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by a letter, which, when I read the letter, the contents were:- That I should endeavour to procure two or three discreet persons of New Milns to myself, and we together view the body of Sir James; and, if we found no grounds to believe that his person had been wronged by others, that then with all speed he should be buried, and that as privately, and with as little noise as could be: but this letter, which was the commissary's order to me, was sent by the hand of one James Mitchel, kinsman to Sir James; for that horse that the express rode on to Edinburgh was taken out of the stable where he was set up; and one Mr. Patrick Smith, the brother-in-law of Sir James Stansfield, mounted on him to come for New Milns. So that my express was thereby disabled to bring me the answer of my letter ; and the said James Miichel, who brought my letter, came home at the place by nine of the clock that Sabbath-day at night, and gave an account of the letter that he had for me; but they dissuaded him from bringing it me, so that I had it not till three hours after Sir James was buried. But upon Monday morning I arose about three or four of the clock; and, coming out of my house, I saw great lights at Sir James's gate, which occasioned my going down to see what the matter was; and, as I went, I met with one William Robinson coming up of home; I asked what the meaning was of these lights, and of the horses that I then saw at Sir James's gate ? Who answered me, that Sir James's corpse was brought out at the gate, and that they were carrying it at Moreham to be buried, having received orders from my Lord Advocate for that purpose. At which I returned to my house, thinking it very strange thus to proceed without having had the corpse viewed by some person, as I well knew was customary in England in such cases. The next step, to my remembrance, was, that upon the Tuesday night following, after I was in bed, one Mr. Alexander Campbell in Edinburgh, with one Mr. James Row, and a gentleman, one Mr. Hamilton, with two chirurgeons, came at my house, and caused me to rise out of my bed, shewing me an order which they had from my Lord Advocate for the taking up again of the body of Sir James Stansfield, and commanded me to make ready to go with them; and, having seen the order, readily submitted thereunto, and, when coming upon the place at Morehain, caused the said grave to be opened, and the coffin taken up. It was carried into the church, and there opened ; and, as soon as Sir James's grave-clothes were taken off him, and all his upper parts uncovered, ... ... methought his face looked not as I expected, nor as others had insinuated, that were at the dressing of him at first; for they said that his body and face were very fair and fresh ; but I found his face, at first view, of another complexion, being blackish, with some streaks of red, like standing, or rather strangled, blood ; and under his left ear I saw a swelling home to his throat, and of a blackish-red colour. After this I saw the chirurgeons opening his body, beginning at the top of his chin, and so down to the pit of his stomach, and then cut his skin on both sides his throat, towards each ear, and coming at the place near his left ear that I saw swollen, I there saw of corroded, or congealed blood, lying a lump of great thickness, and two or three inches long, which proved to me he had been strangled : and one thing more I observed, that, when Mr. Murehead put off his cap at first from his head, in slipping it back, Sir James's eye-lids opened, and his eyes appeared, but his eye-lids were much swollen and very red, which did also prove to
me a symptom of strangling. This being done, and his breast opened, so that his entrails appeared, and to me seemed in good order, and no appearance of water in his body, neither then, nor when first he was taken out of the river: the like, I think, has not been ever known by any man that cast himself, or that has been cast into a river alive, and not to have his body full of water; nor that ever a dead man should lie at the top of the water where no running stream is, but a still water of about five feet deep; but to me in this it shews that, as God is a wonder-working God, so he has in this shewn no less, to convince men that this worthy gentleman murdered not himself, but was murdered.
“But my last observation was of a wonder more, that the Lord did shew, when the chirurgeons had caused the body of Sir James to be by their servants sewn up again, and his grave-clothes put on. A speech was made to this purpose :- It is requisite now that those of Sir James Stansfield's relations and nearest friends should take him off from the place where now he lies, and lift him into his coffin. So I saw Mr. Janies Row at the left side of Sir James's head and shoulder, and Mr. Philip Stansfield at the right side of his head and shoulder; and, going to lift off the body, I saw Mr. Philip drop the head of his father upon the form, and much blood in his hand, and himself Aying off from the body, crying, Lord have mercy upon me! (or upon us !) wiping off the blood on his clothes, and so lay himself over a seat in the church. Some supposing that he would swarff, or swoon away, called for a bottle of water for him. After this we went for Moreham Castle, where Mr. Philip Stansfield, myself, and several others staid until it was day. In which time I challenged Mr. Philip for his unkindness to me, by his not inviting me to accompany the corpse of his father when first buried, knowing the intimacy that there was betwixt his father and myself, and that, of all the people in or about the town, his father delighted in no one's company as in mine; and that he did not give me notice of his burial, that I might do my last office of love and service to him by accompanying his body to his burial-place; I took it very ill from him. So then Mr. Philip swore that he had sent two of his servants to invite me, but, if those damned rogues would not do it, what could he help it? and yet did declare, as is proved, and as himself since confessed before my Lord Advocate, that he would not invite me, assigning this as his reason, supposing that myself and James Marr had been instruments of setting his father against him, which was a false suggestion. All which particulars I have, before the Lords of his Majesty's honourable Privy Council, de clared : so, by their command, I have in this sheet of paper written it over with my own hand, and do hereby subscribe my name, the 16th of December, 1687."
The portion of the evidence, however, that goes farthest to prove that a murder had been committed, and that is moreover of the deepest interest in every respect, is that which closed the case for the prosecution. The Lord Advocate now proposed that two children, James Thomson, the son of George Thomson, a boy of thirteen, and Anna Mark, the daughter of Janet Johnston, a girl of ten years old, should be examined ; and, although their admission as witnesses was refused by the Court, on the representation of the prisoner's counsel, that from their tender age they were not by law capable of being sworn, yet, “ in regard,” says the report, “ the persons on the inquest earnestly desired the said James Thomson and Anna Mark might be examined anent their knowledge of the pannel's accession to the foresaid murder, they allowed the forenamed persons their declarations to be taken for clearing of the assize,” -in other words, for the more complete satisfaction of the jury. Few more striking passages are to be found in the records of proceedings in courts of justice than the evidence which the boy, Thomson's son, accordingly now gave. He declared that “Janet Johnston came to George Thomson's house between nine and ten at night, and Philip Stansfield, the pannel, came there shortly thereafter: and, the house being dark, the said Philip gave the declarant a turnor [a small copper coin to buy a candle, which he did in the neighbouring house ; and, after the declarant returned with the candle, his mother ordered him to go to his bed, which was in the same room, and beat him because he did not presently obey. Declares he heard one come to the door and inquire for Janet Johnston, and desired her to come home and give her child suck. Declares, he knew by the voice that the person who came was Agnes Mark, the said Janet's daughter, and that Janet ordered her to go away, and that she should follow her. Declares, she stayed a considerable time thereafter, and the said Thomson's wife was desired to go for a pint of ale, and Philip took out a handful of money to see if he had any small money, and, finding he had none, the ale was taken on upon trust. Further declares, that the said George Thomson and his wife, and Janet Johnston, did stay together and whisper softly a considerable time. Declares, he heard Philip Stansfield complain that his father would not give him money, and pray the devil to take his father, and he should make an end of his father, and then all would be his, and then he would be kind to them. Declares, Philip Stansfield and Janet Johnston went away about eleven, and shortly after his father and mother came to the bed where the declarant was lying across the bed-foot ; and the de larant in the nighttime perceiving his father and mother rising out of the bed, and going out of the house, and that they staid a considerable time away, about an hour and a half or two hours, and that the declarant was perfectly awake when they went and were away, and he wondered what they were going about. Declares, his mother came in first, and came softly to bed, and within some time after his father came in, and put a stool to the back of the door, without locking it, for the lock made always a great noise when they locked the door; and the declarant's father called to him whenever he came in, but the declarant made no answer, that it might be thought he was sleeping ; and his mother asked what had staid his father; and thereupon his father and mother did fall discoursing of several things, and particularly his father said that the deed was done, and that Philip Stansfield guarded the chamber door, with a drawn sword and a bended pistol, and that he never thought a man would have died so soon, and that they carried him out towards the water-side, and they tied a stone about his neck, and, leaving him there, came back to the Little Kiln, and reckoned whether they should cast him in the water with the stone about his neck or not, and whether they should cast him in far in, or near the side, and at length they returned, and took away the stone from about his neck, and threw him in the water. Declares, his father said that yet he was afraid, for all that, that the murder would come out, and his mother answered · Hoot, fool, there is no fear of that; it will be thought he has drowned himself, because he will be found in
the water.' Declares, when Sir James was missing in the morning, the declarant's mother said to his father, · Rise quickly, for if ye be found in your bed they will say that ye have a hand in the murder. Declares, the coat and waistcoat which were upon Sir James when he was found in the water were sent to Thomson's house, and Thomson's wife said to her husband and Janet Johnston, in presence of the declarant, that she was 'affrighted to see the same coat and waistcoat, for she thought that some evil spirit was in it, and desired her husband to send it away, which he would not: and further, that his mother said to her husband, in the declarant’s hearing, that she was affrighted to be in the house alone after night fell; and, accordingly, whenever her husband went out, she went out with him, which was not her ordinary. Declares, the said George Thomson did go into Edinburgh several days before the declarant's mother was brought in, and she did immediately after he came into Edinburgh send away Sir James's coat and waistcoat, and that she was never in her own house after night since her husband came in, but did lie in Janet Johnston's house."
The declaration of the little girl, Anna Mark, Janet Johnston's daughter, was to the following purport :-" That on the said Saturday night Philip came up to her mother's house, and sent for George Thomson and his wife, and thereafter he sent her to see if Sir James was come home: declares, that she saw Philip with his hat off give a low salutation to George Thomson when he came up to him ; and when she returned and told that Sir James was come, Philip did take a drink, and runs down to New Milns; that about eleven o'clock that night her goodfather (step-father] sent her to seek her mother, and that she found her mother with Philip, in George Thomson's house, and that her mother bade her go home, and she would come after her ; and that her goodfather thereafter, finding her mother did not come, sent her for Margaret Isles to give suck to the child, and went home again; but that her mother did not come long after that, as she thinks about two in the morning, and that she heard her good-father say, Wretch, where have you been so long? and she answered, Wherever I have been, the deed is done; and then went to bed : and that after that she heard them speak together, but could not know what they said. She declares, also, that her mother said she was still feared, and would not abide alone, nor lie alone in the bed, but said she was afraid.”
These remarkable declarations wound up the evidence for the prosecution, and indeed all the evidence that was produced in the case ; for the prisoner's counsel called no witnesses.
The counsel for the prisoner being, moreover, silent, the jury was now addressed by the Crown counsel, Sir George Mackenzie Mackenzie, whose name deserves an honourable place in the literary history of his country, both for various professional and other literary works, and more especially for the lasting debt the bar-and it may be said the public of Scotland owe to him as the founder of the Advocates' Library, had himself held the office of Lord Advocate from 1674 till the accession of King James II., and was re-appointed to it very soon after the present trial, on the elevation of Sir John Dalrymple to a seat on the bench as Lord Justice Clerk. But the Revolution, which made Dalrymple Secretary of State, or Prime Minister for Scotland, drove Mackenzie from public life. He retired to Oxford, and entered himself a student there at the age of fifty-four, but died within a year after. In politics, Sir George Mackenzie, as his writings as well as his life attest, was a devoted worshipper of the prerogative and the divine right; and in the arbitrary times in which he served, he has the credit of having gone as far as any one in carrying his doctrines into practice. The thoroughgoing style in which he exercised the powers of his high office made him be long popularly remembered as “ The blood-thirsty Advocate.”
He began his speech as follows:-“Gentlemen of the inquest, I am glad to see so strong and universal a propensity for justice in my native country, that every man, upon first hearing this death, concluded it a murder, and trembled lest it should not have been discovered. Every man became solicitor in it-wished to be of the inquest; and ardent prayers were generally put up to Almighty God for this end, with as much earnestness as uses to be for removing general plagues. And the Almighty, in return of those, did first make so clear impressions on all men's spirits of Philip's being the murderer, that he had fallen by these; but his Divine Majesty, who loves to see just things done in a legal way, furnished thereafter a full probation in an extraordinary manner, whereby we might not only convince ourselves, but all such as are not wicked enough to have been the authors. You will discern the finger of God in all the steps of this probation as evidently as Philip's guilt ; and this extraordinary discovery has been made, as well to convince this wicked age that the world is governed by Divine Providence as that he is guilty of this murder."
The learned counsel then proceeded to observe on the evidence.
Upon the miracle of the bleeding of the corpse, Sir George was very great. Therein, he said,–“God Almighty himself was pleased to bear a share in the testimonies which we produce ; that Divine power which makes the blood circulate during life, has oft-times, in all nations, opened a passage to it after death upon such occasions, but most in this case ; for after all the wounds had been sewed up, and the body designedly shaken up and down, and, which is most wonderful, after the body had been buried for several days, which naturally occasions the blood to congeal, upon Philip's touching it the blood darted and sprung out, to the great astonishment of the chirurgeons themselves, who were desired to watch this event; whereupon Philip, astonished more than they, threw down the body, crying, O God! 0 God! and, cleansing his hand, grew so faint that they were forced to give him a cordial.” He next adverted to the evidence of the two children, sent, as he observed, by Divine Providence, which oft-times reveals itself by the mouths of babes and sucklings, in order that no shadow of difficulty might remain on the case. “ How then," he proceeded, in peroration, from which we gather several interesting circumstances of the case, and incidents that marked the progress of the trial of which there is no other notice in the report, “should the least scruple remain with you, before whom so full, so clear, and so legal a probation has been led, that, like a bend, every part of it supports another; and, like a chain, every link draws on another? I need not fortify so pregnant a probation by laying out before you how often he and his complices have contradicted one another, and even how often he has contradicted himself in the most obvious and material points, and how he denies everything with oaths and with equal confidence, though never so clearly proved ; albeit such as these are the chief things that