Employment Of Informers

I speak not of the fate of those horrid wretches who have been so often

transferred from the table to the dock, and from the dock to the

pillory; I speak of what your own eyes have seen, day after day, during

the course of this commission, from the box where you are now sitting;

the number of horrid miscreants who avowed, upon their oaths, that they

had come from the seat of government--from the Castle--where they had

een worked upon by the fear of death and the hopes of compensation, to

give evidence against their fellows; that the mild and wholesome

councils of this government are holden over these catacombs of living

death, where the wretch that is buried a man lies till his heart has

time to fester and dissolve, and is then dug up a witness. Is this

fancy, or is it fact? Have you not seen him after his resurrection from

that tomb, after having been dug out of the region of death and

corruption, make his appearance upon the table, the living image of life

and of death, and the supreme arbiter of both? Have you not marked, when

he entered, how the stormy wave of the multitude retired at his

approach? Have you not marked how the human heart bowed to the supremacy

of his power, in the undissembled homage of deferential horror? How his

glance, like the lightning of heaven, seemed to rive the body of the

accused, and mark it for the grave, while his voice warned the devoted

wretch of life and death--a death which no innocence can escape, no art

elude, no force resist, no antidote preserve? There was an antidote--a

juror's oath; but even that adamantine chain, which bound the integrity

of man to the throne of eternal justice, is solved and molten in the

breath that issues from the informer's mouth; conscience swings from her

mooring, and the appalled and affrighted juror consults his own safety

in the surrender of his victim.--Informers are worshipped in the temple

of justice, even as the devil has been worshipped by pagans and

savages--even so, in this wicked country, is the informer an object of

judicial idolatry--even so is he soothed by the music of human

groans--even so is he placated and incensed by the fumes and by the

blood of human sacrifices.