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The history of his life, could it be thoroughly investigated, could not fail of presenting many remarkable incidents. He, indeed, could scarcely be an ordinary man, to whom it happened, within the space of a single year, to be twice brought to trial for capital offences of so serious a nature, that, if conviction had taken place upon either, his life would, beyond doubt, have been forfeited; to have the charge, in both cases, established against him, upon evidence so strong as to have warranted any jury in finding him guilty; and in both cases to have attempted to disprove his guilt, by witnesses brought forward in his own behalf, and to have had those witnesses believed. To those who are not familiar with courts of justice, it may afford matter of surprise that I attach any importance to the circumstance of his witnesses having succeeded in persuading a jury to believe their story, or that I speak of its happening twice to the same individual as a remarkable event. Every lawyer, however, will be able to appreciate the value of the remark I have made; because every lawyer will, from his own experience, bear testimony to the

very few cases which have occurred within his own knowledge, in which an alibi, as it is technically called, has been satisfactorily made out. There

are, I should imagine, very few of my readers to whom it can be necessary to explain what is meant by an alibi ; it is, however, in a word, the establishing by evidence that a prisoner, at the time of an offence charged against him, was at another place, so as to render it impossible that he should be guilty of the crime imputed to him. Now it is clear that an alibi, if true, is the most satisfactory auswer that can be offered to any accusation; it is the best possible defence : so good a one, indeed, that, like all things of value, it is subject to perpetual counterfeits. If an alibi succeeds, of course acquittal follows as a matter of necessity; and therefore it frequently happens that, where the life of a beloved object is at stake, friends and relatives will attempt to establish in his favour an alibi, in the whole concoction of which there is not a syllable of truth. As it is impossible, in all cases, to distinguish truth from falsehood, these fabricated defences sometimes succeed ; and I need hardly observe that the success of one is a strong encouragement to the attempt of others. That best of all teachers, experience, has shown so many instances where alibis have been based in perjury, that a defence of this nature is always looked upon, both by judges and juries, with a most jealous eye; and the witnesses who are brought forward in support of it are invariably subjected to a cross-examination, as strict as if all the presumptions were that they were produced to depose to a falsehood.

I remember to have remarked, in a former paper, that the only advantage which wealth could give over poverty, in a court of criminal judicature, was the enabling its possessor to command the ablest counsel, and giving to him the means of bringing witnesses in his behalf, which the poor man was unable to do, because he was destitute of the means of paying their expenses. I may, on some future occasion, probably enlarge upon the unjust distinction which prevails here, where all men ought to be equal; but I shall now content myself with observing that a better example of the truth of my statement as to the latter of the two advantages which the rich man possesses over his poorer brother, could, perhaps, scarcely be found, than in the story I am about to relate. The principal actor in this narrative was the person alluded to above, the casual meeting with whom recalled to my memory those transactions in which he bore so prominent a part, and which, although partially obliterated by succeeding events, have now again presented themselves to my mind's eye with a freshness and vividness of recollection, which would almost persuade me that nearly half the ordinary years of man's life had not passed since they happened, but that I was referring to an occurrence of yesterday.

Peter Harrison was indicted at the Lancaster Assizes, in the year for a robbery of a most singular and daring character. The charge against him was that of having plundered the Dublin mail-bag of money and jewels to a very large amount; and the offence was supposed to be committed in or near the town of Liverpool. It appeared from the evidence of the postmaster from Dublin, that it was his duty to make up the packet composed of the various Irish mail-bags transmitted to London; that they were all weighed, and their weights entered, as usual, in a book; that amongst these, on the day in question, Thursday, August the 26th, was a parcel transmitted by the Irish Government to the Home Office in London, which was inclosed in the Dublin bag, which bag was separate and distinct from the rest. On their arrival at Liverpool, the bags were taken, according to the ordinary course, to the private office of the postmaster there, where they were examined, and the weights compared with the account transmitted from Ireland. When this was done, they were left in the office, and the door was locked, of which the postmaster alone had a key. About four hours after the arrival of the bags at Liverpool, they were transmitted by the mail to London. The postmaster himself went into his office, accompanied by the guard of the mail; and this particular bag was placed, as it was usual to do, on the top of the coach. The mail arrived safely at the post-office in London, and the bags were delivered there to the proper officer, whose duty it was to examine and open them; and, on his proceeding to do so on this occasion, he discovered that the leathern case which inclosed the Dublin mail-bag had been cut from end to end, and the parcel in question abstracted. By information previously received from Ireland, it was intimated that the parcel in question was to be forwarded to London on that particular day, and as the value of it was known to be large, not a moment was lost in endeavouring both to recover the contents and to apprehend those who had been instrumental in taking it.

Admirable, however, as all the arrangements of the post-office are, and active as are its officers, some considerable time elapsed before any discovery was made. There was no particular place, or time, or person, to whom or to which suspicion should attach; all that could be ascertained was, by letters which remained, that the parcel had been sent, and that it had not arrived. Trusty persons were instantly despatched to the different stages on the road at which the mail had stopped, and at which the guard and coachmen had been changed. The result of the inquiries made was, that in about three months the prisoner was appréhended, charged with being a principal in the robbery.

It appeared, from the evidence of the guard and coachman who were upon the mail when it left Liverpool, on the night on which the parcel was missing, that there were three outside passengers--one sitting with the coachman, and two on what is called the roof of the coach : those

on the roof would be within less than a yard of the bag. At Prescot, the first stage from Liverpool, the coach stopped, merely for three or four minutes to change horses, and then proceeded to Warrington. At the latter place ten minutes were allowed, during which the guard was occupied in leaving certain letter-bags at the post-office, and receiving from thence others, which were to be forwarded to London. None of the outside passengers alighted. When the coach arrived at Knutsford, the next stage, the two men who sat on the roof got down, saying they would go no farther. The coachman observed to them, “Why, you are booked to Newcastle ;” to which one of them replied that they were very cold, and should proceed no farther that night.

One of these men had on a cloak, and the other a rough great coat. Having set them down, the mail proceeded on its journey, and the two men went into the inn, and ordered a post-chaise. As the hour was late, it was nearly half an hour before the chaise could be got ready; and, during that time, the two men went into the kitchen, and sat at a table near the fire. They were muffled up closely, both with their coat and cloak, as well as with handkerchiefs round their necks; conducted themselves, as the witnesses described them, with great mystery; and were very unwilling to enter into conversation. Both, however, spoke once, at least, and possibly more. The chaise carried them to Congleton, where they were also detained for some time while another was being prepared for them; and, while waiting there, they were shown, by their own desire, into a private room, and ordered two glasses of spirits and water. It appeared that the chaise was ready somewhat earlier than they expected; and on the maid-servant entering their room to announce to them that it was in waiting, she perceived them sitting at the table, with a leather bag before them, and · several letters were lying upon the table. At the moment she opened the door they were both holding up letters to the candles, and feeling them, as if to examine whether there was any enclosure. They seemed greatly confused at her appearance, gathered up the letters which lay around, and hastily put them into their pockets, and got into the chaise in so great a hurry as to break one of the glasses in front. On their arrival at Newcastle-under-Lyne, they desired the post-boy to stop at the entrance of a narrow street, where they said they resided; and, paying him for the chaise and broken glass, took their departure.

Upon this information being obtained, little doubt could be entertained that these two men were the persons who committed the robbery ; but to trace and identify them was a matter of much greater difficulty. For more than a month, an active and intelligent agent of the police was stationed at Newcastle, and others were travelling over most parts of the country; while, in the metropolis, a diligent and anxious search was made among those whose habits were known to be of such a character as to lead to a suspicion that they were connected with the offence. From the daring nature of the crime, and the dexterity and adroitness with which it had been perpetrated, the officers of justice were well assured that it had been committed by no inexperienced hands; and as the trade of robbery has been, upon the principle of division of labour, separated into various and distinct branches, their acquaintance with the different workmen, and the peculiar species of handicraft in which they were most expert, convinced them that the number of those out of whom they were to search for the robbers was extremely limited. With the

most patient and watchful assiduity was the conduct of every one of this select body cautiously but surely examined,—his movements scrutinized,

- his presence in, or absence from, London at the time of the robbery carefully ascertained, and if absent, inquiries immediately instituted to find out where he had been. All this was done with the most profound secresy, in the hope that a fancied security would lull the guilty parties into a forgetfulness of caution which might afford some clue to discovery; and though each individual was so carefully watched that he might at any moment have been secured, not a step was taken calculated to excite distrust in the mind of any. From the information obtained from various sources, it had been made clear to the officers that Harrison (the prisoner) had been absent from his usual haunts at the time in question, and for two or three days following; and although he was not exactly the person upon whom their suspicion would, without any corroborating circumstances, have fallen, yet the confident opinion expressed as to his identity as one of the passengers by the mail on the night of the robbery, by some of those to whom, without his knowledge, his person was pointed out by the officers, staggered their belief; and, as there was abundant evidence to justify such a proceeding, a warrant was obtained, under which he was apprehended. This was in the month of November, nearly three months after the offence was committed. He was immediately committed to Lancaster to take his trial for the offence; and as the assizes were not held till the following March, he had abundant opportunity to prepare for his defence.

The evidence offered upon his trial was very singular. One person spoke with great positiveness to having seen him in Liverpool, and in the neighbourhood of the post-office, on the day preceding the robbery; while the coachman and guard of the mail, though they expressed themselves with greater caution, intimated their strong belief that he was one of the two passengers ;—the very words of both of them were

_“ I will not swear positively; but, to the very best of my judgment and belief, the prisoner is one of the men.The landlord of the inn at Knutsford stated his decided conviction of the identity of the prisoner; and there was also called a person who was in the kitchen there, and who heard both the men speak, and who, on hearing the prisoner's voice, said that took away from his mind the only doubt he had entertained, and he was convinced the prisoner was the man. The female waiter at the inn at Congleton, who had detected the men in examining the letters, spoke with equal confidence; and, at the close of the case on the part of the prosecution, I believe scarcely any man entertained a doubt that the identity of the prisoner as one of the passengers by the mail, and, in consequence, as one of the robbers, was so firmly and satisfactorily established, as to leave scarce a chance of his escape.

The prisoner, on being called upon for his defence, handed in a written paper,

which he desired to be read, as containing his answer to the charge made against him. The surprise of the whole audience may be better imagined than described, when I state that he opened a case, which, if true, rendered it absolutely impossible that he could have any connexion with, or concern in, the robbery in question. The judge, long accustomed to see defences of this nature attempted, listened with an incredulous smile to the statements made by the prisoner; while the jury seemed anxiously waiting to see the witnesses, whose testimony was to overturn and annihilate a body of evidence so clear and so strong, as apparently to set contradiction at defiance.

That contradiction, however, improbable and hopeless as it appeared, was perfectly and satisfactorily made out; and there was, I verily believe, not an individual in court, including even the learned judge himself, who did not depart with a firm persuasion that the witnesses on the part of the prosecution were mistaken in the opinion they had expressed of the prisoner having been one of the men who travelled by the mail on the night in question, which, it will be recollected, was the 26th of August. There was this peculiarity about his defence, which, independently of all other circumstances, stamped it with the appearance of truth,—that he did not, as is common in such cases, content himself with merely calling witnesses to show where he was at the very time at which the robbery was stated to have been committed, but he accounted for his time, and showed his movements, for several days previous and subsequent to that of the supposed offence. A clearer chain of evidence, and one less obvious to suspicion, scarcely ever, I will venture to say, was attempted and proved in a court of justice. The prisoner called no less than ten witnesses, most of them entirely unknown to him, and all of them perfectly unconnected with him, by whose testimony the following facts were proved.

It appeared that, in the latter part of the month of August, the prisoner and a man of the name of Simpson had been travelling in company in the counties of Bedford and Northampton; that, on the 22d of August, they arrived at Bedford, and went to an inn there; that, in the course of conversation with the landlord, mention was made of a race which was to take place in the town on the 25th; that the prisoner stated that he and his companion were going to call at different towns in the neighbourhood, but they would return and sleep at his house on the night of the race. On the morning of the 23d, they proceeded, by coach, from Bedford to Wellingborough; and having transacted their business at the latter place, they borrowed a horse and gig of an innkeeper in the town to take them to Northampton, where they arrived the same evening. They had returned the horse and gig to its owner at Wellingborough, with a message, that if he felt disposed to part with his horse, which they liked very much, and would meet them at Bedford on the morning of the 26th, they thought they should be able to purchase him. On the evening of the 25th, according to their previous agreement with the andlord at Bedford, they proceeded to his house, and slept there; and on the morning of the 26th, the man to whom the horse belonged came over from Wellingborough to Bedford, in consequence of the message he had received, and after a good deal of bargaining, the prisoner bought the horse of him for 201., the landlord, as well as the ostler, being present at the bargain. The prisoner and Simpson hired a gig at Bedford, in which they drove the horse to two or three villages not far distant, and returned in the evening and slept at the same inn. On the next day, the 27th, they purchased some goods of two different tradesmen in the town, and in the evening took their departure for London, where they arrived on the following morning.

The witnesses to prove these facts were, the landlord of the inn at Bedford, the innkeeper from Wellingborough, the waiters and chambermaids at the places where they had slept, and the tradesmen of whom

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