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drain the very life-blood, to prolong his miserable existence; so did my mind, denied all other resources, recoil upon itself. Then did I bitterly and fruitlessly regret the jealousy which had been the bane of my happiness. Then did I forcibly contrast the bliss of former days, with my present despair. My committal having taken place in May, of course I had not long to wait for the ensuing assizes. July was fast drawing to a close, when the merry ringing of the bells penetrated even the gloomy recesses of the county gaol ; and the shrill voices of the martial trumpets broke on my ear with all the imposing splendour of judicial pomp.
After having opened the commission, the judges retired, to do ample justice to the delicacies of a well-stored table ; and while the unhappy culprits for trial were almost dying from excess of anxiety, these dread awarders of human destiny threw off with the ermine the gravity of the judge, and appeared in the more amiable characters of two good-humoured bon vivants. Neither of them at all merited the appellation of a bottlestopper : in their society the wine always circulated merrily. This versatility of character was more especially remarkable in the senior judge of the circuit; and the ease with which he exchanged the solemn and awe-inspiring tone of addressing some unlucky convict, for the light and piquant vivacity of social life, was the theme of constant admiration among the barristers of the court.
My case had made a great noise in the world; and as it luckily happened after the prorogation of Parliament, the papers had ample space for the details of my story. Every day some new statement concerning me made its appearance, and advertisements were issued to the effect, that on the following Sunday, the readers of the Weekly Dispatch would be presented, gratis, with a full-length portrait of myself, capitally executed. Everything seemed to inspire me with the conviction that the result of my trial was destined to be fatal to me. I believe such a circumstance as my acquittal had never for a moment entered into the minds of the public. I was certainly booked for hanging. What materially served to strengthen this comfortable impression, was the day of my trial being fixed for Friday, so that I might have the intervening Sunday to prepare myself for my public exit.
The important day at length arrived. The court, as may well be imagined, was crowded to excess. The whole was a scene of confusion, I verily believe, unequalled since the building of the tower of Babel. Such crushing, squeezing, and screaming; such diabolical imprecations emanating from choleric gentlemen whose corns had been rudely treated ; such a triumph of the strong, such hopeless efforts from the weak, it had never before been my lot to witness; while ever and anon some brazen-throated javelin-man would thunder forth, amidst the din, stentorian shouts for silence, which increased the clamour in a ten-fold degree. The uproar was rather abruptly terminated by the committal of an unfortunate fellow for contempt of court, who had the bad luck to catch the eye of the angry judge, and who, perhaps, had been the quietest person in the assembly. Order having been restored, the trial commenced.
After a violent phillipic from the crown counsel, in which of course my guilt was assumed, and I was painted as a villain of the blackest die, the witnesses for the prosecution were called. The first on the list was a confidential servant of my own, who deposed to having heard the report of a pistol, and that, on rushing into the dressing-room, he found the corpse of my unhappy brother-in-law stretched along the floor, and heard the words of my wife denouncing me as the murderer. This man underwent a sharp cross-examination from the barrister retained for my defence, but without causing the slightest variation in his evidence. The only fact elicited in my favour was the manifest mental aberration under which I laboured. (So then, thought I, I must live as a madman with the possession of all my faculties, or die the death of a murderer.) Next came the surgeon who had examined the body. He stated, the deceased had evidently died from a pistol-shot, and that from the nature of the wound death must have ensued instantly. After his dismissal from the witness-box, some little altercation occurred between the counsel for the prosecution and his learned brother who had undertaken to defend me, owing to the latter objecting to receive Margaret's deposition as evidence, she being yet by far too ill to give her testimony in propriâ personâ.
After about five minutes' wrangling, the objection was overruled by the judge, who in a sententious manner decided in favour of the crown counsel, and the deposition was read-accordingly.
This closed the case for the prosecution, and the judge having wiped his spectacles, raised his eyes with the most becoming gravity, and addressed me:-“
_“ Prisoner, if you have anything to say in your defence, now is your time."
A most intense silence reigned throughout the hall. The Times reporter nibbed his pen afresh, and the artist engaged by the proprietors of the Weekly Dispatch, seized the favourable moment for commencing my profile.
I whispered to my counsel, and shall never forget the disappointment visible in the faces of all present when he said, “ My lord, the prisoner declines making any defence."
The reporter threw down his pen with an angry gesture, but consoled himself with the prospect of my execution taking up a column at least. But who shall describe the dismay of the artist? he had already stretched forth my right arm in an indignantly Demosthenic attitude, to which my common-place position little corresponded: he had depicted my eye glancing defiance on judge and jury,—and now to make no defence at all, it was too provoking. The deep voice of the judge again sounded through the court. 6. Prisoner, have you any witnesses to call ?”
I replied, “I have none, my lord.”
At this moment an unexpected cause of interest presented itself, which created a far greater sensation among the spectators than any defence I could have made, however eloquent it might have been. His lordship was proceeding to sum up the evidence, when an unaccountable degree of bustle was perceptible among the people who thronged around the witness-box. The constables appeared confused: itöseemed as if some person was pressing forward, and that the officers were divided in opinion about the propriety of admitting or repulsing him. The mystery was soon explained by a female mounting the witness-box; and judge my astonishment when, on turning round to see who it was, the brilliant eyes of my unhappy wife, rendered still more lustrous by the fire of delirium, glared wildly upon me. Without waiting to have the oath administered, she uttered, or rather shrieked, with the utmost rapidity, the following incoherent sentences. Will ye take the life of my husband, bloodthirsty as ye are, without hearing one word in his defence ? Who shall dare to call him a deliberate murderer? Where is there any proof of that wilful and malicious premeditation, which constitutes murder in the eye of the law? When, flushed with wine, he staggered to my apartment did he wait, did he reflect an instant, did he prepare the instrument of death? No, there is nothing in the evidence this day brought before you, that can afford the slightest grounds for such a conclusion. The pistol was present, ready loaded to his hand; his finger touched the trigger, might it not be accidentally in the agitation of the moment ? Oh, my lord ! gentlemen of the jury, I appeal to youấye are men. Pause, ere by your verdict you consign two fellow-creatures to an early tomb. We are both young, in the prime of life, and it is a hard thing to be cut off in the very flower of existence. Think not, if my husband dies, that I shall long survive November, 1839.-VOL. 1.—NO. III.
him. What should I do alive, alone, deprived of my natural protector, the only friend who cares for me? As well might ye tear the sturdy oak from the gentle and confiding embrace of the loving ivy, and bid the widowed ivy flourish. Together we have lived-together, if God so wills it, we will die."
In the first burst of this pathetic address, judge, jury, and spectators had been so completely taken by surprise, that the natural order of the court was suspended, and not a sound was heard save the wild and impassioned eloquence of poor Margaret; and as she proceeded, the very earnestness and feeling with which she spoke, seemed to charm her hearers, and awe them into silence. When she had finished, she stood exhausted with the almost supernatural effort she had made. The fever which had for awhile buoyed up her decaying strength and glowed in her boiling veins, now gave way to an utter exhaustion of her bodily powers; she burst into an hysterical and convulsive flood of tears, and had not the clerk of the court caught her in his arms, she would have fallen to the ground. In this condition she was borne away; but though her body was powerless, her soul was still animated with an undying affection for me, which no circumstances could subdue, no power destroy. As she was carried past me, owing to the pressure of the crowd, her supporters were obliged to stop; and never shall I forget the touching and expressive glance of her eyes as they met mine, which were fast filling with tears for her unhappy condition ; and she murmured, in almost inaudible accents, Weep not, dearest, we shall meet again, at least in heaven.” And thus we parted. The judge was so much affected, that he resumed with difficulty his summing up and address to the jury, which had been so singularly interrupted.
At the close of his observations, the jury retired to consider their verdict. In this momentous interval, when a man is balancing between life and death, his cheek may well blanch-his nerves quail. In ordinary cases the anxiety is great; but no man who has not felt it, can imagine the soul-har. rowing nature of that suspense which occurs during the consideration of the verdict in a capital charge. Then, indeed, do jurymen become important personages; on their fiat, life or death is depending; their lightest word consigns the accused to an ignominious death, or to the invaluable blessings of glorious liberty. The jury returned: all was hushed; the solemn stillness of expectation reigned throughout the court. I scrutinized the faces of the arbiters of my fate with an eager and bloodshot eye. One glance was sufficient. I saw in the steady, sorrowful, but determined looks of my countrymen, that they were convinced of my guilt, and that, cost what it might, they were resolved to do their duty. The shrill business-like voice of the crier of the court ņow rang upon our ears, “ Gentlemen of the jury, how find you the prisoner, guilty or not guilty ?" The foreman arose, and answered in a low, but impressive tone, “Guilty.” The silence having been broken, was succeeded by the hum of many voices, until the clerk of the court addressed me in the following words : Prisoner at the bar, what have you to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon you ?”
I made no reply.
After a brief pause, he proceeded: “Let there be silence in the court while sentence of death is pronouncing, under pain of imprisonment.” Nothing was audible save the heavy breathing of the multitude. Every eye was turned upon me with an intense and overpowering gaze, and thus I stood waiting for condemnation. At length the judge slowly placed upon his head the fatal black cap, that symbol of death ; and after an effort to suppress his emotion, he spoke,—“ Prisoner at the bar, during the long course of my painful experience as a judge, never have I felt so much difficulty in the performance of what must at all times be the most harassing part of my duty. It is dreadful to look upon a man like you, in the very pride and vigour of manhood, and to utter the stern yet irrevocable decree of death: to think, that in all probability, while I am pronouncing your doom, I am sealing the fate of a young, beautiful, and interesting woman. Of how many blessings has your fatal jealousy deprived you ! but for that, you would have now been free, honoured, respected, and beloved ; an object of the tenderest affection to your angelic wife, of pride and admiration to your surrounding friends. Into what a boundless vortex of guilt and misery has it plunged you! You have murdered a man who never injured you; you have broken a faithful heart which beat but for you alone. I wish not to add to your present remorse,-I see your sorrow, your repen. tance; may it be accepted at that tribunal to which alone you must now look for pardon. But I would have those who listen to me, mark well the moral of your story; let them, from your example, learn to keep their passions under restraint, lest like you they be hurried away by their resistless fury, and become a byeword of reproach, a mark for the finger of scorn to point at. I entreat you, be unceasing in your prayers for mercy to that God who never turns a deaf ear to the true penitent. Oh, let the short time which remains between yourself and eternity be well einployed. And though in this world all hope is denied you, yet, God be praised, relying on the atonement of our blessed Redeemer, the most heinous offender need not despair. It only now remains for me to pass upon you the awful sentence of the law, which is, that you be taken to the place whence you came, and thence on Monday next to the place of execution, and that you there be hanged by the neck till you are dead, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul!"
What occurred afterwards I know not, nor have I any recollection of events, till I found myself sitting on an iron bedstead in the condemned cell. Then a terrible consciousness of my situation rushed upon me, and the last words of the judge sounded unceasingly in my ears. The exhortation I had scarcely heard, the fearfulness of my doom wholly engrossed my imagination. All this fair structure of body, all this curious combination of muscles, bones, and arteries, which work so beautifully together, and form the complicated mechanism of the human frame, was to be violently and suddenly stopped. I surveyed my hands, my feet, all my members. Alas ! these were mine no longer; soon, soon, would they be dissolving into the loathsome decomposition of corruption. These muscles in which I had formerly taken so much pride would be all unstrung. These limbs in which I had boasted my strength would be powerless, and myself thrust violently from this living world, as a wretch whose very existence was a blot upon the face of nature. In vain I reflected that every man must die sooner or later this may be all very fine for the drawing-room philosopher, but it is a miser. able consolation for the convict in a dreary dungeon, who stands face to face with the grim tyrant, and shivering on the brink of eternity. I sat thus dwelling upon my horrible condition, revolving it over and over in my mind, unmanning myself by my very attempts at fortitude, when I heard a key applied to the door of my cell, and the turnkey appeared ushering in a gentleman whose mild and benevolent countenance prepossessed me in his favour. This was the chaplain of the gaol; his very appearance seemed to restore me to myself, and dispel those dreary phantasms which had been floating o'er my brain : he drew near me, and dismissing the jailor, seated himself by my side.
“ I see,” he said, “you are at present overwhelmed at the near approach of death, but you must not let these gloomy fancies get the better of you. The bodily pangs which you may suffer are not worth thinking about; they at the most will soon be over : it is the welfare of your immortal sou which must absorb all your attention,—your time is fleeting fast.”
True," said I, interrupting him with a bitter laugh, which at such a moment sounded fearfully; "and this is the justice of our legislators: they would not start a horse at Newmarket without months of training, but
they launch forth the soul into eternity with a preparation of a day and a half; truly they have a just conception of the importance of its immortal welfare."
“ You may be right,” replied he, “but, for the love of heaven, dismiss this unchristian spirit : I would infuse into your heart a feeling of charity for all mankind. Do not, I implore you, harbour resentment against any one. Think of how much importance the forgiveness of God is to you, and learn to forgive your fellow-mortals.”
“But how shall a tardy repentance, such as mine must be, avail me anything ?"
“ God is gracious, his mercy is infinite ; he hath said no one shall seek his pardon in vain, no one shall knock, to whom the door of mercy shall not be opened. Those who came at the eleventh hour, received as much as those who had borne the burthen and heat of the day. The expiring thief upon the cross called not in vain upon his dying Saviour."
By such discourses, this excellent man soothed my disturbed spirit, and effectually prevented the recurrence of those frightful images which had before possessed me. Dissolution now lost all its terrors for me, for would not this perishable body be again raised like a phenix from its ashes ? would not it shuffle off its corruptible nature, and put on immortality? Gradually too my heart became filled with that kindly disposition towards my fellow-creatures, that earnest desire for their happiness, that universal charity for the failings of others, which so eminently characterize the true Christian. I no longer cherished enmity against any one: I held forth the hand of reconciliation and good will to all mankind.
Saturday had passed away tranquilly-I might almost say happily, and my last day dawned upon me. I had thought to have done with the cares and follies of the world, I had fancied myself removed beyond the pale of human happiness, or human misery; and that no earthly news could now affect me. It seems I had over-rated my powers of endurance. A messenger arrived at the prison early on Sunday morning, with the mournful intelligence that my wife had ceased to exist; and in spite of my boasted apathy, when the death of my poor Margaret was told me, I buried my face in my hands and wept bitterly. The last ties that bound me to existence were snapped asunder, and nothing was left for me but to die. When I had recovered sufficiently to bear the recital, a more particular account was given me of Margaret's last moments; and though the tears still trickled down my cheeks at the recollection of the sufferings I had caused her, yet the agony of soul that accompanied my first burst of sorrow was gone; and I rejoiced in the blissful hope of soon rejoining her blessed spirit in those heavenly regions, where “the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.” Through the carelessness of her nurse, my wife had risen and dressed herself, during a fit of delirium, and slipped out of the house unperceived. I who had been the cause of her temporary alienation of mind, was now the chief object of it, and she accordingly directed her steps to the court-house, where the assizes were held ; and having gained admittance, the scene took place which I have endeavoured to describe in the preceding pages. The excitement she there experienced, aggravated her fever to an alarming extent: she was carried home in a state of complete exhaustion, which was succeeded by that comatose lethargy, so invariably the forerunner of death. Her vital powers grew feebler and feebler, and at length fetching a deep-drawn sigh, like the disturbed murmur of a slumbering infant, she placidly breathed her last.
After hearing the condemned sermon, which was most impressively delivered, I received the sacrament. At all times when I have participated in the Communion of the Lord's Supper, I have done so with a feeling of peculiar reverence and thankfulness; reverence at the awful condemnation