he’s sober?’