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· One of these it is said, a royal duke now deceased, paid him a very mysterious visit at twelve o'clock at night, three days only before his execution : how he came into the prison, or who conducted him through the devious and winding passages to the apartments occupied by the unhappy man, nobody to this day knows. The turnkey, who sate up that night, heard a knocking like the knocking of a man's hand against the room door, and a voice, saying, “ Let me in !" After some hesitation, conceiving it to be the governor of the prison, the man opened the door, and there beheld apparently a tall, robust man, but he was so muffled up in a cloak, and his face so much hidden by a slouched cap, evidently contrived so as not to be again recognised by a stranger. Fauntleroy, however, knew him under his disguise, and instantly exclaimed—“Ah! this is indeed kind.” The stranger put up his finger to enjoin silence and caution, then advancing close up to the prisoner said in an emphatic but suppressed voice :-“ I have done all I could—I have used my influence; but, Fauntleroy, it is of no avail. You have served me, and I am not unmindful of it. My inability to save your life distresses me beyond expression. Only to prove my sincerity am I here this night, to bring you the sad news myself. Hush! don't reply, discussion is now useless, and you must be aware there are cogent reasons why this interview should not be protracted. Farewell I farewell! your only trust is in God; consider the world as having already faded away before your eyes. Once more believe me your friend and for ever, farewell!” This strange visitant backed towards the door to prevent the jailor seeing his face, saying, “ You must stay with your prisoner; do not follow me, I know my way out:" and then left the room, leaving the man for some time in doubt whether he had seen an inhabitant of this or another world; so strange did it appear to him that any individual should have the power, at that hour, to penetrate the innermost recesses of this building of massive stone, and numerous ponderous doors encased and studded with protuberant knobs of hardened iron.
Upon reflection, the jailor was convinced that a great personage had been in the room : the prisoner's surprise, his implicit obedience to the injunctions laid upon him to be silent, his passing in and out the jail at such an unseasonable hour, were all proofs that he was no common man ; particularly as all who wished, during the day, might have free access to the person visited.
I hate, abhor, and detest the man who, upon any occasion, introduces the name of a female in any way which may give her pain or direct the public eye to a heart distressed, that they have no power to heal ; but all that appertains to the secrets of my prisonhouse, I may tell. Fauntleroy was constantly visited by Miss Forbes, the female with whom he lived, and in every respect treated as his wife, and who bore him a family. The case of this lady is rather a hard one; but the world, when they found her in trouble, did not fail to treat her with their usual tenderness. Her protector was a married man, who left his wife at the church door immediately after the ceremony was over, and this by previous agreement, as declared, on his part. Such an union was, therefore, not much disturbed by his passion for Miss Forbes, whom he would have married had he been at liberty to do so.
Although Mr. and Mrs. Fauntleroy had not visited since the day that united them, yet she flew to his consolation when he was the inmate of a prison. When he heard of her intention, he requested time to prepare himself for the trial; and even when she was in the next room, he was obliged to stipulate that the interview should be deferred until he had composed himself, saying, “ he would give a signal when he was prepared.” Their meeting was, as described to me, very affecting; she flew into his arms, and sobbed bitterly at his situation; and it was only by the judicious management of a female in the place that the two ladies did not more than once meet when making their visits. The fear of such an event transpiring, rendered much of his time miserable; it was therefore with feelings of satisfaction that he took his farewell of Mrs. Fauntleroy, upon which occasion he said, “ that he would not, for the wealth of the world, go through the scene of parting over again.” He had one son by his wife, and this too was a very distressing interview, the youth being nearly fourteen years of age, could appreciate his own and his father's situation, and how it was calculated to cross his path in life.
This miserable man, as the day which was to terminate his exist. ence approached, gradually sank into a state of insensibility ; being, in my opinion, from the middle of the night previous to his suffering, quite unconscious of that which was passing around him. Some persons have insinuated that he found a friend in the doctor of the prison, who sent him a nepenthe in the form of a drug the day previously. This may be true; there is, I have observed, a strange fellow feeling among those in the same walk of life, when one of their own class has committed a crime to bring himself into disgrace; and among some of the dissenting members from the church, it is an established doctrine that none of their own congregation are capable of backsliding, at least, they appear to have entered into a compact that such an occurrence shall never be admitted by them.
Mr. Fauntleroy complained bitterly of being exposed and tantalized by a condemned sermon; and it must be admitted, not altogether without reason. The Rev.Mr. Cotton took for his text, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” In preaching the sermon the reverend ordinary took occasion to say, “Our erring brother's offence is of great magnitude, and one of the most dangerous description in a commercial country. In extent it is, perhaps, unparalleled in the history of crimes of this description. It was chiefly committed upon the most extensive and opulent establishment in Europe, the Bank of England ; the directors of which, with their wonted humanity, on discovering the forgeries, replaced the stock in the names of the ori. ginal holders, who otherwise would, in many instances, have been brought to ruin by the prisoner's conduct." This was certainly stepping out of the way to aggravate the sufferings of the unhappy man; and was very unlike the usual conduct of the ordinary, who is really a liberal, humane, and good man. Why was his offence greater be. cause committed upon a wealthy body? And why so preposterously
laud the Bank Directors, who are marked out as the least humane and unrelenting body in the whole world? Their reign in Threadneedle Street is, like that of Henry the Eighth's, marked with blood and savage recklessness of human life.
A man within a few hours of undergoing a violent death, need no aggravation of his misery, to make him sensible of his condition.
“ The weariest and most loathed worldly life,
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment,
To drag a man out of his solitude, to rate him, and before a congregation of mercenary, cold-hearted city muck-worms, paint his crime in the most vivid and outrageous colours, is a species of cruelty most unwarrantable; and cannot but be pronounced conduct only known and applauded among savages, who add torture to the sentence of death.
The reverend ordinary is not responsible for the practice, which is a vile and an abominable one in the extreme. As before said, this odious duty is generally performed with good feelings and taste; but the desire to tickle the ears, and flatter a few monied men, whom a cold-hearted curiosity had brought together upon the occasion, for once betrayed a good man into error.
At one time, the feelings of malefactors were disturbed, agonized, and irritated, by being exposed to the public at large, who paid for admission to the chapel. When, however, one of the men from the condemned pew mixed with the crowd, and actually got as far as the outer lobby, disguised in female clothes, which had been hastily thrown over hiin, before he was discovered, an alteration took place. But it should be reformed altogether. Nothing should be done to irritate a man when limited in time to make his peace with God: it is astonishing that wiser heads than mine have not before seen the necessity of conducting these matters differently. Expressing my surprise one day to a gentleman who occasionally called on me for his own views, that a person of Fauntleroy's station should have so far committed himself, he said :-" I see you are but half informed in the ways of the world's roguery; you know the character of those that you have associated with, and their hooky-crooky ways; but you must not suppose that all the rest of mankind have any natural bias to honesty. Interest, policy, and self-love, are the governing principles. Men, in their heart, acknowledge no fixed or general principle of justice among each other : the name, it is true, is in every man's mouth, and is written in upwards of one thousand volumes of law reports; but nobody ever saw the fair form of the lady, or knows where she dwells. Some say she certainly had once an existence upon this earth; but that an odious marriage being proposed between herself and Midas, whom she abhorred, she threw herself into the sea near the famous city of Tyre, to avoid the unnatural union; upon which the waters turned to blood, and hence the name of the Red Sea. But," continued the gentleman, “ as I understand you are an author, you shall have some remarks which I have written upon Fauntleroy's and Hunton's cases.” He kept his word, and I have published them as delivered to me.
Most men agree, that gaming is a vice which demoralizes mankind; but cannot, or will not see, that a very large portion of the trading community wholly subsists by the practice. In the sporting world at the west end of the town, the many bring their money to the table, for the few to win, and aggrandize themselves : it is the same at the Stock and Royal Exchange in the City, only the name of the game at which they play differs.
The winners in St. James's, as they retire from the table with their money, mount their blood horses, gallop over the turf, and range themselves beside the members of our aristocracy, among whom they forthwith claim a place; and are as regularly admitted, if rumour has been sufficiently active in circulating the amount of their winnings. The citizen, who has been playing the game of speculation, and inveighing against rouge et noir, after cheating, and taking unfair advantage of all the novices which came in his way-breaking his faith with two bundred intimate friends, to enrich himself-shaking hands, and professing eternal friendship with two hundred new acquaintances, and having ten times been on the verge of bankruptcy-effected four compositions with his creditors-sued fifty-five of his nearest intimates into the walls of a prison, and been three times within an ace of being discovered in his practice of raising money upon fictitious or forged acceptances decorates himself in an aldermanic gown-visits Newgate, pathetically mourns over the prevailing vices of the town—eats his turtle, and after swallowing a due proportion of wine, drives home to his suburban villa, after the fatigues of the day, to lecture his children in what he calls a knowledge of the world, and what a wonderful man he himself has been in it.
This is no overcharged picture of nine-ténths of those who live in the gambling speculative market of London, where all the worst passions of man are called into play, “ Envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness.”
“ London! opulent, enlarged, and still increasing London," although first in science and in arts, contains much to make the life of man wretched, and to pollute his soul: there is no defining the social state of its inhabitants. Squalor and splendour are alternately, as you thread your way through the streets, predominant. The teacher of morals to-day, is at the bar of the Old Bailey to-morrow; and the culprit liberated from the Penitentiary last week, is a theological teacher to hundreds the next.
The motions of those who consider themselves superior bodies, would be in excellent order and perfection, did not the putrid exhalations from the gross matter of ambition in some, the envy of others, and the wickedness of all, become precursors of prodigious mischief: the girdle of Até invests the metropolis; happy are those who reside out of it-“God made the country, but man made the town." In such a place as London, where nineteen twentieths of the people are trading to the extreme of their capital, and more than one half upon a fictitious one, the only surprise is, that there should be so few cases of forgery; I mean detected cases, for the actual number is beyond all calculation : there are few who have had hard struggles to avoid the rocks, and to sail round the gulf of trade, that do not know how correctly I am informed, when I say some few years since, forgery to a great extent among regular tradesmen, was an every-day practice, while, perhaps, none intended a fraud. This emanated from the struggles of drowning men, who, in the false system of trade carried on at the time, having made a few steps up the ladder, were unwilling to be thrust down again. If a steady, regular trade be a benefit to a country, nothing can be more detrimental or hurtful to its interest, than having in it a body of traders, who are permitted with empty pockets to occupy the position of wealthy capitalists. Such men it is who divert and impede the regular current of trade, by projecting specious, but Utopian schemes for shortening the road to the temple of riches : to convert the town into a large gaming arena, where only a few can win, but all must be unsettled and demoralized in principle.
The knowledge that where adventurous speculations abound, a small sum of money may lead to fortune, must, in its very nature, lead to crime: had not Fauntleroy known that the gambling money market was open to him, and flattered himself that some day he might make, as others had done, a hit by speculation, (to express the term elegantly, vulgarly, by gambling,) he would not, in all probability, have ventured on so dangerous an expedient, to prop the falling walls of his own and his partners' house.
In the next case (Hunton's) I shall treat this question more at large; and now take the opportunity of introducing two anecdotes ; one illustrative of city speculation, and the other of city honesty and honour: both of which deserve a place on the page of history.
In the year of the panic (1826) a gentleman in the North of England, who had lived in good style, died, leaving two grown-up sons, part of a large family, behind him: contrary to the expectations of his children, when his affairs were examined, there was found to be a little more property than was sufficient to satisfy the demands against the estate.
Some gentleman in the neighbourhood, feeling for their situation and disappointment, advised both of the young men to repair to London and endeavour to obtain situations; and further to facilitate these objects, and assist them, he wrote a letter of introduction to an eminent citizen, directing them to present it immediately on their arrival in the metropolis.
When the person to whom the letter was addressed read its contents, he commiserated their situation, invited them to dinner the same day, and immediately commenced his inquiries among his friends for situations which he judged might suit them, and, within a few hours, obtained the late Sir William Curtis's consent, to admit the eldest into his banking house as a clerk. While the good man, who resided in the neighbourhood of the India House, was thus engaged, the young northerns took a walk to survey the modern Babylon, and we may judge of their patron's surprise, when three weeks elapsed before either of them again made their appearance at his house. The reader must be informed, that both the young men had brought in