Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/79

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him a quarter of an hour to finish his smoke, and he sat motionless as a statue; hut, when one of the soldiers went to remind him that his time was up, they found that the fifteen minutes and the old chief had expired together. James Nisbet, in his "Annals of California," relates that in the fall of 1851, when Lynch-justice was the only law of the Territory, a multitude of citizens assembled on the Plaza of San Francisco, to hang a notorious rascal, who had amassed money by burglary, but was at last caught in flagrante. Mr. Nisbet made his way through the crowd, and seeing a gentleman standing a little apart, calmly smoking a cigarette, he went up to him and inquired if he could tell him who it was they were going to hang. The man thus addressed removed the ashes from his cigarette, and with great politeness replied, "Unless I'm quite mistaken, it's me, sir," and then resumed his smoke. "Ten minutes after," says Mr. Nisbet, "the same gentleman was dangling by his neck from a balcony of the Pacific Hotel."

During the first war of the Carlists and Cristinos an attempt was made to assassinate the Count de Santa Cruz, who commanded the city of Barcelona, by blowing up an old stone chapel where he used to transact his official business. A desperado undertook the job, and, after planting his powder and lighting the match, he went to the count's hotel, engaged him in conversation, and under pretext of some official business started him toward the loaded chapel. Once there, he calculated, the count would stay an hour or so, and he could slip out before the explosion. But, just as they entered the inclosure of the chapel, the building went up with an earth-shaking crash, and the would-be assassin, though unhurt, stood trembling and pale as death. Santa Cruz readjusted his hat, which had been knocked sideways by a flying fragment, and, turning to his companion, very quietly observed: "You always ought to wet a slow match in such hot weather, compaƱero; otherwise they burn double-quick, and the thing goes off prematurely."

It is to men of this class that Lavater refers, when he speaks of individuals who have such a control over their features that they prevent even violent passions from impressing them with the marks they would leave on other faces. As to the question what vices can be detected by the expression of the countenance, opinions differ very widely. Physical excesses always leave their mark, and there is no doubt that an expert physician can recognize a drunkard, a debauchee, a glutton, or an opium-eater without any difficulty, and even without confounding the effects of their different vices. But, though phrenologists assert, and every lover of justice should wish, it to be otherwise, overwhelming evidence obliges one to admit that, as a rule, moral turpitude leaves no such traces. If free from health-destroying habits, a plotting fiend may disarm suspicion with the ideal forms and soft eyes of Guido's dream-children, and the records of history not less than those of every-day life abound with instances of such masked scoundrels.