“The appellant in this case,” said Mr. Tomkins, very slowly, “seeks to set aside a conviction for trespass, on the ground, as I understand, of his not having committed one. The principal points of the case are admitted, as also the fact of Mr. Jorrocks’s toe, or a part of his toe, having intruded upon the respondent’s estate. Now, so far as that point is concerned, it seems clear to myself and to my brother magistrates, that it mattereth not how much or how little of the toe was upon the land, so long as any part thereof was there. ’De minimis non curat lex’—the English of which is ’the law taketh no cognisance of fractions’—is a maxim among the salaried judges of the inferior courts in Westminster Hall, which we the unpaid, the in-cor-rup-ti-ble magistrates of the proud county of Surrey, have adopted in the very deep and mature deliberation that preceded the formation of our most solemn judgment. In the present great and important case, we, the unpaid magistrates of our sovereign lord the king, do not consider it necessary that there should be ‘a toe, a whole toe, and nothing but a toe,’ to constitute a trespass, any more than it would be necessary in the case of an assault to prove that the kick was given by the foot, the whole foot, and nothing but the foot. If any part of the toe was there, the law considers that it was there in toto. Upon this doctrine, it is clear that Mr. Jorrocks was guilty of a trespass, and the conviction must be affirmed. Before I dismiss the case I must say a few words on the statute under which this decision takes place.
“This is the first conviction that has taken place since the passing of the Act, and will serve as a precedent throughout all England. I congratulate the country upon the efficacy of the tribunal to which it has been submitted. The court has listened with great and becoming attention to the arguments of the counsel on both sides: and though one gentleman with a flippant ignorance has denounced this new law as inferior to the pre-existing system, and a curse to the country, we, the magistrates of the proud county of Surrey, must enter our protest against such a doctrine being promulgated. Peradventure, you are all acquainted with my prowess as a shooter; I won two silver tankards at the Red House, Anno Domini 1815. I mention this to show that I am a practical sportsman, and as to the theory of the Game Laws, I derive my information from the same source that you may all derive yours—from the bright refulgent pages of the New Sporting Magazine!”
The Surrey foxhounds had closed their season—a most brilliant one—but ere Mr. Jorrocks consigned his boots and breeches to their summer slumber, he bethought of having a look at the Surrey staghounds, a pack now numbered among the things that were.