Page images

against whom the Court, probably with reason, thought the evidence complete.

At the September Sessions at the Old Bailey, a long array of prosecutions for forgery reappeared, but attended with clear proofs that, on this subject, it was no longer safe to overlook the excited feelings of the public. Thirty-eight persons were arraigned on the capital charges of forging notes, or knowingly uttering them; and also on the minor charge of knowingly possessing them. A scene appears to have taken place among these wretched persons very unsuitable to the deliberation and gravity of a court of justice. Such was the general confusion, that one prisoner pleaded guilty to the capital charge, and not guilty to the inferior charge. Another confessed his guilt, retracted, and afterwards repeated his confession, and at last pleaded not guilty. As the trials advanced, the Juries began to manifest that they shared the general feeling of their countrymen. One Jury desired that the forgery of the signature to the note should be proved by the signing clerk whose name had been used, instead of the Bank inspector, whose evidence had hitherto been thought sufficient. On the next day, a Juryman declared that he was not satisfied by the affirmation of the witnesses that the notes were forgeries, and that he desired to ascertain how these witnesses knew them to be so. The ordinary course of the Bank had been to indict for the transportable as well as the capital offence; to forbear offering evidence to affect life against known forgers, who had pleaded guilty on the charge of knowingly possessing counterfeit notes; but to proceed to the last extremity against all who refused to own that they were guilty of that offence. On the 18th September, two women, in spite of the sincerely humane advice of the prosecutors and judges, refused to purchase life by the confession of their crimes. The first, a miserable prostitute, alleged that she had received the forged note from a man unknown to her;-one of those defences which might in her case be true, and yet impossible for her to prove. She was convicted.-Another woman, unappalled by this example, persevered in her plea of not guilty, and was acquitted. Had this woman accepted the proffered mercy of her prosecutors, we must now presume that she would have been unjustly transported. It became apparent, after her acquittal, that many innocent persons might have suffered that punishment; that the life or death of those who were charged with forgery, might often depend on their possessing nerves strong enough to encounter the danger of a capital trial; that bold guilt might often escape, and timid innocence frequently suffer. It is a melancholy consideration

hat, however undesignedly, the fear of

death may have been employed, in the administration of justice, to deter those who were conscious of no crime from proving that they were guiltless.

At the December Sessions, it was thought necessary to produce all the evidence of forgery which had been formerly called superfluous, and at last to permit the examination of the Bank witnesses respecting the grounds of their knowledge, which till that time had been generally understood to be interdicted. But the public feeling was now too deep to be conciliatcdby these concessions. In the face of all this evidence, two persons were acquitted, on the perfectly unimpeachable ground that the Jury did not believe the notes to be forgeries. From that moment the capital prosecutions were relinquished; and Juries, with the same, or very similar evidence, easily convicted several prisoners of the inferior offence. One other circumstance occurred during these last Sessions. Three prisoners, capitally convicted in September, and whose fate had remained in suspense during the intermediate three months, were executed immediately after the acquittals in December. These criminals, it must be observed, were convicted on that evidence, and under those restraints on examination, to which the prosecutors and judges seem, in the prosecutions in December, to have no longer adhered; and they were executed for forgery at the moment when capital prosecutions for that crime appeared, to say the least, to be suspended.

We have thus shortly recorded, and reminded the public of the proceedings which relate to a subject deeply connected with the reestablishment of the moneyed system, and with the principles of the Penal Code;-two most important objects, which have already interested the minds of the nation at large, and have the strongest claims on the deliberate consideration of Parliament.

ART. X. Travels from Vienna through Lower Hungary; with some Remarks on the State of Vienna during the Congress, in the Year 1814. By RICHARD BRIGHT, M. D. 4to. Edinburgh, Constable & Co. London, Longman & Co. 1818.

TH HIS is evidently the work of a very amiable and intelligent man, who has observed, with the utmost diligence, every thing remarkable that came within the sphere of his observation-and set down in his book, perhaps with too much minuteness, everything that he had so observed. We feel the most

perfect confidence, both in the fidelity of his representations, and in the fairness and intelligence with which his surveys have been conducted. But we think he has, on many occasions, overrated the value of the details he has collected; and thus rendered his work less attractive than it might easily have been made, if he had confined himself to a more rapid sketch of the extraordinary things he had seen, or a more summary statement of the knowledge he had acquired. Nothing else, we think, but such a compression of his materials, was necessary to render this book eminently agreeable and instructive:-for the narrative part is written throughout in a very lively and pleasing manner;-and the whole work is pervaded by a spirit not merely of humanity and good sense, but of cheerfulness and good humour, that renders us the willing companions of his adventures, and the patient listeners of the statistical lectures which, with a goodnatured earnestness, he sometimes obtrudes a little too lavishly on our notice.

The great theme of the book, as the title imports, is Hungary: of the agriculture, vineyards, flocks, dairies, mines, roads, castles and towns, of which we have a more full and particular account than could easily be furnished of most of the districts of England. There are two preliminary chapters about Vienna; which are the most lively, and, we should think, will be the most popular parts of the volume:-though the author probably regards them as far inferior in value to the more substantial discourses that follow. They contain a very good and interesting account of the Austrian capital, and the various institutions and establishments which it contains. But the gayest part of the picture is copied from a less permanent original-or derives at least no small share of its attraction from the peculiar traits which it borrowed from the memorable Congress of Sovereigns and Ministers which took place in that city in 1814-and made royalty for a while so common, that we could not pass through a crowd without jostling a monarch. Dr Bright came into contact with this distinguished crowd the very day after his arrival in Vienna, and has made a very striking picture of the scene which then presented itself. He went to a place called the Redoute, in company with an Austrian gentleman, and entered the room about nine o'clock in the evening.

'Never was an assembly less ceremonious; every one wore his hat; many, till the room became heated, their great coats; and no one pretended to appear in an evening dress, except a few Englishmen, who, from the habits of our country, and some little vanity, generally attempt to distinguish themselves by an attention to outward appearance. Around the whole circumference of the room were four or five rows of benches, occupied, for the most part, by well

dressed females; while the other parts presented a moving multitude, many of whom were in masks, or in dominos, and were busily engaged in talking and laughing, or dancing to the music of a powerful orchestra. My companion squeezed my arm, as we passed a thin figure with sallow shrunken features, of mild expression, with a neck, stiff, bending a little forwards, and walking badly. "That is our Emperor." I shook my head and smiled. He was alone, and dressed like the rest. "Pray allow me to doubt a little till I have some farther proof."-" There, do you see that little man with white hair, a pale face, and aquiline nose? He was almost pushed down as he passed the corner;-that is the King of Denmark." Again I shook my head in disbelief." Here the Emperor of Russia approaches." I looked up, and found the information true. His fine manly form, his round and smiling countenance, and his neat morning dress, were not to be mistaken; they were the same which, some months before, I had seen enter the church at Harlem, to the thundering peals of the grand organ. I soon recognised the tall form, the solemn and grave features, of the King of Prussia; and afterwards seeing these two in familiar conversation with the two monarchs, whose pretensions I had disputed, was satisfied their claims were just." That short, thick, old gentleman, is the Grand Duke of Saxe Weimar. That young man near him, the Crown Prince of Wirtemberg. Here, turn your eyes to that seat. The large elderderly man, with a full face, he looks like an Englishman, he is the King of Bavaria. "-" Pardon," I exclaimed, stepping quickly aside. "That was the Grand Duke of Baaden," said my monitor," whose toe you trod upon; he was talking to Prince William of Prussia. Here, fall back a little to let these gentlemen pass; they seem very anxious to go on. One, two, three, four, five;-these are all Archdukes of Austria.-There seems a little press towards that end of the room. See, three women in masks have beset the King of Prussia; he seems not a little puzzled what he shall do with them.-Now a party of waltzers draws the attention of the crowd, and the King is left to dispose of his fair assailants as he thinks fit.-Do you see that stout tall man, who looks at the dance?-he is the Duke of Saxe Cobourg; and by his side, not so stout as himself, is his brother the Prince Leopold. "Who is this young man next to us, marked with the small-pox, who is speaking broken English?"" It is the Crown Prince of Bavaria; he is said to be very fond of your nation. And here," giving me another hearty squeeze with his elbow, "is an English milord." He had upon his head a remarkably flat cocked hat,-two ladies in dominos leaned upon his arm. The hat, unique of its kind, rather excited a smile in my companion. After a little more pushing, for the room was now become very full, we encountered a fine dark military looking man, not in uniform of course, but with mustachoes. "This was Beauharnois, viceroy of Italy."p. 10-12.

The out of doors scene was not less peculiar, less lively,

or less strangely mixed. The following is a sketch of the


The assemblage of carriages in this procession is singularly varied. As the Emperor of Austria passes in one direction, driving the Empress in a phaeton with a pair of quiet horses, and a single servant standing behind, the Count Trautmannsdorf, the master of the horse, is passing in the contrary direction, with a curricle or barouche and six. Immediately before the Emperor the carriage which impedes his progress is a fiacre, hired by a little shopkeeper to take his wife and child an airing in the Prater. Behind him, scarcely restrained by his orderly example, are the impatient wheels of a tilbury, guided by a young English lord; next follows a sort of truncated chariot, with a notch cut in the front to receive a coachman, folded in an old cloak, with ornaments of coarse fur, a large misshapen cocked hat, edged with tarnished lace, and a short crooked pipe stuck in the corner of his mouth. This carriage was hired by a young Polish Count, at the rate of twelve shillings per day, to be constantly in waiting for him.-The next carriage is an open landau, with four horses, very plain, nay, scarcely respectable; it contains the King of Prussia, and three of his diplomatic corps. Then the carriage of a wealthy banker; next a green brischca, in which two young men are lounging at their ease; the cockade is Sardinian. The next is a chariot and four, with two postillions in blue, with cocked hats; the livery is that of the Prince Liechtenstein. Then follows an open carriage, with two very pretty women, well dressed, but rather gaily for the place;-no one knows who they are. This curricle and pair, fitted out exactly in the English style, and followed by two out-riders, is the Prince N. Liechtenstein; and this handsome English carriage, driven four-in-hand, which breaks a little from the line, is the English ambassador's. On the turf gallops the Emperor of Russia upon a large gray horse, and with him Prince Eugene Beauharnois, subduing a fiery black. The Emperor is dressed in a blue coat and buckskins, and is followed by a single groom. Those who now spur their horses into a gallop,-follow a hare,— or, leap the rails!-who does not know the country to which they belong? Now a carriage draws up to the side near the houses of refreshment, and the Pascha of Widdina lights with his companion, and, followed by a servant carrying his hookah, all are dressed in fullEastern costume, and the Pascha is going to enjoy his pipe over a cup of coffee. In short, the carriages and costumes of the whole of Europe, both civilized and uncivilized, were at this moment to be seen in the drive at Vienna. The numerous tables which stand beneath the groves of trees, are filled with mixed parties; they generally look like families; some of the females have brought their work. A few officers out of uniform sit in groups, and, as they smoke, quietly enjoy the passing scene. Advancing into the wood, and leaving the grand drive, numbers of the common people are seen sitting at the tables smoking and drinking beer, or thronging about the build

« PreviousContinue »