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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
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
"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
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
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
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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