Monday, July 14, 2008


TRIAL, n. A formal inquiry designed to prove and put upon record the blameless characters of judges, advocates and jurors. In order to effect this purpose it is necessary to supply a contrast in the person of one who is called the defendant, the prisoner, or the accused. If the contrast is made sufficiently clear this person is made to undergo such an affliction as will give the virtuous gentlemen a comfortable sense of their immunity, added to that of their worth. In our day the accused is usually a human being, or a socialist, but in mediaeval times, animals, fishes, reptiles and insects were brought to trial. A beast that had taken human life, or practiced sorcery, was duly arrested, tried and, if condemned, put to death by the public executioner. Insects ravaging grain fields, orchards or vineyards were cited to appeal by counsel before a civil tribunal, and after testimony, argument and condemnation, if they continued in contumaciam the matter was taken to a high ecclesiastical court, where they were solemnly excommunicated and anathematized. In a street of Toledo, some pigs that had wickedly run between the viceroy's legs, upsetting him, were arrested on a warrant, tried and punished. In Naples an ass was condemned to be burned at the stake, but the sentence appears not to have been executed. D'Addosio relates from the court records many trials of pigs, bulls, horses, cocks, dogs, goats, etc., greatly, it is believed, to the betterment of their conduct and morals. In 1451 a suit was brought against the leeches infesting some ponds about Berne, and the Bishop of Lausanne, instructed by the faculty of Heidelberg University, directed that some of "the aquatic worms" be brought before the local magistracy. This was done and the leeches, both present and absent, were ordered to leave the places that they had infested within three days on pain of incurring "the malediction of God." In the voluminous records of this cause celebre nothing is found to show whether the offenders braved the punishment, or departed forthwith out of that inhospitable jurisdiction.

2008 Update: A justicial congress convened to select the cleverer attorney of two, who compete for the approval of a judge by publicly reforming a fourth criminal in view of twelve others.


Anonymous said...

JUST-US.....................sometimes the last place one finds justice is in a courthouse.........Peace

Jim said...

Trial: Adi almost had to go on trial last year for corrupting the morals of some elderly persons at their assisted living home.

Trial: Inept lawmen and posses caused there to be no trail in the Old West. [I just heard and read Canto # 16--I read along--today.] I had thought that this was a modern trend emmulated by the TV guys, Barney Pfife and Gomer.

Anonymous said...

Wow was that Ambrose's longest definition?

TLP said...

The Trial, by Franz Kafka, one of the best books ever.

We're all on trial, every day.

Your update is wonderful.

Nessa said...

Mondays are a trial.

Nessa said...

I lived in Heidelberg.

Anonymous said...


1. An exhortation to Al. (Somebody had to do it. Where is Al, anyway?)

2. A public (normally, but see GUANTANAMO) performance, generally resulting in a verdict, a word more than capable of turning Truth, and his companion, Justice, green. One of the many reasons that the material of choice for sculptures of these worthies is oxidized copper.

TLP said...

Note to Amoeba: I've tried Al. He's worthless.

Ariel the Thief said...

Trial, many people sharing one mistake.

Nessa said...

There was a movie done about a medieval lawyer who had to defend an animal and then the plague came. Very funny, but I can't remember the name. It's driving me nuttier.

Doug The Una said...

Then it's a good thing that's the last place anyone goes to find it, Bear.

Jim, that Adi is one sinister beagle, I have to say. I don't know from any reliable data but I feel confident farcical law enforcement has a long and robust history.

Unfortunately not, Pia. The definition of STORY is about 4 pages long. I'd like to do that word but I can't face the typing.

TLP, I can see where Actonbell gets it from.

Nessa, I have only driven past Heidelberg on the Autobahn from Frankfurt to Straßbourg, but the setting is magical. Gut spaß?

Amoeba, the next time one of us is in New York, we need to investigate what became of Al. Once found, he'll probably ask, "what ever happened to OC?"

TLP, I'm suddenly very grateful that "limpal" isn't a word.

Ariel, that's what I wish I'd come up with. I find you guilty.

Nessa, if you remember, please let me know. That sounds fun. My googlery and IMDiBberry came up with nothing. Moo.

Anonymous said...

Nessa - Is this the animal-lawyer movie?

Mistress Anna said...

I feel like I'm on trial everyday and that occasionally I'm turning into a cockroach. Hmmmmm

Nessa said...

Doug: The amoeba man has it. The Hour of the Pig with Colin Firth. I have to go rent it now. It was fun.

Unknown said...

Trial, n.

1. (In commerce) A several week examination period, after which, no matter the outcome, you may have your money happily refunded.

2. (In law) A several week examination period, after which, no matter the outcome, you receive a bill.

tsduff said...

I usually find my way through trial and error - sometimes error wins out.

Anonymous said...

We used to try leeches; now the leeches try us.

Doug The Una said...

Good catch, Amoeba. It's in my Netflix queue right now.

Mistress, welcome back. I feel that way most when I check into a hotel.

I'm working on that myself, Nessa.

So, it is an act of justice, a4g?

Terry, watch your ands.

Mexico, Weirsdo?

Anonymous said...

I'm with tlp on this.


Ambrose did get a little long winded on this one, but you did it succinctly and brilliantly as always.

A contest in which substantive proof is a subjectives term, and the attorney who looks most like George Clooney or Paul Newman usually wins.

Maybe I shouldn't mention this but mytrial subscription to "Waking Ambrose" expired some time ago.
My trial subscription to "Waking Ambrose" expired some time ago.

Anonymous said...

Next week, Doug. I was just thinking of lawyers.