fessions. And the rule is not the less inflexible because in a strict adherence to it the guilty will sometimes escape punishment. The law is merciful and prefers that ninety-nine guilty persons should go unpunished rather that one innocent person should suffer; and he is led to infer from the clemency you have shown the prisoner and the courtesy you have extended to the counsel during the progress of this trial you will grant the prisoner all the leniency the law gives him any reason to except. He knows that you cannot help buyt appreciate the condition of the prisoner at this bar. He is arraingned before you with very little better that no counsel at all. The practice in military courts is so new to his counsel that he feels conscious that he has not been able to render the prisoner that assistance which he had reason to except. But he has cause to thank you for the open and frank manner in which you have advised both the counsel and the prisoner of their rights. But we were discussing the reliability of confessions and how far they ought to be received in evidence against the accused. It seems to be a safe rule if the was any inducement whather the prisoner ought not to be convicted on confessions.
In this case while no direct promise of reward on fear of punishment was held out to the prisoner nevertheless the cirucumstances by which he has surrounded might be well calculated to induce him to believe a seeming open confession would be dedicedly to his advantage. He is unused to the laws and customs of war. He falls into the hands of an enemy whose exact purpose with is unknown. He was not adivsed of the penalty attached to the act of which he confesses himself guilty. He looks upon it as a mee act of hostility against the Government that at worst could only place him among its enemies, to be trated wished to prove against him he would place himself before them as an open, frank man and hereby elcit their symphaty and secure better treatment. These inducements to a man whosee hopes of succes had been entirely would certainly act with telling effect. Wharton, in his American Criminal Law, relates several instances of confession where the inducements were not stron case. In on case (p. 314) " a Frenchman named Hubert was convicted and executed on a most circumstances confession of his guilt in having occasioned the great fire in London, athough", adds the historian", neither the judges nor any one present believed him guilty but that he was a poor, distracted wretch weary of life and who chose to part with it in that way". And again on the same page is related an instance of a countryman who was convicted on his own confession of the under of a window who two years afterward returned to her home and had never received and injury whatever. So Bunyan tells us:
Since you are entered upon stories I also will tell you one, which though I heard it not with my own ears yet my author I dare believe. It is concerning one old Tod, who was hanged about twenty years ago or more at Hartford for being a thief. The story is this: At a summner assize holden at Hartford while the judge was sitting upon the bench comes this old Tod into the court clothed in a green suit, with his leather girdle in his hand, his bosom open and all in a during sweat as if he had run for his life; and being come in he spake alund: "My Lord", said he, "I have been the veriest rouge that breathes upon the face of the earth; I have been a thief from a child. When I was a little one I gave myself to rob orchards and to do other such like wicked things and I have continued a thief ever since. My Lord, there has not been a robbery committed this many years within so many miles of this place but I have either been at if or privy to it". The judge thoguht the fellow was mad; but after some conference with some of the justicies they agreed to indict him, and so they did of several felonies; to all of which he heartily confessed guilty and so was hanged with his life at the same time.