Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

When we arrived at home we were both minus one silk handkerchief; but how and where we lost them we could not tell. Still we resolved on visiting The Boot' again, and on becoming still better acquainted with the manners and modes of life of that large and deplorably increasing class of our fellow subjects, who wander from time to time, or from county to county, some in search of work, others of bread, of lodging, and of the means of existence. Some are entitled to our compassion, some to our anger, and many to our rebuke; but all who, like ourselves, have known and seen them, must admit that this rapidly-increasing system of mendicity cannot continue, without danger to the property, morals, and lives of a very large portion of our population.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

RICHARD SAVAGE.

A ROMANCE OF REAL LIFE.
EDITED, WITH OCCASIONAL NOTES,
BY CHARLES WHITEHEAD,

ATTEOR OF THE SOLITARY.'
ILLUSTRATED BY JOHN LEECH.

CHAPTER XIIII. In which the hero of this history, and his two companions, hold up their hands

at the Old Bailey; and wherein it will be seen that all criminals are not prison. ers in ewgate.

When we were first taken to the Gate-house, and consigned to our several cells, such was the disturbance in my mind, such the confusion of the past scene within it, that there was no room for the entertainment of hope, or for the admittance of fear.

The paved yard was set round with similar cells. Of these all, or nearly all, were occupied ; some by fellows who clamorously complained against the abuse of power that had placed them there,—others by penitent or fear-begnawn rogues, who as loudly lamented their unhappy condition,-others by gentlemen who had met Justice face to face so often, or who had so little care about seeing her, that they wore out the time till she held her levee with merry songs and catches.

What a relief to be dragged (as we were, with great rudeness and unnecessary violence) before the three justices, who heard the charge against us with a solemn indifference of mien that greatly fortified the courage of Merchant, who listened to the suggestions of hope as readily as he obeyed the impulse of fear, and who mistook the composure of the justices, which was the result of a long-accustomed intimacy with similar cases, for a belief on their parts that our particular case was no more than an ordinary tavern brawl, which would be visited with a light and transient punishment.

Before we were remanded, Gregory solicited and obtained leave to send to an attorney, a friend of his father. On the arrival of this gentleman at the Gate-house, we laid our case fully before him, and craved his professional advice and assistance.

He presently left us, to seek out the men who had witnessed the affray, and to rake up such evidence against the characters of Nuttal, Mrs. Edersby, and the rest, as would weaken the effect of their testimony against us. He promised, at the same time, to break the particulars of the calamity that had befallen him to Gregory's father, and to his intended father-in-law, Mr. Myte, who, Gregory assured himself, would set his wits to work, and his legs in motion, to serve us by every means in his power.

We were removed to Newgate by the constables, where a more humane treatment awaited us. We were placed apart from the common criminals, and confined in the Press Yard with others in like circumstances to ourselves, that is to say, with persons who had not yet stood their trial.

and le taughter mich w from

In the meantime Mr. French visited us, and let us know that the coroner's jury had brought in a verdict of manslaughter against us; and this, after hearing the witnesses who had made a much worse case than they had presented to the justices. He augured from thence that the grand jury could not find a true bill against us for murder.

We were surprised on the following day by a visit from Burridge. He accosted us gravely.

* And so, gentlemen,' said he, you have killed between you, your old schoolfellow and friend. What may a plain man think of this, who never carried a sword, but to use it in self-defence? O, Richard Savage! 0, Jaines Gregory !

• My dear sir,' began Gregory. I stopped him. .

· Had Sinclair done so, Mr. Burridge,' said I, he had lived, and might, perhaps, have continued to listen to your exhortations with patience, which, I confess, I shall hardly do, if you come here to insult without provocation, or to condemn without knowledge.'

• Do I deserve this?” said he, turning to Gregory,' you know I do not. Mr. Savage, I remember I once asked you in jest never to proclaim yourself my pupil. I hope you will not give me cause to make that request in earnest.'

In our condition, dear sir,' said Gregory, ‘much may be forgiven. We are wrongfully charged with a heinous crime; and when our best friends doubt us, may we not stand excused ??

"Ah, well! say no more,' cried the old man, taking us by the hand; perhaps I was too hasty. The poor lad's dreadful death has touched me, as the death of one of you had done. Cannot we sit down here? I want to talk awhile with you. You will now, young men,' said he, when we had retired to a less crowded part of the yard, have it in your power to separate your real from your nomipal friends. I am sorry to say that Mr. Myte, whom I have called upon, on your account, is one of your nominal friends. His sonin-law, Mr. Langley, however, is concerned for you, and will come to see you.'

He now inquired whether it was chance alone that had carried us to Robinson's Coffee-house; “for Lemery, one of the fellows, tells me,' said be, 'that Mr. Merchant knew Sinclair had returned from Scotland, and might have been pretty certain of lighting upon him at that place. Lemery says, he himself informed Merchant that it was Sinclair's usual baunt after midnight.

Upon hearing this, I beckoned Merchant towards us. He acknowledged that he knew Sinclair was in town; and confessed he was aware Robinson's was his common resort. He said it was possible he might have taken us there with a view of setting us together by the ears; • for what will not drunken men do !' said he; but he did not recollect whether he had such a design; ‘for what do drunken men remember?'

Burridge shrugged his shoulders. 'Lemery says he means to swear to the truth; for he bas, it seems, a great respect for you, Dick. I hope he may show some respect for truth; but he tells me, there is one Mrs. Rock who is inveterately malignant against you.'

I believe she is, although I never gave her cause to be so,' said I. • Mrs. Ludlow, sir.'

Burridge was lost in astonishment. His surprise was, if not in. VOL. X.

10

creased, prolonged when I related all that passed between Sinclair and me on a former occasion at Robinson's.

Burridge then went away, promising to see us again before the day of trial.

Whatever hopes we might have entertained of the issue of our trial, were well nigh swept away by the intimation made to us on the day before, that Justice Page was io preside at it. Page, like his belters, left his character behind him, which was this :-He was a gross face. tious dog, but only towards misfortune and misery. The calamitous were sure of his scornful jeer, bis evil eye, his malignant heart. He wielded the law, not as a sword to punish the wicked, but as a dagger 'to stab the innocent,

The morning of our trial arrived. We were led into court guarded by constables. Gregory had maintained from the first a decent man. liness, which did not now desert him. I was firm and composed ; but Merchant was by no means present to himself. A more abject spectacle of cowardly weakness never held up his hand, or attempted to do so, at the bar. His appearance excited pity amongst the women, of whom there were many, and from the men provoked contempt. The court was crowded.

The indictment was laid against Thomas Gregory, Richard Savage, and William Merchant; and in that order we were placed at the bar.

Whilst Merchant's arraignment was proceeding, I had leisure to observe the countenance of Sir Arthur Page. I thought I could per. ceive in his devilish face—but this might have been merely prejudice -hat he had already resolved on my destruction. There was at least a pleased expression in it, which disclosed the delight he took in the trial of cases that contained blood in them. I never saw such a horrible leering, vital villain. Had his father made bim anything else but a lawyer, he had been hanged to a certainty.

The counsel for the prosecution, who stated his case as fairly as a lawyer could — for I defy a lawyer to state any case, whether legal or otherwise, quite fairly,—having closed his speeeh, Nuital was called, as the first witness.

Mr. Nuttal tendered his evidence with an air of candour that recommended him to the attention of the court. He detailed the insult that had been offered by Merchant, which, he said, I drew on the instant to justify; that Gregory then with an oaih, drawing, commanded Sinclair and himself to give up their swords, which they had not unsheathed, but that when he was about to do so, and as he supposed, Sinclair,-Gregory flew upon, and would have killed him, but that he (Nuttal), seized him by the wrist with one hand, and snapped his sword in two with the oiher; and that, while the struggle was going on between them, he saw me stab Sinclair, who held his point towards the ground.

Lemery and his brother were in one story, which differed slightly from Nuttal's evidence. They acknowledged that Gregory did not demand the swords till Nuttal's was drawn; and that I did not draw until after Sinclair had put himself in attitude. They said further, that they did not see the wound given.

Mrs. Seth Lemery, her husband and brother-in-law having seen too little, saw too much. She deposed that Gregory struck Sinclair's sword out of his hand, and that I stabbed him when he was disarmed.

I was astonished at hearing the hideous Mrs. Edersby speak the truth. She had not witnessed the brawl, she said, and therefore did not know by whom the wound had been given. She had supposed it must be Merchant, from his conduct towards her before the prisoners entered the coffee-room, and from his rushing past her in the passage immediately after she heard the clashing of swords. She had been since informed, uowever, that Mr. Merchant wore nosword on the occasion.

When Mrs. Rock was put into the witness-box, the thronged audience, who had listened to the evidence of the others with breathless attention, re-arranged themselves in their seats,—such, I mean, of them as had obtained a sitting, --whilst the crowd on the floor of the court on either side pressed still more anxiously forward. Even Page himself seemed to interest himself in the appearance of this W. man.

Her face was pale to ghastliness, her lips livid, her teeth dull and chalky, her eyes dim, and deep-set in their sockels; but there was a clamorous loudness in her voice, and an energy in her gestures, when she answered the questions that were addressed to her, which accorded so strangely with her emaciated face and person, as to render her a spectacle to shudder at.

Her evidence, which referred solely to me (she had not seen the scuffle between Gregory and Nuttal), was given at first with a loud confidence, That was the man that stabbed him before he had drawn his sword,' with a bold finger shot towards me, and a shake of the head, as much as to say, 'and he knows I speak the truth ;' and a look towards me at the same time, which said, “You know I lie; but I'll hang you if I can!'-at first it was all this; but as she proceeded, and became involved in a mesh of contradictory statements, -more hopeless of extrication every moment, the wretch absolutely was embarrassed, ashamed, confused.

The next and last witness against us was the doctor who attended Sinclair in his last moments. I forget his name, nor is it of importance.

He recapitulated his evidence given before the justices; stating that, from the nature of the wound, and from the direction the sword had taken, he conld not conceive how a man standing upon his defence could have received such an injury, unless he had fenced with the left hand.

The case for the prosecution being closed, a moment's pause ensued. Gregory nudged me with his elbow.

*Savage,' said he, not looking at me, and in a low voice, between his set teeth, 'there is a woman in a hood-a lady, on the other side of the court, has been gazing at us—at you inore particularly, ever since we have stood here. Her eyes make me quite sick. Avert your head from her. My God! such an expression 1

Mrs. Brett, no doubt,' said I, • I thought we should have her company bere.'

Gracious Heaven !' and he turned very pale, support yourself, my dear fellow,' grasping my hand. Go through it, like a hero. I pity you.'

I needed not Gregory's pity. Whatever concern I might hitherto have felt, and did at that instant feel, at the unhappy fate of Sinclair, the knowledge that his friend and confederate was by, watch

« AnteriorContinuar »