The Feelings of the Jury

Asenath Nicholson
Chapter VII (15) | Start of Chapter

What must have been the conflicting emotions of the miserable men, when that jury retired! They both stood coolly, as is the peculiar habit of that impetuous, hasty people, in the face of danger or death; and the jury soon returned with a verdict of guilty for one. What a fallible tribunal is man! How could a jury decide, in a riot like that, who was the murderer, and how could they decide that either intended murder? It appeared a haphazard jump to get rid of the case. In the evening, I was in the company of three of the jury, and spoke of the responsibility of being a juror, where life and death are concerned. One most exultingly responded, that he "liked the responsibility well, and should be glad to have it in his power to hang every murderer he could catch; they deserved no mercy, and he would never show any." A second one confirmed it, and all manifested that lightness that was horrid for men who had just condemned a fellow-creature to the gallows. It is hoped these jurymen were not a common specimen of the class in Ireland; if so, life must hang more on the prejudices and retaliating propensities of a jury, than on the evidence or merits of the case. The poor man was reprieved, and transported for life. The inhabitants had strenuously exerted themselves in his behalf, knowing that the publican was the instigator, and whisky the instrument, of the murders. This "good creature" certainly has some marks in his forehead that look like the "beast."