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in gaol for four months before my trial came on. During the time I lay here my mother died, and I have the consolation of believing that I was mainly instrumental in causing her death. Indulgent to me, however, to the last, by her will she left me half her property, (which was at her own disposal,) leaving the other half between my two sisters. My portion was left to my uncle in trust for me, pending my trial, because, by a cruel law, the crown is heir to all the property a criminal is possessed of, by which the widow and the orphan are not only deprived of the husband, and the father, but at the same time robbed of the means of supporting their own existence. This may be truly called visiting the sins of the fathere upou the children.
At length my trial came on. I will not attempt to describe my feelings on being arraigned for the dreadful crime of murder. I could scarcely stand, and it was rather by the motion of my lips than the sound of my voice that the clerk was enabled to announce that I pleaded “Not Guilty."
Of all the juries on the face of the earth, next to a Welsh jury, a Somersetshire jury is the most ignorant, and in the hands of such a jury was my life now placed. Two prisoners had been already sentenced to death that morning, one of them for sheep stealing; and although the case was far from being clear against the man, he was found guilty, “as an example, because there had been a good deal about lately!”
My name was next on the calendar, and the counsel for the prosecution laid the statement of his case before the jury in a very candid manner; he told them
the crime would be so clearly proved by the witnesses he should call that there was no necessity for him to say one word in aggravation; they would be made acquainted with the horrid details of a career of iniquity commencing with seduction and terminating in a double murder! He could not trust himself to dwell upon the case_his feelings overcame him-here was an instance of a lovely woman (she was the most ill-looking female in the whole establishment] being hurried into eternity, vith her babe unborn, by the hand of the man who, not content with having robbed her of woman's greatest treasure, had sent her to her final account, with all her sins upon her head-the greatest of which was the one into which that miscreant (pointing to me) had led her!” And here the black hypocrite dropped down into his seat and buried his face in his white handkerchief, agitating the two tails of his wig as though he were in fit of the ague. The consequence of this display was that there was scarcely a dry eye in the court. Oh Job! Job! an evil star was surely in the ascendant when thou wast born. I found that the case was worse than I had been aware of, for upon the coroner's inquest it had been discovered that the woman was six months gone with child, and as no one came forward to confess to the paternity, it was concluded that I had first seduced her, and then, finding unpleasant consequences likely to ensue, had thought, by destroying her, to at once get rid an annoyance and hide my own guilt.
The counsel, starting up, was proceeding to call bis witnesses, when a suggestion was made, that, as there were many to be examined, it would be as well if the jury were allowed to retire for a little refreshment. To this circumstance I verily believe that I owe my life. They were absent about half an hour; and so good use had they made of their time, that when they came back they were in most excellent temper. All the witnesses were examined, and never was a clearer case made ont, and so completely to the conviction of the Judge, that he summed up as a mere matter of form, not occupying five minutes. The jury, however, were not so easily satisfied, and it took them an hour to decide my fate. At length they returned, and the Judge began fumbling beneath his little desk for the black cap, when the foreman, in answer to the usual inquiry, replied—“Not Guilty!" The whole court was stultified: the Judge, who appeared 10 be rather hard of hearing, had just got the cap in his two hands and was going to place it on his head, when his arm was arrested, and be was informed of his mistake. He could hardly believe that it was so, and asked the jury if that was their verdict ? They replied that it was their unanimous verdict, and they had come to this decision from a conviction that no beauti. ful youug woman, as the counsel bad described her to be, could by any possibility have been seduced by thc owner of such a repulsive countenance as that of the prisoner; and that, as no motive for the crime would then remain, they saw no reason why it should not have been the result of mere accident! Yes, my ugly face had saved my neck ! It was the first time it ever stood my friend, and in all probability the last
On my acquittal I returned to my uncle's house, until my affairs should be arranged. Aere, however, I made but a short say, my presence in London being necessary. I found my mother's property considerably more than I had expected, and that my portion would produce me about £300 a year. I determined, therefore, to give up all thoughts of a profession, and live upon my income.
OF QUIETUDE, AND MEET WITH FRESH
CONCLUSION. I had now become master of a handsome independence, yet, strange to say, I felt but little of that elation which most young men possess in the aequisition of property. My life, indeed, had been so chequered, so interwoven, as it were, with misfortunes, aoxieties, and troubles of one kind or another, that I had fallen into that very wretched state of mind which may be termed “hopeless.” I had become sick of myself, and would gladly have changed my being
I PROCEED ON MY TRAVELS IN SEARCH
to a working porter, if it had been possible, merely to hare obtained a new set of feelings. In this state of mind, after having put my affairs into an arrangement that would prevent my presence becoming necessary in London, I ouce more left the metropolis, determined to bury myself in the country, and to wander among its rural retreats as far as possible from the noisy and babbling haunts of man. In the repose of some quiet village, and with my books for companions, I should surely be enabled to obtain that uninterrupted seclusion that has now become so congenial to my feelings. Alas for the designs of man (at least, of an unfortunate man), how vain and chimerical do they oftentimes become when attempted to be put into execution. I had formed no hopes of ambition—I had desired to sacrifice no set of my fellow-men to my own individual aspirations--neither fame, gain, or glory had influenced me, at the hazard of defeat, to attempt any enterprise inadequate to my strength. No such thing, kind reader-a peaceable, a quiet, and an inoffensive man, as thou hast hitherto known me. Sickened with the disappointments I bad endured and unfortunately occasioned others, I merely sought, as it were, an oasis in the desert-in other words, a quiet village, where I might endeavour to forget my wretched destiny in quiet amid my books, and that unaspiring hope was to be rudely crushed. Yes; while I was picturing the rural beauty of a sylvan retreat, and the happiness of living where mischief and disappointment could not well reach a recluse whose world had become centred in a world of his own, that most mischievous fiend of the Fates was already engaged in weaving the thread of my destiny into a knot the most vexatious and humiliating to human nature.
To proceed with the sketch of my life. Having packed among my luggage a select library, I proceeded by the mail to a centrically situated town in the north of England, from whence it was my intention to proceed to some picturesque and secluded village. As it was early in the morning when the mail arrived, having travelled all night, I was put down at an hotel with the rest of the passengers, and could uot help observing that the guard stared rather hard at my countenance, which was partly muffled up, as I alighted from the vehicle in the yard.
“May I inquire, Sir, in what name you are booked ?" he inquired, in a tone and with a look in which doubt and curiosity were ludicrously blended.
“My name (I said, somewhat nettled at his freedom)—that can possibly be of no consequence to you, since my fare is paid.”
“Oh, I beg pardon, Sir," observed the man with a smirk, muttering something about “shilling-seo any time"-words so incongruous tKat I scarcely imagined they could in any way appertain to or relate to myself.
Feeling somewhat tired with the cramped position in which I had been for sa many hours, as it was very early, I thought I would, if possible, snatch a few hours' repose before I proceeded further into the country to obtain a quiet resic, dence in some of the surrounding villages.
While waiting in the coffee-room for my trunks to be taken up to the chamber I'was to occupy, I could not help observing that, when I left the room to follow the fille de chambre, two or three of the servants whom I passed looked at me with an air of curiosity, and a smirk on their countenances, that was no less unaccountable than provoking.
“ Hang these people (I thought to myself); they seem more impertinent physiognomists than even the canaille of the great metropolis; but I'll take care their love of the ludicrous shall not be held at my expense more than I can help, for I'll keep my face muffled up while exposed to their view, on purpose to disappoint them."
Just as I had concluded this reflection, the girl stopped at one of the doors of a long range of rooms, and, throwing it open, with a demure, stolen glance at my face, she asked if I had any orders to give ?
“None, my good girl (I replied), but that I wish to be called at ten o'clock." “ You'll take breakfast, I suppose, Sir?” said the girl. “I suppose I shall, my dear," I said.
At this remark, which I said rather sharply, to check the girl's curiosity, to my exceeding astonishment it had a very different effect, as she immediately burst into a loud fit of laughter, declaring me to be the funniest gentleman she had ever seen, and that she would be sure to come and see me.
66 The devil you will !" I thought, as, enraged at an assertion which I considered to be akin to a direct insult, I shut the door of the room in her face.
My indignant feelings of surprise, however, soon gave way to slumber, which, brief as it was, seemed made up of dreams that might sufficiently have warned me of the immediate troubles in store, but for the confiding nature of my disposition. Irritable and unrefreshed, I was awakened at the appointed hour by a rapping at the door, and, making my toilet as well as I could, I determined to put into execution my scheme of baulking the detestable spirit that seemed to pervade the household at the sight of my countenance, by tying a silk handkerchief in such a way that all but my nose and eyes were hidden. It is true I could not conceal from myself the oddity of such an appearance on a fine spring morning; but, as I argued, who could tell but what I might have the tooth or face-ache ? At all events, I felt certain, as my mouth was hidden, there was certainly less cause of triumph to the maliciously-minded beholder.
Thus muffled, therefore, I left my room, and commenced descending the staircase to go to the coffee-room; but conceive my vexation, reader, when, on reaching the hall, I found it nearly lined with servants and visitors, to the street door, the eyes of whom were all directed to my unworthy person. Had I been
a wild Indian, just imported, greater surprise and merriment could not have been excited. There was a general grin that sat on the countenances of the people—the women giggled as they looked at me, while, as I passed in review order, I heard the mysteriously-whispered words, “That's he”—“That's him"“I'll swear to him"'--repeated in a variety of intonations. Never had my feelings been more acutely wounded. Almost bursting with rage and mortification as one of the waiters with a detestable grin opened the coffee-room door, I could not suppress giving some vent to my emotions.
“ You will know me again, I imagine.”
This I said in what I intended to be a stern and impressive manner, but it only produced a general titter, while the words “ Funny gentleman'-" How comic”—made me mad with vexation, and, after casting a look of what I intended to be dignified contempt upon them, but which only produced a of laughter, I took refuge in the coffee-room, and, placing myself in a corner, with my back to the rest of the room, I ordered breakfast, intending, after finishing my meal, to learn the meaning of the conduct I had witnessed. At one moment, indeed, I was induced to believe that I was taken for some one else; but then, as I argued to myself, who was there like me living that could have given rise to such a mistake? At length I began to think it might have arisen in consequence of my face looking worse, in all probability, than usual. Under this belief I walked up to the looking-glass, but no-there was, it was true, the selfsame curl-up nose, with the red tip—the same small grey eyes--in fact, the aspect that had so often created a sensation, but without any additional claims to honorary distinction. It was odd, but even while making this survey I was an object of sly scrutiny to every one in the room. Though pretending to be looking over the paper, or employed in conversation or mastication, the eyes of all present were secretly watching my every motion. I was evidently the lion in the eyes of the company. How I wished for some portion of the beast's strength, to retaliate the cruel wrongs with which my sensitive mind was then visited. "Goud heavens! (I exclaimed to myself, rabbing my eyes)-this must be surely some dream.”
As if to further convince me, however, of the stern reality, the landlord at that moment entered the room, and coming up to my unsocial seat, which I had taken, he made me a low bow, looking like a man charged with a secret mission, he softly whispered if I would not be shown to a private room. “No, I don't want any private room-I'll breakfast here,” I said.
Very well, sir, (said the man, then gently lowering his head) I fear, sir, you find the people curious and rude.”
“Most d-ably," I replied.
“I am sorry for it, sir ; I shall endeavour to repress their curiosity,” said the man, withdrawing.