Sidor som bilder

and even threatened lives and that no arsenic was found in the remains of the medicine or food from which Ross had supplied his wife, or in any of the uncleaned vessels from which he had fed her.

There is one other circumstance connected with this case, which requires separate and particular notice. On the Tuesday, when Mary Ross was but slightly ill, Martha Buckley went to the mill where the invalid worked, and fetched away her reedhook and nippers, the implements which she used in her labour. Now, there was a sick-club established among the operatives at this mill, and so long as the reed-hook and nippers were left there, the owner was concluded to be at work, and was entitled to pecuniary help. The fetching away of these implements was, therefore, a very significant act. It intimated, at least, that Mary Ross was not going to work at the mill any more ; and even if it cannot be interpreted into a proof of a foregone determination to murder the poor creature, it at all events was a piece of wanton cruelty, having for its object the prevention of that pecuniary assistance to which, as a member of the club, she was entitled. On this point, however, we say no more, but proceed with our mournful history.

The facts above established were so important, that an application was made to the Home Secretary to re-investigate the case. -Many petitions, indeed, were forwarded to Sir George Grey; and, eventually, a week's respite was ordered, so that further inquiries might take place. And this brings us to show the manner in which investigations involving life or death are carried on by our magisterial officials.

In the first place, the investigation was kept entirely secret. The prisoner's solicitor only heard of it by chance, and was not allowed to be present during the inquiry, although the police, upon whose accusation alone Ross was arraigned, were permitted to be in attendance. The conduct of the officials

appears to have been shameful in the highest degree. Grisdell, the informing constable, refused even to deliver a message to the magistrates from the prisoner's solicitor. Radcliffe, the magistrates' clerk, would not so much as- see that gentleman. The magistrates themselves are stated to have done all in their power to depress every person connected with the defence. Three or four times did the solicitor apply formally to be present ; and every time his application was refused.

But this is not the worst part of the story. Finding that he could not be personally present on the prisoner's behalf, Mr. Darnton wrote to the magistrates to request that certain persons whom he named should be examined, whose testimony he believed would tend to the prisoner's exculpation. Six of these witnesses the magistrates refused to hear, although their testi

mony was of extreme importance-alleging that they were not named in their instructions from the Home-Secretary. Thus the accused was not only unrepresented at this his second trial, but the very evidence which had led to the re-investigation was not allowed to be stated.

Nevertheless, during the inquiry, it was clearly established that Martha Buckley had directed Ross to buy the poison; that she had attended upon the deceased during her illness; that she had expressed bitter feelings towards her throughout that period; and that there was not a particle of evidence to show that Ross had given his wife poison in anything that he had administered to her. Beyond all this, there was not the slightest proof of any motive on his part for destroying her—a link which we maintain is absolutely necessary to be furnished in all cases of murder, where there is no actual witness of the deed, nor any reason for supposing that he entertained, or had entertained, the least illfeeling against her.

The evidence thus collected was in due course forwarded to Sir George Grey; and that the right honourable baronet entertained doubts upon the matter is proved by his returning a portion of this fresh testimony to a magistrate in York, with an inquiry as to its validity. The answer returned was to the effect that the witnesses in question were to be fully relied upon. Notwithstanding this reply, however, which must clearly have left Sir George Grey's doubts still unsolved, on Friday morning a letter was received from the Home Office directing the execution of the sentence; and on Saturday morning, the unfortunate youth was hanged by the neck till he was dead, he protesting his innocence till the last moment, and the whole city of York believing him.

And now it will naturally be asked why such was the result in a case which at best was a most doubtful one, and which, in the eye of every person not hardened by official experience, was clearly favourable to the innocence of the accused. The whole tale seems so improbable, that we can well excuse the warmth with which a friend of our own assured us he did not believe a word of it.' But it is as true as unquestionable facts can make it ; and we, pondering on it much and sorrowfully, have only to offer the following explanation :-At the trial, the judge took upon himself to say to the prisoner, on his asseveration of his innocence,— It is of no use for you to protest that you are not guilty; for I am as convinced that your hand administered the fatal dose as if I had seen it with these eyes.' And after such a determined expression of opinion, it appears to us that the Secretary of State chose rather to rely upon the prejudice of the judge, than upon the facts which his own inquiry had evolved.

Let it not be said that we advance this supposition thought

lessly. We repeat it coolly, deliberately, mournfully. The facts bear out our accusation only too well. The inquiry was a farce ; for the result must have been predetermined. The investigation was not concluded till the Thursday morning, and, granting that the evidence was transmitted to the Home-Secretary by the fastest possible express, he could not have received it till the Thursday afternoon. Yet, on the Friday morning, the governor of York Gaol received Sir George Grey's final directions to hang the prisoner; and these, it is evident, must have left London on Thursday night. Now, it is palpably impossible that all the fresh evidence which was sent up could be investigated, or could even be read, and the judge communicated with, and an answer returned to York in this brief interval. The witnesses were numerous, their testimony was voluminous and contradictory, and it has taken us several days to go through it, and master it effectually. Are we not forced to conclude, therefore, that the final decision was arranged before the fresh evidence was read, or even received, by the Home-Secretary; and that an innocent fellow-creature has been killed out of compliment to the vanity of a judge ?

We will only add, that, besides the strong presumption which facts afford in favour of the innocence of this unfortunate young man, a powerful argument to the same effect may be derived from his demeanour throughout the whole period of his accusation, trial, sentence, and execution. From the first to the last, he constantly asserted his perfect guiltlessness of the crime ; and every fresh inquiry tended to confirm the statement which he originally made, and in which he never varied. We do not, of course, take his own assertions as evidence; but still we cannot help being favourably impressed with the perfect simplicity and straightforwardness of his whole conduct. Some of the circumstances connected with his fate are inexpressibly affecting. His interview with his brother, when, sobbing, he threw his arm round his neck, and exclaimed, 'Well, thank God, if I die, I die innocent,' is in itself a tragedy; and we were never more deeply moved than on learning that when left alone in his cell, after he had been finally told that he was to die, he fell into an agony of prayer, and called upon his Maker to bear witness that he was utterly free from the crime for which he was unjustly doomed to suffer. A fact like this is perfectly inconsistent with the supposition of his guilt, and to us it is a confirmation strong, as proofs of holy writ,' that Ross was no more the perpetrator of the deed of murder than the judge who tried him.

Here the shocking story ends. To all appearance a fellowcreature has been killed for a crime which he never committed, and there is now no help for it. He is beyond the reach of recall;

the cold grave has closed over him; the dismal tragedy has concluded ; the curtain has fallen on the thrilling scene; and what remains ?

This remains, only too palpably :-that, under the system which has murdered poor Ross, no one of us is safe from being murdered too. Let but suspicion weave her frightful web around us, and we have from that moment little chance of escape. There will be police, urgent, for credit's sake, to convict us; there will be guilty witnesses, glad enough to purchase their escape by our condemnation; there will be judges, as eager to affirm our guilt as if they gloated in it; and there will be Secretaries of State who will take the story of our accusers for granted, and consign us, without a pang, to the hangman. We may produce evidence upon evidence to prove that we are guiltless; our explanations will not be listened to. We may have the execution of our sentence delayed for a brief while; but it will only be to mock us with false hopes, so that the horror and terror of our situation may at the last be all the more overwhelming.

O men and women of England! how long will you permit the perpetration of these murderous butcheries? How long will you

allow your fellow-creatures to suffer for no end, and oftentimes to suffer innocently? If no other consideration can move you, then think of the awful possibility that you yourselves, though guiltless of crime, may be hurled at any moment into the presence of your Eternal Judge, however unfit you may be to meet him. And if you can, however feebly, realize the dreadful possibility, then this brief reference to a case that only too sadly illustrates your peril, will not have been presented to you entirely in vain.

ART. VII.-- Five Years of a Hunter's Life in South Africa. With

Notices of the Native Tribes, and Anecdotes of the Chase of the
Lion, Elephant, Hippopotamus, Giraffe, Rhinoceros, &c. With
Illustrations. By Roualeyn Gordon Cumming, Esq. Two Vols.

London: Murray. 1850. THERE is no country so rich in sport as the wild region lying around the Bamangwato mountains, in the interior of South Africa. There the endless forests are still full of elephant herds; lions roam in troops over the plains; the rhinoceros, with

armed snout, turns up the earth in the woods; the hippopotamus flounders in the river; and myriads of antelopes, varying in size from that of an ox to that of a fallow-deer, swarm in a wilderness where water and pasturage abound. The poetical narratives of the Thousand and One Nights' describe a 'Land of Beasts,' where animal life teemed to an extent beyond the power of fancy to imagine ; but this unexplored territory would seem to rival, if not to surpass, the fabulous creation of the Arabian romancer, if it be not identical with it. It is the sportsman's paradise, the happy hunting-ground, where men learn to despise deer-stalking in the Highlands, and even tigershooting in the jungles of India. For ourselves, we have little sympathy with the lovers of sport; delighting more in the spectacle of the antelope herd grazing on the rich green pasture, than in the idea of galloping along the line and slaughtering the animals, from a mere desire to extinguish life. Yet this feeling is uncommon. Its contrary appears an instinct; and, to those possessed of that instinct, no region offers such a field as the far interior of South Africa.

The late Sir William Harris, who carried a rifle through many districts of the great forest-covered continent, exulted in its plenitude of game, and has recorded his adventures, as well as illustrated the objects of them, in a collection of magnificent plates. Another gentleman has now come before us, with an account of his achievements, in imitation of Nimrod. He carries away the palm from his predecessor, whose trophies he has outrivalled ; and the narrative of his adventures, now under review, is of unequal interest and originality. He may be said to have carried on a great war against the wild beasts of South Africa; laying the plan of his campaign, furnishing his waggons with abundance of provisions, and collecting a small number of followers, with all the necessaries for a protracted sojourn in those desolate wilds. Such scenery as there opened to his view was to him more pleasant than the fairest prospect in a civilized and peopled land-wild plains, bordered with mighty forests, full of gloom, and teeming with the elephant, the lion, the rhinoceros, the sea-horse, the gemsbok, and the brindled gnoo.

No traveller had hitherto penetrated into the Bamangwato country, and our hunter enjoyed thus a double pleasure. Magnificent objects of sport abounded, and a new region continually widened to his view, as he wandered through the savage and desolate wood, climbed the blue-peaked mountains, or chased the hippopotamus down the waters of some winding stream. Such, however, was the tone of our traveller's mind, that little was attractive to him but the game he destroyed. Landscapes of beauty and grandeur were unnoticed, and few accounts are

« FöregåendeFortsätt »