Manners and customs of ye Englyshe/Appearance of ye Crymvnyal Covrte dvryng an "Interestyng." Tryal for Mvder.

Illustrated by Richard Doyle

Manners and Customs of ye Englyshe in 1849. No. 39.

Appearance of ye Crymynyal Covrte dvryng an "Interestyng." Tryal for Mvrder.


Appearance of ye Crymvnyal Covrte dvryng an " Interestyng." Tryal for Mvder.

[Friday, November 30, 1849.]

UP and did take mv Wife, with a Party of Friends, to the Old Bailey, my Wife having a great Longing to ſee a Priſoner tried, eſpecially for Murder, and little Pleaſure as ſhe do take, poor Wretch, I could not find in my Heart to deny her this. Got our Places in the Gallery, coſt me 10s., which did begrudge, and do think it a Scandal to the City to have Money taken at the Old Bailey Doors, as at a Play, yet it do ſerve to keep the Company choice. And good Lack! to ſee the Aſſemblage of great Folks about us, we fitting cloſe by Sir Jessamie Spinkes, and my Lord Polncett, and two or three other Lords on the Bench by my Lords the Judges, and the Aldermen, did make the Place look as fine almoſt as the Opera. But in Truth it was as good as a Play, if not better, to hear the Barriſters ſpeak to the jury, eſpecially the Counſel for the Priſoners, making believe to be mightily concerned tor their Clients, though moſt obſervable Rogues, and arguing in their Behalf through Tick and Thin, and ſtriving as hard as they could to prove the Black, that did come out in Evidence againſt them White; and pleading their Cauſe as though they were injured Innocents, with ſmiting of the Breaſt, and turning up of the Eyes, more natural than I remember I did ever ſee any After. But methinks they did go a a little too far when, croſs-examining the Witneſſes, they ſtrove to entangle them in their Talk, and confound them, trying to make them blunder, ſo as to miſlead the Jury, which do ſeem to me only telling a Lie by the Witneſs his Mouth. And then to hear them labour to deſtroy the Witneſſes' Credit, and make their Oath ſuſpected; and them, however honeſt, ſeem Perjurers; and to think that they do practiſe all this Wickedneſs only for the Lucre of their Fees! Among the Priſoners ſome of the moſt horrid Ruffians that methinks I ever did ſee, and ſome, when found guilty and ſentenced even to Tranſportation, flopping out of the Dock, and ſnapping their Fingers, which did remind me of the Saying, "Merry as Thieves." But others looking mighty diſmal, and when the Evidence did tell againſt them, turning pale and ſhivering, and we had Eye-Glaſſes we took with us on Purpoſe, and through our Eye-Glaſſes did watch the Quivering of their Features, which, Heaven forgive us ! we did take Delight in. Uſing Eye-Glaſſes did the more make it ſeem as if I were at a Play, and what did jump with the Notion was the Bunches of Rue on the Dock in Front of the Priſoners, ſeeming almoſt like Noſegays, which glad I am that my Wife and our other Ladies had not with them, for ſo taken were they with the ranting Barriſters and hang-Gallows Ruffians, that I do verily believe they would have flung their Poſies to them if they had. Strange that we do make ſuch Account of Criminals, and will fit for Hours to ſee how it goes with a Villain, when we would notſ fpare five Minutes to the Cauſe of many an honeſt Man; and I do intend and reſolve to ſearch in Dr. Browne his Metaphyſiques to know wherefore. But for one good Reaſon I did take Pleaſure in the Old Bailey, which was the Fairneſs of the Trials, and the Patience of the Judge, and Juſtnefs of his ſumming up, which do cauſe me mightily to reverence our Law, and to hear and ſee was pretty.