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occurs the equivalent of the motto to to the body of laws. This introducthe Edinburgh Review.
tion is not so old (though very ancient) “ Index damnatur cum nocens absol as the compilation itself, but is more vitur."
interesting to the general reader, as
it is intelligible, which is more than The literal translation of the Irish
can be said of some portions of the is
“Law of Distress” for debt or damage, “He who lets a criminal escape is himself the chief subject of the volume. a culprit.”
The author of this part of the
work, tells us that before the coming He decreed that Nuadh should be of Patrick, only three classes of perput to death, prophecying at the same
sons were allowed to speak in public time that he would die in a spirit of in Erin, viz., a chronicler to relate true repentance, and should obtain events and tell stories, a poet to eulosalvation. A conference was then gize and satirize, and a Brehon to held, and Laeghaire said
pass sentence from the precedents “It is necessary for you, O men of Erin, and commentaries. From the time that every other law should be settled as of Amergin mentioned above, the well as this.' 'It is better to do so,' said poets were the deciders of cases till Patrick. It was then that all the profes- à certain contention arose at Emasors of the sciences in Erin were assembled, nia, t and each of them exhibited his art before Neidhe for the sage's gown of
between Feirchertne and Patrick in the presence of every chief in Neidhe's father, whose office had beErin. " It was then that Dubhthach was ordered
come vacant by his death. So transto exhibit the judgments, and all the poetry cendental was the language used on of Erin, and every law which prevailed that occasion by the poetic arbiters among the men of Erin through the law of that the chieftains were not certain nature, and the law of the Seers, and of what award they had made. the poets.
It was the Holy Spirit that spoke through the mouths of the just ** These men,' said the chieftains, “ have men, who were formerly in the island of their judgments and their knowledge to Erin.
for the law of nature had themselves. We do not in the first place prevailed where the written law did not understand what they say.' It is evireach.
dently the case,' said Conchobar (King " What did not clash with the Word of Connor). "All shall partake in it from this God in the Written Law, and in the New day forth, but the part of it which is tit for Testament, and with the consciences of the these poets shall not be taken from them; believers, was confirmed in the laws of the each shall have his share of it.'” Brehons by Patrick, and by the ecclesiastics, and by the chieftains of Erin.
Besides reducing the poets' priviAnd this is the Senchus Mor.
leges within proper limits, King Con“ Nine persons were appointed to arrange nor's parliament (say in the first years this book, viz., Patrick, and Benin, and Cairnech, three bishops; Laeghaire, and
of the Christian era) settled on the Corc, and Daire, three kings; Rossa, i.e., just number of breathings (about MacTrechim, and Dubhthach, i.e., a doctor eighteen to the minute) that should of the Berla Feine,* and Fergus, i.e., a be allowed to each pleader at a time. poet.
The ancients were not without some "Nofir (Nofis) therefore is the name of mother wit of their own. this book' which they arranged, i.e., “the As there was no absolute necessity knowledge of nine persons,' and we have for paid advocates, and as there seems the proof of this above. “This is the Cain Patraic, f and no hu- hon's decision, bribery to the judge
to have been no appeal from the Breman Brehon of the Gaël is able to abrogate any thing that is found in the Senchus might have been more than a suspi
cion in some cases. However, those Mor."
Brehons, not naturally upright, were It will be recollected that the above kept in wholesome awe of doing inquotations are from the introduction justice by a few traditional examples of their predecessors being condignly abbot, of the son without his father, punished for selling justice.
* The most ancient form of Irish. † Patrick's Law.
The fortress of the King of Ulster. Some traces of it are still visible. built in its neighbourhood.
of a woman without her husband, Sen Mac Aige was afflicted with and the contract of a silly or mad perblotches on his cheeks when he be- son under any circumstances. trayed his trust, and there they re- The dignities of a territory liable mained till he undid his evil work. to degradation were four,-a false When Fachtna passed a hasty or judging king, a stumbling bishop, a wrong judgment the fruit fell off the fraudulent poet, and an unworthy trees, and the cows refused milk to chieftain. Worthiness and property their calves. Sencha Mac Aillila had entitled an individual to his full a wholesome fear of passing a false honor price ; worthiness without the judgment for the first fixed three per- property claimed half honor price, manent blotches on his countenance. property without the worthiness proMoran possessed a very useful collar, vided the good was done, ranked the for if he began to wander from the same; worthiness and property were true record it tightened in a very dis- only entitled to a screpal (smallest agreeable manner round his neck. It silver coin) if no good were done. was preserved carefully at Tara, and False judgment, false witness, frauwhen later Brehons had a suspected dulence, calumny, lying, refusing to witness under examination there give food, wounding, theft, satirizing, needed only a hint of adorning his plundering, law breaking--any inneck with the Joradh Morain to keep stance of these lost half his honor him in the way of true evidence. price to the culprit. Any one com
The writer of the introduction did mitting such offences three times lost not neglect the privileges and obliga- the privileges of his grade altogether. tion of the various grades even of the So did the poet, who claimed more story-tellers. The Ollamh's memory than his due in any one instance. was enriched with his seven times Stealing food in the house, treafifty stories; the Anruth's with thrice chery, fratricide, secret murder, adulfifty and half fifty; the Cli remem- tery, totally disqualified the guilty bered eighty, the Cana sixty, the person. A poet or a man in holy Dos fifty, the Mac Fuirmidh forty, orders would be thoroughly disqualithe Fochluc thirty, and the Drisac fied by one of those lighter offences, twenty. The poor Taman could only of which three would be required to tell ten, and the Ollaire of still worse disgrace a layman who was not a memory soon wearied his hearers; poet. The king was dealt more he had only seven.
leniently with than the poet or cleric. The Gaël, though not so devoted Any person by paying eric fine, and to triads as their distant relatives, the doing penance, was reinstated in his Cymry, did not entirely neglect them. pristine consideration, a bishop exAmong them were the three periods cepted. He became a mere solitary at which the world dies,—the period or hermit. of a plague, of a general war, and of The student of Irish history and the dissolution of verbal contracts. policy, and jurisprudence, soon per
With respect to the honor ceives that revenge for slain relatives price” of the classes the Senchus was was seldom carried to excess; that elaborately minute. The law adjudged there was little tyranny, and that the the same ransom or eric for the king, authority of kings and chiefs was the bishop, the poet possessed of the surrounded with many and well-dopower of improvisation, and the hos- fined restrictions, and that the body of pitable farmer who owned the ever- the people showed much respect for full caldron.*
the laws. There were seven ranks of Those contracts which were not gentlemen and chiefs, the highest bejudged binding in their nature were ing the king. The gentleman-farmer five, viz., that of a labourer without was allowed so many tenants, the his chief, of a monk without his next above him one tenant more, and
* How the worthy Bruighe kept his pot boiling is not very easy of comprehension. It should contain a steak for the queen, haunch for the king, the bishop, or the literary doctor, the leg for the young chief, heads for the charioteers, and none of these visiters should be disappointed of finding his dish ready at whatever time he called.
Bo on ; the Bo-Aireach (gentleman portion of it without some previous cow-keeper) ranking above the fariner, study will certainly find much that the king having seven tenants more is unintelligible. Much of the distithan the gentleman of lowest rank, culty is, however, removed for him and only one above the Tiernach by Dr. Handcock, in the preface, ranking next to royalty.
these being his explanations :On a peculiarity of the Brehon code
"The plaintiff or creditor having first or Cain Patraic, as it is sometimes given the proper notice, proceeded in the termed, the observation of the learned case of a defendant or debtor, pot of the editor of this first volume merits at- chieftain grade, to di-train. If, however, tention.
the defendant or debtor were a person of " It has been thought that Cain Patraic chieftain grade, it was necessary not only meant statute law; but the Irish law in early This fasting upon him consisted in going
to give notice, but also to fast upon him. times appears to have rested on the des to his residence, and waiting there a certain cisions of Brehons or judges rather than on time without food. If the plaintiff did not legislation, and the Senchus Mor it-elf is within a certain time, receive satisfaction an authorized collection of approved judi- for his claim, or a pledge therefor, he forthcial decisions like the pandects of the with, accompanied by a law agent, wit Roman law, and is not statute law, like the decrees of the Roman senate or people, distress was in certain cases liable to a stay
nesses, and others, seized his distress. The or the constitutions of the emperors, or like (anadh), which was a period varying ac our modern acts of parliament."
cording to fixed rules, during which the The terin “ l'rradhus law” from debitor received back the distress and l'rrudh, native, applies to those retained it, the creditor having a lien en it. “ modifications of the general laws Such
a di-tress is Athqubiail ar Ful
di-tress with time; but in certain circumconsequent on the division of Ireland stances and in particular cam, an immedinte into separate kingdoms and terri- distress, Tul Ashgabhail, was made, the pretories," the provinces "being partly culiarity of which was, that during the tixed independent, but partly also sub period of the stay the di«tress was not ordinate to the general laws." The allowed to remain in the debtor's possession, term Cairde is applied to the inter- but in that of the creditor, or in one of the territorial regulations, by which they reco med greens or pounds were mutually bound to each other.
** If the debt was not paid by the end When will our law-nakers cease to of the stay, the creditor tok it away, and
lle then served discover new varieties of otience or notice of the distress on the debtor whom
put it into a pound. new relations of classes or individuals he had ditrained, letting him know where to each other, and when may we ex. it was impounded. The distress remained pect changes of old regulations or in pound a certain time according to its Creations of new ones to rent nature, (Inithin, delay in pund is the Never, while the constitution bois nan given to this period, and the expense together. It was not so in old Ire- of tending and fevdik ran mainot the land. We cannot tell what new diatress, and was pasaule out of it for regulations were made by successive this pround. At the end of the delay in generations of Brehons from the days pound, the forfeiting time i lobawih) beran of Amergin; but this is bevond doubt, fortrited at the rate of three sedst per day
to run, during wheb the distries became tiat onre the three spiritual, and until entirely forfrited. It the entire three temporal, and three juridical value of the distrres thus forfeited was authorities, had rejected ail the more exatly equal to the original de 'st and the tuns essentiaily paxın, and a lupted subsequent expenses, the Jete was liquithe rest with but little modification, dated; if it was less than this a mund no me afterwards, bimbop, king, or distress was taken for the difference; and if brehon, ever attempted to inclufy the more, the overlus was retuniet. All this girat tudy of the Senchis Mor.
was managed by the party himmli or his We now make our approaches to various steps, and other peessary parties."
Law agent, with the seteral witne of the that section of the laws treated in this tirat volume- the law of distress. If the debtor contested the credi. An onlinary tealer taking up any tor's claim, he pledged his son or
• Sen (Ani fis, an tent way to knowledge +1! Be was in value two-fifths of a cow. What the thing ituli was has not
sed by our living bulan
some article of value that he would could not, pay a commonplace debt plead before the Brehon at a certain to a creditor who happened to be an time. In case he made no appear- unincumbered bachelor, and who, ance, the pledge became forfeited for understanding the character of his the original debt.
man much better than an English The debtor had it in his power to state councillor pretending to make redeem his cattle up to the end of laws for him, paid his debtor a visit, the dithim by paying the original never alluding to bond or mortgage, debt and the expense incurred in but living on the best fare which his pound. Once the lobadh (forfeiting host could place before him, and period) commenced, he could only to which he was heartily welcome. redeem the unforfeited portion of his When he considered his claim fully cattle.
discharged by good board and lodgThe “stays” were of different ing, he took an affectionate leave, lengths varying according to the less and kept up most friendly relations
more urgency and the equity with his friend to the day of his of the creditor's claim. The debtor death, with the trifling exception of who had the best excuse to offer, never lending him any more money. was allowed the longest stay, and That hospitable debtor was probably vice versa.
the sixtieth descendant in right line Dr. Hancock's observations on the of one of the fasted-on Tiernachs. preliminary fasting process, when a May we introduce another modern chieftain was called on to acquit a illustration of the old law-maker's debt, deserve quotation.
wisdom. A clergyman celebrated for
his charity sermons, and who would “For this peculiar custom the only pre
have given (to use a homely phrase) cedent I have met with is in the Hindu law. The laws of Menu comprised a process
the shirt off his back to relieve his called Acharitan, sometimes translated poor, owed an equally charitable but • distress,' which was one of the processes
more prudent Dublin citizen, ten by which a creditor might obtain the pounds, and prospect of payment property lent.
there was none. He wrote to his " Acharitan is explained by the sitting Rev. Debtor-“Dear Rev. Sir, I am (Dherna) at the door of the debtor, abstain- in a terrible strait for thirty pounds ing from food till by fear of the creditor
on Thursday next; lend me so much dying at his door compliance on the part of the debtor is exacted—an alarming of me.” He received this reply :
or I do not know what will become species of importunity, prohibited in the Bengal provinces.
“Dear Sir, I have not a pound in my "The Brahmins prevent their debtors possession, but come and drink tea eating by an appeal to his honour, and by with me on Wednesday evening, and stopping the supplies
, and they fast them- who knows what God may do !" He selves the whole time they compel their went to tea, got the thirty pounds, debtors to do so. This sort of compulsion begged and borrowed in the interim, is even used against princes, and must not was profuse in acknowledgments, be resisted by force. It is a very common and returned twenty pounds next mode employed by troops to procure pay; morning to his reverend and astonished ment of arrears, and is then directed
friend. against the paymaster, the prime minister, or the sovereign himself.”
An old Ollamh making laws for a
Teutonic people, or a Teuton sage Celtic nature in its excellencies doing the same office for a Celtic and defects, was instinctively and people, might as profitably be emintimately understood by the framer ployed at the task assigned by of this law. Well he knew that the Michael Scott to the devil-making spectacle of the poor man at his door, ropes out of sand. suffering from hunger, would be the The compensation for murder or strongest inducement to the hospit- manslaughter, for which Spenser able, though careless Irish gentleman, censured the Brehon law, was not of the olden time, to discharge a dis- peculiar to the Gael. It formed one agreeable duty, and pay à vulgar of the social regulations of many debt. Some of our readers may not ancient nations. It was in force have heard of the country gentleman among the Anglo-Saxons who brough of Munster or Connaught, of last it with them from Germany. Tacito century, who would not, or probably looked on it more complacently tha
Spense Here are this words as earth. In the bright beautiful day, upon the
face of the ground, or on the bright surface
of the earth. •Talamh,' i.e., from the word + in their be Garmesas) resentments, tellus, earth). He went in pursuit of them were DeT 22 D:4 3sable: injuries (i.e., Asal went after them quickly or in az 20 sec a sere measure of com- haste, or people.were sent by him to seek DENKEI, A: demet is made for homicide them). And seized six milch cows at the IT : serikit ces on cattle, and by that house (i.e., from the door of Nuadhat's Satisi Don the bele iamily is appeased- house, i.e.; and they brought six similar & HEPPT regulation than which nothing cows with them from the house at the dawn CET be more codeeire to the public interest, of morning, or at the red streaking of the SITE it serves to carb that spirit of revenge, morning, i.e., six milch cows, i.e., three włóch is the natural result of liberty in the cows and three cows more, as the second
seizure at the house of Mogh's father). At It may be gathered from hints here daybreak, (ie., the separation of the day and there given, that if the relatives and night, or the first dawn of light).” of a person deliberately murdered, The parties in this apparently paltry preferred his punishment to the re- affair were no less than the stewardceiving of the blood-eric, the murderer bailiff of the King at Tara and the was put to death.
steward-bailiff of Coirpre Gnathcoir, Very differently did the statement King of Ulster. of the Brehon law of distress begin, Property brought respect with it from the preamble of a modern act even in the chivalric ages. If a man of parliament. Suitable precedents not having a cowshed and milkingwere ever before the eyes of the old yard in his possession, made a seizure Ollamh
in another chieftaincy, he might be “ Three white cows were taken by Asal resisted unless accompanied by a native from Moch, son of Nuadhat, by an immediate (resident in the territory). seizure, and they lay down a night at Ferta We find the Cain (general) law and on the Boyne. They escaped from him: the Urradhus (inter-territorial) law they had lost their calves, and their white in conflict on one point. By the milk flowed upon the ground. He went in Urradhus, if a man of a neighbourpursuit of them, and seized six milch cows ing territory, whether possessed of a at the house at daybreak. Pledges were cowshed and milking-yard or not, given for them afterwards by Coirpre Gnathchoir, for the
, for the distress, attempted to make a seizure unacfor acknowledgment, for triple acknow- companied by a territorial resident, it ledgment, for acknowledgment by one
was not unlawful to resist a seizure. chief, for double acknowledgment.”
By the Cain law the stranger's claim
could not be legally resisted even if A long explanation follows of this unattended by a native, provided he passage ; but in truth the commen- could prove the possession of the tary is rather more difficult in parts much valued cow-house and milkingthan the text, and many will come yard. from the perusal with surprise that The man that fasted on a chieftain, the captors should be rewarded for and could not make his claim good, their negligence by being allowed to was liable to an eric. Even giving take away at next dawn, six cattle notice to fast was punished when the instead of three, their apparent due. obstinate faster had not right on his The reader will have an idea of this side. curious commentary from the follow- The wanderer, and the outlaw, and ing extract, the portion in brackets the bard, and the half-poet, and the being printed in closer type in the satirist, and the chief professor, the original
king, the prince, the son of a living “ Had left their calves (i.e., with Mogh, father, might be resisted in their son of Nuadhat, i.e., this was the reason of claims unless they could induce a their straying).' Their white milk upon the native to accompany them, gratis or ground (i.e., the milk of the cows upon th for a fee.
* Mention of blood fines occurs in more than one passage in Homer. They were an institution among Greeks, Germans, Franks, and Anglo Saxons. So, in the words of the editor, “the principle of eric, however objectionable, cannot be represented as repugnant to all human laws, or as really peculiar to the ancient laws of Ireland.”