« AnteriorContinuar »
I shall. as I have promised, avoid repeti- of Probert having been admitted evidence tion : and, when you have read Mr. Gure for the crown, and of his being at that very ner's statement for the prosecution, which moment before the grand jury undergoing very perspicuously details the case, as after his examination. I bastened to the Town wards supported by evidence, and Probert's Hall (a poor pinched-up building, scarcely wife's hard-wrung words; I shall call no other big enough to try a well-grown petty-larwitnesses for none other will be necessary ceny in) and found there the usual assize to satisfy the reader. After these I shall scene ; a huddled cold crowd on a dim but speak of what I saw : I shall but turns tone staircase,-a few men of authority, my ere to that green table, which is now with their staves and long coats, thence and will ever be before me, and say what called javelin men ; patient oglers of hardthereon I beheld! I shall but, in the good hearted doors, red cloaks, plush breeches, impressive words of the crier to the jury, and velveteen jackets-and with all these a look upon the prisoners :" and describe the low hum of country curiosity ! On apthat one strong desperate man playing the proaching the door of the grand jury room, hero of the tragic trial, as at a play; and wherein stood that bad but not bold map, show his wavering weak comrade, a baby's Probert, I met with a legal friend under Turpin! visibly wasting by his side, in the whose wing I was to be conducted into the short space of eight-and-forty hours! You court. He was in some way concerned in want to see the trial rou say, not to read of the trial; and the first words he accosted it : Oh! that I could draw from the life me with were “ Well !--Probert is in that with the pen (your pen and ink drawings room !” The dimness of the place helped are the only things to make old masters of his sudden words, and I looked at the door you)! Then would I trace such lipes as that parted me from this wretch, as though should make the readers breathless while it were a glass, through which I could see they read, and render a Newgate-Calenda Probert himself darkly. I waited, the rian immortal! It was, in spite of what a door opened for the eighth of an inchgreat authority has said, an unimprovable then arose the murmur and cry, “ Probert borror!
is coming out !" No! It was only to tell You remember how we parted when I some inveterate tapster that he could not be left your hospitable table, to take my place admitted. Another pause--and in the midin the Hertford coach, on the cold evening dle of an indifferent conversation, my friend of the 5th of December; and how you en exclaimedThere-there goes Probert !" joined me to bear a wary eye on the mor And I saw an unwieldy bulk of a man row's trial. I promised you fair.-Well. I sauntering fearlessly along (he was now had strange companions in the coach with safe!) and sullenly proceeding to descend me, a good-looking middle-aged baronet, the stairs. I rushed to the balustrademand who was going to Hertford upon specula. saw this man, who had seen all! go step tion; a young foolish talkative reporter by step quietly down,-having just sealed who was travelling with all the importance the fate of his vicious associates (but his of a Sunday newspaper encircling him, and associates still) and returning, with his miswho had a dirty shirt on his back, and a erable life inflicted upon him, to clanking clean memorandum book tied up in his irons and a prison bed. He was dressed pocket handkerchief ;-all bis luggage ! in black, and had gloves on :-But through And a gentleman of about thirty who all these, I saw the creature of Gill's Hill was going to his house in Hoddesdon, nev Lane-I saw the miscreant that had held er having heard of the trial ! " not but the lantern to the rifled pocket, and the what he had read something in the pews gashed throat,- and I shuddered as I turnabout a baddish murder." We exchanged ed away from the staircase vision ! coach-conversation sparingly, and by fits, On this night the lovers of sleep were as usual. The Sunday press was on my sadly crossed in their love,- for there was side (the only time in my life), and the bar- a hum of men throughout the streets all onet sat pumpiog it slyly of all its watery the dead-long night,-broken only by the gossip ; while the Hoddesdon body, at the harsher grating of arriving chaises and same time occasionally kept craftily bitting carriages, which ceased not grinding the at the cbaracter of a person, whom he de gravelled road and vexing the jaded ear clared to have kpowd abroad, and who till morning. The inn-keepers and their bears the evil repute of lending his aid to
servants were up all night, looking out for our fellow traveller's paper. We dropped their prey ;-and very late into the night, our fourth at Hoddesdon, and pretty well servant-maids with their arms in their played dummy the rest of the journey. aproos, and sauntering lads, kept awake
The moment I arrived, I called upon the beyond nine by other men's guilt, were at friend who was to give me a bed for the doors and corners talking of Thurtell and ni ht; a gift which, on these occasions, inn his awful pair! Gapiog witnesses too were keepers and housekeepers are by no means idling about Hertford town, dispersing with in the habit of indulging in ; and I found potent beers and evil spirits, as well as they him with a warm fire, and a kettle singing, were able, the scanty wits and frail memaye,-more homanely than Hunt. I soon ories which providence had allotted to them. despatched the timely refreshment of tea. - The buzz of conversation, ainidst all and bor during it, I learnt the then strange news in all places, was a low murmur, but of
« Thurtell "_" Miss Noyes "_" Probert" Throughout the night Hertford was as
- Mrs. Probert'-and « Hunt." You sleepless as before. The window at the heard one of these names from a window Plough was as luminous as usual ;-the
or it came from under a gateway,-or Half Moon swarmed with post-chaises and over a wall,-or fram a post, or it met drab-coats ;-and the Seven Stars--the Six you at a corner! these vice-creatures were compasses--the Three Tuos--and the on all lips—and in bo hour betwixt the Horse and Magpie, abounded with tippling evening and the morning was their infamy witnesses, all dressed in their Sunday neglected to be tolled upon the nigbt!—The clothes, and contriving to cut a holiday out gaol, to which I went for a few minutes, of the remnant of the murder. " Pipes," looked solemn in the silence and the gloom; as Lord Byron says, were every-where,
and I could not but pierce with my mind “in the liberal air." those massive walls, and see the ironed With great and laborious difficulty I men restless within ; Thurtell rehearsing made my way into court about half past his part for the morning's drama, with the seven in the morning. The doors were love of infamous fame stimulating him to sadly ordered, for instead of the wholesome correctness ;-(for I was told that evening guardianship of Ruthven, Upson, and Bishthat he was to make a great display ;) and op, men who know how to temper a crowd Hunt cowering in his cell, timorous of fate, with kind severity, we had great country
while Probert, methought was steeping constable-bumpkins with long staves, which bis hideous sepses in the forgetfulness of thev handsomely exercised upon those exsleep-for when such men are safe, they crescences in which they themselves were can sleep as though their hearts were as deficient, 'the heads of the curious !--Such white as innocence or virtue!
bumping of skulls I never before witnessed. We were up early in the morning, and Gall would have loved them. One or two breakfasted by candlelight ;--with a sand. sensible officers might have kept the en. wich in my pocket I sallied forth to join my trances free and quiet :--but tumult had it legal friend, who had long been dressed, all her own way. was sitting at his papers and tea, in all the The Court was crowded to excess. It restlessness of a man whose mind defies appeared to be more closely and inconveand spurns at repose when any thing re- niently packed than on the first day, and mains to be accomplished.-We were in even at this early hour the window panes, court a little after eight o'clock-but as you from the great heat, were streamed and kpow that on this day the trial was post. streaming with wet. The reporters were poned, I shall not here describe the scene, closely hedged in, and as a person observed but shall reserve my description of the to me, had scarcely room to write even prisoners for the actual day of trial, to short hand. which I shall immediately proceed.- Before the entrance of the judge, the should tell you that I saw Mrs. Probert for clerk of the arraigns beckoned Mr.Wilson, a few minutes on this day, and was sur- the humane jailer of Hertford prison, to prised at her mode of conducting herself, the table, and inquired of him whether the having heard, as I knew she had, of her fetters were removed from the prisoners : husband's safety.
Mr. Wilson replied that they were not, as Immediately that the trial was adjourned he did not consider it advisable to free I secured a place in the coach, and return them without orders. The clerk recomed to London. The celebrated Mr. Noet mended the removal, and Mr. Wilson, apwas on the roof, and my companions inside parently against his own will, consented, were an intelligent artist and craniologist, declaring the at het
rous. who had been sketching and examining the Mr. Andrews, 'Thurtell's counsel, said im. heads of the prisoners, -and a tradesman pressively there was no danger-and the from Oxford-street, who had been frighten- jailer retired to take the chains from his ed out of his wits and Hertford, by hearing charge. I had heard that Thurtell meditathat pictures of Gill's Hill Cottage were ac- ted and even threatened violence against tionable, for he had brought "some very Hunt,-and indeed Hunt himself apprehengood likenesses of the Pond to sell," and ded some attack from his tremendous combeen obliged to take them out of the win- panion ;- but the former had evidently dow of the Seven Compasses, almost the been counselled as to the effect of such very moment they were placed there ! - vengeance being wreaked, and doubtless he From this December day to the 5th of had himself come to the conviction that reJanuary-all the agitation of the public venge was a profitless passion,-and parpress ceased and murder had no tongue ticularly so at such a time! until the day on which it was privileged to At eight o'clock the trumpets of the jav
elin men brayed the arrival of Mr. Justice To the day of trial therefore I come ;- Park, who shortly afterwards entered she for I compelled my curiosity to slumber court and took his scat:-as asual the the ordered sleep of the newspapers-1 ar court was colloquial respecting the beat, rived at Hertford about the same hour as and the crowd, -and the sitting down of on the former occasion. I drank tea over tall men,--to the loss of much of that imagain,-sat again by the fire. The former posing dignity with which the ermine and day seemed but a rehearsal of this and I trumpets invariably surround a judge. Sir as anxiously looked for the morning. Allan is a kind but a warm tempered man;
and few things distract him so much as the weight to the countenance. The lower disorder occasioned by full-grown persons part of the face was unusually large,muscustanding up, or by upwieldy men in any lar, and heavy, and appeared to hang like position. I really think he would not be a load to the head, and to make it drop like able to endure even a standing order. the mastiff's jowl. The upper lip was long
The pressure was great at this early time. and large, and the mouth had a severe and Only one space seemed left, and who, to be dogged appearance. His nose was rather ever so comfortably accommodated, would small for such a face, but it was not badly bare filled it? The dock was empty! Some shaped : his eyes too were small and buried short time was lost in the removing of the deep under his protruding forehead, so inirons from the prisoners,- and although deed as to defy you to detect their colour. the order to “ place the prisoners at the The forehead, was extremely strong, bony, bar" had long been given, -the anxious and knotted ;- and the eyebrows were forci. stretch of the crowd to behold them was bly marked though irregular ;-that over not relieved by their presence.
the right eye being nearly straight, and The situation in which I stood com- that on the left turning up to a point so as manded the entrance to the dock, which to give a very painful expression to the was from the back part of it: it was Inst whole face. His hair was of a good lightin gloom, and seemed like the dark portal ish brown, and not worn after any fasbion. to a condemned cell. At length, the ap- I have been thus particular, because, alproach of the prisoners could be discerned. though I have seen many pictures, I have Hunt entered first and took his place at the seen none resembling him in any respect, bar; and Thurtell immediately followed. and I should like to give you some idea of They slightly bowed to the court. Every bim. His frame was exceedingly well koit motion of Thurtell seemed watched and and athletic and if you have ever seen
Shelton the prize-fighter, you will have a tion to his papers, it was clear that he had perfect idea of John Thurtell,-even to the no idea of violence, his actions were less power and the stoop of the shoulders. I observed by his keepers.
observed that Thurtell seldom looked at the Hunt was dressed in black, with a white person with whom he conversed. --for whencravat and a white handkerchief, carefully ever he addressed Wilson, or his solicitor, disposed, so as to give the appearance of a or a turnkey, he leant his head side-ways white under waistcoat. There was a fop- to the speaker, but looked straight forward. pery in the adjustment of this part of his He had a large bundle of papers and books, dress, which was well seconded by the af- -and very shortly after being placed at fected carriage of his head and shoulders, the bar he commenced making remarks and and by the carefully disposed disorder of penning notes to his counsel and advisers. his hair. It was combed forward over his The trial commenced I should conceive ears from the back part of his head, and about ten o'clock ; for some time was condivided nicely on his forehead, so as to al. sumed in a fruitless application on the part low one lock to lie balf-curled upon it. of Hunt for a further postponement of his His forehead itself was white, feminine, and trial to allow of his petitioning the crown anmeaning; indeed his complexion was for mercy on the ground of his confession extremely delicate, and looked more so before the magistrates. The Jury were froin the raven blackness of his hair. mustered by main strength-and several Nothing could be weaker than his features, Hertfordshire yeomen seemed much perwhich were small and regular, but destitute plexed at hearing that they were challenged: of the least manly expression. His eye -indeed one or two had taken a comfortawas diminutive and unmeaning, indeed ble seat in the box, and seemed determined coldly black and poor. He gazed around not to be called out. at the crowded court, with the look and the It now fell to Mr. Gurney's lot to detail attitude of a person on the stage just about the case, which he did in a slow, distinct, to siag. Indeed the whole bearing of Hunt and concise manner, pretty well in the folwas soch as to convince any person that lowing words. The Jury listened with an even his baseness was not to be relied upon, almost breathless attention--and in several that his self-regard was too deep to make of the most appalling parts of his statement, bim bear danger for his companions, or to there was a cold drawing in of the breath contemplate death while safety could be and an involuntary murnur throughout the purchased at any price!
whole court. The Judge, who bad read Beside him stood the murderer-com- the depositions, leant back in his chair at plete in frame, face, eye, and daring !-The the narrative! contrast was singularly striking,fatal in- " The deceased, whose murder was the deed, to the opinion which it created of subject of the present inquiry, was the late Thurtell. He was dressed iu a plum.col. Mr. William Weare-a man, it was said, oured frock coat, with a drab waistcoat addicted to play, and, as had been suggestand gilt buttons, and white corded breeches. ed, connected with gaming-houses. WhethHis neck had a black stock on, which fitted er he was the best, or the least estimable as usual stifily up to the bottom of the cheek individual in society, was no part of their and end of the chin, and which therefore present consideration. The prisoner at pushed forward the flesh on this part of the the bar, John Ibartell, had been his acface so as to give an additionally sullen quaintance, and in some practices of play had, it was said, been wronged by him, and Thurtell, and Hunt, went to a pawnbroker's deprived of a large sum of money. The in Mary-le-bone, and purchased a pair of
ing a public singer, and also known to Mr. day, Hunt hired a gig, and afterwards a Weare, but not, as he believed, in habits of horse, under the pretence of going to Dartfriendship. Probert, who was admitted as ford in Kent: he also inquired where he an accomplice, had been in trade a spirit. could purchase a sack and a rope, and was dealer, and rented a cottage in Gill's-bill. directed to a place over Westminster-bridge, lane, near Elstree. It was situated in a by- which, he was told, was on his road into lane, going out of the London-road to St. Kent. Somewhere, however, it would be Alban's, and two or three miles beyond found that he did procure a sack and cord, Elstree. The cottage of Probert was, it and he met the same afternoon, at Tetsall's, would appear, selected from its seclusion, Thomas Thurtell and Noyes. They were as the fit spot for the perpetration of the all assembled together at the Coach and murder. Probert was himself much engag. Horses in Conduit-street. When he made ed in London, and his wife generally resid. use of the names of the two last individued at the cottage, which was a small one, als, he begged distinctly to be understood and pretty fully occupied in the accommo as saying, that he had no reason to believe. dation of Mrs. Probert, her sister, (Miss that either Thomas Thurtell or Noyes were Noyes,) some children of Thomas Thur. privy to the guilty purpose of the prisoners. tell's (the prisoner's brother,) and a maid Some conversation took place at the time and boy servant. It should seem, from between the parties, and Hunt was heard what had taken place, that the deceased to ask Probert if be would be in it," — had been iovited by John Thurtell, to this meaning what they (Hunt and John Thurplace to enjoy a day or two's shooting. It tell) were about. Thurtell drove off from would be proved that the prisoner Tburtell Tetsall's between four and five o'clock to met the deceased at a billiard room, kept take up a friend, as he said to Probert, by one Rexworthy, on the Thursday night "to be killed as he travelled with him ;'' previous to the murder. They were joined an expression which Probert said at the there by Hunt. On the forenoon of the time he believed to have been a piece of Friday, he (deceased) was with Rexworthy idle bravado. He requested Probert to at the same place, and said he was going bring down Hunt in his own gig. for a day's shooting into the country. “To the course of that evening, the prisoner Weare went from the billiard-rooms be- Thurtel is seen in a gig, with a borse of very tween three and four o'clock to his cham remarkable colour. He was a sort of iron bers in Lyon's inn, where he partook of a grey, with a white face and white legs--chop dinner, and afterwards packed up, in very particular marks for identity. He was a green carpet bag, some clothes, and a first seen by a patrole near Edgeware; be
vond that part of the road he was seen by the mere change of linen, such as a journey for the time he had specified might require.
landlord ; but from that time of the evening He also took with him when he left his
until his arrival at Probert's cottage op the
same night, they had no direct evidence to chambers, in a hackney coach, which the
trace him. Probert, according to Thirtell's laut:dress had called, à double-barrelled
request, drove Hunt down in his gig, and, gun, and a backgammon box, dice, &c.
backgammon box, dice, &c. having a better horse, on the road they overHe left his chambers in this manner before took Tourtell and Weare in the gig, and four o'clock, and drove first to Charing. passed them without notice. They stopped cross, and afterwards to Maddox-street, afterwards at some public-house on the road Hanover-square; from thence he proceeded to drink grog, where they believe Thurtell to the New-road, where he went out of the must have passed them unperceived. Procoach, and returned after some time, ac rt drove Hunt until they reached Pbillicompanied by another person, and took his
more-lodge, where he (Hunt) got out, as he things away. Undoubtedly the deceased
said by Thurtell's desire, to wait for him.
Probert from thence drove alone to Gill'sJeft town on that evening with the expecta- hill cottage, in the lane near which he met tion of reaching Gill's-hill cottage; but it Thurtell, on foot alone. Thurtell inquired, had been previously determined by his Where was Hunt, had he been left behind ? companions, that he should never reach he then added, that he had done the business that spot alive. He would here beg to without bis assistance, and had killed his state a few of the circumstances which had man. At his desire, Probert returned to occurred antecedent to the commission of bring Hunt to the spot, when he (Probert) the crime. Thomas and John Thurtell went to Hunt for that purpose. When they were desirous of some temporary conceal
met, he told Hunt what had happened. ment, owing to their inability to provide the
“ Why it was to be done here,” said Hunt bail requisite to meet some charge of mis.
(pointing to nearer Phillimore-lodge), ad
mitting his privity, and that he bad got out deineanour, and Probert had procured for to assist in the commission of the deed. them a retreat at Tetsall's, the sign of the When Thurtell rebuked Hont for his abCoach and Horses, in Conduit-street, where sence: "why (said the latter), you had the they remained two or three wecks previous tools." "They were not gond," replied to the murder. On the morning of Friday, Thurtell; “the pistols were no better than the 24th of October, two men, answering in pop-guns. I fired at his cheek, and it glancCvery respect to the description of John ed of "---that Weare ran out of the gig, cri
ed for mercy, and offered to return the mon
ey he had robbed him of ---that be (Thurtell) and sponged himself with great care. He pursued him up the lane when he jumped out endeavoured to remove the spots of blood, of the gig. Finding the pistol unavailing, many of which were distiuctly seen by Prohe attempted to reach hinn by cutting the bert's boy; and certainly such marks would peoknife across his throat, and ultimately be observable on the person of any one who finished him by driving the barrel of the pis. had been engaged in such a transaction. In tol into his head, and turning it in his brains, the course of the evening Thurtell produced after he had penetrated the forehead. Such a gold watch, without a chain, which occawas the manner in which Tburtell described sioned several remarks. He also displayed a himself to have disposed of the deceased, gold curb chain, wbich might be used for a and they would hear from Probert what he watch, when doubled: or, when singled, said on the occasion. A gig was about that might be worn round a lady's neck. On protime beard to drive very quickly past Pro- ducing the chain, it was remarked that it bert's cottage. The servant-lad expected was more fit for a lady than a gentleman; his master, and thought he had arrived; bot on which Tbortell pressed it on Mrs. Probert, he did not make bis appearance. Five inin and made her accept it. An offer was after. utes after that period, certain persons, who wards made that a bed should be given to would be called in evidence, and who hap- Tourtell and Hunt, which was to be accorpened to be in the road, distinctly heard the plished by Miss Noyes giving up hier bed, report of a guo or pistol, which was follow- and sleeping with the children. This was ed by voices, as if in contention. Violent refused, Thurtell and Hunt observing, that groans were next beard, wbich, however, they would rather sit up. Miss Noyes, therebecame fainter and fainter, and then died fore, retired to her own bed. Something, away altogether. The spot where the re- however, occurred, which raised suspicion in port of the pistol and the sound of groans the mind of Mrs. Probert; and, indeed, it were heard, was Gill's-bill-lane, and pear it was scarcely possible, if it was at all possiwas situated the cottage of Probert. They ble, for persons who bad been engaged in a had now, therefore, to keep in mind, that traosaction of this kind to avoid some disorThartell arrived at about nine o'clock in the der of mind---somne absence of thought that evening at Probert's cottage, having set off was calculated to excite suspicion. In confron Conduit-street at five o'clock; and sequence of observing those feelings, Mrs. though he had been seen on the road in com- Probert did not go to bed, or undress herself. pany with another person in the gig, yet it She went to the window and looked out, and appeared that he arrived at the cottage saw that Probert, Hunt, and Thuitell, were alone, having in his possession the double in the garden. It would be proved that they barrelled gun, the green carpet-bag, and the went down to the body, and, finding it too backgamiton-board, which Mr. Weare took heavy to be removed, one of the horses was away with him. He gave his horse to the taken from the stable. The body was then boy, and the horse appeared to have sweat thrown across the horse ; and stones having ed, and to be in a cool state, which corrobo- been put into the sack, the body, with the rated the fact that he had stopped a good sack thus rendered weighty by the stones, while on his way. He left Conduit-street, was thrown into the pond. Mrs. Probert it should be observed, at five, and arrived at distinctly saw something heavy drawn across the cottage at nine---a distance which under the gardeo where Thurtell was. The parordigary circumstaoces,would not bave ocru ties then returned to the house; aod Mrs. pied more than two bours. The boy inquired Probert, whose fears and suspicions were after Probert and Hunt, and was told that now most powerfully excited, went down they would soon be at the cottage. At stairs and listened behind the parlour door. lergth, a second gig arrived, and those two The parties now proceeded to sbare the persons were in it. They rode, while Thur booty; and Tourtell divided with them to tell, who went to meet them, walked with the amount of 61. each. The purse, the them. The boy having cleaned his master's pocket-book, and certain papers which horse, then performed the same office for might lead to detection, were carefully the horse of Thurtell, which occupied a good burned. They remained up late ; and Prodeal of time. Probert went into the house. bert, when he went to bed, was surprised to Neither Thurtell nor Hunt was expected by find that his wife was not asleep. Hont and Mrs. Probert. With Thurtell she was ac. Thurtell still continued to sit up in the parquainted; but Hant was a stranger, and was lour. The next morning, as early as six formally introduced to her. They then o'clock, Hunt and Thurtell were both seen sopped on some pork chops, which Hunt had out, and in the lane together. Some mea bronght down with him from London. They who were at work there, observed them, as then went out, as Probert said, to visit Mr. they called it, “grabbling" for something Nicholls, a neighbour of his; but their real in the hedge. They were spoken to by these object was to go down to the place where men, and as persons thus accosted must say the body of Weare was deposited. Thuriell something, Tburtell observed, “ that it was a took them to the spot down the lane, and the very bad road, and that he had nearly been body was dragged thro' the hedge into the capsized there last night.” The men said, adjoining field. The body was as he had pre. “I hope you were not burt.” Thurtell anvingsly described it to be enclosed in a sack. swered, “Oh no, the gig was not upset,"
They then effectually rifled the deceased and they then went away. These meo, man, Thartell having informed his compan- thinking something might have been lost on iods, that he had, in the first instance, taken the spot, searched after Hunt and Thurtell part of his property. They then weot back were gone. In one place they found a to the cottage, It ought to be stated, that quantity of blood, further on they discoverThurtell, before he went out, placed a large ed a bloody knife, and next they found a sponge in the gig; and when he returned bloody pistol---one of the identical pair from this expedition, he went to the stable wbich he would show were purchased by