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the preparations for her own death. At seven o'clock she was dragged by the hair of the head into the dock, where other prisoners awaited sentence. The judge of that horrible tribunal put to her a few questions, to each of which she made a firm and direct reply: They next charged her with crimes; these she firmly denied. She was nevertheless condemned, and dragged to the place of execution amid files of murderers and a load of insults.' She was next ordered to kneel down by the heaps of dead bodies that were piled up beside her, and commanded to ask pardon of the nation. Her reply was: “ I have not injured the nation, and will not ask pardon.' On being told that her compliance might procure her release, she added, with equal firmness : “I expect no favor from the hands of ruffians who dare to call themselves the nation." Two of the miscreants seized her by the arms and threatened to tear her to pieces ; on her still refusing to acknowledge them, they rushed upon her with swords, cut off her head, laid open her body, took out her heart, bit it with their teeth in their fury, and then exposed her naked body to the populace! Mademoiselle Servan, a beautiful young woman of eighteen, was guillotined by the same advocates of woman's rights, because she would not betray the retreat of her father. Madame Cochret, celebrated for her beauty and worth, was condemned to death for having assisted her husband to escape the guillotine; it was in vain she pleaded, what was attested by two medical men, that she was with child, and implored them to spare her for the sake of the inoffensive infant, for they severed her head from her body. Now, the
very class who acted in this manner would be the first, if out of power themselves, to set up the shout of triumph at the acquittal of a woman whom they knew to be really guilty ; nay, it is the same class which has done so much to bring trial by jury into contempt in this country; for it is that which exercises no discrimination, but is always going from one extreme to another ; that which will suffer any inconvenience to-day to supply a stalwart servant-maid witha seat, salut e her as a lady, with a profusion of compliments, and knock herself or her mistress on the head to-morrow, as if she were an ox, for the sake of a few dollars.
We are in no hurry to speak of the remarkable acquittals of women charged with murder which have taken place in this country during the last ten years ; nor do we mean to
enter into any details on the subject, for it is not necessary. The facts are but too familiar to all; and we think it our duty rather to tell our readers what they do not know themselves, or may have forgotten, than what they are as fully aware of as we.
We can truly say that none esteem the sex more highly than ourselves, and that none would do more to honor them. We have always regarded them as far less disposed to the commission of crime than the other sex; nay, we believe that it is but rarely they commit any of the darker class of crimes, except when prompted to do so by bad men whom they consider their friends. If left to the promptings of her own heart, woman is seldom otherwise than kind and gene
We think no one has described her so faithfully in this respect as Mungo Park, the great traveller: “I never addressed myself,” he says, in his preface to his Travels, “in the language of kindness and friendship to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a kind and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, thirsty or cold, wet or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so ; and to add to this virtue, so worthy the appellation of benevolence, these actions have been performed in so free and so kind a manner that, if I was thirsty, I drank the sweet draught, and, if hungry, ate the coarse morsel, with a double relish.”
But, if for no other reason than that she is thus a benefactress, she ought not to be encouraged to commit crime; since, in addition to whatever personal injury she may inflict on others, she not only degrades herself, but, so far as her. influence goes, brings degradation on her sex, Nor is the evil entailed on society confined to the moral effect of her example; it needs no argument to prove that, if women can take the law into their own hands, and commit murder with impunity, under any pretence wbatever, man will often make them the instruments of their bad passions. Accordingly, all the enlightened nations, ancient and modern, have felt the necessity of holding woman as strictly responsible for her conduct as man.
We need not remind our readers that the Jews, as well as the Greeks and Romans, punished the woman as well as the man with death, when the former deserved it, as well as the latter. Nor has Christianity, distinguished as it is above
all religions for its mildness and charity, made any exception in her case, much as it has elevated her in the social scale. Yet there bave been times within the last three centuries when women have been shielded from the punishment due to their crimes the same as they have been indulged in other respects to their own detriment; but need we say that society suffered accordingly? Throughout the seventeenth century, and for a good part of the eighteenth, women seemed to think as little about poisoning their husbands, or any one, male or female, who incurred their displeasure, as they did about killing a dog that had the misfortune to displease them. Nor was the poisoning or killing mania confined to the women of any one country; it took deeper root in one country than in another only in proportion as its advocates of woman's rights were more or less numerous.
In order to illustrate our remarks on this point, we will now allude briefly to a few of the female criminals of differens countries, glancing, as we pass, at the nature of their crime, and the manner in which they have been treated by the authorities. The female poisoners of the seventeenth century have formed an infamous epoch in history. The spurious gallantry to which we have been alluding in the course of this article was most prevalent in Italy during that period; and accordingly that country was disgraced by more murderesses than any other. But this fact is so universally known that we need take no further notice of it here. Were it otherwise, we might fill our whole paper with little more than a catalogue of the female criminals of Italy. As it is, we need only remark, in passing, that it required the utmost rigor of the law, combined with the important assistance rendered by the Church, to suppress the horrible mania.
Next to Italy, France had more false gallantry in the seventeenth century than any other country; and accordingly it had more female criminals in the same proportion. In proof of this we need only refer to the history of Madame de Brinvilliers, which shows that at this period the life of a man was nothing, whereas that of a woman was priceless; in other words, it was a more serious affair to trifle with the affections, or supposed affections, of a lady than it was to assassinate a man. While the latter might be done with impunity by a lady, especially if possessed of a certain amount of attractions, the penalty of the former was death. But experience taught both the authorities and the public that, after all, the best way to honor woman and raise her in the social scale was to hold her as strictly responsible for her
conduct as man, and hence it was that Madame de Brinvilliers and Madame La Voisin were both executed in 1676. Thus, the French had learned a lesson in regard to woman, more than a century before their great Revolution, which we have to learn yet. True, there were still men who thought that they could give no better proof of their regard for the sex than to try to shield them from the penalties due to their crimes. But that they were not the best men, or the best friends of the sex, is easily proved.*
We have an interesting illustration of this fact in the case of the beautiful Madame Tiquet, and it is one to which we would call the especial attention of those jurymen who imagine that, in order to be gallant, they must allow a woman to do what she likes with impunity. The gallantry of Louis XIV. has never been questioned, but he dealt with female criminals precisely as he did with the male. If he thought there were extenuating circumstances in the case of either, he spared their lives. If a man and a woman were sentenced to death, he would pardon the former before the latter if the circumstances of his case seemed to entitle him to the preference; not but he would much rather pardon the woman if the cause of justice and morality seemed to justify his doing so. So great was the influence brought to bear upon the king in favor of Madame Tiquet, in 1699, that he hesitated whether he should commute her punishment to perpetual imprisonment, as implored to do by her friends, or allow her to go to the scaffold. But one of the most benevolent of men, and one of the best friends of the sex-no other than the venerable archbishop of Paris -warned his majesty that, if he spared her, no husband would be safe. By adopting this straightforward, manly course, the archbishop served the cause of justice and morality without in any manner compromising his sacred duty as a minister of religion. He caused no one to suffer for any revelation made to his confessors or to himself; by means of the confessional he learned that many were disposed to poison their husbands, and that in most cases the fear of capital punishment was the chief restraint on their conduct. This knowledge was of the greatest importance, and it was the interest of all that the authorities should be able to avail themselves of it, especially as no one was compromised by it.*
* Elles sont capricieuses, " says Moutesquieu,'' indiscrètes, jalouses, légères, intrigantes 4 leur petites âmes ont l'art d'interesser celles des hommes. Ši tous ces vices étoient en liberté dans un état despotique, il n'y a point de mari, point de père de famille qui peut y être tranquille ; on y verroit couler de flots de sang. -De l'Esprit des Lois, tome i., p. 339 ; tome ii., p. 222.
But let us see what was the nature of the case. Madame Tiquet was no such vulgar malefactor as several of our female criminals who have been allowed to escape under one pretext or another, while it could hardly be denied that they were guilty of the murder for which they were put on trial. So remarkable were her beauty and accomplish ntents that, in the records of the period in which she lived, she is pronounced “ a masterpiece of nature ;” but we are told that her only inducement to marry M. Tiquet was the hope of making a very splendid figure in the fashionable world as his wife. Because he contrived to make her a present of a bouquet of diamonds worth fifteen thousand francs, she easily persuaded herself that he was very wealthy. Pretty soon after her marriage, however, she discovered that this was not the case, and her former indifference was changed to aversion, although his affection for her was such that he did all in his power to maintain appearances. She was scarcely three months married when she engaged in an intrigue with the Chevalier de Mongeorge. Even when this came to the knowledge of her husband, he does not seem to have annoyed her much; but one evening, when he came home somewhat later than usual, he was shot by an unseen hand at his own door. It was the opinion of the doctors that he would have been killed on the spot had not the sudden alarm caused his heart to contract so that it did not fill the usual space. Being asked by the police what enemy he could point to as most likely to have sought his life, he answered that he had no enemy but his wife. She was highly indignant that any one should dare to suspect her, and persistently refused to abscond. Her numerous woman's rights
» friends made a great outcry when she was arrested, representing her as a much injured woman. Nor was it quite clear to the authorities that there was not some truth in the charge, until a certain laquais de place, called Auguste Catelain, voluntarily came forward and confessed that some months previously he, Moura, the porter, and several others had been engaged by
From various cases of this kind that have come under our notice in different parts of the world, we could never agree with those who regard the confessional as dangerous to individual or national liberty for in any manner injurious to the cause of truth or justice. We have yet to learn that any individual or nation has unjustly suffered by it; but we have not to learn that its restrtaining influence on the lower classes has prevented the commission of thousands of crimes.