Imágenes de páginas

examined by the microscope, it is seen, that the trunk or proboscis, which is generally concealed in its sheath or tube, is of a sharp form, and is furnished towards the upper part with a few reversed aculei or prickles; the eyes are large, smooth and black: the stomach and intestines afford a distinct view of the peristaltic motion : the legs are each terminated by a double claw, not very much unlike that of a lobster, but of a sharper form, and the whole animal is every where covered by a strong granulated skin. Few insects are more prolifio than the louse. It is said that in about eight weeks a louse might see five thousand of its own descendants.

PEDIMENT, in architecture, a kind of low pinnacle, serving to finish a frontispiece, and which is placed as an ornament over gates, doors, windows, or niches. The «pediment is ordinarily of an angular form ; but sometimes it forins the arc of a circle. The parts of a pediment are, 1. the tynpanum; 2. the cornice, which crowns it; and 3. the entablature, which serves it as a base or scale. The most beautiful proportions of the pediment are observed by Davilier to be obtained when the height is abont one fifth of the base.

Peer, in g'eneral, an equal. Peers in the law of Britain, is a name that belongs to any class of persons who are the equals of each other. It is a fundamental law in the administration of justice, laid down by magnu-churta, that every man shall be tried by his peers : hence a commoner is tried by a jury of commoners, and a lord by a jury of lords. It is observable that this privilege, bowever, so far as it is possessed by the lords, extends only to cri

minal cases : in civil actions, the advantage which the trial by peers was intended to secure, that of security against the prejudices which men of different conditions sometimes entertain against each other, is almost wholly on the side of the commopalty. If a mercantile question occur, a special jury of merchants, the precise peers in the case, may be required; but if a commoner sue a lord, the cause is decided by a common jury, with the exception that at least two knights be returned in the panel,

Peer, in a restricted sense, a lord of parliament, or peer of the realm. The lords of parliament are the peers of each other: for whatever formality of precedence may attach to the title of earl or duke, it is a barony which conveys the right to a seat in parliament, and confers every privilege annexed It is as a baron, not as a duke, bishop, &c. that a peer sits in parliament; and the parliamentary rights are, at the present day, the essence of nobility. In compliance with ancient costume it the word may be thus employed) peers are sometimes still created by titles which convey the idea of local rights to which they have in reality no pretension; but though this is a mere form, the rank they gain is not an empty one: it is that of an hereditary legislator of the realm. * A peer is not to be put upon any inquest, even though the cause have a relation to two peers; and where a peer is defendant in a court of equity, he is not to be sworn to his answer, which is to be received upon the faith of his honour: but when he is to answer to interrogatories, or to make an affidavit, or to be examined as a witness, he is to be sworn.

Peer, trial of a. It is of the first importance that those public men wbich, in a free country particularly, will always be liable to the dangers of political animosity, should be secured against possible popular injustice ; and for this reason, as well as because, with the rest of his fellow subjects, he claims to be tried by his equals, a temporal peer must be arraigned, whether on a charge of treason or of felony, before the house of which he is a member. On occasion of such a trial, all the lords, with the exception of the bishops, are to be summoned at least twenty days previous to its commencement. The proceedings are these: after the indictment is allowed, the king, by commission under the great-seal, appoints one of the peers, and usually the chancellor, to be high-steward, who sits as judge. To bring the indictment before the lord high-steward, a writ, called a certiorari, is issued out of the court of chancery, and the prisoner is brought by another writ. The highsteward assigps a day and place of trial; and twelve of the peers must be present. At the time

and place appointed, the high-steward being seated · in the customary state, the king's commission

read, and other ceremonies performed, he declares to the prisoner at the bar the cause of the assembly, assures bim of justice, and encourages him to an. swer without fear to the charge that is to be preferred against him. The indictment is then read, and the prisoner arraigned. After the evidence for the prosecution, and the answer, bave been heard, the prisoner is ordered to withdraw from the bar, and the lords retire, in the manner of a common jury, to deliberate on their verdict. On their re

turn, the high-steward openly demands of each several lord, whether the prisoner, calling him by his name, be guilty of the crime for which he is arraigned? and each lord, laying his right-hand upon his left-breast, separately answers, “ Guilty," or “ Not guilty, upon my honour.” If, by a majority of votes, the prisoner be found guilty, he is brought to the bar again, and the high-steward acquaints bim with the verdict of his peers, and passes sentence and judgment accordingly; or, actiog as he does by commission, the high-steward may take time to advise upon the judgment, and bis ollice continues tili that be passed.

It is to be observed that the appointment of a bigh-steward only takes place when the parliament is not sitting. If the trial occors during the session, it is said to be in the high court of parliament; the peers officiate at once as jurors and judges; and their speaker collects the votes: when the parliament is not sitting, the trial is said to be in the court of the high-steward of England. The peculiarities attending the trial of a peer are two: 1. The number of jurors is greater than ordinary, every peer bavioy a right to sit; 2. unanimity is not required, but the decision depends upon the majority, which, however, must amount to twelve.

PEERESS, a woman who is noble by descent, creation, or marriage. If a peeress by descent or creation marries a person under the degree of nobility, she still continues noble; but if she has obtained the dignity by marriage only, by a subsequent marriage with a commoner she loses it; though, by the courtesy of England, she always retains the title. Except that, as a woman, she cannot sit and vote in the house of lords, a peeress enjoys every privilege of a peer.

PELECANUS, the pelican, in natural history, a genus of birds of the order Anseres, of which there are thirty species. The Pelican onocrotatus, or the great pelican, is sometimes of the weight of 251h, and the width between the extreme points of the wings, of fifteen feet. The skin between the sides of the upper mandible is extremely dilatable, and capable of containing many quarts of water. The skin is often used by sailors for tobacco pouches, and has been occasionally converted into elegant ladies' work-bags. These birds are very numerous about the Caspian and Black seas, and they are chiefly to be found in the warmer regions, inhabiting almost every country of Africa. They build in the small isles of lakes far from the habitations of man. The nest is a foot and a half in diameter, and the female, if molested, will remove her eggs into the water till the cause of the annoyance is removed, returning them then to her nest of reeds and grass. These birds, though living principally on fish, often build in the midst of desarts, where that element is scarcely to be found. The Pelecanus aquilus, or manof-war-bird, is of this genus: of this bird it is said that it will oblig'e others to quit the prey which they have just made, and are flying off with, and that it seizes it as it drops from them with a dexterity truly admirable." The Pelecanus carbo, or cormorant, is a species of the Pelican genus. The cormorant is trained to fish for its master, and it performs its business with so much dexterity, as

« AnteriorContinuar »