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Miscellany: Professor Wright's Letters From England

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Lokdon, Aug. 24, 1844. There is, not fa r ('rom St. Paui's Cathedral, a dingy, forbidding pile of stone buildings, ernbracing under ihesame cowp d'aeil two spots, the names of which are familiar ío all who understand English, Newgate and the old Bailey. In the latter sit the courts of criminal law, or as they are perhaps more appropriately called, the criminal courts. The two structures are scarcely separable by the unassisted eye, and I think it likely there is some direct commiuiication by means of which prisoners may be transferred from one to the other, without daYiger of intérference by the mob. Determined to ee au Engüsh criminal court, I selected a day when it seerned about asdifficult to get into the old Bailey as t would be for a prisoaer to get out of Newgate. It was the last day of the trial of Dr. Belamy for the murder of his vife. The vestibules, stnirways and corridors of the court room were all well crammed,so that it was not (ho matter to reach the doors; and vvHen I had reached ti door, I found it imponible to get in without the application of two small keys, viz: a shilling and a sixpence. The doorkeeper strongly recommendcd me to wet the keys in a "drop of beer," but, asa temperance man, I was determined they seould work dry, or not at all. Somewhere about the building I afterwardssaw it inscribed on a blackboard that thedoorfceepers were not to take fees, but it must be something moro than a black-board to eonvince an English doorkeèper thathe'is not to magnify his office as other higher functionaries do. Besides, it would be debasing theatricalstoo much to permitsuch úc farce as this turned out to be, to be seen íbr nothing. The room is a very plain one, and not quite so large as the Supreme Court room in Boston. Over the centre of the bench is a small plain sounding board or canópy, surmounted by the üon and that other beast going to fight for the crown of these realms, on which crown stands ánother little üon, looking as if he would bite. Underneath the sounding board, Close to the wall, ís hung, not the sword oF DámocleS, but a straight sword, properly laid in its scabbard, with the point upwards. The inquiry occurred tome, if a halter with a slip knot, would not have been more expressive. When will the Christian world have done with the codeof Draco? I confess I do not dare to take the svvord out of the hands of the magisirate when he stands to protect the law abiding f rom the assaults of the lawless; but that the sword or the halter should be used in cold blood upon the poor captiveculprif, no less outrages my reason than it revoltsmy feelings. It isgratuitous cruelty. To men in a state of mind to commit murdcr, death has no terrors. If proof of the folly of capita] punishment were wanted, this very case of Dr. Belamy would furnish sufficient. - Here were great and profound judges, and grave and acute lawyers sitting in their robes and wigs, and sberifüs in purpleand fur, and the twelve pure disinterested men - the body-guardof Bntish justice - in the jury box, and a solemn assembly óf on lookers, that justice without fear or favor may be done. And what happens? A man is brought to the bar in regard to whom therë is no reasonable doubt that he poisoned a young and lovely wife, while professing the greatest afïbction for her, developing a malignity and callousness of soul, seldom if ever equalled in the annals of Newgate, and yet a doubt is conjured up, and he is acquitted. Why, if his own story was true, he is quite unfit to be abroad in society, on account of his utter recklessness., and yet he is turned loose again. I cnnnotconceive it possible that such a criminal could have escaped punishment, if the penalty had been irnprisonment for lite instead of death. The circumstances of this foul blot upon hntnan nature, are these. Dr. Belamy married the only daughter of a widow lady in thenorthof Englandr having a property of about L6000. He had a peculiar passion for falconry, and wrote a book upon tne'spprt. On hismarriage, hc reliriquished his profession and undertook the management of the property of his bride and her mother. Her mother soon died and was buried, and Dr. Belamy had her death entered in the parisuregister as of bilious fever. Last June - he had been married a year and a half - he and his wife executed wills, by which each left their property to the other, in the event of death. Soon after, they carne to see London. In a day or two after his arrival, he wrote to his agent at home, that his wife was so ill that he was obliged to remove her to lodgings, and have two medical men in attendance, when at the time nothing of the kind was true. He bought prussic acid and acétate of morphine, poisons which he had some four years before used medicinally in his own case. A day or two after he had written the above letter, one morning he called up his landlady to see his wife, who was suddenly ill. She was in convulsions and directly died. The husband declaréd it was a fit, f rom adisense of the hear't - Ihat she would not come out of it, and that her mother had died of the same disease. But when urged to do something, he put her fcet in warm water, and applied a mustard poultice! A physician was sent for, who arrived after her death. An inquest was held. and a post-morlem axamination. After Dr. Belamy knew ihat the contents of the stomach weré to be analyzed, then' he disclosed to one of his friends that his wife died of prussic acid, which, he said, intending to take himself, he had procured, and while trying to open the phia], had broken the neck oiF and nou red the acid in a tumber tosave it. - This was in the bedroom -where his wife was, and he left the acid in the tumblcr, went into nnother room to get another phial, (where he knew ihere was not one) forgot himself, and sat down ío write a letter to his friend. In the mean time, his wife, who had been taking salts, wanted some water, poured some into the tumbler of poison and drank it, His story is, moreover, that hc was so much ashamsd of his carclessness in leaving the poison oxposed, that he did not state the true cause of d&ath, but feigned another. Yet the fatal ' íact is, that while he knew the cause, he did not apply the easy remedy, viz: cold water, which as a medical man, and one who had used the poison upon himself, he must have known. but did apply other remedies which 'he knew to be perlectly useless! There were man y other strong circumstances against him, but this seemed to prove beyond doubt, that heintended his wife should die. Il was proved that the prisoner hadahvays lived on terms of apparent afifection with his wife, and she was not far f rom benig a mother. Butto judge by his looks, one would rather have been his hawk lhan his wife. He looked the picture of selfishness, like a cat that can "play, and after slay." Surcly, the cause of justice is injured by' having such a wretch escape because it is just possible for a weak-minded juror to conjure up the shadovv of a" doubt in his favor. The defence was said to be very able and eloquent. Unfortunately, I' did not hear it, but only thö summing up of the prosecution by a Mf. Bodkin, and a very dullbodkin he was - just such a prosecutor as a murderer might like. The charge of the judge was very lucid, but delivered naudibly.


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