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Here must we end, in the hope that some may be induced to read Lamb, who are now ignorant of him, and for his sake peruse the glorious old volumes “ whence he drew honied sweets"—those golden books, whose names and contents will ever be deeply impressed on the mind of the scholar, for, as ancient Chaucer writes,
“ Out of the old fields, as men saithe
Cometh all this new corn fro yere to yere
Cometh all this new science that men lere.”
FROM THE FRENCH OF VICTOR HUGO.
“O! ma charmante
Et pleure anssi !"
'Tis dawn, but the door of thy chamber is fast !
Why sleepest thou, Love, at the morning's fair break?
Listen, my charmer,
Thy lover is near-
Aurora speaks to thee from Heaven above;
Listen, my charmer,
Thy lover is near-
For He, who the blessing of life doth impart,
Then listen, my charmer,
Thy lover is near-
A NEW WAY OF FOOLING A JURY.
-These are they Who'll show pleaders how to twist a causeSo you but pay them for't-right or wrong."
ARISTOPHANES. I REMEMBER to have read, not long since, of an ingenious artifice practised by a lawyer, who was defending a man for bigamy. The principal witness for the prosecution was the second wife of the wouldbe Turk, but when she appeared upon the stand the defendant's counsel objected to her testimony on the following grounds. “The witness either is or is not the wife of the prisoner: if she is not his wife, the prosecutor must abandon his case ; if she is his wife, her evidence is of course not admissible.” This instance of ingenious quibbling reminds me of an incident of somewhat different character, which I heard not long since from the lips of a friend, and which is unquestionably true. I shall tell it as it was told to me, hoping that others may laugh at it as heartily as I did.
The proneness of mankind to meddle with the property and privi. leges of others has made the court-house and jail an indispensable appurtenance of every county-town. The little town of R- was no exception to this rule, for light fingers and tough consciences frequently made sad inroads into the moral character and general reputation of the village, and the old-fashioned court-house, with its grated and blackened cells, was frequently put in requisition to avenge the robbery of some farmer's hen-roost, or the invasion of some peaceful burgher's privileges. On the 19th day of June, 1845—I wish the reader to mark the date—the county jail contained but one prisoner. This man, who was a reckless young scoundrel, and a criminal rather from the love of excitement, than the promptings of a corrupt heart, had never been particularly fond of a life of quiet retirement, and his present abode, although furnished gratis by the State, was anything but consistent with his notions of happiness and comfort. He was quite a genius in his way-a man of shrewdness and ingenuity, and well educated withal—and to have his abilities cribbed and coffined by imprisonment, was anything but pleasant to his taste : it was a sort of Lock on the Understanding which he did not at all fancy; the bars of his prison were rather graiing to his feelings.
But Bill Steele, as he was very appropriately named for he was sure to steal every thing which fell in his way-Bill, I say, was something of a philosopher, and having reached the conclusion-after sundry interesting experiments—that escape from his cell was impossible, submitted quietly to his fate and determined to wait patiently for the day of release-especially as his grim guardian, irritated by his
frequent attempts at escape, had put chains upon his hands and feet, and then cooly advised him to escape if he could—a bit of advice which Bill justly termed ironical. The reader may perhaps be a little curious to know the circumstance to which Bill was indebted for bis confinement in his present comfortless abode. The fact was, that a wealthy farmer in the neighborhood was aroused one night by a very suspicious noise in an adjoining room, and instantly bounding from his bed-leaving his cara sposa in a state of most beautiful terror and consternation-hurried to the scene of “ robbery and ruin.” Plunging into the room like a huge porpoise diving to the depths of the ocean, he found our unlucky friend Bill in a state of semi-intoxication, cooly pocketing a heap of silver spoons. Bill received the angry intruder with a look of mingled wonder and good nature, and observing the scantiness of his personal wardrobe, stammered out with most ludicrous impudence, and a most comical disregard of his own suspicious employment, “h-hallo, my covey, wh-who st-stole your breeches !" The farmer answered by a clutch at his throat and an application of his foot to the burglar's person, not at all pleasant to that wondering individual, who termed it afterwards “ a new way of footing a Bill," and answered it then with a handfull of bouncing oaths and a polite inquiry as to " what the d-devil it all meant." The angry farmer replied by a more vigorous application of his bare feet-rather a bootless effort, one would think—and finally ended the serio-comico affair by calling in a constable and sending Bill to jail.
This event occurred on the 12th of June. On the 19th of the same month, just one week later, Bill is first introduced to the reader. On the 19th of June, then-Juniors will easily remember the date-Bill's afternoon nap was interrupted by a noise in an adjoining cell. The rattling of keys-the dull sound of an iron door slowly opened-the confused murmur of many voices-all announced that another bird was being securely caged. Bill's curiosity was instantly excited. Many and varied were his surmises as to the name of the prisonerthe offence for which he had been arrested—the probable evidence against him-and his pecuniary circumstances. I can't say that Bill really pitied his fellow-prisoner, for the old adage, that“ misery loves company,” applied to the present case, and effectually barred the door io any such emotion ; but, as I said before, Bill's curiosity was aroused; he was constantly wondering whether some profitable juice might not be squeezed from this new lemon of circumstances—whether “out of the nettle danger” he might not " pluck the flower safety." Accordingly, when the jailer, taking his usual evening round, entered Bill's narrow apartment, the latter commenced an operation technically called “pumping,” and was very soon in possession of the facts which he had so eagerly desired to learn.
He threw himself upon his narrow bed that night, but not to sleep. His yankee ingenuity was a kind of perpetual-motion machine, whose wheels and rods were never still, and which completely banished slumber. “ Poor devil !” he muttered. “ Robbing a traveler and almost caught in the act! Bad business-decidedly bad-State's Prison, as sure as fate! I don't object to robbing—not a bit-but cuss the man that's caught at it—except”-added the soliloquizer as he thought of his own funny experience—“except when he happens to be considerably tipsy. And so the traveler lost his purse-yelled murder till three or four surly farmers appeared, and then my friend in the next room made tracks for the woods. All very well, if he had only stayed there, but the next day he came out and was nabbed. All fair though,” added Bill, as the dawn of a rising pun spread itself over his face—"all perfectly fair! Wrests a purse from a cove in the morning and rests in jail at night! What a restive critter, to be sure !" For more than an hour Bill continued his soliloquy, muttering to himself in short and broken sentences the strange thoughts to which his situation gave birth, but at no time losing sight of the one great element in a yankee's speculations-self-interest. Days and weeks and then a month went by, and still Bill's prospects of escape were none the brighter. The more he thought of it the stronger became his conviction that if he could only put himself in communication with his fellow-prisoner, the two together might effect an escape. He lay one night upon his straw pallet, revolving such thoughts in his mind, puzzling his brains for a bright idea, when suddenly a plan of such wonderful brilliance entered his mind-like Sirius slowly floating into the field of a powerful telescope—that he jumped quickly from his bed and danced about the room, rattling his chains with the fury of a madmana noise which very soon brought his jailer to the door, who ordered him to be quiet, and surlily intimated that he must be very fond of his chains, since he danced in them so noisily. “ Yes, you're right !” said Bill, with a sigh, “ I'm strongly attached to them ;” and then with a chuckle he tumbled into bed again.
The nature of Bill's plan, the progress of events will disclose, and it is only necessary now to say, that a free and uninterrupted communication with his fellow-prisoner in the adjoining cell, was a necessary condition to the success of his plan. Both cells—his own and the adjacent one-had a single grated window opening into a small courtyard, surrounded by a very strong and high wall, and these windows, elevated but about five feet above the ground, would enable the occupant of a cell and a person on the outside to converse easily and freely. The point with Bill therefore was to obtain frequent access to this court-yard, and seizing upon the most natural pretext, he feigned illness. His complaints were unceasing ; he pretended an inability to eat his food; and he constantly assured his keeper that health and even life depended upon his breathing fresh air. That dignitary, with all his habitual gruffness and sternness of demeanor, was by no means hardhearted, and really believing that a taste of the summer air would save his prisoner from a severe fit of illness, readily gave him permission to walk in the court-yard for an hour or two each day.
Bill thanked him warmly, and marched out into the open air with the wan and downcast look of an invalid ; but no sooner was he left alone, than instead of quietly moving about in the sunlight, he approached the window of his companion in misfortune, and tapping
lightly on the bars, was soon engaged with him in a low and earnest conversation. The latter, whom for the sake of convenience I shall term Monk, resembled Bill very much in his personal appearance, and was in reality as graceless a knave as ever lived unhung, and yet endowed with a vast amount of sly cunning and ingenuity. I shall repeat only the substance of the conversation which passed between these two worthies, for the conversation itself was interlarded with too many oaths and vulgarities, relieved now and then by a sly pun from Bill, to make it fit for “ ears polite.” Bill made a proposition to Monk of this nature, that if he would engage to give him two hundred dollars, and at the same time inform him of all the circumstances of the robbery for which he had been arrested, he on his part would procure him an acquittal at the hands of a jury. The proposition startled Monk, who was too knavish himself to have any confidence in the honesty of others, and he at first rejected it; but after thinking it over carefully-reflecting that it formed his only chance of escape-that the evidence against him was so strong as to shut out all hopes of acquittal, unless extraordinary means were used, and that if Bill should fail in his plan he could keep his money and be no worse off than before he finally consented to the proposition.
Early the next morning Bill resumed his position beneath the grated window of Monk's cell, and in a low and hurried conversation, which lasted nearly an hour, elicited all the circumstances connected with the robbery of the traveler. It appeared from Monk's statement that the evidence against him was so formidable as to repel the idea of any. thing like an ordinary defence. He had pounced suddenly upon the traveler, who was a fat, Dutch-built specimen of humanity, in a lonely part of his journey, where the road wound through the northern portion of a swampy forest, and while engaged in the pleasant occupation of sounding his pockets, from which he had already abstracted a wallet and a well filled purse, he was disturbed by the approach of a brace of sturdy farmers, whose rapid pace and threatening gestures induced Monk to beat a retreat to the shades of the woodland; not, however, until the intruders had a fair view of his features and costume. Monk soon lost sight of his pursuiers, and hiding himself in a narrow cavern, whose entrance was choked with vines and leaves, examined his plunder in safety. The wallet contained a roll of bank-bills, and the purse a small amount of silver, together with a diamond ring, encased in a small box lined with cotton. Monk's eyes glistened as his glance fell upon the gem, and like a true connoisseur he sat for a long time feasting his gaze upon its brilliance, and calculating its probable value. His thoughts then reverted to the danger which encompassed him, for pursuit he knew was unavoidable, and once arrested, the evidence against him would be overwhelming. There was but one thing at all remarkable in his costume. He wore about his neck a crimson scarf, which both from its size and color he thought might expose him to detection. His first movement then was to remove this dangerous appendage, and after hiding it in a crevice in the rock to substitute in its place a white handkerchief, which gave him a ministerial appearance but little suited