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DEATH OF DAVID HUME.
night. “The night is indeed coming for of mind, persons were in at the prospect of me," said he, as he seated himself upon a death. One gentleman argued, that a real flat low tomb-stone, having but little to Christian was more likely to view the distinguish it from the rest. “ Pray, who approach of death with composure, than lies here,” he inquired, reading aloud the he who had looked upon religion as un. inscription, “L. O. aged nineteen, died worthy his notice. Another (an English May 13, 1810." “ There lies," said the gentleman) insisted that an infidel could young man, “the blessing of our village, fa- look to his end with as much complacency ther: his name was Louis Oliphant.” “Oh! and peace of mind as the best Christian in farewell, my son! my son !” exclaimed the land. This being denied by his opWm. Oliphant, as he stretched himself on ponent, he bade him consider the death of the tomb, and endeavoured to clasp the his countryman, David Hume, who was an cold marble with his arms. The young acknowledged infidel, and yet died not only man stood, in amazement, at the head of happy and tranquil, but spoke of his dissothe tomb; all was still : even the long lution with a degree of gaiety and humour. branches of the willow waved not, but “ The lady who had lately joined them seemed to weep with him that wept : a turned round to the last speaker, and said, fleecy cloud came across the moon, and “Sir, this is all you know about it: I could the stillness of nature sympathized with the tell you another tale. Madam,' replied mourner's woe : at length it was broken ; the gentleman, 'I presume I have as good one deep sigh, and the silver cord was information as you can have on this subject, loosed !
and I believe that what I have asserted July 5th, 1832.
W. G. B. regarding Mr. Hume has never before been
called in question.' The lady continued : "Sir, I was Mr. Hume's housekeeper for
many years, and was with him in his last The following is from a correspondent of moments, and the mourning I now wear the Christian Observer, and published in was a present from some of his relatives for the number of that Magazine for November my attention to him on his death-bed; and last.
happy should I have been if I could bave I enclose a passage relative to the death- borne my testimony to the mistaken opibed of Hume the historian, which appeared nion that has gone abroad of his peaceful many years ago in an Edinburgh news and composed end. I have, sir, never till paper, and which I am not aware was ever this hour opened my mouth on this subject; contradicted. Adam Smith's well-known but I think it a pity the world should be narrative of Hume's last hours has been kept in the dark on so interesting a topic. often cited, to prove how calmly a philoso- It is true, sir, that, when Mr. Hume's phical infidel can die; but, if the enclosed friends were with him, he was cheerful, and account be correct, very different was the seemed quite unconcerned about his appicture. I copy it as I find it, hoping proaching fate; nay, spoke of it often to that some of your numerous readers may them in a jocular and playful manner; but be able to cast some light upon the sub- when he was alone, the scene was very ject. If the facts alleged in the following different : he was any thing but composed ; statement are not authentic, they ought to his mental agitation was so great at times, be disproved before tradition is too remote; as to occasion his whole bed to shake. He if authentic, they are of considerable im- would not allow the candles to be put out portance on account of the religious use during the night, nor would he be left alone which has been made of the popular nar for a minute. I had always to ring the rative; just as was the case in regard to bell for one of the servants to be in the the death-bed of Voltaire, which, to this room,
before he would allow me to leave hour, in spite of well-proved facts, infidelit. He struggled hard to appear composed writers maintain was calm and philosophi- even before me; but to one who attended cal. The following is the story:
his bed-side for so many days and nights, “ About the end of 1776, a few months and witnessed his disturbed sleeps, and after the historian's death, a respectable still more disturbed wakings; who frelooking woman, dressed in black, came quently heard his involuntary breathings of into the Haddington stage-coach while remorse, and frightful startings; it was no passing through Edinburgh.
difficult matter to determine that all was “ The conversation among the
passengers, not right within. This continued and in. which had been interrupted for a few mi- creased until he became insensible. I hope nutes, was speedily resumed, which the in God I shall never witness a similar lady soon found to be regarding the state scene."
I leave you, readers, to weigh the pro- ing to the evidence, without any oath being bability of this narrative; for myself, I see administered. If the party accused was nothing unlikely in it for a man; who had acquitted, he was instantly liberated on exerted all his talents to deprive mankind paying his fees; if condemned, he was of their dearest hopes and only consolation either immediately executed, if it was the in the day of trial and the hour of death, principal market-day, or kept till then, if it may well be expected to suffer remorse in was not, and in the mean while set in the his dying hour; and the alleged narrator of stocks on the less meeting days, with the this circumstance, who states herself to have stolen goods on his back, if portable; or if been his housekeeper, is affirmed to have not, they were placed before him. But the made the declaration on the spur of the executions always took place on the great occasion, from regard to truth, and by no market-day, in order to strike greater terror means for any pique or dislike towards into the neighbourhood. And so strict was Mr. Hume or his family. Some of your this customary law, that whoever within northern readers may perhaps be able to the liberty had any thing stolen, and not inform me who was Mr. Hume's house- only discovered the thief, but secured the keeper at the time of his death, and whether goods, could not receive them back without there is any proof, in writing, memory, or prosecuting the delinquent, but was obliged tradition, to the effect of her alleged state- to bring him, with the stolen 'property, to ment.
the chief bailiff at Halifax, and to carry on the prosecution. Without this procedure,
he both forfeited the goods to the lord of GIBBET LAW OF HALIFAX, YORKSHIRE. the manor, and was liable to be accused of (From Allen's History of Yorkshire, vol. iii. theft-bote, or commutation of felony, for page 241-246.
his private connivance and agreement with The gibbet law forms a very peculiar the felon. After every execution, also, it feature in the history of Halifax. “ The appears, that the coroners for the county, or inhabitants within the forest of Hardwick
some of them, were obliged to repair to the had a custom, from time immemorial, that town of Halifax, and there summon a jury if a felon were taken within their liberty, of twelve men, sometimes the same persons with goods stolen, out or within the liberty who condemned the felon, and administer of the said forest, either hand-habend, an oath to them to give in a true and preback-berand, or confessand, any commo- cise verdict, relating to the fact for which dity of the value of thirteen pence half- he was executed, in order that a record penny, he should, after three markets, or might be made of it in the crown office. meeting days, within the town of Halifax, This custom has obtained the distin. next after such his apprehension, and being guishing appellation of Halifax law. It condemned, be taken to the gibbet, and attracted the attention of Camden and his have his head cut off from his body.” commentators, and is amply explained by
The process of the gibbet law was as Bentley, Wright, and Watson. "It is first follows." Out of the most wealthy persons, to be observed, that the felon was liable to and those of the greatest repute for integrity suffer, if he was taken within the liberty or and understanding in the liberty, a certain precincts of Hardwick. This refers us dinumber were selected for the trial of the rectly to the privileges of infangthefe and offender; for, when a felon was appre- outfangthefe, the origin of which is of great hended, he was immediately brought be- antiquity. These privileges are mentioned fore the lord's bailiff at Halifax, who, by in the laws of Edward the Confessor, which virtue of the authority granted him from William the Norman afterwards confirmed, the lord of the manor of Wakefield, under in the 21st chapter “ De Baronibus, qui the seal of that manor, kept a common gaol suas habent curias et consuetudines". in the town, had the custody of the axe, concerning the barons who have their and was the legal executioner. On receipt courts of law and customs : In this article of the prisoner, the bailiff issued out his there is an express mention of infangthefe summons to the constables of four several and outfangthefe, which is thus explained : towns within the precincts of the liberty, to “ Justitia cognoscentis latronis sua est, require four frith-burghers within each town de homine suo, si captus fuerit super to appear before him on a certain day, to terram suam”-he has the right of taking examine into the truth of the charge. cognizance of felony, in respect of his own
At the time of appearance, the accuser vassals, if the felon be taken within his and the accused were confronted before
But here is nothing said them, the thing stolen was produced, and “ de homine extraneo,” or such as did not the prisoner acquitted or condemned accord- belong to the manor, whom the lord had
power to execute by the privilege of out the scaffold with the prisoner. The fourth fangthefe, if taken as a thief within his psalm was then played round the scaffold manor, let the robbery have been com on the bagpipes, after which the minister mitted wherever it might. This power, prayed with the prisoner till he received however, was undoubtedly exercised at the fatal stroke. The execution was perHalifax, as appears in the following entries formed by means of an engine, similar to in the register :
the guillotine erected in France. It con« Quidam extraneus capitalem subiit sisted of two upright posts, or pieces of sententiam, 1° Jan. 1542.” A certain timber, fifteen feet high, joined at the top stranger suffered capital punishment, Jan. by a transverse beam : within these was a 1, 1542; and “Richard Sharp, and John square block of wood of the length of four Learoyd, beheaded the 5th day of March, feet and a half, which moved up and down 1568, for a robbery done in Lancashire." between the uprights by means of grooves
At this town it appears that the felon made for that purpose : to the lower end was to be taken within the liberty, and that of this sliding-block was fastened an iron if he escaped out of it, even after condem- axe, of the weight of seven pounds twelve nation, he could not be brought back to be
The axe, thus fixed, was drawn executed ; but if ever he returned into it up to the top by a cord and pulley. At again, and were taken, he was liable to the end of the cord was a pin, which, being suffer, as was the case of a person named fixed to the block, kept it suspended till Lacy, who, after escaping, remained seven the moment of execution, when, by pulling years out of the liberty, but, venluring to out the pin, or cutting the cord, it was sufcome back, was beheaded on the former fered to fall, and the criminal's head was verdict, in the year 1623.
instantly severed from his body. The In the next place, the fact was to be mode of this proceeding has been diffeproved in the clearest manner : the offender rently described. was to be taken either hand-habend, or Harrison says, that every person present back - berand, that is, having the stolen took hold of the rope, or at least stretched goods either in his hand or bearing them forth his arm as near to it as he could, in on his back, or lastly confessand, confess- token of his approbation, and that the pin ing that he took them. This is what the was pulled out in this manner; but if the writers on ancient laws denominate “fure offender was condemned for stealing an ox, tum manifestum,” and perhaps the abhor- sheep, horse, &c. the end of the rope was rence which our ancestors had of that fastened to the beast, which, being driven, crime, might give rise to the ample power pulled out the pin. Camden informs us, that was so long left to the barons, of pun- that if this was not performed by a beast, ishing offenders of this description ; for the bailiff, or his servant, cut the rope; nothing surely could more effectually deter with which Bentley's representation of the from the practice of theft, than capital matter agrees. From these descriptions of punishment inflicted in this summary way, the Halifax gibbet, it evidently appears, without much trouble or expense to the that the French guillotine is not, as has prosecutors. But it must, however, be been vulgarly believed, a recent invention. remarked, that there was a great defect in The Halifax engine was as nearly as posthis law; for unless the felon was taken sible of the same construction, and its opewith the stolen goods in his actual posses- operation was equally certain and instansion, which would seldom be the case, he taneous could, by pleading not guilty, avoid con In regard to the antiquity of this custom viction ; and the person injured had no at Halifax, it seems to have been nearly further redress.
coeval with the town itself. It has already The value of the goods was to amount to been observed, that in the Domesday book thirteen pence halfpenny, or more ; and no mention is made of Halifax, and if it Dr. Grey seems to think, that thirteen existed at that time it must have been only pence halfpenny may have been called an inconsiderable place. Mr. Watson, hangman's wages, in allusion to the Halifax therefore, with just probability, supposes law, Mr. Watson also supposes that this that the gibbet law had its beginning about sum of money might be given, at this place, the time that the manor of Wakefield, as a gratuity to the executioner.
which included the present parish of HaWhen the condemned felon was brought lifax, was bestowed on the Earl of Warren. to the gibbet, which stood a little way out “ In the reign of Edward I. at the pleas of of the town at the west end, the bailiff, the assizes and jurats, John, earl of Warren persons who had found the verdict, and the and Surry, answering to a writ of quo attending clergyman, placed themselves on warranto,' said, that he claimed gallows
at Coningsburgh and Wakefield, and the stolen was of such a determined value, that power of doing what belonged to a gallows the lives of the king's copyholders and in all his lands and fees, and that he and others, might not be too much at the mercy his ancestors had used the same from time of ignorant or ill-designing men, as perimmemorial; to which it was answered, on haps it might be found they had song the part of the king, that the aforesaid liber- enough been." ties belonged merely to the crown, and that It is a circumstance particularly worthy no long seisin or prescription of time ought of remark, that this power of the barons to to prejudice the king, and that the earl had inflict capital punishment was kept up at no special warrant for the said liberties, Halifax a considerable time after it had therefore judgment was desired, if the seisin ceased in every other part of the kingdom. could be to the said earl a sufficient war This, however, seems to have been merely rant, From hence it is evident, that even accidental. The privilege was not taken about the year 1280, no charter of these away from any place by act of parliament, privileges could be produced, but the pre- but fell by degrees, in consequence of the scriptive right was deemed good, for
alteration of circumstances; for as the the inquisition afterwards taken, it does not tenures in capite” ceased, the liberties appear that any thing was found for the annexed to them became extinct. But as king.
Halifax was a place of so much trade, this It seems to have been universally agreed, custom, which was calculated to strike that theft was the only thing cognizable in terror into thieves, was found to be so great this court, but, as Mr. Watson informę us, a safeguard to the property of the manuin a MS. in the Harleian collection in the facturers, that they kept it up as long as British Museum, under the title of Halifax, they dared. And very probably it would is the following entry :-" The court of the not have ceased when it did, if the bailiff countess, held 30th January, 33 Edward had not been threatened after the last exeIII. it is found by inquisition, that if any cution, that he should be called to a public tenant of this lordship of Halifax be be account, if the like were again attempted. headed for theft, or other cause, that the It seems that theft was exceedingly comheirs of the same tenant ought not to lose mon in this neighbourhood, and also that their inheritance, &c."
the law was rigidly executed; for the regis“ The difficulty," says Mr. Watson, ter books exhibit a list of forty-nine persons “here is, how to account for their behead. beheaded at Halifax gibbet between the ing for other causes than theft, at the above 20th day of March, 1541, and the 30th of period, and yet no traces of this power April, 1650. Of these, five were executed remain in later times. This happened in the six last years of Henry VIII. twentyeither through disuse, or some restraint put five in the reign of Elizabeth, seven in the upon the power by the crown; for in 1359, reign of James I., ten in that of Charles I., a few months after the date of the above and two during the interregnum. The list inquisition, the said countess died, and the of executions, as Mr. Watson observes, is manor came to the crown in the person of so formidable, that there is no reason to Edward IV. as son of Richard, duke of wonder at the proverbial petition of thieves York, whose right it was, and who was and vagabonds, “From Hell, Hull, and killed at Wakefield fight. Now this Ed- Halifax, good Lord, deliver us." ward, if it was not done before, might think proper to reduce the excessive power of the barons, which seemed to infringe too
THE MASSACRE OF PROTESTANTS, CALLED much upon the royal prerogative, if they
THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW's. could put to death for other causes than In the reign of Charles the Ninth of France, theft ; and this he might do without giving who was contemporary with the English offence to any one, for the power which queen Elizabeth, the Hugonots, or Prohad gone out from the crown was returned testants of that kingdom, who had resolutely to it again. And, as I take this to be the withstood the efforts of their adversaries to very period when trade made its first ap- convert or crush them, were taught to conpearance here, it is not improbable 'but sider themselves in a state of security and so much of the old proceedings might, at peace, from the altered feelings and policy of the suit of the tenants, be allowed as related the court; and, as a guarantee of that to theft, in order to encourage the woollen security, an alliance was formed between manufactory, then in its infancy. But it Charles and Elizabeth, to whom all eyes seems they were not to take cognizance of were directed, as the chief protector on any sort of theft but such as was proved in earth of the Protestant cause; while, to the clearest manner, and where the thing remove still further all apprehension from 20. SERIES, NO. 21.- Vol. II.
the minds of the French Protestants, a France; on whom, the consequences of marriage was projected between the sister all the murders of Charles, and the draof Charles and the young Protestant king goonings of Louis, have been poured out of Navarre,
in double fury. Verily, there is a God that The admiral de Coligny, says Russel, judgeth in the earth. the prince of Condé, and all the most con But while the massacre of St. Barthosiderable men of the Protestant party, went lomew's remains unquestioned, various cheerfully to Paris, in order to assist at the efforts have, of late years, been made, to celebration of that marriage; which it was give new colours to old events; and, by the hoped would finally appease the religious suppression of some circumstances, and animosities. Coligny was wounded by a the alteration of others, to represent it as shot from a window, a few days after the any thing else but what it appears in our marriage ; yet the court still found means older historians. In this spirit, a history to quiet the suspicions of the Hugonots till of England has been written, “ for Catholic the eve of St. Bartholomew, when a mas youth ;" that, but for the names of persons sacre commenced, to which there is nothing occurring in it, might as well pass for an parallel in the history of mankind, either history of Utopia or Atalantis. As an for the dissimulation that led to it, or the apology, says Russel, for this atrocious deliberative cruelty and barbarity with perfidy and inhuman butchery, Charles which it was perpetrated.
pretended that a conspiracy of the HuThe Protestants, as a body, were de gonots to seize his person had been sudvoted to destruction, the young king of denly detected; and that he had been Navarre and the prince of Condé only necessitated, for his own safety, to proceed being exempted from the general doom, to extremities against them. It is a suffi. on condition that they should change cient answer to this, that, even admitting their religion. Charles, accompanied by the accusation to be true, such a mode of his mother, beheld, from a window of his proceeding, in reference to conspirators, is palace, this horrid massacre, which was not consistent with justice, law, or the chiefly conducted by the duke of Guise, dignity of authority. The royal guards were ordered to be under But the pope, in whose cause the act arms at the close of day. The ringing of a had been perpetrated, was above using any bell was the signal ; and the Catholic such equivocating apology; and the method citizens, who had been secretly prepared adopted at Rome, to mark his approbation by their leaders for such a scene, zealously of the measure, must ever stand as evidence seconded the execution of the soldiery, em of the participation, or more than particibruing their hands, without remorse, in the pation, of the pope, and Roman church, in blood of their neighbours, of their com the guilt of this blood. Three pictures were panions, and even of their relations; the painted, and hung up in the hall where the king himself inciting their fury by firing pope gives audience to ambassadors. In upon the fugitives, and frequently crying, the first of these, Coligny was represented Kill, kill! Persons of every condition, as he was carried to his house, after he had age, and sex, suspected of adhering to the been wounded by the assassin Morevil; reformed opinions, were involved in one and at the bottom of the picture were these undistinguished ruin. About five hundred words, “ Gaspar Colignius, amirallius, gentlemen and men of rank, among whom accepto vulnere domum refertur. Greg. xii. was Coligny, with many other heads of the Pontif. Max. 1572:" (Gaspar Coligny, Protestant party, were murdered in Paris the admiral, is carried to his house wounded, alone; and near ten thousand persons of in the Pontificate of Gregory 13th, 1572.) inferior condition, The same barbarous The second exhibited him murdered in the orders were sent to all parts of the king same house, together with his son-in-law, dom; and a like carnage ensued at Rouen, Teligny, and others, with these words, Lyons, Orleans, and several other cities. “ Cædes Colignii et sociorum ejus :" By this massacre, sixty thousand Protestants (The slaughter of Coligny and his comare supposed to have been massacred in panions.) In the third picture, the news of different parts of France.
the execution is brought to the king, who The best commentary on this event, and seems pleased with it: the inscription, on the revocation of the edict of Nantz, “Rex Colignii necem probat:” (The king which may be regarded as the second act approves of the murder of Coligny.) of the same drama, will be found in the The cardinal of Lorrain, who was at narrative of the French Revolution of 1789. Rome, gave a thousand crowns to the mesThe persecution, in either case, was the senger who brought the news of the masjoint act of the king, nobles, and clergy, of sacre ; and, as if the pope's name to the