« ElőzőTovább »
and expected the world, of course, to acquiesce in the new arrangement. But Sir Rufane démurs, and doggedly puts a spoke in the wheel, or more intele ligibly, throws a line of towering hills across the whole continent of Africa, . from the mouth of the Red Sea to Cape Verd, and intercepts the course of the river to the Bight, filling up every defile of bis own range, without leave ing so much as a slit for a mill-stream. Baffling the Quarterly thus, with equal readiness he disposes of all the other routes and terminations that have been guessed by various guessers :--the Nile is too remote—the lake Tchad, if it takes in, must give out-and marshes must at last, and of course long before this, overflow. After clearing away all obstructions in these manners, he traces carefully his unpreoccupied ground, and, finding sands in abundance on all sides, he is suddenly struck with the unabsorbingness of these same sands—they are all siliceous. Water filters and works through siliceous sands, and must, by continual supplies, form plashy marshes, treacherous quick-sands-a perflabilem terram, and still makes its way, under the surface, or over it, down towards the sea. Why not then convey the Niger over the Sands of Sahara towards the Mediterranean? Why there again, on its shores, all the world knows, Greeks and Romans, especially the poets, were never weary with describing the Syrtes and their horrors; and the cause of these very Syrtes is probably neither more nor less than the perpetual dropping in of the Niger. This will do admirably; the General troubles himself but little farther his object was not to fix the actual, but the probable course; and here is a probability far exceeding the Quarterly's, especially when blocked out by rocks of unflinching granite. Now steps forth the mighty giant, the Quarterly geographer, club in hand ; and after smashing all the General's arguments, without measure or mercy, retires with a withering smile, and tells him, had he but glanced at Mr. Beechey's survey of the coast, he would have found the Syrtes no longer existed, whereas, if the General's theory was good for any thing, it would be to make them more quicksandish than ever. The General, a very bonest man, but who had never heard of Beechey's book before, flies to his bookseller, seizes the volume, turns the leaves over in haste, and, to his amazement and enchantment, actually finds the Syrtes there in all their glory, extending full a hundred miles along the shore, just where, led solely by his own good understanding, he had supposed the Niger to emerge, after scrambling and scuttling through the sands of the desert. Sir Rufane, of course, takes new credit for his noble invention, adds the Beechey authority to his own, retorts the Quarterly's smile, and exults over his catching a Tartar in the Beecheys.
Manufacturing difficulties thicken. The panacea with all commercial men is more paper. They will not listen to over-production, that is, to excess of manufactured goods, as the cause, because then the obvious remedy is too unpalatable. In vain are the glaring facts of markets overstocked at home and abroad-of new competitors in every country of Europe,—the answer is, no matter for the foreign market—the home consumption, the possible home consumption, incomparably surpasses the foreign. Only furnish the means of purchasing, and home consumption, great as it has been, may be doubled forthwith-and those means paper will supply. We doubt exceedingly. Every man who has wherewithal to buy can buy, and every man who has safe security to give can borrow. The system and mystery of paper-trafficking has become of late so thoroughly exposed, and is so generally understood, that we feel confident the reign of credit, with all its delusions, can never resume its old power again; and who that looks around him and contemplates the mass of existing misery among the labourers, can desire that it should ? Credit, and credit alone, that is, the application of fictitious resources—buying without paying-led to excess of manufacturing, and consequently to the ruin of the labourer, by throwing him out of employ, or reducing his wages. The resumption of such a course would, under present circumstances, itself not benefit the labourer, though it might apparently for a time the employer; and the case of the labourer surely more impera tively demands relief than that of the employer. He has gone on headlong
indulged in luxury-screwed his labourer-looked unfeelingly on his suffering-and carelessly on the consequences. He would still go on-gain, gain, is his sole consideration, in contempt of all humanity. He would gladly see himself surrounded with nothing but machinery, and the troublesome bipeds of living labourers swept to the Antipodes. The manufacturer, it may be observed, is always the greatest advocate for emigration. Every extension of the powers of machinery throws out, now and for some time past, numbers of workmen, and of the sight of these he of course longs to get rid-he knows he must help to keep them.
The labourers, however, are now, what they should have done long agolooking to themselves for relief, that is, are taking into their own hands the management of their own interests, and they will succeed, if they do but steadily unite and perseveringly pursue them. The co-operative system is fast spreading among them over the whole country, and every town of any size has already its little societies either actually established, or is on the point of commencing them. In some, at present, the Unions are only purchasing goods at wholesale prices, and keeping their own shop—that is, they are dividing among themselves the profits of the retail-dealer. Others are renting land, especially one at Brighton--the spot from which they have all sprung-cultivating it with the spade, and taking the produce to market, and thus sharing among themselves the returns of the market-gardener. While others, in towns, silk-weavers, carpet-weavers, &c. are manufacturing for themselves, and will divide among themselves the profits of what would otherwise fall to a master. Only let these societies go on, and the dominion of great capitalists is at an end. The workman will himself be his own ca. pitalist, and share, as he justly ought, more liberally in the fruits of his own labour. There may not in consequence be so much exporting abroad, and already there is less demand there, but there will be more comfort at home. The poor will be less miserable, less worked and worn to the bone, and less prematurely broken up, for they will be able to do more for themselves in eight or ten hours than now in sixteen; and the spare hours may be spent partly in improvement, and partly in enjoyment. The same system is ca. pable of extending agriculturally, to the bringing down a little of the great farmer, but not at all of the landlord; for he will get as much rent from the one as the other. He may like to deal with one score of great farmers better than twenty score of working little ones; but this is an inconvenience he must submit to, and be glad it proves no worse. The owner of the land can never be seriously injured; all comes from the soil, and that can never lose its intrinsic value. Let him then protect the labourer, and especially against the tyranny of the great farmer, who can very well take care of himself.
The Mendicity Society is, it seems, at death's door. It has long been, we know, in a consumptive state, and we are quite ready at any time to chant its final requiem, as well as that of some others, which in like manner are rapidly going the way of all things. These societies are, many of them, got up by busy persons, who are to get something by them, either in the shape of substantial salaries as secretaries (the honorary secretary of the mendicants had 2001. a year), or of personal distinction as patrons. The Mendicity Society, like the Constitutional Society some years ago, was at once impertinent and intrusive, for it implied a lack of vigour, or the imputation of it, in the laws and constituted authorities, to carry themselves into effect. It was invidious and offensive, for it proposed not to relieve or reform the beggar, but to screen the passenger from importunity, and take under protection his nerves and delicacies. It was, moreover, a superfluous concern; for every body can give, or not give, as he pleases; and if any one does follow occasionally his sympathies, and unwittingly gives to impostors, where is the real harm? It is better that we should sometimes be duped, than the risk incurred of leaving the miserable to perish. By driving beggars indiscriminately from the streets, cases of extreme distress were in danger of being left without hope of alleviation ; for parochial relief cannot always be had in the instant-numbers suffer while “ vestries dine," or what comes to the same thing, parochial assistance can often be obtained only at certain hours and on certain days. This precious Society had in view, we remember, at one time, to get an Act passed making it imperative upon passengers not to give alms at all. There is nothing like a Society for setting iniquitous plans on foot; all sense of humanity seems lost in a crowd of this kindthere is no one to encounter the brunt of reprobation.
The advocates for legalizing dissections have hit upon an admirable expedient for the removal of all the invidious charges that have been urged against them. Whilst dissection formed a part of the penalty inflicted on the most atrocious criminals, it Alung a stigma upon the operation. The proposal to dissect paupers, or even unclaimed paupers only, was taking advantage of their helpless or forlorn condition; and pitching upon medical men, or certain great officers of state, or any particular class, seemed, to the per. sons concerned at least, equally invidious and offensive. To get rid at once, then, of all particular ground of odium, a proposal is said to be forthcoming in the ensuing Session of Parliament to pass an Act which shall indissolubly and for ever couple death and dissection-all that die, that is, great and small, every body shall pass under the surgeon's knife, and the clergy be made responsible for the execution before burial be done. This is a scheme, we see, that will happily get rid of invidious distinctions, and nobody can complain, not even the murderer; and absurd as some may affect to think the proposal, we cannot even imagine any other legal provision that is likely to be more palatable.
Grub-street is at last, it seems, going to be re-baptized. The proprietors and residents are petitioning the authorities to sanction a change ; for the name stinks in the nostrils, depreciates the property of the place, and disparages the worthiness of the natives. Paternoster-row, the grand repository for the manufactures of the said Grub-street, will, it is supposed, follow the example.
The Dean and Chapter of Westminster owe the public a pretty long arrears of explanation, we incline to think. They have gradually shut out public gazers from all interior view of that venerable pile, and added fee upon fee from Poet's corner to the lantern and the belfry. Even to divine service the public are let in by a small private entrance, to exclude them as much as possible from all gratuitous and furtive glances. The reported refusal on the part of the Chapter to admit a memorial of Lord Byron, on the ground of some supposed imperfection in his creed when living, has never been fairly cleared up; and very lately another report, equally calling for explanation, circulated, that a mural tablet was peremptorily refused admittance, because, according to the heraldry of the Chapter, or their construction of other people's heraldry, Mr. Shield, the musical composer, was there designated gentleman. Now if burial in Westminster-Abbey continue to be a distinction, and the right of granting remain with the Chapter, their authority, we think, requires defining a little, just to secure an equalization of sepulchral rights to the distingués of this paltry world.
Some reform in Chancery is apparently at hand. The Solicitor-general, without any attempt at concealment, and therefore it may seem officially, visited the other day the bastille of the Chancery-court, the Fleet, and inquired into the cases of the prisoners of the Court, that is, those who are there confined for contempts. The cases, it appeared, were full of oppression, but, whether they were truly so or not, the indefinite imprisonment is plainly so. Imprisonment is punishment; if therefore persons sin against the Court, let them, like other offenders, be fairly tried, and punished, if guilty, in some form and ratio fixed and proportioned to the offence. Let the punishment, we repeat, be definite, and, when suffered, be done with. Several of the prisoners have been confined for years, and their cases apparently forgotten : not long ago, there was one who had been in the Fleet for thirty years. Can an irresponsible power like this have been tolerated for ages in a land boasting of its liberty-and love of it? Can it be suffered to last another session? Forbid it common sense and common humanity.
NOTES UPON CIRCUIT.
During the last Leinster circuit, I noted down the incidents which were disclosed in several remarkable trials. An attentive observer will readily find in realities as much matter for excitement, and calculated to produce an interest as lively, as invention will supply. Justice may be said, in Ireland, to minister to romance; for, in her periodical progresses through the South, she brings to light the passions of a people, in whose delinquencies there is often as much of strangeness as of atrocity.
Werford.—A case was tried here, in which murder and adultery appeared in a fellowship of a very hideous and extraordinary kind. A cobler's hut, in a village situate at about six miles from Wexford, furnished a stage for the frightful tragedy, in which Mrs. Crosbie, the wife of a brogue-maker, performed the part of Clytemnestra. The murderer was journeyman to the husband. Before the Ægisthus of the last was arraigned, I anticipated that some huge and muscular villain would raise his gaunt form at the dock, and that the predilections of Mrs. Crosbie would be justified by the configuration of the fascinating assassin; and I was not a little surprised, when a squalid wretch, with scarce enough of raiment to hide his emaciation, appeared at the bar as the hero of a sanguinary amour. When John Brown (that was the prisoner's name) heard the indictment read, by which he was charged with having poisoned his master, in confederacy with his wife, his plea of “ not guilty" seemed to be sustained by all the accessories of innocence which a peculiar repulsiveness could supply. His cadaverous and charnel look; his lips that were blanched with starvation; eyes in which fear and famine glared together; his wild and matted hair; his stooping and contracted form; his ragged clothes, and the union of physical meanness with cowering debasement, constituted such a nauseating combination, as rendered it almost incredible that any woman should have seen in him an object of voluptuous preference. He found advocates in his ghastliness, and in the assemblage of loathsome circumstances that were arraved about him, more powerful than any aid which the eloquence or the dexterity of counsel could supply. He had not the means of employing one; and Judge Johnson begged a gentleman of the bar to relieve him in some degree from the painful responsibility of trying a person who was wholly undefended, by giving him this gratuitous assistance. This request was readily complied with. Mr. Scott, as Crown prosecutor, stated the case, contenting himself with a plain detail of facts, making no comments, and deducing no inferences unfavourable to the prisoner. I may observe incidentally, that, in this particular, Mr. Scott deserves great praise, as he never turns to any unfair account the anomalous privilege which is accorded to the Crown to state the matter of accusation, while the power of reply is denied to the counsel for the prisoner. In support of the prosecution, the first witness produced was John Hanton, who gave evidence of the leading facts in the following narrative. Crosbie was a master brogue-maker, who employed the prisoner, as well as the witness, in working in his shop. Crosbie was married to a woman of whom he manifested jealousy, and complained that she was too intimate with the prisoner. The latter, upon a holiday, walked with the witness to Wexford, and on his way declared that he would cure Crosbie of his suspicions. They proceeded to the town, where Brown purchased a quantity of arsenic and red precipitate; and on their way home he of his own accord told his companion, that he and Mrs. Crosbie had determined to put the husband out of the way. This intelligence was, as the witness stated, gratuitously conveyed ; Brown had no motive whatever for telling him that the death of their master had been resolved upon. He made no commentary, and neither assented to or remonstrated against the abominable design. They proceeded to Crosbie's house, and here a strange expedient was adopted by Brown. It appears that he imagined, that if he did not actually deliver the poison with his own hand to the woman, who had commissioned him to procure it, he would not be guilty of the contemplated murder. In order, therefore, to relieve his conNov. 1829.- VOL. XXVI. NO. CVII.
science, he placed Hanton, the witness, between himself and Mrs. Crosbie, and having taken his hand, while Hanton held that of Mrs. Crosbie, he delivered the poison to Hanton, while the latter passed it to the wife. At this statement of an expedient, which was designated as the legerdemain of assassination, every body in Court seemed to start ; and Judge Johnson, struck with what appeared to be the gross improbability of the whole story, became manifestly favourable to the prisoner. The poison having been delivered to Mrs. Crosbie, it was agreed upon, in the presence of Hanton, (who had, according to his own account, no sort of concern in the transaction, not having the least penchant for the wife of his employer, and expecting no benefit from his death,) that Mrs. Crosbie should mix the arsenic in bread-and-butter; and without resorting to the red precipitate, which was to be reserved for an emergency, that they should try what the former poison would accomplish. Mrs. Crosbie was not slow in carrying the project into execution. Her husband became immediately unwell, and the amiable wife affected a deep concern for his sufferings. The prisoner at the bar beheld him writhing in torture, and stood unappalled. It was apprehended that the arsenic would not effect their object with sufficient celerity, and Brown advised that the red precipitate should be applied. Accordingly, Mrs. Crosbie put it into a cup of tea, and telling her husband that it would relieve him, applied it to his burning lips. The potion was swallowed, and Crosbie expired. He was interred with unusual haste—no inquest was held—the witness left the village, and went to live at a distance. He did not know what became of Brown and Mrs. Crosbie ; and it was after the lapse of a great length of time, Mrs. Crosbie having died in the interval, that he gave information upon which the prisoner was arrested. The testimony of this witness was, upon cross-examination, greatly shaken. Upon being asked what motive John Brown could have in communicating to him his intention to commit the murder, and in handing the poison to him that he might pass it to Mrs. Crosbie, he was unable to suggest even a plausible reason. His concealment of the crime, too, for many years, without his suggesting any inducement to disclose it at so late a period, gave to his entire evidence a colour of fabrication. He was at best an informer; and therefore, as the Judge observed, upon his single and uncorroborated statement, the prisoner could not be found guilty. A policeman was produced, who swore that Brown, on being arrested, declared that Hanton had as much to do with the matter as he had. This, however, was not such an acknowledgment as would convict. It was also proved that Brown fled from the village some time after the murder ; but, on investigation, it was discovered that the priest of the parish had, upon the ground of his profligate life, and from his suspicion that he had committed the assassination, ordered him to leave his district. Thus his absconding was accounted for. Had the case closed here, Brown would have escaped; but at length a witness, of a very extraordinary aspect, who awakened universal attention by the strangeness of her countenance and figure, appeared. A female dwarf, about three feet in height, although eighteen years of age, deformed in every limb, with a head almost as large as the entire residue of her squat and distorted body, and a countenance stamped with the expression of broad idiocy, was lifted to the table. She was obviously “ an innocent,” and an effort was made to exclude her evidence, on the allegation that she could have no idea of a future state. However, there gleamed through the darkness by which her intellect was enveloped a sufficient ray to show that she had some notion of a place of punishment, and she muttered the word “hell,” with a stare of horror which made way for hier attestation. Her aspect was in itself hideous enough, without any accessory, to excite a painful sensation in every one who beheld her; but when she stated that Mrs. Crosbie was her mother, and it was manifest that the idiot child was come to brand the barbarous parent, the interest which she excited was as distressing as it was universal. She swore that her mother had seven children, and that on the night of Crosbie's death they all slept in their mother's room; and she farther deposed, that Brown had on that very