THE CRIMINAL LAW.
IN the beginning of the first Lecture it was shown that the appeals of the early law were directed only to intentional wrongs. The appeal was a far older form of procedure than the indictment, and may be said to have had a criminal as well as a civil aspect. It had the double object of satisfying the private party for his loss, and the king for the breach of his peace. On its civil side it was rooted in vengeance. It was a proceeding to recover those compositions, at first optional, afterwards compulsory, by which a wrong-doer bought the spear from his side. Whether, so far as concerned the king, it had the same object of vengeance, or was more particularly directed to revenue, does not matter, since the claim of the king did not enlarge the scope of the action.
It would seem to be a fair inference that indictable offences were originally limited in the same way as those which gave rise to an appeal. For whether the indictment arose by a splitting up of the appeal, or in some other way, the two were closely connected.
An acquittal of the appellee on the merits was a bar to an indictment; and, on the other hand, when an appeal was fairly started, although the appellor might fail to prosecute, or might be defeated by plea, the cause might still be proceeded with on behalf of the king.1____________________