|Chapter Title||The Inquest|
|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||The Hermit Convict|
THE HERMIT CONVICT.
By the Rev. William Draper.
An error occurred in our last issue. In the fourth
column it is stated that Stewart left England within a year after conviction. It should be three
Leyton had not had such a sensational case for years. The parish constable had been, from an early hour in the morning, an object of the most intense delight to a considerable number of small boys and lesser girls. Perhaps they con- sidered it possible that the prisoner was in some way connected with a brother constable, who had come over to Leyton from a neighboring parish in pursuance of an urgent request which had been sent by special messenger to him. Leyton constable was a little man with an abun- dant stock of self-importance. Wickham con- stable was a gigantic fellow, with an extraordi- nary supply of intense stupidity. The name of the former was Reuben Jacobs, but the giant was known as "the Doctor," nor had he the least idea how this singular term had been at- tached to him. Tradition has it upon record, that his father drew teeth, and that his son was dubbed "the Doctor" at the parish school. But speculation upon this historical subject is use- less, when it is recorded that upon a certain im- portant occasion in which a lady was concerned,
Reuben Jacobs and his friend had sat in coun- cil to discuss this solemn question, and after smoking their pipes for three hours, and washing down the aroma of the smoke with an entire bottle of brandy and a small portion of hot water, they at length came to the conclusion, gravely and decisively, that the person who could throw any light upon the subject was not yet born.
These functionaries, who are genuine copies of two originals, must not occupy more than a
corner. Many a ludicrous mistake might be de- scribed which, in conjunction with real events, caused roars of laughter at the expense of these sapient officers of justice. But the scenes in the greater part of the book will be enacted in a far distant land, and the temptation to transport these two men thither, must, for truth's sake,
Of course the White Lion became the rendez- vous of the coroner, the jury, the witnesses, and every busybody the town could boast of. Ru- mors of the murder had quickly spread far and wide, and in the course of the morning, Septi- mus Long, Esq.; Richard Lloyd, Esq,; and John Brown Trotter, Esq.; all of them magis- trates in the county, came into town to watch the proceedings. The first of the three was as pompous and empty-headed, as he was bigotted and self-important. The other gentlemen were well skilled in criminal jurisdiction. At 12 o'clock the proceedings were commenced. The body was duly inspected, and the evidence which
followed was gradually weaving a net of con- demnation around the prisoner. Still there were circumstances which could not be explained, and though the position in which the prisoner and the deceased were found, coupled with the medical evidence, that Argyle's whip must have been the weapon which was used, pointed with tolerable certainty to the fact that his hand had
struck the fatal blow, the two "lawyer magis- trates," as they were called, plainly expressed their opinion that it was quite possible for a third party to have been concerned in this hor-
"With your permission, Mr. Coroner," said Mr. Trotter, interrupting the proceedings as the evidence of the man who had discovered the murder was concluded, "I would desire to make
a remark or two. He has said that the prisoner was drunk. Is there anyone who can speak de- cidedly upon this point?"
"Your assistance, worthy sir, in this case, being of course extra judicial," replied the
coroner, "will be most acceptable. The next witness will explain this matter. Call James
James Roberts examined: "At what hour did the prisoner arrive at the White Lion?"
"About 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon."
"How did he spend the time he remained there? He was drinking, I suppose."
"Yes, sir, he drank a good deal; wine princi- pally, then champagne."
"And when did he leave the hotel?"
"About half-past 9, as near as I can guess."
"Now what was his condition at that time?" "Well, sir, I should say he was slightly
"Slightly drunk. Tell us what you mean, my
man. Was he unable to stand?"
"Oh, no, not so bad as that, though he could not keep on his legs without some help."
Here the witness described the prisoner's at- tempt to mount his horse, which excited some amusement, during which Argyle held down his
head as if he was heartily ashamed.
"It seems to me, Mr. Coroner," said Mr. Long, "that the prisoner was stupid but not
"But the evidence, Mr. Long," replied the Coroner, "is plain upon this point he was drunk, so drunk that the people had to hold him up or
he would have fallen. Besides that, what do you think of a man who tried to mount his horse the wrong way?"
"Oh, Mr. Coroner, as to that," replied the sapient magistrate, "we have all known many
people who tried to do things the wrong way."
"But not to mount their horses with the tail
for a bridle, eh, Mr. Long!" said Mr. Lloyd. "Allow me, Mr. Coroner, to inquire of the wit-
ness, whether there appeared to be any ill-feel-
ing between the two young men."
"Ill-feeling, sir! I should say not. Mr. Argyle there, kept on saying, 'He's a jolly good fellow; a regular good cove,' and all that sort of thing. They went away as jovial and merry as
And in an hour afterwards one was found
murdered?" Mr. Lloyd put this question.
"Yes, sir, about an hour after, so near as I
"My opinion is still, Mr. Coroner," said Mr. Long, "that the prisoner was stupid, perhaps
"And mine, Mr. Long," replied Mr. Lloyd, "is that there is no evidence to prove any thing of the kind."
"Indeed, sir," said Mr. Long, "perhaps you
are an oracle upon such questions."
"Gentlemen, gentlemen!" interrupted the Coroner, "pray let us have no contentions, or we shall never arrive at a proper conclusion. It will be better, perhaps, that you do not inter-
"With all my heart," replied Mr. Trotter; "but allow me to say that the evidence as yet is too circumstantial. Have you nothing of a more direct character pointing to the prisoner as the criminal?"
"You shall hear all that is known, gentlemen,
and I think it will be necessary to adjourn the inquest, in order to make further inquiry.
So witnesses were called who distinctly de- clared that the prisoner was too intoxicated to have struck such a blow as that which killed the deceased. Some of them said that they tried to keep Argyle from drinking so much, but he would have it, until he fell under the table, and was taken up and laid upon a sofa, where he slept soundly for an hour; but upon being roused he snatched up a tumbler in which there was some raw brandy and drank it off, and this made him as bad as he was before he went to sleep, and more noisy. That under these circumstances, some of the members of the club thought it would be best to put him to bed, but the de- ceased said, "he would go home, and he would see the prisoner safe home also." Rouse was not so drunk but that he knew what he was about. In addition to this evidence, it was proved that the secretary, who was going home at the same time as the two young farmers left, said that he would accompany them as far as he
"Where is this secretary?" inquired Mr. Lloyd.
No one know. He was called but did not ap- pear, and the coroner ordered that he should be
"Was the body of the deceased upon the pathway or in the road?"
The first witness was recalled: "In the road." "Were there any marks of struggling visible?" "None, except those of horses feet."
"Constable, have you tracked any footsteps from the place where the murder was com-
He had not seen any.
"Was there any money found upon the de-
"None, your honor."
At this point the prisoner started up with a peculiar cry, and informed the Coroner he had
"Robbed!" replied that gentleman, "what do you mean, prisoner?"
"Why, that my pocket-book is gone, and with it seventy pounds."
Singular to relate, at this very moment one of
the servants of the inn entered the room to in-
form the court that a pocket-book had been found by him in a field, across which there was a public pathway leading to Woodlands.
"How near to the scene of the murder," asked
"About ten yards from the hedge," was the reply. "It seemed to have been dropped by some one who had taken that pathway across
The pocket-book being examined was found to be empty, with the exception of some ac- counts and other papers. There was no money
Here the evidence was exhausted, and the in- quiry was adjourned. Adjourned, to to again protracted to little purpose, save that a further witness was examined, a woman, who stated that "as she was sitting up for her husband, who was in the town drinking, as was his custom on market days, she was startled by a loud cry, and going to the door heard a noise as if some people were fighting, but it was soon over, and in about ten minutes after, Mr. Judd, who was passing by on his way home, replied to the question which she put to him, that it was two men hav- ing a dispute together, but they were gone on now." The road to her house was a bye-road leading off from the turnpike road, where the murder was committed. The secretory, Mr. Judd, it was found, had gone on horseback very early on the morning after the murder to Ipswich upon some pressing business.
He did not return until after the inquest was concluded. Argyle of course was com- mitted for trial, and it was rumored that Judd's evidence would be forthcoming at the assizes. To this statement may be added another, that the magistrate's inquiry was almost a verbatim repetition of the evidence which was taken be- fore the coroner, and that Mr. Septimus Long, who interfered in every stage of the examination, was at last very plainly requested by the chair- man of the bench to hold his tongue. The veil may be lifted sufficiently to explain the conduct of this gentleman, by saying that he was an active partisan of Henry Judd, and a man who was willing to descend to any dishonorable action if it would serve his own purpose. Temptation in one man has its strong link in another, and this in its turn lays its strong grasp on some one else, and who can say that the base action of Judas or Gehazi is not to this day bearing its dreadful fruit, in crimes, committed by those who have been influenced by others, who, in their turn, were excited by the example or words of those they knew, and so on step by step backward and backward still, until the Arch- traitor himself could be unmasked. Who can tell what the effect of one sin will be? Until it is possible to snatch an uttered word from the atmosphere which has absorbed it, the answer to this question must be, "None!" There is One who has set in motion an unerring machi- nery by which words are registered with unde- viating accuracy. He can trace our words; He only can connect them with our deeds with certain judgment. For three years and more the traitor smiled over his Great Master's won- drous career, and then kissed Him in hellish devilry. How long will Mr. Septimus Long smile over his partisanship in the Layton mur-
der business? We shall see!
The result of the trial has been anticipated by the statement that Argyle, as a convict, sailed in the same ship with Stewart. He was con- victed of manslaughter under aggravated cir- cumstances, the evidence of Henry Judd being considered conclusive in to his guilt. On the trial he declared that when the two young men left the hotel the prisoner became very noisy and unmanageable; that the deceased tried to restrain him, but this was impossible; that as they reached the corner where the bye-road turned off towards Woodlands, Argyle declared he would go back again to the town; that the deceased tried to prevent him; that a slight struggle ensued, in which the prisoner fell from his horse; that he lay on the ground for a minute or so, and in the meantime the deceased dismounted; that the prisoner then managed to get on his legs, and raising his whip advanced towards the deceased with some angry words which he did not hear; that not wishing to be mixed up in a quarrel which might perhaps end in a court affair if he interfered, and knowing that he should be obliged to leave town early in the morning, he left them to settle the matter between themselves, hoping that after all it would end amicably. He heard of the murder as soon as the first coach arrived in Ipswich the next day. This evidence was taken after the prisoner had been committed for trial, but the accused had been present in the magistrate's room, at the county gaol where Judd was ex-
amined. The witness was cross-examined by the prisoner's attorney, but it was mutually agreed that the deposition should be attached to the proceedings, leaving it open for counsel to deal with it on the trial as might be necessary. It was dealt with, but the result was the same. Everything pointed to the prisoner as the mur- derer, and Argyle, after a long and tedious trial, heard the fatal words, "Guilty," with a strong recommendation to mercy. This verdict the judge, in his sentence, reduced to manslaughter, which, in those days, was a grievous crime in the statute book. Sentence of death was re- corded, which was a convenient way of banishing a human being from civilisation for the rest of his days. So Argyle became a convict. The chequered career of vicissitude and crime to which the sentence led was not unmixed with opportunities of redeeming much of the misery which thus fell so suddenly and fatally upon this young man. Ruin, disgrace, irretrievable suffering, stared him in the face as he went back to gaol.
There was One, however, who did not suffer him to go hence without seeing this great mys- tery unravelled, as easily as a Jewish Rabbi un- rolls the copy of the law and reads it to the people.
HENRY JUDD ALIAS JULET.
Once more we have to record the incidents and results of a great crime. Stewart and Argyle, convicted, and under sentence of expa- triation, are awaiting the usual period when they are to embark for a foreign land. We shall have to retrace the course of time which has elapsed between their conviction and their arri- val in Moreton Boy in order to complete the history of the circumstances under which one of the principal witnesses on the trial of these two young men became himself surrounded with strong meshes of criminality, which proved the truth of the sacred adage, "be sure your sins will find you out." Twelve months had elapsed since David Argyle had been sentenced to four- teen years transportation, and assize time had come again. The town we will call Blythwick. The judges have entered it in the orthodox man- ner, the commission has been duly opened, the assize sermon has been preached, and the shades of evening have drawn around the city. Again it is winter—very cold; snow is falling gently, and the weather-wise advance the opinion that "they are in for a regular boomer." In the very elegantly furnished and comfortable chambers of the judge, who is to preside in the Crown Court to-morrow, the weather is of no consequence, so you would think if you saw the learned gen- tleman in his warm dressing-gown and thick velvet slippers, sitting in a luxurious easy chair before a bright fire.
Standing at the table in the centre of the room, which is covered with papers with the usual red- taped ornamentation, an elderly man is patiently waiting the pleasure of the judge, respecting the papers which he has in his hand, and which he has been reading during the past half hour or so. Most intently has the judge been engaged upon these depositions, for such they are, and the experienced and confidential clerk of Mr. Boodle, or rather of Messrs Boodle and Sons, as the firm was now, know his business too well to disturb the learned judge until he had permission to do so. At length the judge spoke: "I have sent for you, Mr. Green, to ask if anything farther has been elicited. There is nothing in those de- positions which can go before a jury."
"Yes, my lord, but perhaps this is not of any moment. It has been ascertained that this man was the principal agent in the conviction of one Stewart, at the 18-- Spring assize, at Win-
"Indeed! Ah! I recollect the case, it was forgery. I was the judge at nisi prius at the same assize. In reading the depositions, Mr. Green, I was impressed with the more important fact, that he was the principal witness upon a manslaughter case which had a direct bearing upon the interests of the party who is mentioned in the prosecution. Will it not be necessary, think you, to procure the attendance of this Stewart? You can have a writ of habeas. If the man who is to be tried is what I am now afraid he will turn out to be, it is but justice that the iniquity of his career should be fully known. I ought not to interfere, but I have the strongest impression now that there is rank treachery in this case, and ever since I sentenced young Argyle to a terrible doom I have felt dissatisfied with myself. I would indeed, Mr. Green, risk a little trouble to clear up some of the difficul- ties which surround this prosecution."
"His late employer, my lord," replied Mr Green, "is in Blythwick now."
"Ah! is it so?" said the judge. "I should like to see him. What does he say? There is not any reference to him, I think, in the deposi-
"No, my lord, none whatever, but since the committal of the prisoner Judd, Mr. Boodle has been to London. There he met with Mr. Hart- lop, at the Gray's Inn Hotel. They had been upon the most familiar terms for many years, almost in fact as brothers, and so of course they spent the evening over their wine and a little gossip. Mr. Boodle happened to ask Mr. Hart- lop if he knew of a place for a young man, whom he wished to get into a good house of business. The inquiry led to a conversation in which Mr. Hartlop related the circumstances which had resulted in Stewart's conviction, and the subse- quent extraordinary absconding of his fellow clerk, who had been the chief instrument in that conviction. Upon this Mr. Boodle also told Mr. Hartlop the particulars of the case, the de- positions relating to which, your lordship has
"Ah! indeed!" said the judge, "and what
did he think about it?"
"He was struck at once, my lord," replied Mr. Green, "with the description which Mr. Boodle gave of the prisoner, the name also seemed to him to be curiously ominous, that Judd and Julet were one and the same person."
"How long ago is it since this interview took place, Mr. Green?" inquired the judge.
"Only a week, my lord, and Mr. Hartlop has been induced to come down to Blythwick, and is, I believe, with Mr. Boodle at this moment."
"It is somewhat irregular, Mr. Green, re- plied the judge, "but the evidence of this gen- tleman may be very important. It is not for me to suggest to you that which may forward the ends of justice, but in the question of hand- writing, identity, and the previous history of the prisoner, the case seems to be very incom- plete. I happen to be personally acquainted with Hartlop, and I know Mr. Boodle from re- port; tell them both, if you please, that I should be glad to be favored with their company this evening."
"I will, my lord," replied Mr. Green. "At
what hour would you be prepared to receive
"Oh! any hour, I shall not go out again," replied the judge.
At 8 o'clock the judge, the lawyer, and the merchant, were putting together knowledge, ex- perience, and probabilities, with the legal acumen of the one, the business tact of the other, and the professional experience of the third. The issue of their deliberations was a writ of habeas corpus to bring up the body of James Stewart from Portsmouth; a lengthened folio of manu- script, purporting to be the affidavit of Alex. Hartlop, and the discovery that beyond a doubt Henry Judd, the prisoner, and Henry Julet, Mr. Hartlop's late clerk, were one and the same
MEASURE FOR MEASURE.
At 10 o'clock tho next morning, the trum- peters who marched at the head of the Sheriff's procession, sounded their last shrill warning at the gates of the shire hall in Blyth- wick, that the assize was about to commence. The court was soon filled, and not long had they to wait for the judge. The ominous sudden bustle, and the cry of the usher, "Silence for his lordship, the judge," and that learned man entered with all the solemnities, the formulae, and the paraphernalia which is supposed to add so much to the realities of a court of justice. With a bow to the court, he took his seat, and the proceedings commenced. The charge to the grand jury is given verbatim.
It was as follows:
"Gentlemen of the grand jury,—We have met again in this court, where I have had the pleasure upon former occasions of seeing many of you who appear here to-day, as the repre- sentatives of your country in the important capacity of grand jurymen. It is scarcely ne- cessary that I should bring before you the very common question—viz., the importance of the trust which is thus committed to your charge. I know that I am addressing gentlemen who have for a lengthened period served their country honorably and efficiently as magistrates in this great county. I am happy also to observe that there are amongst you some gentlemen whose knowledge of criminal law has been frequently put into practice in dealing with the peculiar crimes which will be brought before your no- tice. I advert to this, because in one of the principal cases which is set down for trial at this assize it is desirable that you should give some attention to the previous history of the prisoner, not to his prejudice, but as it may throw some light, perhaps, upon a very painful case which was tried at Winchester lately, in which case the prisoner sustained a prominent position. It is a curious fact, though not by any means an uncommon sequel to such cases as that to which I have referred, that the pri- soner who is to be tried for forgery at this assize was substantially the prosecutor in that. Let me give you an outline of the more recent case. A certain man dies, leaving his entire property, real and personal, to his son, subject to the death of his widow, who was thus made sole legatee for her life, the estate at her decease descending really and entirely to his son. The widow lived nearly two years after her hus- band, and the son became by her death entitled to the inheritance which was willed to him by his late father, and had enjoyed its possession for some few weeks only, when a calamity fell upon him, by which he was chargeable with the death of a young man, a near neighbor of his, and was sentenced at the last Spring assize to transportation. I candidly confess that I fear that justice has miscarried in that case, but in the absence of proof, it is useless to speculate on mere impressions. He will be brought before you, and you will hear more than it will be proper for me now to allude to. The indict- ment against the prisoner, Henry Judd alias Julet, for it seems that he was known by the latter name at Southampton, where he once served as clerk to a Mr Hartlop, who will also be produced as a witness; the indictment, I say, charges the prisoner with having forged a deed of gift, by which he, as the nephew of the testator, Argyle, became entitled to a charge upon his estate, at the death of the testator's wife, amounting to the sum of one thousand pounds in cash, and twenty-nine acres of land. The deed in question was witnessed—I am speaking now of the signature of Mr. Argyle, sen.—by the young man to whom I have re- ferred already. He met his death, as was al- leged, by the hand of the son to whom the bulk of the Argyle property descended. This young man being thus put out of the way, and the younger Argyle being under sentence of expatri- ation, the claim was soon after made by the prisoner, by the medium of a letter, announcing the existence of this deed of gift, and referring to a gentleman who is, I believe, a magistrate of this county. This letter was sent to Messrs. Boodle, who have for many years been the solicitors to the Argyle family. I am glad to inform you that the Crown has relinquished any right by which it might have interfered with the estate in question, and by the consent of all parties, the property will be sold, and the pro- ceeds will be funded for the benefit of the young man when his sentence has expired. I have paid some attention to this case, and believe that it is possible to unravel much of the mystery in which it is involved, and all I will now add is the sincere hope that the hearing of it may result in strict justice and equity to all parties concerned. The other cases which will come before you are not such as demand any comment from me. I rejoice, gentlemen, that though the calendar is heavy, numerically, yet the majority of the prisoners have been com- mitted for offences comparatively trivial, and which might have been dispesed of by a sum- mary conviction. Hoping that provision for this may soon be made by the legislature, I now dismiss you to your duties with tho usual request that you will, as soon as possible, send down a true bill, that we may proceed to busi-
The grand jury having retired, the judge ad- dressed the counsel for the defendant. He stated that as the evidence of Mr. Hartlop—a copy of which had been furnished by his order to the prisoner's solicitor—was very important, he had ordered the trial to be postponed until all the other cases were disposed of. If the learned counsel had any proposal to make, he should be glad to hear it now.
"I should have been very glad, my lord, to have had the trial postponed unto the next as- sizes, and have given my advice to that effect, but my client is determined not to accede to it. It seems manifestly unfair to allow a case to come on for trial with important evidence of an entirely new character, and a very limited period in which to consider it. I understand also, my lord, that another witness is to be brought up
by writ of habeas corpus, whose evidence is
altogether unknown at present. I should protest against such a bungling attempt at injustice, for which we hold the prosecution entirely rcspon-
sible, but, by an incomprehensible obstinacy, my client seems determined to have the case
tried at the present assize. I leave the matter in the hands of your lordship. My own opinion is, the case ought to be postponed."
"I do not think, Mr. Stephens," replied the judge, "that the new evidence will need much consideration; if I am correct in my judgment, it will prove to be a very commonplace illustra-
tion of criminal law. I regret that the circum- stances, which have so recently transpired, were not known before the prisoner was committed for trial, but for this, the prosecution, I learn,
were not accountable."
"I am fully acquainted, my lord, with this part of the case. In fact," continued the learned counsel, "we must do the prosecution the
justice of admitting that they have furnished us with all the particulars of Mr. Hartlop's affidavit, and also a summary of the probable evidence of the convict Stewart. My client, my
lord, I am informed, has some insuperable ob- jection to any delay, in spite of all that can be urged in favor of a postponement of the trial."
"In this case, let the trial of Henry Judd be
taken as the last upon the calendar," said the judge."
With the proceedings of the next five days we have nothing to do, but on the sixth Henry Judd was placed at the bar. The indictment was read; it charged him with having "know- ingly and fraudulently uttered a deed of gift, the signatures to which were forged, by which deed he (the prisoner) was made to appear as a claimant upon the estate of one David Argyle,
deceased, for the sum of one thousand pounds sterling, in addition to sundry lands, &c., &c." To this the prisoner pleaded "Not guilty."
Counsel for the prosecution then addressed
the court. The preliminary portion may be dismissed as easily as all sympathy for the prisoner was banished from the mass of people
who heard the speech to the end. "If they can prove one half of that which the prisoner is accused of, I would not give much for his chance." Such was the general opinion. It was alleged against him that he forged and uttered the deed of gift; that to cover his crimes he had wilfully and knowingly been guilty of false witness against others; that the death of the only alleged witness to the deed of gift was open to the strongest suspicion; and that, so far from there being any probability of such a mark of good will towards the prisoner on the part of old Mr Argyle, he had always had the strongest antipathy towards him.
There were many witnesses, but a summary of the case will answer every purpose. It is merely necessary to explain how the three convicts became exiles from their native land, and this part of the history may be regarded therefore as prefatory to the rest. In pursuance of this plan, it may be stated that the last will of Mr. David Argyle, senior, was produced, and was proved to give and bequeath to his son David all and every his real and personal property whatsoever, &c., &c., subject to the control of his wife, Mary Argyle, during her lifetime, but at her death to be unconditionally the property of the son. Probate of the will was granted to Mir Daniel Boodle, the sole executor to the estate. There was a clause in the will upon which a sharp contest rested. It was as follows: "subject to any and all contingencies, debts, gifte, and charges upon the estate which are lawfully chargeable thereon." This, it was contested, was strong evidence that the testator knew of some obligations which he thus provided for. But in opposition to this, Mr. Boodle, the exe- cutor, and also the solicitor who prepared the will, testified "that the testator distinctly stated to him at the time when the will was signed, that though he wished this clause to be inserted, he knew of no such charge, nor of any debts or contingencies which could possibly arise." In fact, Mr. Argyle regarded the future position of his son with a kind of honest pride, saying that he would not inherit a property which was hampered with a load of debt; it was all per- fectly free, and, said he to him, "Mind you keep it so, my son," The death of the testator
was proved, and the administration to the will; also the death of Mrs. Argyle, and the arrest and conviction of the son for the murder of young Rouse. Then the deed of gift, which was the subject of the prosecution, was pro- duced. It was dated December 4, 18--, signed David Argyle, witnessed by Richard Rouse, and, supposing it to be genuine, entitled Henry Judd to a thousand pounds and the twenty-nine acres of land to which reference has been made. Septimus Long, who was called by the prosecu- tion, but who evidently gave such answers as he could not avoid with extreme reluctance, de- posed that he had received the deed from the prisoner, as collateral security for moneys ad- vanced. Being further pressed, he did not know the date when he received it, nor could he tell how much money the prisoner had received from him. A lengthened examination ensued, in which the conduct of the witness during the inquest upon the body of Richard Rouse and the subsequent examination of Argyle was rigidly scrutinised, but nothing important was elicited. But at last, getting angry at the severe questions which were put to him, he frankly stated that the prisoner had told him "he had little hope of getting any portion of the money unless he re- sorted to violent means." It was not for him to say what he meant by the latter term; it might have been recovery by law for all he knew.
Mr. Hartlop called and examined: "The affi- davit produced in court was his; it was per- fectly true, to the best of his knowledge."It stated that at the time when the alleged deed of gift was executed, or said to be signed by Mr. Argyle, the prisoner was in his service, and had been in his employ for more than six years pre- viously; that at the Winchester assizes, two years previously to the present time, he was the chief witness in the prosecution of his confi- dential clerk, James Stewart; that about two months afterwards he left his employment with- out notice, and, on inquiry, it was found that he had previously sold off all his goods, and had sent his wife and child away from Southampton; that since that day he had not heard of him, until about a week or ten days ago. He had seen the document which purported to be a deed of gift to him, the prisoner; it was written upon paper which belonged to him, and which was made expressly to his order. Being asked if he could inform the court whether there was any peculiarity in this paper, he stated that the water mark was H, with the word HYTHE and the number 14. As he always kept a sample of each year's paper by him, he now produced a sheet exactly similar to that upon which the deed of gift was written.
"Have you any opinion to offer about the handwriting in this document?" inquired the
"My lord," replied the witness, "I could have sworn my late clerk, James Stewart, had written this deed, but I am not sure. It is very like his handwriting indeed."
The paper and tho deed having been handed up to the judge, were by him declared to be identical the one with the other. Mr. Hartlop was severely cross-examined, but his testimony
was too sure to be shaken.
"Call James Stewart." At this stage the judge interposed, and announced that as it was probable that the examination of this witness might occupy a long period, the court would be adjourned until the next day.
The morrow dawned dark and gloomy, a heavy fog covering the city—an emblem which
was ominous as to the result of this trial. The terrible series of crimes met with retributive justice. Justice held the scales firmly. Blind she is said to be, but not really is it so. The sword is sheathed until the moment comes, who can tell what particular circle may be com- pleted in that moment. Holy Scripture speaks of a period which, in the words of the Saviour, is called, "thy day." "If thou hadst known in this thy day the things that belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thy eyes."
This is the principle upon which the scales are held: not a moment before the day is com-
pleted does the blow fall, but upon the striking of the hour the verdict which has been passed is fulfilled in the execution of the righteous sentence which has been awarded. As Stewart entered the witness box, the prisoner turned aside, as if he intended to make one great effort to brave it out, but that one glance seemed to deprive him of his forced courage. The accused and the accuser had changed places once more. How could the latter look upon the orphaned lad now; a young man, with all the traces of his former intelligence and honesty of purpose written on his countenance, side by side with the lines of bitter grief. A convict, and by his wickedness! Yes, there is no intention of leaving this mystery to be solved in the con- cluding chapter. How the series of crimes were committed, and what was tho temptation which urged the criminal to do such diabolical devilry, will be explained as the history is unrolled. It was the old thing in another form: one false step, but that stop once taken could not be re- traced, and it broke up the peace of many lov- ing and loved hearts, who went sorrowing on account of it all their days.
But what had this witness to say? Enough, and more than enough to make the criminal cry out ere he had told it all, "Hold, I am guilty." But he braved it all to the end, as we shall see. The evidence of James Stewart was to this effect: "One evening, just as the prisoner was going home, he asked witness if he could speak with him. 'Come home with me to my house,' said he; 'I wish to consult you on a very par- ticular matter. 'I went with him as he re- quested, and then he told me that he had a rich old aunt on his mother's side, whose husband was a farmer in Suffolk, and having no relations on his side besides his only son, he intended to leave him a thousand pounds in his will and some land. I almost forget," said the witness, pausing upon this question, "how much land he was to have. But that as he wanted money, the old man was willing to secure his legacy to him by a deed of gift, which he could lodge as security for a small advance to meet his pre- sent necessity. It seemed a curious proceeding, but, upon further inquiry, he told me," con- tinued the witness, "that the old fellow was very eccentric, and was so fond of his money he would not let any of it go out of his hands while he was alive; but there was another rea- son: Davie, as he called the son of the old farmer—Davie was not partial to him (the prisoner), and if he gave him money then, the lad would not like it." In answer to other questions, the witness stated that he thought it would be best to borrow upon the old farmer's personal security, but to this the prisoner dis-
sented, saying the old man would never consent
"Upon this," said Stewart, "he asked if I would make a fair copy of the deed, a draft of which he showed me, and said that it had been approved by old Mr. Argyle. I demurred; begged that he would go to a lawyer; but, when he objected on account of the expense, and also the delay which would be certain to arise if he adopted my suggestion, I consented to do that which he requested. I recollect that he also said that Mr Argyle would be in Southampton in the course of the week, and he wanted to have the deed ready for him to sign."
The question was then put to the witness slowly and very distinctly—"Did you then make a copy of the draft deed of which you have spoken in your evidence to the court?"
"I did," was the reply.
"Is this the document to which you refer?" The deed of gift was handed to the witness. "It is," said Stewart.
"Have you seen that deed since the day you wrote it? Hand it down again," said the
"I have not."
"Now tell the court if you can remember what paper it was written on."
The witness hesitated for a moment, but then replied.
"My employer gave me leave to use paper in his office whenever I required any. The paper upon which I copied the deed which has been handed to me belonged to him."
"Was there any mark upon it?"
"All the paper was manufactured expressly to order, and a sufficient quantity, as estimated, was ordered for each year's consumption. I know that all Mr. Hartlop's paper bore the water mark H; there was another mark, but this was changed every year." The witness here paused, as if in thought, and the counsel put another question to him:
"What was the other mark?"
"I was thinking," replied Stewart. "The mark when—" Here the poor fellow could scarcely restrain his feelings; he tried to finish the sentence, but his tongue refused to speak. Mr. Hartlop, who was in the court, stood up as if he would speak to him, but this only made the matter worse. The witness had not seen his old master since the day when they parted, and as he now looked on him again, his pent up feelings burst out into a loud and prolonged cry—" Master, master! why has the Almighty
used me thus?"
The scene was touching in the extreme. The good merchant was borne senseless from the court, he had fallen on the floor, some said in a fit, but God mercifully preserved him from such a calamity. The judge was exceedingly moved; there were few dry eyes even amongst the spectators; and a deep impression had been made upon the numerous members of the bar. The prisoner—how did he bear it? Unmoved?
After the lapse of a few minutes, the witness, who had been allowed to retire for that brief interval, re-appeared in the box, and the ques-
tion was repeated.
"What was that other mark?"
"As far as I can recollect now," replied Stewart, "it must have been 'Hythe,' and there was a number, which would have been 14. If it was not 'Hythe,' it would be 'Holyrood,'
and in that case the number would be 13."
"Tell the court, if you please, what is the water mark on the paper which you say you used for this deed."
The document was handed up to the witness, and amidst the deepest silence, during which the deep-drawn breathing of the spectators could be heard, the witness replied: "The water mark is 'H. Hythe;' the number 14."
"Now, did the prisoner say anything when you gave him the deed?" The question was objected to, and so another was put, which meant the same thing—"What took place when you gave the prisoner the deed which you say you copied by his request?"
"He expressed his thanks at first, and ap- peared to be very glad that I had been so prompt in making the copy."
"You say he expressed his thanks. Did he make any remark about the paper?"
"Not at first, but, holding it up to the light, he exclaimed, 'Why, 'tis Hartlop's paper! That
will never do.'"
"Did he express any reason why it would not do?" was the next question which counsel put to the witness. This was objected to by the counsel for the defence, but the objection was overruled. The witness replied:
"No; but I thought he appeared to be con-
"Why was not another copy made?" counsel
To this the witness replied, "I refused to have anything more to do with it."
"Did you see this deed after that day?" asked
the learned counsel.
"Yes, about ten days afterwards."
"What was its condition then? Had it been
"You mean, was it signed?" said the witness. "Yes, that is the question."
"It was signed and witnessed," was the reply. "Did you know anything about the signa- tures—how they were obtained?" Question objected to; objection allowed.
"Did you know that Mr Argyle was in Southampton?"
"I did not see him," replied Stewart.
"Did prisoner tell you that he had been
"And that he had signed the deed of gift?" "Yes, that he had signed that deed."
"Who is the witness—Richard Rouse?" "I do not know."
A lengthened cross-examination ensued, in which the trial and conviction of the witness was unfolded to the world of curiosity in Blyth- wick. The judge frequently interfered, but in some way or other the whole history was re-told, with a little deeper hue of dark shade than was attached to it in its original form. It had this effect—it neutralised the feeling of sympathy which had been felt towards the witness by some of the spectators, but it deceived neither the judge nor the bar. The deed of gift was a bungle from beginning to end; it contained half a dozen flaws, any one of which would have proved sufficient in a court of law to have set it aside; but the utterance of it constituted an offence which was a deliberate attempt to defraud, and hence the prosecution was insti- tuted. At the commencement of this prosecu- tion, no one had the slightest idea of what the antecedents of the prisoner had been.
David Argyle was the next witness. The ex- animation of this witness occupied more than two hours. It revealed nothing that was not already known. There was one question, how- ever, which was extremely important; it was as follows: "Did your father visit Southampton in the latter part of his life?"
"To my knowledge," replied the witness, "he never was in that town; certainly not since
I can remember."
"Should you have known it had he left home for any such purpose?"
"I knew all my late father's movements," was the reply. "He never left his home, except for the purpose of going to market, for more than five years before he died."
The old servant who had been an inmate of the household at Argyle Farm was also ex- amined, and deposed to the same effect.
Then there were a host of witnesses who were
called to give their opinion about the signatures to the deed. Of course there was the usual un-
certainty; but the evidence of the son, the family solicitor, the bank authorities, and of two experts was conclusive. The signature of David Argyle was a bungle; that of Richard Rouse was tolerable. The prosecution adopted this theory—that, as the old farmer would be dead, his wife also gone, and the son by some possible means put out of the way, there would be no difficulty about the realisation of the pro- perty which the deed purported to secure to the prisoner. As many others have done before him, he reckoned upon the strength of a rotten tree to support him. The tree, even if it had been three times Septimus Long with all his schemes, was as rotten to the very core as the heart of his willing dupe. The arch schemer, Ahab like, obtained his purpose
when the Argyle property was sold; the poor Nabal who had inherited it righteously was sacrificed; but the false witness who dabbled in the mud, partly to serve his own ends, and partly those of his tempting employer, fell into a pit of infamy, which he well deserved. Mean- while the hands of the world's clock went on; the day of Mr. Septimus Long was not com- pleted yet.
The case for the prosecution closed with the evidence about the signatures. There was no defence by evidence; an appeal artfully con- structed, was made to the feelings of the jury; but it never mingled for an instant with the well-digested indignation which the conclave of
twelve felt toward tho prisoner. There was also a theory that no one had been called to prove that David Argyle, senior, had not really signed the deed; might it not have been sent to him, and, after being signed, duly returned to the prisoner? The hand writing, after all that had been said about it, really might have been that of tho old man, whose age would warrant any one in believing that he could not write very
There was an awful silence as the judge de-
"Oh! surely not for life, my lord?"
"Yes, for life! And recollect that many a man has stood on the scaffold for a much smaller offence. It does not form a part of my duty now to add to the words which I have al- ready addressed to you. Your disgrace and the misery in prospect before you, you must as- suredly feel. As you have felt an evident sur- prise that the sentence which has been passed upon you is tho most severe which the law al- lows, let me say I cannot help fearing that truth has been sadly sacrificed by you at the expense of precious liberty, of which you have deprived others besides yourself. It is exceedingly won- derful, but yet it is not strange, that an allwise Providence sometimes endows us, for special purposes, with a discrimination which appears, at a subsequent period of our lives, very little less than supernatural. Had not your former employer providentially met the solicitor to the prosecution as he did, it is probable that the principal evidence against you would have been wanting. Mr. Boodle, I learn, had no particu- lar business in London, but still he journeyed thither. I leave it to your discernment to dis- cover in this incident a proof that you were not plotting in secret, without the knowledge of
Wisdom greater than our own. It has been my
painful lot to be mixed up in the three cases in which you have taken so prominent a part. So far as you are concerned, the world has seen the last of your crimes. It will be useless to pro- test against the sentence which has been passed upon you. If you wish for mercy from above, whence alone it can reach you now, show mercy to others by an ample confession of all your
"My lord," replied the culprit, "I will take my fate; but let me say this: If ever those two cross my path, let them look out!"
[To be continued.]