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geration over it, the prejudice must inevitably be imparted to his colleagues, who can only see with his eyes, or judge with his feelings. If two of the judges deem the proofs insufficient, the accused is hors de cour, (out of court,) and there is an end of the proceedings: if sufficient, they then determine the class or category of the offence; viz. whether it is one which induces criminal, or only correctional penalties,-a distinction which, in some degree, corresponds to our classification of offences-into felonies and simple misdemeanours. Here, however, we start a strange and unaccountable absurdity. We have just seen, that a majority of the three is required to de. cide as to the sufficiency of proof; but, if a single voice pronounces the offence liable to peines afflictives ou infamantes, (corporal or infamous,) the culprit is sent before the criminal tribunal. Nine years experience have testified, says M. Béranger, that this single voice is that of the juge d'instruction. The proceedings are now ripe for the procureur du roi. But what can more strikingly demonstrate the clumsiness of the machine, than the cumbrous intervention of the chamber of council, consisting of three judges, in which a single person only is empowered to qualify the offence, and determine thereby the jurisdiction where it is cognizable,-a question by far the most important in the preliminary part of the proceedings?

At length, however, and for the FIRST TIME, the accused party is allowed to say something for himself, and to give in such memorials as he thinks fit. Up to this time, he has remained a stranger to the proceedings against him, and, specifcally speaking, has neither been made acquainted with his accuser nor his accusation. He has been kept also in the same ignorance of the names and depositions of the witnesses. He has had to fight, with his eyes blind-folded, an armed adversary. To the poor, the drawing up of their memorials is a heavy and insupportable expense; and five days only are al. lowed, before the chamber of accusation, consisting of five judges, (the next link in this interminable chain of procedure,) comes to a determination. No other document forms the basis of that determination than the report of the procureur generale, who, as soon as their decision is notified to him, proceeds to draw

up the acte d'accusation, or indictment. It is by means of this instrument, in fact, that the prisoner becomes first aequainted with the crime laid to his charge. It is the basis, moreover, of all the future proceedings, and is the most important document in the whole process. But, in the drawing of this paper, all the technical rule and regular principle, the


precision and accuracy of an English indictment, are wholly disregarded. On the contrary, it is swelled out to an interminable length, and abounds with those ornaments of rhetoric, so misplaced in such an instrument, but which are never unwelcome to the ears of a Frenchman, whose intellect is not to be reached but through a rhetorical medium. It sometimes exceeds forty folios, and occupies three hours of the trial in reading

And here we must again remind our readers of the torturing slowness, the leaden, funereal pace of a French criminal pro

a cess, by shortly recapitulating the several halts which are made in it, and which render the law's delay' in that country, one of the most intolerable of its grievances, while it oppresses the innocent with those hopes deferred that make his heart siok, and dooms him to suffer, in many respects, the penalties of guilt. After the first interrogatory, he is, as we have seen, remanded to prison. Once lodged there, the law is seized with an unaccountable lethargy. The juge d'instruction has now to prepare the proces verbal, and to examine the witnesses; but these duties are stimulated by no penalty or responsibility for a negligent or relaxed execution of them. Distracted by a variety of similar proceedings, all going on at the same time, like the lawyer in Tom Jones, he probably wishes himself out into twenty pieces, while the prisoner, who, in his dungeon, is vainly invoking the tardy genius of French jurisprudence, must wait his leisure. At last, however, his report is ready for the chamber of council. Here another delay takes place, for the whole procedure must be previously submitted to the procureur du roi, on whose table it probably slumbers unobserved for several days. When it reaches the chamber, in common probability the instruction is found incomplete, when a further investigation is ordered; so that, after several months have been consumed, and after so profuse an expenditure of ink and paper, the proceeding at last draws its slow length, like the wounded snake, into the court of assizes. Yet, even here, a delay may occur. If Mr. Procureur du roi can shew sufficient cause for not bringing on the case immediately, he may move to put off the trial. The result is, that it rarely happens in France, that a prisoner is brought to trial within nine months from his commitment.

But he has now passed through the unmeaning labyrinths, the “ passages that lead to nothing,” which retard the preliminary parts of his process, and has reached the court where his fate is to be decided. Here we look in vain for the humanity, the tenderness, the compassion which temper the execu

tive justice of England. Well might the words of Macheath be put into the mouth of a French criminal :

• The Judges are met,

A terrible set.' His look, his voice, his gesture, are interpreted against him. If he has not the confidence of hardened guilt,-if his answers to the interrogatories (often continued for three successive days) are confused or at variance with the procés verbal, (which he is not allowed to see,) a fatal impression is felt against him, from which neither the ordinary firmness of the jury, nor the religion of their oath, is sufficient to guarantee them. M. Berryer, one of the counsel of Castaing, lately tried for murder at Paris, alluding to the various contradictions of the prisoner, so unfairly pressed against him by the judge who interrogated him, justly exclaims :

• Is it so very remarkable then, that, charged with so foul a crime, distracted by the recollections of his parents, his infant,—the friendship he is supposed to have betrayed,-affrightened himself by the contradictions into which he has been goaded, and forming against him a perplexed series of inferences fatal to his innocence, is it strange that he should hesitate and feel alarm on so awful an occasion, in the presence of death, which is soon to usher him before his Maker? What must be the feelings of a man thus called upon to throw his life, in the very flower of his years,—all that is dear to him, upon the uncertain issue of a public trial, and to trust only to the infirmity and frailty of human judgements ?'*

The oath administered to the jury has this particularity : it is not to try the issue joined according to the evidence,' but,

according to their consciences as good and just men ;-a vague, and often the most dangerous criterion by which fallible beings can decide. The acte d'accusation is then read, which, in Castaing's case, (we adduce it only for an example, occupied fifty-six closely printed octavo pages, and, during the reading of which, the court was twice adjourned. It is, in other words, a long pleading, in which every presumption hostile to the prisoner is urged, all his contradictions in the procés verbal are insisted on, and all the probable topics of his defence are refuted. Who could suppose, that, in a bill of in

а dictment, the most insignificant circumstances would be stated with so much pomp of phrase, as in the following passage,

« Procés complet d'Edme Samuel Castaing, docteur en médicine." Paris, 1823.

which we copy from the acte d'accusation in the case of Castaing?

• Moreover, before the death of Auguste Ballet, and whilst they were at the auberge together, he (Castaing) took especial care, contrary to the ordinary usage, to pay for every thing from hand to mouth, as it was brought to them. A circumstance which they who have been accustomed to observe upon the mind of man, will not deem unimportant. It is evident, that Castaing wished that every body about him, should be pleased with him, and entertain towards him the good will that is ordinarily excited by kindness.'

We cite this sentence at random, as a specimen of the materials which compose an acte d'accusation.

Perhaps, the most striking contrast between the forms of an English, and those of a French court of justice, would be found in the style, spirit, and mode of address to the jury, made in the two countries by the respective counsel for the prosecution.

· The counsel for the crown in England,' observes M. Cottů, • lays before the jury a summary of the case, which is nothing but a more detailed and circumstantial repetition of the indictment; guarding himself, however, from every sort of invective against the prisoner, and making no reflections on his depravity. Facts must speak, and the counsel is forbidden to excite feelings which must be called forth by them alone. The counsel finishes by saying that he shall call witnesses to substantiate the charges against the prisoner. This opening address very seldom lasts more than a quarter of an hour.'

The French advocate rarely exhibits this degree of moderation. An opportunity occurs of exhibiting himself to advantage, and it is one which no French man, French woman, we had almost said, French child, has sufficient resolution to resist. In place, therefore, of a calm statement of facts, the public prosecutor delivers a long rhetorical discourse, which is a sort of commentary upon the acte d'accusation. Every common-place which the hackneyed subjects of human crime may call to his recollection, every figure of a laboured and artificial eloquence, is marshalled against the unhappy wretch at the bar, of whose destined punishment these dull and vapid effusions are no slight aggravation; and though equally alien from good taste and humanity, they seldom fail in stifling all sympathy or pity that might be felt in his behalf. Cicero himself could scarcely have denounced Catiline with more impassioned declamation, than that employed by a procureur general, to obtain the conviction of a person accused of any of the common offences which usually fill an assize-calendar. It might be imagined

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that the government itself was shaken to the centre by every felony and misdemeanour committed within its frontiers,

But the prisoner has still to undergo an ordeal, compared to which, all that he has yet experienced is light as air ; viz. bis public examination by the president of the court;a member, be it observed, of the chamber which sends him to trial, and, therefore, in most cases naturally disposed to support an accusation, the failure of which would be an imputation on his own decision. Accordingly, on this occasion, all the professional ingenuity and skill imparted by the long habit of framing questions fitted for extorting an absolute confession of guilt, or bewildering him in a labyrinth of contradictions, which answers the same end, -all' this is played off upon delinquents for the most part ignorant of the meaning of the questions, and wholly unarmed against the insidious and dangerous effect of them.

• The president,' says M. Cottû, questions the prisoner.... Who is the president?-a member of the royal court which has placed the prisoner in a state of accusation; a colleague of the attorney-general or officer who supports the accusation ; finally, a magistrate charged with detailing the proofs of it to the jury: the honour of the body to which he belongs, his connections with the accuser, the interest of his own reputation, every thing induces him, imperceptibly, if not to hope for the success of the accusation, at least to fear lest some of the proofs upon which it is founded, should escape the inex. perience of the jury:

• He questions the prisoner !.... We have seen how severely: persuaded almost the whole time of the certainty of the crime, bis object is to draw an absolute confession from the culprit : he presses, twists, and turns him, scarcely allowing him time to breathe; and if the prisoner manifests an insuperable resistance, he becomes angry and exasperated, and almost his enemy.

A more unequal conflict can hardly be imagined. Just emerging from the gloom of a dungeon, the criminal is called on to play the principal part as in a theatre, where a thousand eyes are upon him. Is it to be wondered at, that he should answer with hesitation and embarrassment, or even disclose circumstances that may lead to his conviction? The judgepresident, on the other hand, has every advantage. The answers of the prisoner before the juge d'instruction are in his hand. If his answers on this occasion vary from those which he gave formerly, the jury are reminded of the contradiction in terms strougly implying that the variance is deemed a proof of guilt.

No ear attuned to the sounds of humanity or justice, but must shrink with horror from such an examination, continued

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