The Ancient Laws Of Ireland
The ancient laws of Ireland, compiled a bout the time of the conversión of the island by St. Patrick, and known in their completed form as Lain Patraic, after the missionary, wjre curious in many ways. There is ao trace of j man law about this old Brehon code, ; which, modified by St. Patrick, lasted : as the law of the ïrish quite down to Queen Elizabeth's time. It is like th old Germán codes in that it makes everything a matter of fine. When a judge on circuit, after the English ! fashion, is to be appointert by one oí Henry VIII's viceroya io a new district, the chiefs beg to know what is Uis eric, in order that they may pay for him, in case their people "put hlm out of the way." And so it was in the flfth century. St. Patrick found a law of compcnsation existing, and he dld not ucceed in altering it. He attemptd to do so, for he got sentence of death passerï on the man who soon after ki landing threw a lance and slew hi charioteer. "Tho man was put to death for his crime; but Patrick obtained heaven for him." "Therefore," quaintiy adds the old commentator, "as no one now has the power of bestowing heaven, as Patrick had that day, no one is put to death nowadays, but has to pay his eric." The basis, then, oL Irish la was compensation. If any wrong is done, and not atoned for, th sufferer, or kis trib, has a "right of distress" against the criminal or his tribe. The seizure, whatever was, was lodged In the public pound; and both parties went off to the brehon (judge) to get the case settled by him. The judge heard the witnef.es and gave judgment, which was usually religiously respected. A commoner had to give a chieftain notice by fasting before his door for a given time, after which a seizure could be made. Undutiful children were frbidden to inherit property; for leaving a mad woman at large there was a !ne of ten cows, and for idiots not dangsrous of flve cows; a kinsman's crime could be visited on his father's, molher's or foster father's tribes. Thers was a certain exemption from seizure. Vo man could be deprived of his harp, lis chess board, his raiment, his wife's an fiogs or his children's playthings.
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