Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

but 'tis never heard by any without a prayer for the unhappy lovers of “Hastings' Cliff.”

So ended the huntsman's story.

The night was far advanced, and the Squire, after shaking hands with many of the guests, departed with his friends for repose. Most of the company evinced symptoms of somnolency, and one by one crept away.

All had now left the festive scene save the cow-boy, who seemed lost in contemplation. He looked with unconscious eyes upon the dying embers that flickered on the hearth, and suddenly rising from his seat, he exclaimed,

“What a pity Miss Agnes worn't stronger in the arm loike, or that weed a little stouter loike!'

The moon was shining brightly as he crossed the yard on his way to a hay-loft for bon repos; but, from some unexplained cause, he always declared there were two moons shedding their pale light upon field and flower on the night of “the huntsman's wedding."

JUDGING BY APPEARANCES.

MISTAKES IN A COURT OF JUSTICE.

I was shooting in the county of — shortly after the death of Rosa, when I was astonished at meeting my friend Doveways rambling solitarily and sorrowfully under the deep shades of an unfre. quented path in the woods. His reception of me was cordial, and I accepted his invitation to take up my quarters at bis mansion as long as I could make it convenient to stay.

'I thought you were at Florence,' I observed.

* And there I intended to have remained,' added he, with impatience ; 'but Lady Macedonia arrived, and sent me her card, and in two hours I was en route for England.'

I found that Rosa's untimely death still dwelt upon his spirits.

It was the period of the Assizes, and I proposed after dinner that the next day we should go into court and hear the trials. It was the last day of the Sessions, -a Friday,-and those awful cases only were to come on, for which the guilty would unquestionably suffer death. There was a man to be tried for murder, a man and woman for coin. ing--and finally, a man for bigamy; for bigamy was at that period punished by death, if there were any aggravated circumstances in the case. When the prisoners were brought into the dock, a few gentlemen acquainted with us proposed that I and my friend, who knew nothing of the prisoners, should each exercise our discern. ments, and judge by appearances of each man's particular offence.

That is the murderer,' at once said my friend, who was more willing to risk the reputation of his judgment than myself.

I looked attentively at the individual designated, and never did I see a man more ugly and repulsive. He was thin and short, from

sixty to sixty-five years of age, stooped in the shoulders, and looked pale and haggard, as if from habitual vice. His face was more than ugly; it had the worst expression I had ever witnessed, while deep furrows occasioned by the smallpox added no beauty to his ferret eyes, and dark protruding teeth.

'I should think him the murderer,' I replied, ' were he not too old and too feeble to commit violence.'

Oh,' rejoined my friend, the murder required but little strength or courage. It was committed simply by coming behind the victim, and discharging a pistol through the back of the head.'

On this explanation, we agreed that this was the murderer. He looked the very man whose crime would be committed in such a way.

The next exercise of our penetration was upon a pale, thin, and rather dandified young man, dressed in the style which is vulgarly called 'shabby genteel. He looked like a Cockney roué, and there was a remarkable effeminacy in his face and figure. His light hair grew in long curls, approaching to ringlets; he had a good set of teeth, which, even in his awful situation, he was vain in exhibiting ; and his voice was soft as a girl's.

• That is the prisoner for the bigamy,' said I; and all concurred in my decision.

There was no other opportunity for the exercise of divination, for but one man and one woman remained : these were the coiners.

What was my astonishment when the first prisoner, tried for bigamy, was the hideously ugly and disgusting little old man, whom we had mistaken for the murderer. His last, or present wife, was a rather tall and very fat and muscular country wench of twenty, with a face as round and red as the full moon in autumn. She gave her evidence with great emotion, and, though she looked a sturdy creature, well able to go through all the hard work of a farmhouse, was so overcome by her situation that she sobbed aloud, shed tears, and at last fainted. The judge was obliged to allow her a chair, and the refreshment of a glass of water. On her cross-examination the sturdy hussy admitted that the prisoner had ' gone less after her than she had after him ;' that he had made her a very good husband ; that she had supported him by her labour, as he cou himself get nothing to do ; and that she had loved her Johnny,' as she styled him. dearly, until she found that he was ' a false, perjury man,' and had another wife living. That other wife was the second witness. She was a tall

, awkward, ill-made, but strong woman of forty, with a long, pale, melancholy vi. sage, and very prominent features. The expression of her counte. nance was that of a gloomy, severe devouée ; and her nasal, drawling tones, almost disturbed the gravity of the court. This respectable elderly lady gave evidence that she had been married to the prisoner seven years ; that she had three children by him ; and, though she delivered herself with the bitterest malignity, was obliged, on crossexamination, to confess that she had lived very happily with him ; that he had been a good husband and a good father; and that she had loved him as a good wife and honest woman ought to love a good husband, until she found out that he had previously deserted a young wife and child, who were both still living.

Evidence of this first wife's being yet alive was also put in, and the prisoner was found guilty.

When the judge pronounced sentence of death upon the wretched

culprit, the tall, cadaverous woman could no longer disguise her sat. isfaction; she clapped her hands, and cried, 'He deserves it, and I'll be at the gallows. The judge was in the act of reproving her, when a violent scream produced a thrilling effect,—the other wife had sunk down in an hysterical convulsion.

There was something singular in the case of coining. The man was tried, convicted, and hanged: but the woman escaped, on the ground that she had acted under the influence of her husband.

This was a remarkable fiction of the law; for it appeared that this was the fourth husband whom she had brought to the gallows. She had originally been a governess in a nobleman's family, and had married a man who lived by forgery and coining. On this, her first husband's being detected and executed, she had married a second, and a third, who successively met the same fate ; and now the fourth was to be the victim of the law. It was supposed that in the three preceding cases the woman, as she grew tired of the connection, had contrived to lead to her husband's detection by the police. Her career, however, was now in all probability finished, for her character had become notori. ous for hanging husbands, and she had become both old and ugly; it was by no means likely, therefore, that she would be able to seduce another good-looking man' into the silken bonds of wedlock. The one now executed was about forty years of age, and had a very res. pectable appearance. He had borne an exemplary character before he had contracted this fatal marriage ; and his fate, together with the escape of his wife, was a curious contradiction of the maxim of law, which infers that a woman acts under the authority of, or by the compulsion of her husband.

The effeminate dandy, with his long hair, fine teeth, and soft voice, pleaded guilty to the murder, and he was the only one of the convicts that died with fortitude.

This was the second instance of my failure in judging by appear. ances.'

ANSWER TO MISS FARRER'S CHARADE,

IN BENTLEY'S MISCELLANY, MAY, 1840.
Her lovers said the maid was COLD
When she their suit rejected ;
Nor dreamt how deeply she could love
One whom her heart selected;
For pure as is the new-born strEAM
From Alpine mountains flowing,
Was that young love-her bosom's guest,
Whose certain empire was confessed
In blushes brightly glowing
When the beloved one was nigh, -
Whene'er she met his conscious eye,
Although his lot was “

poverty ;"
And truer love than his was ne'er
By ancient minstrels sung, -
“And nobler heart than his ne'er beat,"
The Coldstream Guards among!

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

UNCLE SAM'S PECULIARITIES.

LONG ISLANDERS. I STARTED one day from Brooklyn in a Dearborn Waggon,' to pay a visit to an English farmer, Mr. Peter Acastor, formerly of Barnby Dun, in Yorkshire, whose land was situated at an equal distance from Jericho, Babylon, Rockaway, and Hempstead. The road from Brooklyn was considered a first-rate turnpike, or 'pike ;-the difference between a 'pike and a common road being, that the latter is a slice of country railed off from the land on either side ; but to which no other labour has been used in its formation ; the original unevenness remaining to warn travellers against progressing at night. The 'pike, however, was a very good Macadamised road; and in a couple of hours we had run over the flat country about sixteen miles, through the romantic small forests of cedars and pines, and the quiet, white painted villages, to Peter Acastor's farm. The little villages of Jericho and Jerusalem were new and clean, and the little wooden spires to the churches, the railed garden-grounds to each cottage, and the neat school-rooms attached to the parsonages, bespoke an opulence sufficient for rural felicity.

My friend, Peter Acastor, had an excellent farming residence ; comfortable parlours, and equally comfortable sleeping apartments; a well of pure spring water; and a pond for fish close by the house: two or three vehicles; and several span' (couple) of horses; an immense barn, well stored with grain and hay (the latter is never put up in open stacks ;) the pigs had abundance of right of way to run over, and the fowl and game (including terrapins, or land-tortoises) were in sufficient abundance. He brewed his own cider and wine; he might have grown his own hops, made malt, and brewed his own beer; he might make his own candles, and tan his own leather; he might grow his own tobacco, and distil his own whiskey. No prying exciseman could disturb him. He was a farming nobleman, a lord of the soil, and had the happiness to see around him neighbours as independent and comfortable as himself. This was, indeed, a tempting picture of that American felicity of which so much is spoken, written, and printed, in England ; and on attending church the following day at Hempstead, the favourable impression of Long Island happiness was strongly increased. Here were two churches, one Presbyterian and the other Ecclesiastical (Church of England,) and around each there were thirty or forty waggons and sulkies, * owned by the families attending worship.

An interesting ceremony took place in the Ecclesiastical church : the Bishop of New York inducting a clergy man into the ministry of the church at the desire of the congregation. The Bishop sat in a plain chair under the pulpit during the prayers, at the end of which he arose, and, presenting a Bible and prayer-book to the future incumbent, declared that by these presents' he inducted him into the preferment. A very excellent sermon followed, showing the duties of the minister, and the good he might effect among his pastoral charge.

Gigs holding one traveller only.

The streets of the village were broad, and the houses beautifully clean. There was a newspaper office, and no bridewell; several good hotels, a ten-pin alley, and a fire-engine depôt and news-room. This was the prettiest village I had ever seen ; yet it did not satisfy the inhabitants: they wanted to make it into a city, so that there might be the little aristocracy of mayor and common-councilmen. They were tired of having no rank and titles but such as the milie tary and militia, the newspaper and the fire-engine afforded. The village Bonapartes saw in perspective the grandeur and dignity to which they might aspire in the future city; the glory and renown reserved for some one citizen who might be in his own proper person colonel of the militia ; brigadier-general of the military artillery ;' editor of the 'Hempstead Polar Star, or Accepted Mason's Beacon of Liberty; churchwarden of the Ecclesiastical church; proprietor of the Washington Hotel ; commissioner of the 'pikes; director of the fire-engine; and mayor of the free and independent city of Hempstead! What a huge mouthful of honour! And to be had by merely making a village into a city, and the payment of a certain bill of costs to a legislative agent at Albany!

Peter Acastor, who was a widower, had a widowed mother, and two sons, both mere lads, but one born in Barnby Dun, and the other in America. The youngest, who was the American son, had been taught at school to pride himself on the fact of his being a real native American. Peter was a very quiet man; but had frequently to reprove his youngest son for his indigenous patriotism ; while the eldest son, from the nature of the society into which he was thrown, was unwillingly forced to admit the sort of superiority his younger brother boasted over him. One evening there were present in the farmer's parlour, facing the pond and farm-yard, and a little hillock of Indian corn in the distance, Quiet Peter, and his two sons, all three mending a net ; the old “granny ;' Anacreon Livingstone, vil. lage schoolmaster; a dry store-keeper of Babylon-name forgotten; and a curious specimen of Yankeeism, ycleped Captain Quare Algord, a one-eyed clipper of Jericho village. The following is a to. lerably faithful report of the conversation which ensued. The reader is requested to imagine himself in the writer's seat, near a window, enjoying the transatlantic prospect: and during the pauses of conversation laughing heartily at two niggers, who were rolling over each other near the pond in a sham gouging match.

Peter. There is plenty more of that fruit. Don't spare it. Pine apples are rather more plentiful here than in England.

SPECTATOR (to Peter, aside.) There is no real occasion to inform your friends that I am an Englishman. Let me be a New Yorker, if you please. I shall enjoy myself much more if I am not called on to take up the cudgels for the old country.

Peter (aside.) A nod is as good as a wink.

Quare. Don't like no sort o' fruit except 'bacca; that I like, leaves and all. Were any of you at the sham fight yesterday?

SPECTATOR. Was there any sport?

Quare. Oh! famous-famous! The Rockaway blues mustered eighty-four, and the Washington greys, of Jericho, forty-six; besides the niggers as carried the officers' great coats and umbrellas. Captain Simon Snidge proposed that as the greys were only half as many as the blues, the greys should be Americans, and the other

« ПредишнаНапред »