This subject is of some importance to persons who are resident in Mussulman countries, or our dominions in India, and a brief exposition of it may not be out of place in the Society's Journal.
Evidence is based on testimony, and testimony may be either direct to the point at issue, or to collateral circumstances from which the point at issue may be reasonably inferred. It were, perhaps, more correct to say, that in the latter case testimony is the channel through which evidence is conveyed to the minds of those who have to decide upon it, while in the former case it is the evidence itself. Under the most common systems of jurisprudence testimony of both kinds is received, and the judge is left free to form his own opinion from all the circumstances as detailed by the witnesses. Under other systems, while testimony is equally free, the decision upon it is committed to a separate tribunal, such as a jury. Under both systems there is, perhaps, an inclination to treat testimony, even when direct, as a mere channel of communication, and to take the fact asserted by the witness, entirely stripped of his opinion.