"You are under arrest,” said the Inspector. | me!” “Mamma," the child cried, running in,

Then I referred to the consul, with whom I “here is a strange gentleman." had a sort of second-hand acquaintance, and who A pleasant-looking woman, with a homely offered to provide me with a passport ; but his German face, came out of an adjoining room offer was declined. I was conducted to the pre- with the child clinging to her dress, and asked fêt. The prefèt transferred me to the Procureur me what I wanted ? du Roi, whom I unhappily disturbed when he “Some dinner," I answered “and a bottle of was sitting down to breakfast. I apologized for your best wine.” my unavoidable intrusion.

“Go and tell father to come,” said the woman, "Pray don't mention it,” said he ; “I take looking at me curiously. A tall, good-humored cold fish for breakfast, and iced coffee ;" so he man, of about fifty, made bis appearance, and I sat down and listened to my tale, and said that repeated my desire in a tone somewhat more I must be detained.

authoritative. He laughed, and the wife laughed, "Impossible !" I cried. “I have sent on my and the child shrieked with laughter. But I had money and baggage to Madrid.”

met with many curiosities among the German " Many political agitators have slipped through innkeepers in remote country places, and, being Bayonne," replied the procureur. “ Write to willing to let these people see that, though an Lord Hervey. When a passport comes for you Englishman, I was also good-humored, I joined from Paris you can pass the frontier; not before.” their laugh, and then asked, with a grave face,

Of course he said he was " desolated,” as he when the table-d'hôte would be served ? bowed me out. I was at liberty to reside at the “We keep notable-d'hôte,” replied the husband. hótel, under the lackeyship of two gendarmes, “Well," I said, “but notwithstanding, you will who waited on me night and day. A crowd had let me have some dinner, I suppose? I have gathered to witness my return from the house of come a long way, and it is far to the next town. the procureur, and ladies thronged the balconies. Besides, it rains !" Rumor had, in fact, created me Conde de Monte “Certainly, it rains !" replied the man, with a molin!

| phlegmatic look over the puddles in the court-yard, Henceforth, until my passport came, I was At this moment a clattering of plates, a steam peeped at through all manner of doors by all man- of soup, and a sweet odor of fresh cucumber, atner of men, and encountered accidentally in pass-tracted my attention. I said immediately that I ages by all manner of women; one band hinder- was quite willing to dine at their table. By this ed me from sleeping in my bed, another played time the child had got over its fear, and was at to me at dinner, and both expected payment play with my riding-whip; a few caressing words for their services, until the passport came, and of mine toward the little one, had reassured its brought me so much degradation as enabled me mother. She spoke for a moment in patois with to step, uncared for, into the common diligence, | her husband ; and then bade the servant lay anand travel on.

other knife and fork. It has occurred to many other people to be I rather liked my landlord's eccentricity; so, mistaken in some such way, and more than once tapping him upon the shoulder in a friendly way, it has occurred to people to make, on their own I desired that he would let me have a bottle of y count, a certain blunder, which Goldsmith has his very best wine ; and by way of propitiating inmortalized. This blander, I, when I ought to him still more, I feigned to have heard a good have known better, was incautious enough one deal of his cellar, and requested to see it. “0, day to commit. .....

very well,” he said ; " follow me if you please." In the year one thousand eight hundred and He took me down into a cellar capitally forty-eight, I was engaged in a tour through the stocked, and there we tasted a good many wines. by-ways of Germany, on horseback. During this My landlord seemed to be in the best temper. tour I found myself, one summer morning, draw And what," I asked, “is the price of that ing near to the small town of Maikommen, in the white wine in the thin long-necked bottles ?" Palatinate. Though the dawn had been cloud- I despair of getting its colossal name down less, the noon threatened a storm, and already upon paper, or I would try it; he gave it a great the big drops struck on the ground. Respect many syllables, and said it was the choicest and for my baggage, which consisted of two shirts, most expensive wine he had. three books, and a pair of stockings, made me “Then,” said I, “that is what we will drink look for shelter.

to-day. I will take a bottle to myself, and you The heavy drops fell faster as I cantered on another; you shall drink it with me." at a brisk pace, and just at the entrance of the “You are very kind," he said ; “but let me little town rode through a pair of broad gates into recommend some other bin; this wine you will what I took for the inn-yard. Having stabled my find is—is very heady.” lvorse in a remarkably clean stall, I ran into the I thought that, like a thrifty host, he had soine house, and got under cover, just as the first peal qualm about my means of paying for it; so I of thunder rattled among the distant hills, and seized, manfully, a bottle in each hand, and crythe rain had begun plashing down in earnest. ing “Come along!” accompanied the host into A pretty child sucked its thumbs in the passage. the dining-room. "Quick, little puss," said I, shaking the rain. The wine deserved its praise ; opening our drops from my hat, "tell somebody to come to l hearts, it scon made us famous friends. I had

VOL. IV.-No. 22.-M»

been pleased with the scenery about this quiet I saw that the attempt to retrace my steps would nook, and, being master of my time, and very be not only vain but dangerous; and, compelled comfortable, I made up my mind and said to make the best of what I could not now avoid,

“ I tell you what, my friend. I shall send for I was pressed onward as far as the outlet of my things from Heidelberg, and stay here for a Fleet-lane, when, contriving by main force to week or two."

get my back against the end of a stout tressle The laughter again pealed out; but my host, upon which seven or eight fellows were mounted, who probably had seen quite enough of a guest | I managed to maintain my position until the horwho insisted upon drinking his best wine, put on rible ceremony was concluded. It wanted yet a grave face. It looked like an innkeeper's face, full twenty minutes to eight o'clock, when I stood when he is buckling himself up to strike a bar-fast-wedged within a few fathoms' length of the gain. To save him trouble, I at once said that scaffold. As far as the eye could pierce through I would pay three florins a day for myself, and the misty glare, was one unbroken sea of human one for the accommodation of my horse. heads and faces; the outer masses reeling, stag.

“He thinks we keep an inn !" the little child gering and driving in fitful currents against the screamed through her laughter. I instantly col- tirm, compact and solid centre, fixed and immoslapsed.

able as though charmed to stone by the horrible

fascination of the gibbet. Far beyond and above PUBLIC EXECUTIONS IN ENGLAND. all the tower of St. Sepulchre's, magnified by the ONE Saturday morning toward the close of morning haze, showed like a tall, transparent U November or beginning of December, I have cloud, from which was soon to burst the thunde:forgotten the precise date, a letter was put into peal of doom upon the miserable man who had my hand at the office. It was from my quondam shed his brother's blood. The subdued murmur friend and employer the cutler editor, as whose of the immense mob rose and swelled like the agent I occasionally acted, and who charged me hollow roar of a distant but angry sea Here with a commission to procure him certain “sorts" and there a tall and burly ruffian, pre-eminent from the foundry and transmit them by coach, in above the crowd, signaled his fellow in the distime for his next impression. Not choosing to tance, or bellowed a ghastly witticism upon the disappoint my wife and lose my dinner, I deferred coming horror across the heads of the throng. the visit to the foundry until after work in the Women-if women they are to be called, who, evening; when, upon arriving at Chiswell-street, like vultures to the carcass, flock to the spectacle I found the men in the act of leaving, but was of dying agonies—of all ages but of one indeinformed I could have the materials I wanted as scribably vicious and repulsive class, had pushed, early as I chose on Monday. On Monday morn- and struggled, and fought their way to an eligible ing, accordingly, having risen rather earlier than point of view, where they awaited with masculine usual and breakfasted by candle-light, I set forth impatience the close of the fearful drama of to execute my commission before proceeding to which they formed so revolting a part. Children work. Crossing Blackfriars-bridge, and barely of tender age, who must have taken up their noticing that there was an unusual concourse of position ere the day had dawned, and before the foot-passengers of the laboring and lower sorts, I arrival of the masses, made an unsightly addition turned up Ludgate-hill, where I found the crowd to the scene. A boy of nine, borne aloft on the still greater, less equivocally disrespectable, and shoulders of a man of sixty, who stood by my all hurrying forward at a rapid walking-pace. side, expressed his uncontrollable delight at the Intent upon the object I had in view, I pushed tragedy he was about to witness. At every forward as rapidly as the rest, and turning sharp window in the houses opposite, the debtors' door, round into the Old Bailey, came suddenly upon a and indeed wherever a view of the gallows could spectacle which, of all others, was the farthest be obtained, parties of pleasure were assembled from my thoughts. It was the morning of an for the recreation of the morning. The roofs, the execution. A thick damp haze filled the air, not parapets, the protruding eaves of the shops, all amounting to an actual fog, but sufficiently dense were populous with life; the very lamp-posts and to confine the limits of vision to a few hundred projecting sign-boards were clung and clustered yards. The beams of the level sun threw an over with eager beings impatient to assist in the almost supernatural light of a dim but fiery hue funeral obsequies of the victim of the law. And into the mist which they yet had not force enough now a violent surging and commotion in the to 'penetrate ; and there, darkly looming with centre of the living mass gives token of a fierce grim and shadow-like outline against a back- quarrel which has ripened to a fight. Shrieks, ground of lurid vapor, rose the gallows upon yells, and cheers of encouragement issue from a which a wretched fellow-creature was about to hundred throats, while a crew of tall and power be death-strangled and dangled in expiation of the ful blackguards elbow and trample their way to crime of murder. In a moment the commission the scene of action, and the glazed hats of the I had in hand vanished from my thoughts, and, police are seen converging unerringly to the dis impelled by a fearful and morbid curiosity, I turbed spot. Then there is the flourishing of suffered myself to be borne by the pressure be- gilded staves, the sound of sturdy blows followed hind, every moment aggravated by the arrival of by a roar of execration, and a gory-visaged cultrampling multitudes to the spot, toward the ob- prit is dragged forth, defrauded of his expected ject of the general gaze. One minute afterward, banquet, and consigned to a cell in the nearest

station. The tumult has hardly subsided when a proud and fiend-like consciousness that they another claims attention. A brace of pickpock- themselves would have dared the dark ordeal ets, taking advantage of the fight, are caught in with less shrinking. The very boy mounted on the too confident exercise of their profession; the old man's shoulders at my side called his and these. much easier captives than the fighting “grand-dad" to witness that “the cove as was to Irishman, are led off in their turn to the same be hanged wasn't game;" a declaration which vile durance.

was received with a hoarse chuckle and a corrobBy this time, weary and actually sore with the orative verdict by the standers-by, while the rerepeated violent collisions I had undergone in pulsive ceremony went on with fearful rapidity. sustaining my post, I was glad to make a bargain | In less than a minute the light of day was shut with the man perched above me, who, for a bribe forever from his eyes, the last prayerful accents of a few pence, allowed me to effect a footing in from human lips were dumb to his ears, and the his front. I had scarcely accomplished this when body of the malefactor, sinking with a sudden the church-clock in the distance rung out the fall until half concealed by the level platform, quarters. The crowd, listening for this, had been struggled in the final throes of agony for a few comparatively silent for the last few minutes, and moments-mercifully abbreviated, as some wellthe note of the bell was acknowledged by a kind experienced amateurs at my side plainly pointed of shuddering deprecation for silence, by the in-out, by the coadjutors of the hangman pulling stant uncovering of innumerable heads, and the heavily at the feet in the inclosure below-and involuntary direction of every eye toward the then swung senseless, veering slowly round upon debtors' door. As the fatal hour at length pealed the now deserted stage. forth the door was slowly opened, and there came. The very instant the "drop" fell, and while out upon the scaffold, not the mournful death the short gasping cry from a thousand lips which procession which all were awaiting with such in- hailed the close of the tragedy yet rung in the tense interest, but its grim herald and precursor, air, the scene assumed a new character: the ele. the crime-honored aristarch of kill-craft, the great ments of business were borne into the arena of stage-manager of the law's last scene, whose pleasure. Three or four nondescript specimens performances are so much relished by the mob— of the street-orator, who were standing just bethe hangman, bearing the odious strand of new neath me, drew suddenly forth from the depths rope coiled upon his arm. He was received with of their long-tailed greasy coats of serge each a a low but universal hum of recognition from the bundle of damp paper, which they flourished into vast multitude now breathless with the exciting flags in a twinkling; and while the death-struganticipation of what was so soon to follow. gle was acting before their eyes, eager to turn it With an apparent perfect unconsciousness of the to account and to realize an honest penny. filled presence of a single spectator, he proceeded to the air with their roaring intonations of “the mount to the cross-piece of the gibbet, to which, last dying speech, confession, and behavior" of with an air of professional dexterity, he deliber- the murderer of the season. Their example was ately attached the loathsome cord, occasionally imitated by fifty others on different parts of the pausing and measuring with his eye the distance ground, and the chorus of their united voices to the level of the platform. During this opera- | formed but a beggarly requiem to the departing tion he was favored with a running fire of com-spirit. The tragedy ended, the farce, as a matments and counsels, garnished with infernal ter of course, came next. The body had to rejokes and sallies of insane humor, from the mob main suspended for an hour, and during that who stood nearest. Having made the necessary hour amusement must be provided, at least for preparations he withdrew for a few minutes, that portion of the spectators who can never have amidst the mock cheers and congratulations of enough unless they have the whole of an entersome kindred spirits below. The awful pause tainment. To swing a live cat from a side avewhich ensued was but of brief duration. Too nue into the middle of the crowd ; to whirl a soon a group of dark figures slowly emerged from heavy truncheon from one broken head on a misthe open door-way, among which I could discern sion to another; to kick, maul, and worry some the chaplain reading the burial-service, and then unfortunate stray cur that has unhappily wanthe quivering criminal, his hands clasped in dered from his master; to get up a quarrel or a prayer, yet bound together in front of his breast : fight, if between women so much the betterhe was supported by two assistants, and was such are some of the time-honored diversions already, to all appearance, more than half dead chosen to recreate the hour which a sagacious with mortal terror. These demonstrations of in- legislature presumes to be spent in moral reflecsupportable anguish on the part of the principal tions upon the enormity of crime and the cerperformer were received with evident and audible tainty of its bitter punishment, in the presence dissatisfaction by a large portion of the spectators of the law-strangled dead. of the drama. Derisive sneers on the want of I had never before seen a public execution in "pluck” manifested by the poor, horror-stricken England, but I knew perfectly well — as who wretch were expressed in language which can does not know ?-the feeling with which such not be repeated; and in many a female but un-exhibitions are regarded by the lower orders, and feminine face, hardened by embruting vice and I had often revolved in my mind the probable callous to every feeling of humanity, I read a cause of that feeling. In now witnessing thus contemptuous scorn of the timorous sufferer and I accidentally the whole ceremony, I thought I

perceived one source of it, and that not a trifling | last dying speeches, who congregate with their one, in the ceremony itself. It struck me, and I lying wares around the foot of the gallows, watchhave no doubt but others have received the same fully waiting for the commencement of the deathimpression, that with all the actual horrors of struggle, to them the signal of commerce, and the dismal process, in addition to a great deal then at the precise moment of horror, unanithat is disgusting, there is a great deal more mously exploding from their hoarse throats "a that is essentially though horribly ridiculous in full, true, and particular account, for the small our national legal method of public killing. The charge of one half-penny.” The meanest mudidea of tying a man's hands, of drawing over his lark in all Gaul, the infamous and mal-odorous face a white night-cap, through which his feat-chiffonier of Paris, would recoil with disgust from ures yet remain dimly legible, and then hanging such a species of traffic, the prevalence and him up in the air is manifestly a ridiculous idea prosperity of which at such a time among the

-and connect it with what dreadful realities we lowest orders of London, testify perhaps more may, the sense of the comic or absurd will pre than any other single fact to the degraded state dominate in the minds of the populace, ever alive of the popular feeling in reference to death-pun to the appreciation of the preposterous for the ishment by the hands of the hangman. discrepant, and never willingly disposed to seri- Second, to the influence of the hangman, and ous reflection. The vagabond kennel-raker, the the scene in which he figures in the production nomadic coster, the houseless thief, the man of of a degrading and disgraceful estimate of the the lowest order of intellect or of morals, sees terrible solemnities of justice, is that of the press. the majesty of the law descending to the punch- What the Old Bailey or the Horsemonger-lane and-judy level, and getting rid of its criminals by exhibition is to the uneducated spectator, the the same process as the hunch-backed worthy broad-sheet is to the uneducated reader; and it adopts to get rid of his tormentor-and being requires no great discrimination to recognize in accustomed from his infancy to laugh heartily at the publication of every minute particular of the latter exhibition, he is not likely to retain deeds of violence and bloodshed, looking to the for any length of time a grave demeanor in pres- avidity with which such details are seized upon ence of the former one. A flogging in the army by the public, one of the most fruitful sources of is allowed by all unfortunate enough to have wit- demoralization and crime. The wretched crimnessed it to be a far more impressive spectacle inal whose language, looks, and deportment are than a hanging at the Old Bailey. Strong men chronicled as matters of general importance, beare known to faint at the sight of the one, while comes first an object of interest, then an idol to boys and women find amusement in the other. those of his own class. If, as we know to be If the object of either exhibition be to deter the the case, men are led by the force of example to spectators from offending against the laws, why the commission of suicide, why not of any other is the discrepancy between the effects of the two species of crime? If a fashion may spring up, all on the wrong side ? unless it be that the one and prevail for a time, of leaping headlong from exhibits the semblance at least of Justice vindi- the top of a monument or the parapet of a bridge cating her violated authority with a deserved through the publicity given to such acts by though terrible measure of severity, while the means of the press, how shall the exploits of other comes into view as a mere hasty and bun- the felon or the assassin escape imitation when gling business of killing, the vulgar and beggarly made the subjects of a far more extensive and details of which it is impossible to connect in pertinacious publicity, and paraded as they are imagination with her divine attributes.

| before the world with all the importance they Some years before, I had witnessed in Paris can be made to assume? There can be no ques. the execution of two men for assassination. The tion but that this practice of pandering to a morcrowd on that occasion, in the Place de Grève, bid taste for a detestable species of excitement was as great as now in the Old Bailey ; but their results largely in engendering the very crimes decorum, I am bound to state, was infinitely which certain public writers find it so profitable greater. I can only account for this difference to detail at such length. The performer on the in favor of a population among whom human life Old Bailey stage becomes a veritable hero in the is at a far greater discount than it is with us, eyes of the mob of readers for whose especial from the fact that among the French a public delectation his history is periodically dished up, execution is a much more impressive spectacle and they gloat over the recital of his acts with a than it can be made to be in England. The relish and a gusto which no other species of guillotine bears a higher character, perhaps, be- literature can awaken. So great, indeed, of late cause it wears a more serious and terrible aspect years, has grown the appetite for violence and than the gallows; and the functionary who con- villainy of all kinds, that our romance-writers have trols its avengir.g blade does not, as with us, bear generously stepped forward to supplement the a name the synonym of all that is loathsome and exertions of the last-dying-speech patterer, as a repulsive. It is the same class of men and the pendant to whose flimsy damp sheets they supply same order of minds that flock together to gaze a still more “full, true, and particular account ** at public executions wherever they take place; in the form of three volumes post octavo. Thus, but I question whether, in any other country besides the certainty of being hanged in the presthan England, a class of traders could be found ence of ten or twenty thousand admiring specta20 responding with our hawkers and bawlers of tors, the daring and darling desperado ubodies game' stands the enviable chance of becoming a cases of successful repartee to the grand query, literary property in the hands of one of those gen- which our limited personal observation has enatlemen, and of running a second course, in half-bled us to collect. Besides, there is nothing calf and lettered, to interest and instruct that very attractive or exciting about intellectual inertia. community whom it was his life-long occupation | The contrast between active resistance and pasto rob, to plunder, or to slay,

sive endurance is that between a machine at rest Pondering such discursive philosophy as this and a machine in motion. Who that has visited in my mind, I stood still on my three-penny emi- the Great Exhibition can have failed to remark nence until the crowd had sufficiently cleared the difference of interest aroused in the two away to allow me to retrace my steps as far as cases ? What else causes the perambulating dealLudgate-hill without inconvenience. Then, hav- ers in artificial spiders suspended from threads ing no great relish for the cadaverous jocularity to command so great a patronage from the juvewhich generally characterizes the scene of an nile population of Paris and London ? What execution during the removal of the body of the else constitutes the superiority of an advertisingmalefactor, I descended and turned my back van over a stationary poster ? What sells Alexupon the ignominious spectacle, with a feeling andre Dumas's novels, and makes a balloon asof disgust for the multitude of my fellows who cent such a favorite spectacle? “Work, man!” could find recreation in the elements of cruelty said the philosopher : "hast thou not all eternity and horror, and with anger and vexation at to rest in ?" And to work, according to Mill's myself for having added one to their number. “ Political Economy," is to move ; therefore

perpetual motion is the great ideal problem of WHAT TO DO IN THE MEAN TIME? mechanicians. TT has been frequently remarked by a philoso- The first case in our museum is that of a GerI pher of our acquaintance, whose only fault man officer. He was sent to the coast of Africa is impracticability, that in life there is but one on an exploring expedition, through the agency real difficulty: this is simply—what to do in the of the parti prêtre, or Jesuit party in France, with mean time? The thesis requires no demonstra whose machinations against Louis Philippe's govtion. It comes home to the experience of every ernment he had become accidentally acquainted. man who hears it uttered. From the chimney- The Jesuits, finding him opposed to their plans, pots to the cellars of society, great and small, determined to remove him from the scene of acscholars and clowns, all classes of struggling tion. In consequence of this determination, it so humanity are painfully alive to its truth. | happened that the captain of the vessel in which

The men to whom the question is pre-emi- he went out, set sail one fine morning, leaving nently embarrassing are those who have either our friend on shore to the society and care of the pecuniary expectancies, or possess talents of native negro population. His black acquaintsome particular kind, on whose recognition by | ances for some time treated him with marked others their material prosperity depends. It may civility ; but as the return of the ship became be laid down as a general axiom in such cases, more and more problematical, familiarity began to that the worst thing a man can do is to wait, breed its usual progeny, and the unhappy Gerand the best thing he can do is to work; that is man found himself in a most painful position. to say, that in nine cases out of ten, doing some- Hitherto he had not been treated with actual disthing has a great advantage over doing nothing. respect ; but when King Bocca-Bocca one day Such an assertion would appear a mere obvious cut him in the most unequivocal manner, he truism, and one requiring neither proof nor illus- found himself so utterly neglected, that the sentration, were it not grievously palpable to the sation of being a nobody-a nobody, too, among student of the great book of life-the unwritten niggers !—for the moment completely overcame biographical dictionary of the world—that an op- him. A feeble ray of hope was excited shortly posite system is too often preferred and adopted afterward in his despondent heart by a hint by the unfortunate victims of this "condition-of- gathered from the signs made by the negro in every-body question," so clearly proposed, and whose hut he lived, that a project was entertainin countless instances so inefficiently and inde- ed in high quarters of giving him a coat of lampfinitely answered.

black, and selling him as a slave ; but this idea To multiply dismal examples of such sad cases was abandoned by its originators, possibly for of people ruined, starved, and in a variety of want of opportunity to carry it out. Now our ways fearfully embarrassed and tormented dur- adventurer had observed that so long as he had a ing the process of expectation, by the policy of charge of gunpowder left to give away, the black. cowardly sloth or feeble hesitation, might, in- men had almost worshiped him as an incarnation deed, “point a moral," but would scarcely of the Mumbo-Jumbo adored by their fathers. *adorn a tale." It is doubtless an advantage to Reflecting on this, it occurred to him that if, by know how to avoid errors, but it is decidedly a any possibility, he could contrive to manufacture much greater advantage to learn practical truth. a fresh supply of the valued commodity, his forWe shall therefore leave the dark side of the tunes would be comparatively secure argument with full confidence to the memories, No sooner had this idea arisen in his brain, experience, and imaginations of our readers, and than, with prodigious perseverance, he proceeded dwell rather-as both a more salutary and in- to work toward its realization. The worst of it teresting consideration--on the brighter side, in I was, that he knew the native names neither of

« VorigeDoorgaan »