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herent delicacy, and want of nerve, peculiar to all of her soft kindand she, poor thing, had but very few nerves. Besides, it was extremely ungallant, and ungenerous : it was done by those who ought to have defended the weaker vessel- they took an undue advantage over her. Heavens! is this a reality, that is almost too much for imagination? What are the blossoms of the fairest of creation to do when the world comes to this? Yet this is the age of civilisation, and therefore, not the age of chivalry, because sages tell us that the two never go hand in hand! Yea, it is indeed not the age of chivalry. What will become of them, when their destined and natural protectors, not only neglect, but rise in arms against them ?
"Ah me,' I have no doubt but she sighed through her old dry bones - for she must have soliloquized on the occasion; "ah me! where are the days of chivalry? where are the roaming knights with whom the land teemed in days of yore? they, who were always ready to raise the buckler and couch the lance, when the cry of distress met their ever-listening ears? whose sole profession it was, to defend the abandoned and lovely—to feed the hungry-(I am sure I am empty enough)—to clothe the naked—(alas, look at my limbs !)—to fatten the thin-are these the defenders of the unfortunate ? the strengtheners of the weak? the succourers of the helpless ? the aiders of the forlorn ? or the comforters of the wretched ?"
Just as Pedestres had finished his quotation from the imaginary speech of the lady, he most unwittingly stepped on the end of the curled tail of a pug-dog, that lay asleep in the sun. There was a most piteous howl set up for a second or two, which disturbed Pedestres' reverie to a painful degree. Vexation, sorrow, (mingled with remorse,) and sympathy towards the offended extremity of the cur, now claimed his undivided attention for a few minutes. The injured party, however, soon lost the poignant twitchings of the agony-appeared more composed-and, turning round three times, in order to discover the most comfortable posture for another nap, again took up his quarters by laying them down.
Pedestres walked on, and shortly found himself in the bustle of High Street; but he unconsciously set himself to cull and collect his affrighted thoughts, that had been scattered from his possession as if they had been husks and chaff before the driving tempest.
“ Numerous and sturdy knights,” he continued, “lay all round the fair creature at the very moment of this foul play: yea, at the very time of her distress : it was enough to have called them from their graves : but yet, I suppose, they were as weak and empty as herself. She had so much to boast of—such attributes-(not that she would ever boast of them herself )- that I wonder she had not more friends and defenders : a more permanent flower never blew; the roses on her cheeks, and the cherries of her lips, glowed with as dazzling a vermilion to her last day, as they had done a hundred summers before : and her fair forehead and neck were as white as ivory. But why need I ponder over all this ? 'tis vain—’tis enough, 'tis enough. She was as blooming when she was buried, as she was a whole century before: what lady can say this of herself ?"
( To be continued.)
THE LIFE, OPINIONS, AND PENSILE ADVENTURES of
WITH RECOLLECTIONS OF HIS CONTEMPORARIES DURING
THE LAST THREE REIGNS.
EDITED BY THE AUTHOR OF “ OLD BAILEY EXPERIENCE."
“ ( grief beyond all other griefs, when fate
First leaves the young heart lone and desolate
“ Necessity is a bard taskmaster."
Aston's father was a waterman upon the river Thames, but dying suddenly, left his son an orphan, who, although at the time an apprentice, was pressed and sent to sea; where, the first day he was placed on board a man-of-war, he was started to compel him to go up aloft. Indignant and enraged at his cruel treatment, he turned round and struck the man who was belaying him with a rope's end, upon which the fellow took up a marling-spike, and gave Aston a tremendous blow upon the head, which fractured his skull, and left him for dead. Two days afterwards he was sent on shore to the hospital, from whence, after lying five months, he was discharged with a depression in his head, in which, after his hair was removed, the raised part of a penny bun might be laid. On his discharge he could obtain no remuneration for the usage he had received, and was told if he was not quiet he would be taken up and tried by a court-martial for mutiny, when he must expect to be hanged or flogged through the fleet. Finding that he had no redress from those who táx us for the protection of our persons and property, and that they were the very parties who had inflicted the injuries he had received, he fell into a melancholy state, and was supported in the workhouse for twelve months ; but one day a friend of his father's calling to see him, he all of a sudden became lively and excited, and shortly afterwards left the place to seek for employment. The subsequent history of his life is soon told; about one moiety of his time was spent in the most senseless, mad excitement, the least freedom with the glass depriving him of his senses; while, at intervals, he fell into periods of melancholy and depression, which brought on the most horrible feelings of despair and distress of mind. In this state he was picked up by an acquaintance of mine, who was the most famous man upon the town for putting away his palls; he was called Long Tom, not because he was
tall, but in consequence of his great length of run in the career of - crime. In this man's hands Aston was about three years, alternately
Continued from vol. xv. p. 44.
following and abandoning the professions of ramping and housebreaking, at all times being either in a state of raving or melancholy madness. The only wonder is, that he should have had so long a run, seeing that he never was a sane man; but I have often observed, that those who embark in desperate undertakings, when they go about them recklessly, generally succeed the best; and I believe Aston never cared or thought of consequences after the sailor gave him the blow with the marling-spike. Now I am old, and see things through a reflective mind, I consider this man's case among one of the judicial murders which were committed in my time.
“ The king of men his rev'rend priest defied,
And for the king's offence the people died.”
When I consider the principle of our press laws, and their effect, upon society, I have no hesitation in declaring that the government: have occasioned full one half of the crimes which have been committed in my time. When honest, unoffending, and industrious men, are dragged from wife and children without a moment's notice to prepare, or for the father to solicit a brother to give them some attention in his absence, what can be expected of the family left behind? The mother becomes mad, or nearly so, from distress and desperation; the sons, if old enough for reflection, despise and contemn the laws which first rob them and their mother of support, and then denounce death upon the widows and orphans they have made such, if distress urges them to commit a petty offence to preserve them . selves from starving: the daughters and younger sons, having no con-.. trol or superintending authority over them, take to the streets, and lay, the foundation for a new race of vagabonds. This began with the war ; forty years have shown the result of the system, but the end is not yet come; for every father the rulers stole, they left three individuals behind to become criminal, and to propagate and increase a like race, which must ever continue to annoy and harass the peaceful and respectable members of the community.* The errors of a bad government are sure to be apparent in the end, but then it is the people who suffer : in no instance has this been more conspicuous than in the impressment of men for the service of the navy. When I was a boy about the town, I had upwards of fifty acquaintances in my own walk among the sneaks, whose fathers had been pressed and carried, off to be placed at the cannon's mouth against their will; while the government, regardless of consequences or any principles of justice, left their children to starve in the streets. The busy, thoughtless world, think trillingly of these matters, looking only on the fair side of the question—the splendid victories our brave abused brethren have achieved, Oman! man! what a monster of hypocrisy thou art! Sending thy bishops and ministers of the gospel to preach to the people the benevolence of Christianity in the morning, and in the evening of the same day (the Sabbath) sending these ruffians into
* Jack Ketcb must bang by his own opinions. The editor had some intention of cutting out this rhapsody, but it is a pity not to let the suspender have his swing.
the streets with cutlass and pistols to rob the mother and the child of all they possess in the world. Freedom, we are told, cannot reign without them; but the practice of impressment sets the example of lawlessness, it disorders the whole mechanism of society. The legislators are the greatest criminals: they, through their agents, both rob and murder, and still worse, they cause a very large number of those whom it is their duty to protect and educate for virtuous purposes, to do the same they execute men one hour for a comparatively minor offence, and the next commit the greatest of crimes themselves—for surely no offence can exceed the stealing a father, on whichever side of the question we view it; whether we consider his own rights, or those of his family, it stands the foulest and most heinous in the list of crimes; although it be not to be found in the Old Bailey session papers, where those who patronize the system, if they had their deserts, would figure with heavy sentences affixed to their names.
I have said thus much on this subject, because I believe our legislators are as ignorant upon the mischievous effects of impressment, as they are upon many others which vitally affect the common weal, and the interests of society. In what they call general legislative principles, they lose sight of causes, which operating conti- i nuously, although slowly, bring about practical effects, which set all their theoretical laws at defiance. Whilst they are busily engaged in 'storming å fort, a mine is sprung under their feet, which no : humani ingenuity or power can prevent from taking effect. They.. break the statute laws of God by killing men merely for theft--they defile the land with blood upon trifling occasions--they make laws, for the good regulation of society, and are the first to break through all laws human and divine. That the heads of the government have committed crimes of the deepest dye under the impressment system,, is well known to me, but I have not room for the insertion of cases. The following, however, which is already embodied for me in a speech made in the Parliament House, is too striking to pass unnoticed., Mr. Meredith said : “ Under this act one Mary Jones was executed, which I shall just mention. It was at the time when press-warrants were executed, on the alarm about Falkland Islands. The woman's husband was pressed, their goods seized for some debt of his, and she, with two small children, turned a-begging. It is a circumstance, not to be forgotten, that she was very young, (under nineteen). and most remarkably handsome. She went to a linendraper's shop, took some coarse linen off the counter, and slipped it under her cloak; the shopman saw her, and she laid it down : for this she was hanged. Her defence was :-· That she lived in credit, and wanted for nothing, till à press-gang came and stole her husband from her; but since then, she had no bed to lie on-nothing to give her children to eat . and they were almost naked; and perhaps she might have done wrong, for she hardly knew what she did. The parish officers testified the truth of this story; but it seems there had been a good deal of shoplifting about Ludgate. An example was thought necessary; and this woman was hanged for the satisfaction of some shopkeepers about Ludgate Street. When brought to receive sentence, she behaved
in such a frantic manner, as proved her mind to be distracted ; and the child was sucking at her breast when she set out for Tyburn.
"Let us reflect a little on this woman's fate. The poet says, 'an honest man's the noblest work of God.' He might have said, with equal truth, that a beauteous woman is the noblest work of God. And for what cause is God's creation robbed of this, its noblest work? It was for no injury; but for a mere attempt to clothe two naked children by unlawful means. Compare this with what the law did. The state bereaved the woman of her husband, and the children of a father, who was all their support; the law deprived the woman of her life, and the children of their remaining parent, exposing them to every danger, insult, and merciless treatment, that destitute and helpless orphans suffer. Take all the circumstances together, I do not believe that a fouler murder was ever committed against law, thanı the murder of this woman by law. Some who hear me are perhaps blaming the judges, the jury, the hangman, but neither judge, jury, or hangman, are to blame; they are ministerial agents; the true hangman is the member of parliament: he who frames the bloody law is answerable for the blood that is shed under it."
This, I assure the world, is but one case out of numbers which have come under my notice, of distress and want bringing persons to the gallows, and that distress and want being occasioned by the robbery committed by government upon the family. The doctrine, that when the king wants men he must have them, should stand next in place to the maxim, that the first principle of government is to give the people justice. But it is not true that men need be stolen for the service of the navy, any more than for the army: and the service of the latter is very appositely illustrated by an anecdote told of a Quaker.
An honest country Quaker, who was lately driving his calf to Manchester market, put a flaming cockade upon one side of its head, and being met on the road by a friend, who inquired what he was driving before him, the Quaker replied in his plain country dialect, “ Doesn't thou see, friend, what I am driving before me ? A young recruit, to be sure." Upon which the other demanded of him where he was going? “ Why, where dost thou think I am going with him ?” answered the Quaker, “but to the butcher's slaughter-house.” The conduct of the Quaker would have been more censurable, and the fate of the calf would have occasioned more notice, however, had the latter been stolen, and the former been the thief.
At this period of my life I was one day summoned by the order of a great man, to attend him the following morning, at his house in
Square. The command was delivered by his steward, who informed me his master was a member of parliament, and lately had some compunctions of conscience regarding the severity of the criminal laws, regretting the part he had taken in their enactment: and, further, that he believed his master now meant to become very active in their repeal.
Having, in my time, had to do with many odd characters, I inquired of the steward whether he thought his master perfectly sane, that I