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Table-Talk, Consisting Of A Facetious Discourse That Passed In The Prison
There were assembled at the table the governor of these (not improperly called
infernal) regions; the lieutenant-governor, vulgarly named the first turnkey; Miss
Matthews, Mr. Booth, Mr. Robinson the gambler, several other prisoners of both
sexes, and one Murphy, an attorney.
The governor took the first opportunity to bring the affair of Miss Matthews upon
the carpet, and then, turning to Murphy, he said, "It is very lucky this gentleman
happens to be present; I do assure you, madam, your cause cannot be in abler
hands. He is, I believe, the best man in England at a defence; I have known him
often succeed against the most positive evidence."
"Fy, sir," answered Murphy; "you know I hate all this; but, if the lady will trust me
with her cause, I will do the best in my power. Come, madam, do not be
discouraged; a bit of manslaughter and cold iron, I hope, will be the worst: or
perhaps we may come off better with a slice of chance-medley, or se
"I am very ignorant of the law, sir," cries the lady.
"Yes, madam," answered Murphy; "it can't be expected you should understand it.
There are very few of us who profess it that understand the whole, nor is it
necessary we should. There is a great deal of rubbish of little use, about
indictments, and abatements, and bars, and ejectments, and trovers, and such
stuff, with which people cram their heads to little purpose. The chapter of
evidence is the main business; that is the sheet-anchor; that is the rudder, which
brings the vessel safe in portum. Evidence is, indeed, the whole, the summa
totidis, for de non apparentibus et non insistentibus eandem est ratio."
"If you address yourself to me, sir," said the lady, "you are much too learned, I
assure you, for my understanding."
"Tace, madam," answered Murphy, "is Latin for a candle: I commend your
prudence. I shall know the particulars of your case when we are alone."
"I hope the lady," said Robinson, "hath no suspicion of any person here. I hope
we are all persons of honour at this table."
"D--n my eyes!" answered a well-dressed woman, "I can answer for myself and
the other ladies; though I never saw the lady in my life, she need not be shy of