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these amounts were modified by the mode in which the murder was committed, whether by a weapon, or by strangling, or by drowning ; whether in the party's own house, or in a church, or in the fields ; by a stranger, or a friend, or a relative. The same principle was carried out, and the same minute distinctions made in legislating for minor injuries. The eye, the ear, the hand, the foot, each finger, and toe, and tooth, had its special value. The nature of the wound is minutely described ; if it drew blood, the depth of the cut and the quantity of blood which flowed ; if it caused blackness only, the extent of the black mark ; if a bone were splintered, the piece of bone which came out was thrown into a shield, and the distance at which it could be heard falling determined the price to be paid. If from a wound in the head three pieces of bone came out, the fine was 45 solidi ; if the wound would not heal, but kept open, 62 solidi, and 9 to the doctor. He who called another a one-eyed fellow must pay 15 solidi ; if be called him a pig, 3 solidi ; the same if he called him a fox, and twice as much if he called him a hare.
Up to the time of Charlemagne, it seems to have been left to the option of the injured persons whether they would accept the legal composition or seek revenge by private means. This was productive of endless feuds, which, as among the Arabs of our own day, were handed down from father to son with constantly increasing bitterness; vengeance on one side only
provoked retaliation on the other, and thus resentment became fixed and implacable. Charlemagne endeavoured to check this evil by making the payment of the legal fine compulsory on the part of the offender, and its acceptance imperative on the injured party. He enacted in the year 802, “When any person has been guilty of any wrong or outrage, he shall immediately submit to the penance imposed, and offer to pay the fine prescribed by law; if the injured persons or their kindred should refuse to accept this, and presume to avenge themselves by force of arms, their lands and properties shall be forfeited.” In this affair, as in many others, Charlemagne was in advance of his age. While he lived, indeed, he compelled obedience, but after his decease the pursuit of personal and private revenge became as common as ever, and continued to be so for many centuries.
Another peculiar and characteristic feature of the criminal process
of Teutonic ancestors in those semi-barbarous ages, and which was regarded with much favour by Charlemagne, was the judgment of God, as it was called, in its twofold form of ordeal and trial by battle. The belief was universal that God when appealed to would interfere, and suspend the laws of nature so as to enable the innocent person to walk on red hot iron, or to plunge a limb into molten lead without injury; that he would, on the other hand, make the most harmless and simple things fatal to the guilty wretch who
dared to invoke the Divine justice; that in judicial combat he would endow the weaker person, if innocent, with supernatural energy, and smite the guilty with impotence or paralyse him with terror. The assertion of a great English poet, that
“ Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just," was thus with them no figurative expression.
A law of the year 809 enacts, that “all persons shall receive without hesitation or doubt the judgment of God." In the same year a man who was charged with murder was required to attest his innocence by walking barefoot over nine red hot ploughshares. During the earlier years of Charlemagne's reign a dispute arose between the bishop of Paris and the abbot of St. Denys, as to the proprietorship of the estates of a small abbey, each claiming them for himself. Unable to decide this question of right, they agreed to refer it to the judgment of God. Each party chose a champion, who was to stand before the high altar during the celebration of mass with his arms outstretched in the form of a cross. He who first became weary and altered his position was adjudged to have lost the cause.
We smile at the superstition and puerility of such modes of deciding questions of truth and right. But let us pause before we too harshly condemn them. They sprang out of a principle true in itself, though superstitious and false in this application of it, that " verily there
is a God that judgeth in the earth," and that there is a Divine superintendence over the affairs of men to which all nature ministers. And though we fully admit that the principle as applied by our ancestors was erroneous and superstitious, yet surely even this error is preferable to that atheistic reasoning so much in vogue in the present day, which would exclude Providence from all interference with human affairs, deny to God the prerogative of ruling and controlling the creatures he had formed, and reduce Divine agency to the inevitable and unswerving operations of natural law.
Whilst the theory of the trial by ordeal is thus excusable, though not entirely justifiable, its operation, we may observe, was not so injurious as has been supposed. Originally it was intended only to be applied to the decision of cases which were so complicated and obscure as to baffle the investigations of rude and simple warriors, who, unused to sift evidence and to balance probabilities, constantly found themselves unable to decide between opposite and conflicting testimonies. What more natural than that, under such circumstances, they should refer the case to the decision of Him who could neither err nor deceive ? Nor was the detection of crime an unfrequent occurrence. The guilty person shrank from a resort to that unerring tribunal. He might succeed in bafiling the inquiries of his fellow-men, but he feared to appeal to infallible wisdom, immutable and incorruptible justice, and Almighty vengeance.
In innumerable instances, he preferred to pay the penalty imposed by human law rather than incur such fearful peril.* While we maintain that the trial by ordeal was thus, at least, excusable in its first intention and design, it must be admitted that, in after ages, it became an instrument of priesteraft and fraud.
The trial by battle, which in modern times has excited even more sarcasm and derision than the ordeal, admits of a still better justification. It seems to have been originally resorted to only when the injured party refused to accept the pecuniary compensation, of which we have spoken, and insisted upon his right to personal revenge. The judge then in effect said : “ Since you insist upon revenging yourself personally upon your enemy, you must do so; it is your undoubted right, and if you demand it, it must be conceded ; but you shall do it under certain restrictions and limitations which shall give the other party a fair and equal chance with yourself, and it shall be in the presence of judges and witnesses, and accompanied with such solemnities as shall render the act not one of lawless violence, but shall give it a judicial character."
The trial by battle, then, was partly of the nature of an ordeal, and partly designed to act as a limitation and restraint upon the practice
* A strong argument for a special and presiding Providence may be deduced from the universality of trial by ordeal. Every known nation of oriental, classical, or mediæval antiquity, affords instances of its use. Surely a practice so common must have rested upon a principle fundamentally true.