Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphry Clinker: Ch. 51

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With respect to juries, he expressed himself to this effect: — juries are generally composed of illiterate plebeians, apt to be mistaken, easily misled, and open to sinister influence; for if either of the parties to be tried, can gain over one of the twelve jurors, he has secured the verdict in his favour; the juryman thus brought over will, in despight of all evidence and conviction, generally hold out till his fellows are fatigued, and harassed, and starved into concurrence; in which case the verdict is unjust, and the jurors are all perjured: but cases will often occur, when the jurors are really divided in opinion, and each side is convinced in opposition to the other; but no verdict will be received, unless they are unanimous, and they are all bound, not only in conscience, but by oath, to judge and declare according to their conviction. — What then will be the consequence? — They must either starve in company, or one side must sacrifice their conscience to their convenience, and join in a verdict which they believe to be false. This absurdity is avoided in Sweden, where a bare majority is sufficient; and in Scotland, where two thirds of the jury are required to concur in the verdict.

You must not imagine that all these deductions were made on his part, without contradictions on mine. — No — the truth is, I found myself piqued in point of honour, at his pretending to be so much wiser than his neighbours. — I questioned all his assertions, started innumerable objections, argued and wrangled with uncommon perseverance, and grew very warm, and even violent, in the debate. — Sometimes he was puzzled, and once or twice, I think, fairly refuted; but from those falls he rose again, like Antaeus, with redoubled vigour, till at length I was tired, exhausted, and really did not know how to proceed, when luckily he dropped a hint, by which he discovered he had been bred to the law; a confession which enabled me to retire from the dispute with a good grace, as it could not be supposed that a man like me, who had been bred to nothing, should be able to cope with a veteran in his own profession. I believe, however, that I shall for some time continue to chew the cud of reflection upon many observations which this original discharged.

Whether our sister Tabby was really struck with his conversation, or is resolved to throw at every thing she meets in the shape of a man, till she can fasten the matrimonial noose, certain it is, she has taken desperate strides towards the affection of Lismahago, who cannot be said to have met her half way, though he does not seem altogether insensible to her civilities. — She insinuated more than once how happy we should be to have his company through that part of Scotland which we proposed to visit, till at length he plainly told us, that his road was totally different from that which we intended to take; that, for his part, his company would be of very little service to us in our progress, as he was utterly unacquainted with the country, which he had left in his early youth, consequently, he could neither direct us in our enquiries, nor introduce us to any family of distinction. He said, he was stimulated by an irresistible impulse to revisit the paternus lar, or patria domus, though he expected little satisfaction, inasmuch as he understood that his nephew, the present possessor, was but ill qualified to support the honour of the family. — He assured us, however, as we design to return by the west road, that he will watch our motions, and endeavour to pay his respects to us at Dumfries. — Accordingly he took his leave of us at a place half way betwixt Morpeth and Alnwick, and pranced away in great state, mounted on a tall, meagre, raw-boned, shambling grey gelding, without e'er a tooth in his head, the very counter-part of the rider; and, indeed, the appearance of the two was so picturesque, that I would give twenty guineas to have them tolerably presented on canvas.

Northumberland is a fine county, extending to the Tweed, which is a pleasant pastoral stream; but you will be surprised when I tell you that the English side of that river is neither so well cultivated nor so populous as the other. — The farms are thinly scattered, the lands uninclosed, and scarce a gentleman's seat is to be seen in some miles from the Tweed; whereas the Scots are advanced in crowds to the very brink of the river, so that you may reckon above thirty good houses, in the compass of a few miles, belonging to proprietors whose ancestors had fortified castles in the same situations, a circumstance that shews what dangerous neighbours the Scots must have formerly been to the northern counties of England.

Our domestic oeconomy continues on the old footing. — My sister Tabby still adheres to methodism, and had the benefit of a sermon at Wesley's meeting in Newcastle; but I believe the Passion of love has in some measure abated the fervour of devotion both in her and her woman, Mrs Jenkins, about whose good graces there has been a violent contest betwixt my nephew's valet, Mr Dutton, and my man, Humphry Clinker. — Jery has been obliged to interpose his authority to keep the peace, and to him I have left the discussion of that important affair, which had like to have kindled the flames of discord in the family of

Yours always,
MATT. BRAMBLE
TWEEDMOUTH, July 15.