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A KAFIR LAWSUIT.
A Kafir in the witness-box is often a surprise to those who know little or nothing of the traditions of the Kafir race. The ease with which the ordinary native parries the most dexterous cross-examination, the skill with which he extricates himself from the consequences of an unfortunate answer, and above all, the ready and staggering plausibility of his explanations, have often struck those who come in contact with him in the law courts. He is far superior, as a rule, to the ordinary European, in the witness-box. Keen-witted and ready, he is yet too cautious ever to answer a question the drift of which he does not clearly foresee, and which when he understands, he at once proceeds, if necessary, to forestall by his reply. As a result, the truth of his evidence can only be sifted by very careful proceeding on the part of the cross-examiner, and by keeping him in the dark as much as possible to the bearing of his answers upon the subject-matter of the suit. Whether this dialectic skill is innate in the Kafir, or whether it is the result of long cultivation, it is difficult to say, but as some proof of the former, we subjoin a very interesting extract from a book now unhappily becoming rare, viz. Colonel Maclean's “Handbook of Kafir Laws and Customs, compiled from Notes by Mr. Brownlee, Rev. Dugmore and Mr. Ayliff,” which will, we venture to think, throw a great deal of light upon the present abilities of the descendants of those whose judicial customs fifty years ago, are so graphically described in the following words:
t “When a Kafir has ascertained that he has sufficient grounds to enter on an action against another, his first step is to proceed, with a party of his friends or adherents armed, to the residence of the person against whom his action lies. On their arrival they sit down together in some conspicuous position, and await quietly the result of their presence. As a law party is readily known by the aspect and deportment of its constituents, its ppearance at any kraal is the signal for the mustering of all the adult male residents that are forthcoming. These accordingly assemble and also sit down together within conversing distance of their generally unwelcome visitors.
“The two parties perhaps survey each other in silence for some time. ‘Tell us the news, at length exclaims one of the adherents of the defendant. should their patience fail first. Another pause sometimes ensues, during which the party of the plaintiff discuss in an undertone which of their party shall be ‘opening counsel.” This decided, the learned gentleman commences a minute statement of the case, the rest of the party confining themselves to occasional suggestions, which he adopts or rejects at pleasure. Sometimes he is allowed to proceed almost uninterrupted to the close of the statement, the friends of the defendant listening with silent attention, and treasuring up in their memories all the points of importance for a future stage of the proceedings. Generally, however, it receives a thorough sifting from the beginning; every assertion of consequence being made the occasion of a most searching series of cross questions. The case thus fairly opened, which occupies several hours, it probably proceeds no further the first day. The plaintiff and his party are told that the “men’ of the place are from home, that there are none but ‘children' present, who are not competent to discuss such important matters. They accordingly retire with the tacit understanding that the case is to be resumed next day.
“During the interval the defendant formally makes known to. the men of the neighboring kraals, that an action has been entered against him, and they are expected to be present on his behalf at the resumption of the case. In the meantime, the first day's proceedings having indicated the line of argument of the plaintiff, the plan of defense is arranged accordingly. Information is collected, arguments are suggested, precedents sought for, able debaters called in, and every possible preparation made for the battle of intellects that is to be fought on the following day. “The plaintiff's party, usually reinforced both in mental and material strength, arm the next morning, and take up their ground again. The opponents, now mustered in force, confront them, seated on the ground, each man with his arms at his side. The case is resumed by some advocate for the defendant requiring a restatement of the plaintiff's grounds of action. This is commenced perhaps by one who was not even present at the previous day's proceedings, but who has been selected for this more difficult stage on account of his debating abilities. “Then comes the tug of war; the ground is disputed inch by inch; every assertion is contested, every proof attempted to be invalidated, objection meets objection, and question is opposed by counter-question, each disputant endeavoring with surprising adroitness to throw the burden of answering on his opponent. The Socratic method of debate appears in all its perfection, both parties being equally versed in it. The rival advocates warm as they proceed, sharpening each other's ardor, till from the passions that seem enlisted in the contest, a stranger might suppose the interests of the nation at stake and dependent upon the decision. When these combatants have spent their strength, or one or other of them is overcome in argument, others step to the rescue. The battle is fought over again on different ground, some point either of law or evidence that had been purposely kept in abeyance, being now brought forward, and perhaps the entire aspect of the case changed. “The whole of the second day is frequently taken up with this intellectual gladiatorship, and it closes without any other result than an exhibition of the relative strength of the opposing parties. The plaintiff's company retire again, and the defendant and his friends review their own position. Should they feel that they have been worsted, and that the case is one that cannot be successfully defended, they prepare to attempt to bring the matter to a conclusion by an offer of the smallest satisfaction the law allows. This is usually refused, in expectation of an advance in the offer, which takes place generally in proportion to the defendant’s anxiety to prevent an appeal (to the Chief). Should the plaintiff at length accede to the proposed terms, they are fulfilled, and the case is ended by a formal declaration of acquiescence.”— The Cape Law Journal.
FINDING THE VERDICT.
In one of the earliest trials before a colored jury in Texas, the twelve gentlemen were told by the judge to retire and “find the verdict.” They went into the jury-room, whence the opening and shutting of doors, and other sounds of unusual commotion were heard. At last the jury came back into the court, when the foreman announced: “We hab looked eberywhar, Jedge, for dat verdict—in de drawers and behind de doors; but it ain't nowhar in dat blessed room.”
Department of Medical Jurisprudence. EDWARD B. WESTON, M. D., EDITOR.
THE SO-CALLED ELIXIR OF YOUTH AND
It is now more than two months since the news of BrownSéquard's alleged method of rejuvenating the aged reached this country. The subject is one that naturally appeals to public interest, since a long life and a vigorous old age have always been among the chief objects of human desire, and consequently it has received a much greater share of newspaper attention than is usually bestowed on medical topics. This is most unfortunate, for the public discussion of such an absurdity, tends only to bring scientific medicine into ridicule.
The method is on its face preposterous; its vaunted effects are impossible and ridiculous. It is opposed to all known physiological and biological laws, and had it not been bolstered up by the reputation of a Brown-Séquard, it would scarcely have been heard of outside of the Paris society where it was proposed, and no one would ever have looked upon it in any other light than as the foolish conceit of an old man, in whose mind the dreams of returning youth had assumed the counterfeit of reality. Supported as it was, however, by the weight of an authority hitherto respected in the world of medicine, it was necessary that it should be tested cautiously and in a proper way, and that the method should not be actually condemned until it had been proved as worthless, as were its pretensions extravagant. For unreflecting and obstinate