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to keep the property clear of depredation, I take his prey,” as being a place where and frequently to the depredators them- there was little chance of a plunderer selves as a compromise. Spelman attri- stumbling on the property of a brother butes the term black to the circumstance marauder, and infringing an old Scottish of the impost being paid in copper proverb, that “corbies dinna peik out money, and he is followed by Ducange. corbies' eyne.” In the old practice of the Its origin has been sought in the German law black-mail seems to have been used plagen to trouble, the root of which is to designate every description of illegal represented by the English word plague. extortion. Thus in 1530 Adam Scott, of Dr. Jamieson, however, in his · Etymo- Tuschelau, is “convicted of art and part logical Dictionary,' thinks the word was of theftuously taking black mail from the intended simply to designate the moral time of his entry within the castle of hue of the transaction. Pennant ab- Edinburgh in ward, from John Browne, surdly supposes that the word mail is a in Hoprow.” He was beheaded. (Pitcorruption of “ meal,” in which he pre- cairn's Crim. Tr. i. 145.*) In 1550 sumes the tax to have been paid. (Tour James Gulane and John Gray, messenin Scotland, ii. 404.) The word mail, gers-at-arms, or officers of the law, are however, was used in Scotland to express accused of apprehending a criminal, and every description of periodical payment, taking black-mail from him for his liberty and it is still a technical term in the law (Ib. 356*). Subsequently, and in the of landlord and tenant. The expression vicinity of the Highlands, the practice has been used in English legislation in seems to have been to a certain extent reference to the borders, as in the 43 countenanced by the law, as providing Eliz. c. 13, & 2: “And whereas now of to the inhabitants that security from late time there have been many incur- plunder and outrage which the governsions, roads, robberies, and burning and ment could not ensure to them. Thus in spoiling of towns, villages, and houses Sir John Sinclair's “Statistical Account within the said counties, that divers of of Scotland' (Parish of Strathblane, xviii. her majesty's loving subjects within the 582), there is an order of the justices of said counties, and the inhabitants of peace of Stirlingshire to enforce payment divers towns there, have been forced to of certain stipulated sums which the inhapay a certain rate of money, corn, cattle, bitants were to pay to a neighbouring or other consideration, commonly there proprietor for the protection of " their called by the name of black-mail, unto hous goods and geir." Those only who divers and sundry inhabiting upon or near chose to resign the protection afforded the borders, being men of name, and were exempted from the corresponding friended and allied with divers in those payment. In the same work (Parish of parts who are commonly known to be Killearn, xvi. 124) there is a contract, great robbers and spoil-takers.” In 1567 so late as the year 1741, executed with all an act of the Scottish parliament (c. 21) | the formalities of law, between James was passed for its suppression in the Graham, of Glengyle, on the one part, shires of Selkirk, Roxburgh, Lanark, “and the gentlemen, heritors, and tenants Dumfries, and Ediuburgh. In later within the shires of Perth, Stirling, and times, and especially during the eigh- Dunbarton, who are hereto subscribing, teenth century, at about the middle of on the other part,” in which Graham enwhich it was extinguished, it prevailed gages to protect them for a mail of 4 per solely in the parts of the northern coun- cent. on their valued rents, which it apties which border on the Highlands. pears he afterwards reduced to 3 per The fruitful shire of Murray, separated cent. He engages that he “shall keep from the other cultivated counties of Scot- | the lands subscribed for, and annexed to land, and in a great measure bordered by the respective subscriptions, skaithless of Highland districts, was peculiarly subject any loss to be sustained by the heritors, to the ravages from which this tax af- | tenants, or inhabitants thereof, through forded a protection, and was called “Mo- the stealing and away-taking of their ray land, where every gentleman may I cattle, horses, or sheep, and that for the
space of seven years complete, from and sengers were sent from Perth to give him after the term of Whit-Sunday next to a charge of horning. He ordered a dozen come; and for that effect, either to return of his retainers to bind them across two the cattle so stolen from time to time, or hand-barrows, and carry them in this otherwayes within six months after the state to the bridge of Cainachan, at nine theft committed, to make payment to the miles distance. His property in partipersons from whom they were stolen, of cular was a nest of thieves. They laid their true value, to be ascertained by the the whole country, from Stirling to Couoaths of the owners, before any judge par of Angus, under contribution, obliging ordinary (sheriff); providing always that the inhabitants to pay them black-meal, as intimation be made to the said James Gra- | it is called, to save their property from ham, at his house in Correilet, or where being plundered. This was the centre he shall happen to reside for the time, of this kind of traffic. In the months of of the number and marks of the cattle, September and October they gathered to sheep, or horses stolen, and that within the number of about 300, built temporary forty-eight hours from the time that the huts, drank whiskey all the time, settled proprietors thereof shall be able to prove accounts for stolen cattle, and received by habile witnesses, or their own or their balances. Every man then bore arms. herd's oaths, that the cattle amissing were It would have required a regiment to seen upon their usual pasture within have brought a thief from that country.” the space of forty-eight hours previous BLACK ROD, USHER OF THE, o the intimation."
is an officer of the House of Lords. He Within a very few years after the prac- is styled the Gentleman Usher of the tice had been thus systematized, it was Black Rod, and is appointed by lettersswept away by the proceedings following patent from the crown. His deputy is on the rebellion of 1745. Captain Burt, styled the yeoman usher. They are the whose amusing · Letters from a gentle official messengers of the Lords, and man in the north of Scotland to his friend either the gentleman or yeoman usher in London,' though bearing date in 1754, summons the Commons to the House of refer to a period immediately before the Lords when the royal assent is given to rebellion. Troops were stationed in the bills. “He executes orders for the comdistrict to which he refers, the marauders mitment of parties guilty of breaches of were kept in check, and he describes the privilege and contempt, and assists at the isolated acts of depredation then committed introduction of peers and other cereas requiring great caution and cunning, the monies.” (May's Parliament, p. 156.) cattle taken in the west being exchanged BLA'SPHEMY (in Greek Baaoonula, within the Highlands for those which blasphémia), a crime which is punished might be captured towards the east, so by the laws of most civilized nations, and that officers of the law, or others in search which has been regarded of such enormity of them, might have to traverse a vast in many
nations as to be punished with district of mountain-land before the stolen death. The word is Greck, but it has cattle they might be in search of could found its way into the English and several be identified (ii. p. 208, et seq.). In the other modern languages, owing, it is supStatistical Account already referred to posed, to the want of native terms to exthere are many allusions to black-mail press with precision and brevity the idea and the state of society co-existent with of which it is the representative. It is, it, which seem to be founded on personal properly speaking, an ecclesiastical term, recollection. In the account of the parish most of which are Greek, as the term of Fortingal in Perthshire there occurs ecclesiastical itself, and the terms baptism, the following sketch :-“Before the year bible, and bishop. This has arisen out of 1745 Ranoch was in an uncivilized, bar- the scriptures of the New Testament barous state, under no check or restraint having been written in Greek, and those of laws. As an evidence of this, one of of the Old having in remote times been far the principal proprietors never could be better known in the Greek translation compelled to pay his debts. Two mes- | than in the original Hebrew.
Blasphemy is a compound word, of account of the act of blasphemy being which the second part (phe-m) signifies to noticed as a crime, and marked by a le speak: the origin of the first part (blas) gislator for punishment :-"And the son is not so certain; it is derived from of an Israelitish woman, whose father was BASTtw (blapto), to hurt or strike, accord- an Egyptian, went out among the children ing to some. Etymologically therefore of Israel, and this son of the Israelitish it denotes speaking so as to hurt; the woman and a man of Israel strove to using to a person's face reproachful and gether in the camp: and the Israelitish insulting expressions. But others derive woman's son blasphemed the name of the the first part of the compound from Bads. Lord, and cursed. And they brought (Passow's Schneider.) . In this general him unto Moses, and they put him in way it is used by Greek writers, and ward, that the mind of the Lord might be even in the New Testament; as in 1 Tim. showed them. And the Lord spake unto vi. 4, “Whereof cometh envy, strife, rail-Moses saying, Bring forth him that hath ings, evil surmisings,” where the word cursed without the camp, and let all that rendered “railings” is in the original heard him lay their hands upon his head, "blasphemies." In Eph. iv. 31, “Let all and let all the congregation stone him. bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and And thou shalt speak unto the children clamour, and evil-speaking be put away of Israel saying, Whosoever curseth his from you,” where "evil-speaking” repre- God shall bear his sin, and he that blassents the “blasphemy" of the original. In phemeth the name of the Lord he shall a similar passage, Col. iii. 8, the transla- surely be put to death, and all the contors have retained the “blasphemy” of gregation shall certainly stone him; as the original, though what is meant is pro well the stranger, as he that is born in the bably no more than ordinary insulting or land, when he blasphemeth the name of reproachful speech. Thus also in Mark the Lord, shall be put to death.” It is vii. 22, our Saviour himself, in enumera- said that the Hebrew commentators on ting various evil dispositions or practices, the law have some difficulty in defining mentions" an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, exactly what is to be considered as infoolishness," not meaning, as it seems, cluded within the scope of the term “ blasmore than the ordinary case of insulting pheme” in this passage. But it seems speech.
from the text to be evidently that loud Blasphemy in this sense, however it is and vehement reproach, the result of via to be avoided as immoral and mischievous, lent and uncontrolled passion, which not is not marked as crime; and its suppres- unfrequently is vented not only against a sion is left to the ordinary influence of fellow-mortal who offends, but at the same morals and religion, and not provided for time against the majesty and sovereignty by law. In this sense indeed the word of God. can hardly be said to be naturalized Common sensc, applying itself to the among us, though it may occasionally be text which we have quoted, would at once found in the poets, and in those prose- declare that this, and this only, constiwriters who exercise an inordinate curi- tuted the crime against which, in the osity in the selection of their terms. But Mosaic code, the punishment of death besides being used to denote insulting and was denounced. But among the later opprobrious speech in general, it was Jews, other things were brought within used to denote speech of that kind of a the compass of this law; and it was laid peculiar nature, namely, when the object hold of as a means of opposing the inagainst which it was directed was a per- fluence of the teaching of Jesus Christ, son esteemed sacred, but especially when and of giving the form of law to the per against God. The word was used by the secution of himself and his followers. LXX. to represent the ship of the original sacred things or places was construed
Thus to speak evilly or reproachfully of Hebrew, when translating the passage of into blasphemy. The charge against the Jewish law which we fiud in Leviticus Stephen was that he “ceased not to speak xxiv. 10-16; this is the first authentic | blasphemous words against this holy place
and the law” (Acts vi. 13); and he was been received in most Christian countries, punished by stoning, the peculiar mode and punishments have been affixed to of putting to death prescribed, as we have the offence. seen, by the Jewish law for blasphemy. In our own country, by the common Our Lord himself was put to death as law, open blasphemy was punishable by one convicted of this crime: “Again the fine and imprisonment, or other infamous high-priest asked and said unto him, Art corporal punishment. The kind of blasthou the Christ, the son of the blessed ? phemy which was thus cognizable is deAnd Jesus said, I am; and ye shall see scribed by Blackstone to be "denying the the Son of Man sitting on the right hand being or providence of God, contumelious of power, and coming in the clouds of reproaches of Saviour Christ, heaven. Then the high-priest rent his profane scoffing at the Holy Scripture, clothes and said, What need we any or exposing it to contempt and ridicule” further witnesses ? Ye have heard the (Commentaries, b. iv. c. iv.). All these blasphemy: what think ye? And they heads, except the first, seem to spring all condemned him to be guilty of death” immediately from the original sense of (Mark xiv. 61-64). It was manifest that the word blasphemy, as they are that there was here nothing of violence or hurtful and insulting speech which the passion, nothing of any evil intention word denotes. And we suspect that essential to constitute such a crime, no- whenever the common law was called into thing, indeed, but the declaration of that operation to punish persons guilty of the divine mission on which he had come first of these forms of blasphemy, it was into the world, and of which his miracles only when the denial was accompanied were intended to be the proof.
with opprobrious words or gestures, There are some instances of the use of which seem to be essential to complete the term in the New Testament, in which the true crime of blasphemy. Errors in it is not easy to say whether the word is opinion, even on points which are of the used in its ordinary sense of hurtful, in- very essence of religion, were referred in jurious, and insulting speech, or in the England in early times to the ecclesiastics, restricted, and what may be called the as falling under the denomination of forensic sense. Thus when it is said of heretical opinions, to be dealt with by Christ or his apostles that they were blas- them as other heresies were. There is phemed, it is doubtful whether the writers nothing in the statute-book under the intended to speak of the act as one of more word blasphemy till we come to the reign than ordinary reviling, or to charge the of King William Ill. In that reign an parties with being guilty of the offence of act was passed, the title of which is “ An speaking insultingly and reproachfully to Act for the more effectual suppressing of persons invested with a character of more blasphemy and profaneness." We believe than ordinary sacredness : and even in that the statute-book of no other nation the passage about the blasphemy against can show such an extension and comthe Holy Ghost, it appears most probable prehension as is given in this statute to from the context that blasphemny is the word blasphemy, unless, indeed, a there used in the sense of ordinary re- statute of the Scottish parliament, which viling, though the object against which was passed not long before, viz. the Act of it was directed gave to such reviling the 1695, c. 11. The only other Scottish act character of unusual atrocity.
is of Charles the Second's reign. The Among the canonists, the definition of primitive and real meaning of blasphemy, blasphemy is made to include the denying and we may add of profaneness also, was of God, or the asserting of anything to entirely lost sight of, and the act was be God which is not God,-anything, in- directed to the restraint of all free indeed, in the words of the Summa An- vestigation of positions respecting things gelica,” voce “ Blasfemia,” which implies esteemed sacred. The more proper title « quandam derogationem excellentis bo- would have been, “An Act to prevent the nitatis alicujus et præcipue divinæ;” and investigation of the grounds of belief in this extended application of the term has Divine revelation, and the nature of the things revealed;" for that such is its ob- | to the divine authority of the Holy Scrip. ject is apparent throughout the whole of tures, or of any particular book included it: “Whereas many persons have of late within that term, to the claim of Christiyears openly avowed and published many anity to be a divine institution, or to the blasphemous and infamous opinions con- claim of the doctrine of the Trinity to be trary to the doctrines and principles of received as part of Christianity, can never the Christian religion, greatly tending to be regarded as blasphemy or profaneness, the dishonour of Almighty God, and may however in particular instances it may prove destructive to the peace and welfare sometimes be accompanied by expressions of this kingdom; wherefore for the more which may bring the individual using effectual suppressing of the said detestable them within the scope of a charge of crimes, be it enacted, that if any person blasphemy. Blackstone, in his chapter or persons having been educated in, or on offences against God and religion, does at any time having made profession of, the not treat of this statute in the section Christian religion within this realm, shall, headed Blasphemy, but under Apostasy. by writing, printing, teaching, or advised Indeed, blasphemy, as Blackstone defines speaking, deny any one of the persons of it, and profaneness, are still offences at the Holy Trinity to be God, or shall as- common law, and may be prosecuted as sert or maintain that there are more gods such ; for the statute of William is merely than one, or shall deny the Christian re- cumulative, as it is termed, and the comligion to be true, or the Holy Scriptures mon law offence, the prosecution and the of the Old and New Testament to be of punishment, remain as they were before divine authority,” &c. These are the the statute. (R. v. Carlile, 3 B and A. 161.) whole of the offences comprised in this We are surprised that such a statute act. The penalties are severe: disquali- could have been passed so near our own fications ; incapacity to act as executor or time; still more that such a title should guardian, or to receive legacies; three have been prefixed to it. As to its main years' imprisonment. (Stat. 9 Will. III. provision it remains in force. But c. 35.) If, however, within four months in 1813, the number of persons who after the first conviction, the offender will openly avowed that they did not consider renounce his error in open court, he is for the doctrine of the Trinity as possessed that time discharged from all disabilities. of sufficient support from the words of The writings alluded to in the preamble Scripture, when truly interpreted, to de were not, in any proper sense of the term, serve assent, having greatly increased, blasphemous. They were, for the most and large congregations of them being part, we believe universally, the work of found in most of the principal towns, sober-minded and well-disposed men, who, several clergymen also of undoubted rehowever mistaken they might be, were spectability, learning, and piety having yet in the pursuit of truth, and seeking seceded from the church on the ground it in a direction in which it is especially that this doctrine as professed in the of importance to mankind to find it. To church was without sufficient authority, prevent such inquiries by laws such as a bill was introduced into parliament to these is most unwise. There can be no relieve such persons from the operation solid conviction where there can be no of this statute, and it passed without inquiry. In a state where laws like this opposition. This act, which is commonly are acted on (happily, in this country, it called Mr. Smith's Act, after the name of is become a dead letter), Christianity can the late Mr. William Smith, then inemnever have the seat she ought to have, not ber for the city of Norwich, by whom it only in the affections, but in the rational was introduced, is stat. 53 George III. and sober convictions of mankind. What c. 160. we mean however at present to urge is, The legal crime of blasphemy aed prothat the title of blasphemy in this statute faneness is made by this statute of King is a palpable misnomer. The delivery William something entirely different from either from the pulpit or the press of the the crime when considered with reference results of reflection and inquiry applied to religion or morals. Few persons will