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EXAMINATION AT THE HOME OFFICE.
the arrival of the two prisoners and the two policemen at the Home Office, they
were shown into a small room joining the one in which the Secretary of State for
that Department was accustomed to receive individuals or deputations, and where
we have already seen him in an earlier portion of this work.
But on the present occasion the Home Secretary had to be
fetched from the Foreign Office, where he was sitting with his colleagues in a
The police officers and the prisoners were therefore
left alone together for nearly half an hour in the room to which some
subordinate official had ordered them to be conducted, upon the motives of their
presence there being made known to him. The crime of which Holford was accused
seemed too grave and serious for even the tamperings of policemen: still as
these gentry are not merely content with having a finger in almost every pie,
but must thrust a whole hand in when once they find the opportunity, it was
impossible that either Mr. Crisp or his colleague could leave Crankey Jem as
well as the would-be regicide unassailed with questions.
The common policeman placed a chair against the outer
door of the room, and seated himself in it with the air of a man who meant to
say as plainly as he could, "Escape now if you can."
Holford sank upon a seat and fell into a profound
reverie; but it was impossible to gather the nature of his thoughts from the now
passionless and almost apathetic expression of his countenance.
Crankey Jem also took a chair; but his nervous manner,
the pallor of his face, the quivering of his lip, and the unsettled glances of
his eyes, betrayed the fearful condition of his mind. The poor wretch already
imagined himself transported back amongst the horrors of Norfolk Island!
As for Mr. Crisp, he walked once or twice up and down
the room, surveying himself complacently in a mirror, and than advancing towards
Crankey Jem, said with a sort of official importance, "Well, my fine
feller, you've done it pretty brown again — you have."
Jem Cuffin cast upon him a look of deep disgust.
"Remember," continued Mr. Crisp, in no way
abashed at this unequivocal expression of feeling, "whatever you says to me
now will probably transpeer in another place, as we officials express it; but if
you choose to tell me anything by way of unbuzziming yourself and easing your
conscience, why, I don't think there'd be no harm in it, and it might do you
good with the 'thorities. At the same time it's no part of my dooty to pump
"I have nothing to say to you," observed
"Well — p'rhaps that's prudent, — 'cos
I'm official after all," said Mr. Crisp. "But if so be you was to tell
me how you got away from transportation, how long you've been in England, and
what you've been doing with yourself since your return, I don't see that you
could prejjudidge yourself."
"As you've had the trouble of taking me, policeman,
you'd better go to the extra trouble of finding out what you want to know about
me," said Jem.
"You needn't be uppish with me, because I did my
dooty," returned Mr. Crisp. "Remember, I don't ask — but I
s'pose you've been living in London — eh?"
"Well — and if I have — "
"There! I knowed you had," cried Crisp.
"I didn't say so," observed Jem Cuffin,
"No — but you can't deny it, though.
Well, then — as you have been living in London, according
to your own admission," continued Mr. Crisp, "in course you must
have hung out in some partickler quarter. Remember, I don't ask you — but
I dessay it was in the Holy Land."
"I dare say it wasn't," returned Jem, drily.
"Then it was in the Mint, I'll be bound,"
cried Crisp. "I don't ask, you know — but wasn't it in the
"No-it wasn't," said Crankey Jem, with a
movement of impatience.
"Not the Mint — eh? Well, if you says
so, I must be true — 'cos you should know best. But I s'pose you
won't deny that it was somewhere in Clerkenwell!"
"You're out again," returned Crankey Jem.
"The devil I am!" exclaimed Crisp, rubbing his
nose. "And yet I'm a pretty good hand at a guess too. Now it isn't my wish
or my dooty to pump a prisoner — but I should like to be resolved as
to whether you haven't been living in the Happy Valley!"
cried Jem; "and now leave me alone."
"Not the Happy Valley — eh?"
proceeded the indefatigable Mr. Crisp: then, perceiving that his endeavours to
find out the prisoner's place of abode were useless, he went upon another tack.
"Well — it isn't my business to pump you; but I am really at a
loss to think how you could have been such a fool as to go back to your old
tricks and break into that house there — down yonder, I mean — you
know where? Come now?"
And Mr. Crisp fixed a searching eye upon Crankey Jem's
"I tell you what it is," exclaimed the
prisoner, seriously irritated at length; "you want to entrap me, if you
can — but you can't. And for a very good reason too — because
I haven't broken into any house at all, or done a thing I'm ashamed of since I
came back to England."
With these words, Crankey Jem turned his back upon the
baffled Mr. Crisp, and looked out of the window.
Almost at the same moment an inner door was thrown open,
and one of the Under Secretaries for the Home Department beckoned Mr. Crisp into
the adjacent room, where the principal Secretary was already seated, he having
arrived by the private entrance.
Crisp remained with the Minister for about ten minutes,
and then returned to the ante-room, but it was merely to conduct Henry Holford
and Crankey Jem into the presence of the Home Secretary and the Chief Magistrate
of Bow Street.
"You may withdraw, Mr. — ahem?"
said the Home Secretary, addressing the police-officer.
"Crisp, my lord — Crisp is my
"Oh! very good, Mr. Frisk. You may withdraw, Mr.
Frisk," repeated the Minister.
And the police-officer retired accordingly, marvelling
how the examination could possibly be conducted in a proper manner without his
The magistrate commenced by informing Henry Holford of
the accusation laid against him by Crisp, and then cautioned him in the usual
manner to beware of what he said, as any thing he uttered might be used in
evidence against him.
"I have no desire to conceal or deny a single
particle of the whole truth," returned Holford. "I acknowledge that I
fired at the Queen and Prince Albert-and with pistols loaded with ball,
"No-there you are wrong," exclaimed Jem;
"for I loaded the pistols myself, and I took good care only to put powder
Holford cast a glance of unfeigned surprise on his
"Yes," continued the latter, "what I say
is the truth. Your manner was so strange when you came to me to borrow the
pistols, that I feared you meant to make away with yourself. I did not like to
refuse to lend you the weapons — particularly as I knew that if you
was really bent on suicide, you could do it in other ways. But I was resolved
that my pistols should not help you in the matter; and I only charged them with
powder. Then I followed you all the way down to the Park; and as you did not
stop anywhere, I know that you couldn't have either bought balls or altered the
charge of the pistols."
"This is important," said the magistrate to
the Home Secretary.
"Very important," answered the latter
functionary, who, from the first moment that Holford entered the room, had never
ceased to gaze at him in the same way that one would contemplate an animal with
two heads, or four tails, in the Zoological Gardens.
"It is very evident that the man was no accomplice
in the proceeding," remarked the magistrate, in an under tone.
The words did not, however, escape Holford's ears.
"He an accomplice, sir!" cried the youth, as
if indignant at the bare idea. "Oh! no-he has been a good friend to me, and
would have advised me quite otherwise, had I mentioned my purpose to him. He was
the first to rush upon me, and — I remember now — knocked
up my arm when I was about to fire the second pistol."
Crisp and the other policeman were called in separately,
and examined upon this point. Their evidence went entirely to prove that James
Cuffin could not have been an accomplice in the deed.
When the policemen had withdrawn, the Home Secretary and
the magistrate conversed together in a low tone.
"This man Cuffin's evidence will be absolutely
necessary, my lord," said the magistrate; "and yet, as a condemned
felon, and with another charge — namely, that of returning from
transportation — hanging over him, he cannot be admitted s a
"You must remand him for farther examination,"
returned the Home Secretary; "and in the mean time I will advise Her
Majesty to grant him a free pardon."
"And Henry Holford will stand committed to Newgate,
my lord?" said the magistrate, inquiringly.
The Minister nodded an assent.
The policemen were re-admitted, the depositions were
signed, and the necessary instructions were given for the removal of the
Two cabs were procured: Holford was conducted to one,
and conveyed to Newgate, — but not before he had shaken hands with
Crankey Jem, who shed tears when he took so sad a farewell of the lad, whom he
He himself was shortly afterwards removed in the other
cab to the New Prison, Clerkenwell.
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