« AnteriorContinuar »
drunken soldiers, they inundated its hall and courts, and began the work of destruction with fire and sword. Many were the Christians who, on that fatal night, passed from the arms of sleep into those of death; others fled to the chapel in hopes of finding an asylum, invoking the name of God, which died in terror on their lips. But alas! at sight of that holy retreat, the fury of the infidels increased instead of abating, and they rushed among the Christians like so many wolves into a sheep-fold. The Commendador, immoveable as a statue, sword in hand awaited their attack; and though pierced with a hundred wounds, stood for some time fixed as rock, and then staggered and fell, trailing himself towards the tomb of his wife, where he breathed his last. Before the altar, the youthful Venegas was seen sustaining Isabel, and protecting her with his own body from the blows of the assailants. Scarcely was the young cavalier sensible of what passed round him; he had neither arms for defence, nor hope of succour from human power; regardless of his own life, his heart was agonised for the fate of his beloved! "Surrender or die!" exclaimed the chief of the invading party, rushing forward to separate them. Venegas at that instant received a wound in the forehead, embraced once more his bride, and fell bathed in blood at her feet. Such was the end of a day begun under such happy auspices! Who will put faith in earthly joy, which so quickly flies before us?"
Before quitting a melancholy contemplation of the present state of literature in Spain we must not forget to mention another Spaniard who sought among ourselves that encouragement which the land of his birth could not, or would not, give. Don Telesforo de Trueba, a man of great intellectual acquirement, industry, and perseverance, produced, some twelve or fourteen years ago, in the English language, in this country, several romances which attained celebrity, and which are doubtless in the memory, or knowledge, of many of our readers. A play of his was also performed at Covent Garden Theatre. De Trueba subsequently went back to Spain, and, like Martinez de la Rosa, took a prominent part among the supporters of the Queen; he died amid the political confusion which ensued. In this country he was much regarded and esteemed by a circle of friends, and the news of his death was received with sorrow. The fate of such men is grievous indeed, branding, as it does, their country's degradation on the very face of Spain. In conclusion we can only fervently say, God send deliverance and regeneration to the land of Calderon and Cervantes !
CURIOUS TRIALS CONNECTED WITH THE
No. XII. THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF WILLIAM BARNARD, AND THE DUKE OF MARLBOROUGH.
THE writer of romance has ever been accused of sacrificing not only the probable, but the possible, to the marvellous,-of concocting fable that could have no foundation in fact,-describing scenes that could not have occurred, and depicting character that could not have existed, of building, in a word, on the slippery sands of fiction alone, regardless alike of reason and reality. Is such, however, precisely his position? The most incomprehensible of his stories have been paralleled in everyday life; and wonderful though his narrations, and wild and fanciful his dreamings, the judicial historian bears ample testimony that he is not altogether a visionary. The records of jurisprudence disclose circumstances which have absolutely occurred, as strange as the strangest to be found in the pages of romance-as difficult to be accounted for, and as hard to be credited. Of these singular realities one most remarkable is the following trial:-
The Duke of Marlborough here referred to, was Charles Spencer, fifth Earl of Sunderland, grandson of the hero of Blenheim, and his successor as second Duke of Marlborough, which title he inherited the 24th October, 1733, on the demise, unmarried, of his aunt, Henrietta, daughter of the first Duke and herself Duchess of Marlborough in her own right. This second Duke was himself a general of eminence, and fought with distinction at Dettingen: he died of a fever, the 28th October, 1758, at Munster in Westphalia: he was the great grandfather of the present Duke of Marlborough.
The trial took place at the Old Bailey on the 10th and 11th May, 1758: the able Sir Michael Foster, was among the judges present. The narrative given on the side of the prosecution was this:
After Mr. Moore had opened the indictment, Mr. Serjeant Davy spoke as follows:
"May it please your lordships, and you gentlemen of the jury;
I am counsel in this cause for the prosecution against the prisoner at the bar, who stands indicted on an act of Parliament made in the ninth year of his late majesty, very well known by the name of the Black Act. That act of parliament, reciting the several mischiefs, and constituting several felonies, amongst other things, enacts, That if any person shall knowingly send any letter, without any name subscribed thereto, or signed with a fictitious name, demanding money, venison, or other valuable things; every person so offending, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be adjudged guilty of felony, and shall suffer death as in cases of felony, without benefit of clergy.
It is on that act that this indictment now comes before you, that you have heard read. You see it is for sending a letter; for it is on the first
of these letters that the present indictment is founded; the others are sent in consequence of the first, and explanatory of his intentions.
I will open to you, as concisely as I can, the several circumstances we have in evidence, in order to affect the prisoner at the bar: they are circumstances of that nature, corresponding so exactly with the prisoner's case, affecting him so very minutely, that the several circumstances do infer, I had almost said an impossibility of his innocence : you will find they all tally so exactly, they are so particularly relative to him, that it will be offering violence to every rule of reason, not to find him guilty.
Gentlemen, on the 29th of November, a letter was found under the door of the Ordnance-office, directed to his Grace the Duke of Marlborough: upon opening this letter, which was wrote in imitation of print-hand, bearing date that day the 29th of November, it will be necessary, for the sake of the following circumstances, to desire your attention to the several parts. These are the words:
"To his Grace the Duke of Marlborough.
"My lord; as ceremony is an idle thing upon most occasions, more especially to persons in my state of mind, I shall proceed immediately to acquaint you with the motive and end of addressing this epistle to you, which is equally interesting to us both. You are to know then, that my present situation in life is such, that I should prefer annihilation to a continuance in it: desperate diseases require desperate remedies; and you are the man I have pitched upon, either to make me, or to unmake yourself. As I never had the honour to live among the great, the tenor of my proposals will not be very courtly; but let that be an argument to enforce the belief of what I am now going to write. It has employed my invention, for some time, to find out a method to destroy another, without exposing my own life; that I have accomplished, and defy the law. Now for the application of it. I am desperate, and must be provided for you have it in your power, it is my business to make it your inclination, to serve me; which you must determine to comply with, by procuring me a genteel support for my life; or your own will be at a period before this session of parliament is over. I have more motives than one for singling you out first, upon this occasion; and I give you this fair warning, because the means I shall make use of are too fatal to be eluded by the power of physic. If you think this of any consequence, you will not fail to meet the author on Sunday next, at ten in the morning, or on Monday, (if the weather should be rainy on Sunday) near the first tree beyond the stile in Hyde Park, in the foot-walk to Kensington: secrecy and compliance may preserve you from a double danger of this sort: as there is a certain part of the world, where your death has more than been wished for, upon other motives. I know the world too well, to trust this secret in any breast but my own. A few days determine me your friend or enemy.
"You will apprehend that I mean you should be alone; and depend upon it, that a discovery of any artifice in this affair will be fatal to you : my safety is insured by my silence; for confession only can condemn me."
This letter containing every thing that is dreadful, that might raise apprehensions of terror, subscribed by a name which is painful to almost
every ear—the name Felton! That was the name of the assassin that stabbed the Duke of Buckingham at Portsmouth.
My lord duke, not intimidated by the letter, though greatly surprised at it, and willing to find out the author, was not afraid to endeavour to apprehend him; he went alone to the spot, and at the time appointed; however, there was some attendant on his Grace at a distance, in order to observe what passed on the occasion. My lord duke had been there some time on horseback, and as much undressed as a man of his quality is. He had pistols before him; he had been there some time, and saw nobody at all at that particular place. After waiting some considerable time, he was returning, and observed a person come to the particular spot just by the tree beyond the stile in Hyde Park, by the foot-walk to Kensington that person held a handkerchief to his mouth in a seeming disconsolate manner, looking into the water, and stood still a very considerable while. Upon his Grace seeing this, that the man was not pursuing any way, the Duke had no doubt in his own mind, but that this man (be he who he would) must be the person who had sent him this letter. The man sauntering just at the place, the Duke rode up to the spot, expecting the person would speak to him: his Grace asked the man, Whether he wanted to speak to him? He said, "No."—" Sir," said the Duke, "do you know me? I am the Duke of Marlborough; telling you that, perhaps you have something to say to me." "No, my lord.' No notice being taken, the Duke came away.
Gentlemen, you see, that this was an appointment on a Sunday to meet at a place where several people might be supposed to be walking. What was the view of that person may be seen by-and-bye. The author of this letter speaks of his being exceedingly guarded against the possibility of a detection; he boasts of the care and caution he had used for that purpose,-he defies the law,-nothing but confession could condemn him,-his safety was insured by his silence,—he knew the world too well, to trust this secret in any breast but his own.
A few days after, in the same week, the Duke received a second letter. This also was put under the door of the Office of Ordnance, and was also wrote in imitation of a print-hand: but the directions of both the letters are not; there will be occasion to take notice of that circumstance by-and-bye. The second letter is in these words:
"To his Grace the Duke of Marlborough.
"My lord; You receive this as an acknowledgment of your punctu ality as to the time and place of meeting on Sunday last, though it was owing to you that it answered no purpose. The pageantry of being armed, and the ensign of your order, were useless, and too conspicuous: you needed no attendant; the place was not calculated for mischief, nor was any intended. If you walk in the west aisle of Westminster Abbey, towards eleven o'clock on Sunday next, your sagacity will point out the person, whom you will address by asking his company to take a turn or two with you. You will not fail, on enquiry, to be acquainted with the name and place of abode; according to which directions you will please to send two or three hundred pound bank notes the next day by the penny post. Exert not your curiosity too early it is in your power to make me grateful on certain terms. I have friends who are faithful; F."
but they do not bark before they bite. I am, &c. &c. Gentlemen, you see, the writer of the second letter speaks of being himself in the Park, or at least of knowing that the Duke was there, at
VOL. IV. NO. XVI.
the time and place appointed: and therefore this was a farther circumstance to convince the Duke, that the person, whom he had seen the Sunday before in Hyde Park, and spoke to, was the writer of the second letter. You see it speaks of the Duke's punctuality as to the time and place of meeting, the particular dress his grace was in, and assigns that as the reason of not speaking to him the Sunday before: so you see, gentlemen, that circumstance, which was a little unaccountable of itself, of the Duke's not being owned by the person whom he had seen on the Sunday before, is by the second letter accounted for;"The pageantry of being armed, and the ensign of his order." He had then only a star on, and that perhaps an old one, so as not to be conspicuous so that this accounts for the person's not speaking to the Duke in Hyde Park. There can be no doubt at all, but that the writer of the second was the writer of the first letter.
The consequence then of this second appointment to meet the writer of the letters in the west aisle of Westminster Abbey, you will observe public places were appointed, and at public times; the first in Hyde Park, the second in prayer-time at Westminster Abbey, where the Duke was by his sagacity to point out the person"-the writer of this letter. The Duke accordingly went to Westminster Abbey, to the west aisle (though indeed, properly speaking, we don't know which to call the west aisle, the church standing east and west). His grace went to the western-most part of the Abbey, and observed nobody lurking or standing in circumstances suspicious: after a little time, his grace was surprized to see that the same person, whom he had seen the Sunday before exactly at the spot in Hyde Park, appeared just in this place at the west end of Westminster Abbey; but he was surprised the more, that this person did not speak to him. Perhaps his grace had not then considered the tenor of this letter; for it was not to be expected, that the writer would address the Duke, but rather refers to the Duke's sagacity:-" Your sagacity will point out the person;" it then directs, "whom you will address by asking his company to take a turn or two with you." His grace perhaps did not consider this exactly; but waiting some time for the person to speak to him, and finding he did not, his grace asked him, "Sir, have you any thing to say to me ?”—“ No, my lord.” “Have you nothing at all to say to me?"-"No." "Have you nothing at all to say to me?" No, he had nothing to say to him. Now I should have mentioned to you, when this person came into the Abbey, another person came in with him, who seemed by his appearance to be a substantial tradesman, a good sort of man. These two persons, after stopping and looking about at the monuments near the west gate of the Abbey, the Duke being sure one of them was the same man he had seen before in Hyde Park, his grace thought proper to go and stand by them, to see if that person would speak to him. Seeing the duke took no notice of him, they both went towards the choir: the stranger went into the choir, and the man that his grace had seen in the Park, came back again (leaving his friend there) to the spot where the duke was. The duke then asked him, whether he had any thing to say to him? No, he had nothing at all to say to him. No, he had nothing at all to say. Then the duke walked a little on the other side of the aisle, to see whether the man would follow him, or had a mind to speak to him at another spot. He observed the man looked eagerly at him; may-be it may be understood, he expected the duke's "sagacity would