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[-91-]

CHAPTER XXXIII.

ANOTHER DAY AT THE OLD BAILEY.

RICHARD was conveyed back to Newgate in a state of mind which can be more easily imagined than described. The Judges returned in their handsome carriages, to their splendid abodes ;- the prosecuting barrister, that zealous and enthusiastic defender of social morality, hastened to the Temple to entertain a couple of prostitutes in his chambers ;- and the various lawyers engaged about the court, hurried to their respective homes to prepare writs relating to fresh cases of turpitude and crime for the morrow.
    Richard had shaken hands with Monroe and Whittingham over the parapet of the dock - he would not be allowed to see them again for three months! They still believed in his innocence -  although twelve men that afternoon had declared their conviction of his guilt!
    On the ensuing morning the trial of Eliza Sydney, Robert Stephens, and Hugh Mac Chizzle took place. As on the preceding day, the court was crowded from floor to roof. The bench was filled with the ladies and daughters of the aldermen; there was a full attendance of barristers; and extra reporters occupied the box devoted to the gentlemen of the press. The case had created an extraordinary sensation, not only in consequence of the immensity of the stake played for by the prisoners, but also on account of the remarkable fraud practised by one of the most lovely women that had ever breathed the air of this world.
    Eliza was dressed with extreme simplicity, but great taste. A straw bonnet with a plain riband, enclosed her pale but charming countenance: there was a soft and bewitching melancholy in her eyes; and her moist red lips were slightly apart as if she breathed with difficulty. She was a woman of a strong mind, as we have said before; and she endeavoured to restrain her emotions to the utmost of her power. She did not condescend to cast a look upon her fellow prisoners; nor during the trial were her glances once turned towards them.
    Stephens appeared to be suffering with acute mental pain: his countenance was cadaverous, so pale and altered was it ;- even his very lips were white. Mac Chizzle still retained an air of dogged sullenness, approaching to brutal indifference.
    The Earl of Warrington was in attendance.
    When called upon to plead, Stephens and the lawyer replied Not Guilty: Eliza answered Guilty in a firm and audible voice.
    As the entire facts of the case are known to the readers, we need not enter into any fresh details. Suffice it to say, that when the Jury had delivered their verdict of Guilty against the two male prisoners, the Earl of Warrington rose, and in a must feeling and handsome manner interceded with the court in behalf of Eliza Sydney, Eliza herself was quite overcome with this unexpected generosity, and burst into a flood of tears.
    The foreman of the jury also rose and observed that, though the female prisoner had taken her case out of their hands by pleading guilty, the jury were nevertheless unanimous in recommending her to the favourable consideration of the court.
    The Judge proceeded to pass sentence. He said, "Robert Stephens, you have been guilty of one of the most serious attempts at fraud, which, in a commercial country and a civilised community, could be perpetrated. You have moreover availed yourself of your influence over a young and confiding woman - an influence obtained by a series of kind actions towards her mother, her late brother, and herself - to convert her into the instrument of your guilty designs. The court cannot pass over you, case without inflicting the severest penalty which the law allows. The sentence of the Court is that you be transported beyond the seas for the term of your natural life."
    The culprit staggered, and leant against the dock for support. A momentary pause ensued, at the expiration of which he partially recovered himself and said, "My Lord, I acknowledge the justice of my sentence: but permit me to observe that the female prisoner Eliza Sydney is innocent of any attempt to defraud. Up to a few hours before we called upon the Earl of Warrington to sign the release and obtain the bank receipts, she was ignorant of the real object which I had in view. Even [-92-] then, when I unveiled my designs, she shrank from the part she had to perform ; and I was compelled to make use of all the specious arguments and all the sophistry I could call to my aid, to blind her as to the real nature of the transaction. My Lord I make these few observations in justice to her; I have nothing now to lose or gain by this appeal in her behalf."
    Stephens sank back exhausted in a chair which had been placed in the dock for the accommodation of Eliza Sydney ; and the lady herself was melted to fresh tears by this proof of latent generosity on the part of the man who had been the means of placing her in her present sad position.
    The Judge continued: "Hugh Mac Chizzle, you have been found guilty of aiding and abetting, at the last moment, in the consummation of a deed of almost unpardonable fraud. You have taken advantage of a profession which invests him who practises it with an appearance of respectability and gives him opportunities of perpetrating, if he be so inclined, enormous breaches and abuses of confidence. You stand second in degree of culpability to the prisoner Stephens. The sentence of the court, therefore, is, that you be transported beyond the seas for the term of fifteen years."
    There was another momentary pause; and the Judge then proceeded as follows, while the most breathless silence prevailed:-
    "Eliza Sydney, your share in this unfortunate and guilty business has been rather that of an instrument than a principal. Still you had arrived, when you first assumed a masculine disguise, at the years of discretion, which should have taught you to reflect that no deceit can be designed for a good purpose. Your readiness to confess your guilt - the testimony of your fellow prisoner in your behalf - the recommendation of the jury - and the intercession of the prosecutor, however, weigh with the court. Still a severe punishment must be awarded you; for if we were to admit the plea that a person between twenty and thirty is not responsible for his or her actions, justice would in numerous cases be defeated, and crime would find constant apologies and extenuation. The sentence of the court is that you be imprisoned for the space of two years in her Majesty's gaol of Newgate."
    Eliza had anticipated transportation she had made up her mind to banishment for at least seven years, from her native clime. The observation of the Judge that "a severe punishment must be awarded her," had confirmed her in that impression. The concluding words of that functionary had therefore taken her by surprise - a surprise so sudden that it overcame her. She tottered, and would have fallen; but she felt herself suddenly supported in the aroma of a female, who conducted her to a seat in the dock, and whispered kind and consolatory words in her ear.
    Eliza raised her eyes towards the countenance of  this unexpected friend; and, to her astonishment, encountered the soft and sympathising glance of Diana Arlington.
    "Do not be alarmed, Miss Sydney," whispered the Enchantress: "the Earl of Warrington will do more for you than you may anticipate. He will use his influence with the Home Secretary, and obtain a mitigation of your sentence."
    "Oh! how kind in him thus to interest himself in my behalf," murmured Eliza; " and I - who am so unworthy of his commiseration !"
    "Do not say that ! we have made enquiries, and we have found how you have been deceived. We have seen your faithful servant Louisa; and she has told us enough to convince us that you was more to be pitied than blamed. One thing I have to communicate which will console you - I have taken Louisa into my service !"
    "A thousand thanks, my dear madam," said Eliza. "The thought of what was to become of her has made me very unhappy. This is indeed one subject of comfort. But I saw Louisa yesterday : why did she keep me in the dark in this respect?"
    "We enjoined her to maintain the strictest silence," returned Mrs. Arlington. "We were determined to see how you would act up to the very last moment in this distressing business, ere we allowed you to know that you had friends who cared for you."
    "And how have I obtained this generous sympathy?" enquired Eliza, pressing Diana's hand with an effusion of gratitude.
    "The Earl loved your mother, and blames himself for his neglect of her children, whose welfare would have been dear to his deceased uncle," said Diana gravely. "And for myself, she added, blushing - " anything which interests the Earl, also interests me."
    "Believe me, I shall never forget this kindness on your part :- neither shall I ever be able to repay it," observed Eliza. " I am now going to a protracted incarceration, in a terrible prison," she continued mournfully,- "and God only knows whether I may survive it. But until the day of my death shall I pray for you and that good nobleman who forgives, pities, and consoles me."
    "He does - he does," said Mrs. Arlington, deeply affected: "but fancy not that your confinement will pass without being relieved by the visits of friends. I shall call and see you as often as the regulations of the prison will permit; and I again renew the promise which the Earl has authorised me to make relative to his intercession with the Secretary of State in your favour."
    Eliza again poured forth her gratitude to Diana, and they then separated. The former was conveyed back to Newgate : the latter hastened to the humble hackney-coach which she had purposely hired to take her to the Old Bailey.
    As soon as the case of Stephens, Mac Chizzle, and Eliza Sydney was disposed of, William Bolter was placed at the bar to take his trial for the murder of his wife.
    "The miscreant" - as the newspapers had called him all along - wore a sullen and hardened appearance; and pleaded Not Guilty in a brutal and ferocious manner. The only feature of interest in the case was the examination of his son - his little son - as a witness against him. The pour boy seemed to comprehend the fearful position in which his father was placed ; for he gave his evidence with the utmost reluctance. There was, however, a sufficiency of testimony, direct and circumstantial, to induce the jury to find the prisoner guilty without a moment's hesitation.
    The Judge put on the black cap, and proceeded to pass upon the culprit the awful sentence of the law. Having expatiated upon the enormity of the prisoner's guilt, and admonished him to use the little time that remained to him in this world for the purpose of making his peace with heavens, he sentenced William Bolter to be taken back again to the place from whence he came, and thence to a place of execution, where he was to be hanged by the neck until he should be dead.  "And may the Lord," added the Judge solemnly, "have mercy upon your soul."
    [-93-] There was some years ago, amongst ruffians of the very worst description, a custom of abusing the Judge, or "blackguarding the Beak," as it was called, when they received the award due to their crimes, in the felon's dock. This miserable and vain bravado - an affectation of recklessness which even the most hardened could scarcely feel - was revived by Bill Bolter upon the present occasion. "Taking a sight" at the Judge, the murderer commenced a string of horrible abuse - laden with imprecations and epithets of a most shocking and filthy nature.
    A shudder passed through the audience as if it were one man, at that revolting display on the part of a wretch who stood upon the edge of the tomb!
    The officers of the court speedily interfered to put an end to the sad scene; and the convict, after a desperate resistance, was carried back to Newgate, where he was lodged in one of the condemned cells.
    While these important cases were being disposed of in the Old Court, two others, which it is necessary to notice, were adjudicated upon in the New Court before the Recorder. The first was that of Thomas Armstrong, who was fortunate enough to be acquitted for want of evidence, George Montague, a principal witness against him, not appearing ;- the other was that of Crankey Jem and the Resurrection Man. It is needless to enter into particulars in this matter : suffice it to say that the former was convicted of a daring burglary, upon the testimony of the latter who turned King's evidence. Crankey Jem was sentenced to transportation for life, he having been previously convicted of serious offences; and the Resurrection Man was sent back to Newgate to be discharged at the termination of the sessions.
    The business of the Court was concluded in a few days; and Richard was removed to the Giltspur Street Compter. There he was dressed in the prison garb, and forced to submit to a régime peculiarly trying to the constitution of those who have been accustomed to tender nurture. The gruel, which constituted his principal aliment, created a nausea upon his stomach; the thin and weak soup was far from satisfying the cravings of the appetite ; the bread was good, but doled out in miserably small quantities ; and the meat seemed only offered to tantalise or provoke acuteness of hunger.
    The Resurrection Man was set at liberty.
    Stephens, Mac Chizzle, and Crankey Jem were removed to the hulks at Woolwich, previous to the sailing of a convict-ship for New South Wales.
    Eliza Sydney remained in Newgate.
    Bill Bolter, the murderer, also stayed for a short season in the condemned cell of that fearful prison.

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