Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

seen.

they had made the purchases, whose books, containing the entries of goods sold, were produced, and to which no suspicion could by possibility attach. There was one circumstance upon which observation was made by the counsel for the prosecution, as militating against the truth of the prisoner's story,--that Simpson, his companion, was not called. The explanation which the prisoner gave of his not producing this man was, that he was in pecuniary difficulties, and therefore unwilling to be

Be that, however, as it might, his absence, which, in a doubtful case, might have been unfavourable to the prisoner, could not, in one so clear, produce any impression against him; and the jury, without hearing the learned judge sum up the case, intimated that they were satisfied, and pronounced a verdict of acquittal.

To say that the prisoner, who was a man of property, was indebted to that property for the successful termination of his trial, and that, had he been a poor man, he would have been convicted, is to advance a proposition startling in itself, and at variance with the boasted impartiality of our laws, and yet, at the same time, I fear, much nearer to truth than any one of us would desire that it should be. Very few, I think, will require much to convince them that if the prisoner's case had stood upon the evidence given on the part of the prosecution, and on that alone, without any of the testimony produced in answer to it, his chanee of acquittal would have been slight indeed; and yet, to what, except to his property, was it owing that he was able to bring his own witnesses forward ? Every man knows, or ought to know, that no witness can be compelled to appear and give evidence on behalf of a prisoner, unless a reasonable sum of money be tendered to him to provide for his expenses and his loss of time. Now here were ten witnesses, called upon to take a journey of between one and two hundred miles, and to support themselves while in attendance from day to day at Lancaster-a period of uncertain duration, but, in all probability, for several days.

Many of them were in a station of life too humble to enable them, however deşirous they might be, to undertake such a journey at their own risk; and unless the prisoner had been able to furnish them with money, it would have been impossible to procure their attendance. Is it too much, then, to assert that the rich man has an incomparable advantage over the poor man, eyen in our criminal courts, where our boast is, that all men are, and our hope, at least, that all men should be, equal, and alike protected ?

To return, however, to my narrative. The acquittal of Harrison was hailed with delight, not merely by his friends, but by all who heard the trial. Congratulation was heaped upon congratulation; and he left the court, accompanied by his solicitor and some of his relatives, to proceed to the house of a friend, where, in anticipation of the favourable issue of the trial, the feast had already been prepared, and many an anxious eye was awaiting his arrival. He had advanced, however, but a short distance from the Castle, from whence he had just been liberated, when his progress was stopped by two police-officers, and he was arrested on a charge of having committed a most violent assault upon a man of the name of Winter, and robbed him of between three and four hundred pounds. The robbery was alleged to have been committed at Doncaster, not less than two years and a half before; and the charge was altogether of a most extraordinary character. It appeared that Winter and Harrison were both what is commonly called sporting men, and had both been present at the Doncaster races at the time above-mentioned. Winter had been a considerable loser upon the St. Leger; and, after the race was oyer, had adjourned to the Bell Inn in the town with several of his friends, first of all to dine, and then to settle with each other their respective bets. Among the persons present on the occasion was the prisoner Harrison. After dinner, according to Winter's account, a dispute arose relative to a bet, alleged on the one side to have been made by him, but which he denied, with a man of the name of Vickers. High words ensued, and from words they proceeded to blows. Winter was knocked down by a tremendous blow given to him by Harrison, which rendered him insensible; and at this time he swore most positively that his pocket-book, containing notes to the amount of nearly four hundred pounds, was in his pocket. This account was confirmed by Vickers, who, together with an attorney of the name of Ross, of the very lowest grade and character, deposed, that while Winter lay on the ground, senseless from the blow, Harrison put his hand into his pocket, and took from it his pocket-book containing notes.

Upon this accusation, Harrison was fully committed to York gaol, to take his trial at the following summer assizes, which he accordingly did. The story told by the prosecutor and his witnesses upon the trial varied very little from the depositions made before the magistrates, upon which the prisoner had been committed, and the substance of which has been set forth above. The cross-examination, however, of these persons, and the evidence adduced on behalf of the prisoner, gave a very different colour to the transaction, and rendered it extremely doubtful whether the prosecutor had been robbed at all, and whether this was not a gross attempt to extort money from the prisoner, to prevent the charge from being brought forward against him. The length of time which had elapsed since the crime was stated to have been committed, of itself threw an air of improbability around the whole occurrence: this the prosecutor endeavoured to explain away, by a statement that he had never seen the prisoner from the day of the offence till the day on which he was tried at Lancaster. The explanation, however, failed in producing the desired effect, because it appeared that the prosecutor, as well as the prisoner, lived in London, where the latter had, for two years previous to his being apprehended for the post-office robbery, been ostensibly carrying on the business of an innkeeper; and it seemed next to an impossibility that Winter, whose associates were persons well known in the Fancy,” as it is termed, could have been ignorant of the place of Harrison's abode, whose house was described as being a place of resort for persons of that description. Another circumstance was proved, which Winter had positively denied, which was most important,--that he had, a few months after the alleged robbery, preferred a bill of indictment against two other persons for being concerned in the transaction, which bill the grand jury had ignored ; and in the statement made by him on that occasion, he had not in any way implicated Harrison in the affair, or so much as mentioned his name. To crown the whole, the prosecutor, upon being pressed to give a more particular description of the notes of which he had been robbed, and to account for the mode in which they came into his possession, stated that which he had previously somewhat incautiously, on his examination before the magistrates, deposed to, and from which, therefore, he dared not recede, that he had received about two hundred pounds from an individual, whom he named, the day before he was robbed, in payment of a bet lost to him. This person had been examined by the prisoner's attorney, who had, fortunately for the ends of justice, discovered his residence; and, on being called by the prisoner, most solemnly denied that he had paid the prosecutor the sum he had named, or any other sum, on the day mentioned by him, or at any time within some months of the transaction. The prisoner's case, however, did not rest even here. He called several witnesses, who proved that they had been in company with him from the time at which the race was run; that they had dined with him at a different inn; and thst after dinner they had, it was true, gone to the Bell Inn for the purpose of settling their bets with some of the prosecutor's party. They proved, moreover, that on being shown into the room where Winter and his friends were, they found everything in confusion; and that, when they opened the door, Winter was sitting in a chair, bleeding copiously from a wound on the head; that he was exceedingly drunk, and was with difficulty held in his chair by two persons; that he was complaining loudly of having been assaulted and beaten, but said not a word of having been robbed; and that, at this time, it was utterly impossible that the prisoner could have robbed him, for he had not even been near him. It was shown, too, that the whole party remained at Doncaster the next day; but that no charge was made against the prisoner, nor had any complaint of the prisoner being concerned in the robbery, or even of the robbery itself, been heard till a considerable time after.

I need hardly say that Harrison was acquitted: the judge, indeed, put it to the counsel for the prosecution whether, after the evidence they had heard, he could expect a conviction; and upon this intimation from his lordship, he very prudently gave up the case, and consented that an acquittal should be taken.

Here, too, as in the former case, how obvious is the advantage which wealth possesses over poverty. The witnesses to a transaction which occurred between two and three years back, must of necessity become dispersed and scattered in various parts of the kingdom. How are they to be discovered, examined, and brought into court? It must be plain to the commonest understanding, that money, and to a considerable amount, is necessary to defend such a case with the slightest hope of

The cross-examination of the prosecutor and his witnesses would, it is true, lay a sure foundation for giving credence to any testimony that might be adduced in opposition to them; but it could hardly be expected to do more; and the particularity with which Winter, Ross, and Vickers swore to the facts,—the deficiency in the evidence of one being so carefully supplied by the others,—renders it a matter almost of certainty, that, had no witnesses been called on behalf of the prisoner, conviction must have been the consequence. The very possibility of such an occurrence must affect every well-constituted mind with a feeling of dissatisfaction, as well as regret, that such a state of things should exist in a country whose boasted superiority over all other nations is said to consist especially in the equality and impartiality of its laws, and the certainty which exists, under their administration, that justice will be done indifferently to the rich and the poor.

success.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE WITH TURKEY?

as

It is a very remarkable circumstance that, exactly one hundred years ago, Cardinal Alberoni, who was, perhaps, one of the most extraordinary men of his age, framed a project for reducing in the first place the Turkish empire within the circle which it now actually occupies; and then for placing on the throne of that empire one of the princes of Germany. “Heaven,” he said, “ clearly points out the subversion of the Mahometan power ;” and impressed deeply with the truth of what he believed himself to have discerned through the mists of the future, he drew up a scheme for the partition of the Turkish territories among the states which then held conspicuous stations in Europe.

This celebrated cardinal was the son of a conimon gardener at Firuenzola in the Duchy of Parma, where he was born in the year

1664. He owed his subsequent distinctions to his aptitude for public business, in consequence of which he was appointed political agent of the Duke of Parma at Madrid. He there speedily gained the good opinion of Philip V., whose principal minister he became in 1715. He is truly described by one of his contemporaries a genius formed by nature for the greatest and most extensive enterprises." There was nothing too grand for the grasp of his conception-nothing too minute to escape his precaution. In the course of five years he effectually checked the incipient decline of Spain, and raised that country to a very high degree of prosperity and influence. An intrigue drove him from the helm of the state in 1720, at a moment when his brilliant combinations rendered him formidable to the other sovereigns of the continent. His adventures, in endeavouring to effect his escape from the foreign as well as the domestic enemies by whom he was pursued after his fall, would furnish the subject of a curious romance. He died in 1752, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years.

His scheme for the division of the Turkish dominions seems to have been matured in 1734, when he gave it in manuscript to the Sicilian ambassador at the court of Versailles. It was translated and published in 1736, in London, as a small pamphlet, which is of course now exceedingly rare, and little, if at all, known.

The hostile power by which Turkey was then peculiarly pressed was Persia—a power which, under the withering hand of Russia, has since become almost as feeble as Turkey herself. The inhabitants of Constantinople were then, as they are still, ripe for revolt. A congress of all the European powers was to be held at Ratisbon for the management of the new crusade, and for the decision of all questions that might arise out of it. An allied fleet and army were to expel the Turks from all their possessions, and these were then to be disposed of in the following manner. The Duke of Holstein Gottorp was to be declared emperor of Constantinople, and the new state was to be composed of the capital and all the Turkish provinces which would remain after the division of the spoil took place. Bosnia, Servia, Sclavonia, Macedonia, and Wallachia, were to be yielded to the Emperor of the Romans. “ The dominions of her Czarish Majesty,” says the sagacious cardinal, “ being already of great extent, and that extraordinary princess having given the most shining proofs that public liberty is her principal view, together

May.-VOL. XLI. NO. CLXI,

D

with a sincere desire of propagating religion, we have the greatest reason to conclude that she will look upon the conquest of Asoph as a reasonable compensation for her pretensions to new conquests.” France, he presumed, would be content with the cession of Tunis. It is odd that she has since got Algiers. Spain was to have Algiers; Portugal, Tripoli; Great Britain, the isle of Candia and the city of Smyrna; Holland, Rhodes and the city of Aleppo; Prussia, the Negropont; Poland, (then a kingdom !) Moldavia ; Venice, Dalmatia and the Morea ; the Knights of Malta to have all they asked—the glory of aiding in so holy a cause; the Cantons of Switzerland and the

Grisons to have all they could desire-double pay for their troops! The islands of the Archipelago were to be assigned as prizes for such young princes as should distinguish themselves in the war. A general tariff, placing the commercial intercourse between the new empire and all other nations upon the same footing of equality, was to be established. The castles of the Dardanelles were to be demolished; and the dominium maris of the Emperor of Constantinople was to be limited to the straits of Gallipoli.

“ As all the Mahometan nations,” adds the cardinal, “Turks, Persians, and Moors, have for several years been harassed and wasted by intestine wars and rebellions, it would seem as if the Divine hand were directing the Christian's sword to put a period to the dominion of the Infidels, and to accomplish a prophecy which is in several copies of their AlcoranThat in the latter times, the sword of the Christians will rise and drive them from their empire.The Cardinal makes another remark which applies with singular felicity to the relations subsisting at present between Russia and Turkey. It is difficult to guarantee future events. There is a strange rotation in the course of sublunary affairs. Nothing is more variable than political systems. Princes that have been for several years at variance, are in a moment, through some new influences or speculations, running into one another's arms, and making compliments of what had before cost streams of blood !” Witness the clandestine treaty of the 8th of July, 1833, concluded between the Sultan and Count Orloff.

The principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia have been long since placed directly, or indirectly, under the government of Russia. Morea and the Greek isles are now formed into an independent Christian kingdom. Egypt, and recently Syria, though nominally subject to the Porte, are in truth as much separated from its power as the Morea itself. Al. giers is lost, Tunis and Tripoli will soon go, to be followed by Candia and the other Turkish islands, and there is scarcely an Ottoman satrap, on either continent, who is not prepared for revolt at the first convenient opportunity. Thus the Sultan's real empire is at this moment restricted within almost the boundaries which Alberoni would have assigned to the new monarchy; and all those territories which he would have pare titioned among the European states have been actually severed from it within the course of the last twenty-five years. The treaty of July, therefore, comes to crown the calculations of his vigorous and comprehensive intellect. It is manifestly one of those defined and pregnant occurrences in history, which mark the close of a system, and foretel the approach of a new order of things. The final expulsion of the Turks from Europe, and the erasure of their very name, once so much

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »