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It became the public talk; and the magistracy of Edinburgh, on a scrutiny, being convinced of its authenticity, ordered the body of William Shaw to be given to his family for interment; and as the only reparation to his memory and the honour of his surviving relations, they caused a pair of colours to be waved over his grave in token of his innocence-a poor compensation, it will be allowed, for an act of gross cruelty and injustice.
THE FRENCH REFUGEE.
The following singularly involved case is given in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1754, with the initials of a correspondent, who states it to have been extracted from some minutes of evidence made by his grandfather in criminal causes in which he was counsel on the part of the crown in the reign of Charles II.
Jaques du Moulin, a French refugee, having brought over his family and a small sum of money, employed it in purchasing lots of goods that had been condemned at the custom-house, which he again disposed of by retail. As these goods were such as, having a high duty, were frequently smuggled, those who dealt in this way were generally suspected of increasing their stock by illicit means, and smuggling, or purchasing smuggled articles, under colour of dealing only in goods that had been legally seized by the king's officers, and taken from smugglers. This trade, however, did not, in the general estimation, impeach his honesty, though it gave no sanction to his character; but he was often detected in uttering false gold. He came frequently to persons of whom he had received money with several of these pieces of counterfeit coin, and pretended that they were among the pieces which had been paid him: this was generally denied with great eagerness; but, if particular circumstances did not confirm the contrary, he was always peremptory and obstinate in his charge. This soon brought him into disrepute, and he gradually lost not only his business but his credit. It happened that, having sold a parcel of goods, which amounted to £78, to one Harris, a person with whom he had before had no dealings, he received the money in guineas and Portugal gold, about several pieces of which he scrupled ; but the man having assured him that he himself had carefully examined and weighed those very pieces, and found them good, Du Moulin took them, and gave his receipt.
In a few days he returned with six pieces, which he averred were of base metal, and part of the sum which he had a few days before received of him for the lot of goods. Harris examined the pieces, and told Du Moulin that he was sure there were none of them among those which he had paid him, and refused to exchange them for others. Du Moulin as peremptorily insisted on the contrary, alleging that he had put the money in a drawer by itself, and locked it up till
he offered it in payment of a bill of exchange, and then the pieces were found to be bad; insisting that they were the same to which he had objected. Harris now became angry, and charged Du Moulin with intending a fraud. Du Moulin appeared to be rather piqued than intimidated at this charge ; and having sworn that these were the pieces he received, Harris was at length obliged to make them good; but as he was confident that Du Moulin had injured him by a fraud supported by perjury, he told his story wherever he went, exclaiming against him with great bitterness, and met with many persons who made nearly the same complaints, and told him that it had been a practice of Du Moulin's for a considerable time. Du Moulin now found himself universally shunned; and hearing from all parts what Harris had reported, he brought an action for defamatory words, and Harris, irritated to the highest degree, stood upon his defence; and in the meantime having procured a meeting of several persons who had suffered the same way in their dealings with Du Moulin, they procured a warrant against him, and he was apprehended upon suspicion of counterfeiting the coin. Upon searching his drawers, a great number of pieces of counterfeit gold were found in a drawer by themselves, and several others were picked from other money that was found in different parcels in his scrutoire : upon further search, a flask, several files, a pair of moulds, some powdered chalk, a small quantity of aqua regia, and several other implements, were discovered. No doubt could now be entertained of his guilt, which was extremely aggravated by the methods he had taken to dispose of the money he made, the insolence with which he had insisted upon its being paid him by others, and the perjury by which he had supported his claim. His action against Harris for defamation was also considered as greatly increasing his guilt, and everybody was impatient to see him punished. In these circumstances he was brought to trial ; and his many attempts to put off bad money, the quantity found by itself in his scrutoire, and, above all, the instruments of coining, which, upon a comparison, exactly answered the money in his possession, being proved, he was upon this evidence convicted, and received sentence of death.
Now, it happened that, a few days before he was to have been executed, one Williams, who had been bred a seal-engraver, but had left his business, was killed by a fall from his horse : and his wife, who was then pregnant, and near her time, immediately fell into fits and miscarried. She was soon sensible that she could not live; and therefore sending for the wife of Du Moulin, she desired to be left alone, and then gave her the following account:
That her husband was one of four, whom she named, that had for many years subsisted by counterfeiting gold coin, which she had been frequently employed to put off, and was therefore intrusted with the whole secret ; that another of these persons had hired himself to Du Moulin as a kind of footman and porter, and being
provided by the gang with false keys, had disposed of a very considerable sum of bad money by opening his master's scrutoire, and leaving it there in the stead of an equal number of good pieces which he took out; that by this iniquitous practice Du Moulin had been defrauded of his business, his credit, and his liberty, to which in a short time his life would be added, if application were not immediately made to save him. After this account, which she gave in great agony of mind, she was much exhausted, and having given directions where to find the persons whom she impeached, she fell into convulsions, and soon after expired. Du Moulin's wife immediately applied to a magistrate; and having related the story she had heard, procured a warrant against the three men, who were taken the same day, and separately examined. Du Moulin's servant steadily denied the whole charge, and so did one of the other two; but while the last was being examined, a messenger, who had been sent to search their lodgings, arrived with a great quantity of bad money, and many instruments for coining. This threw him into confusion, and the magistrate improving the opportunity by offering him his life if he would become evidence for the king, he confessed that he had been long associated with the other prisoners and the man who was dead, and he directed where other tools and money might be found ; but he could say nothing as to the manner in which Du Moulin's servant was employed to put it off. Upon this discovery Du Moulin's execution was suspended; and the king's witness swearing positively that his servant and the other prisoner had frequently coined in his presence, and giving a particular account of the process, and the part which each of them usually performed, they were convicted and condemned to die. Both of them, however, denied the fact, and the public were still in doubt about Du Moulin. In his defence, he had declared that the bad money which was found together was such as he could not trace to the persons of whom he had received it ; that the parcels with which bad money was found mixed he kept separate, that he might know to whom to apply if it should appear to be bad; but the finding of the moulds and other instruments in his custody was a particular not yet accounted for, as he only alleged in general terms that he knew not how they came there; and it was doubted whether the impeachment of others had not been managed with a view to save him who was equally guilty, there being no evidence of his servant's treachery but that of a woman who was dead, reported at second-hand by the wife of Du Moulin, who was manifestly an interested party. He was not, however, charged by either of the convicts as an accomplice, a particular which was strongly urged by his friends in his behalf ; but it happened that, while the public opinion was hus held in suspense, a private drawer was discovered in a chest that belonged to his servant, and in it a bunch of keys, and the impression of one in wax : the impression was compared with the keys, and that which
it corresponded with was found to open Du Moulin's scrutoire, in which the bad money and implements had been found. When this particular, so strong and unexpected, was urged, and the key produced, he burst into tears and confessed all that had been alleged against him. He was then asked how the tools came into his master's scrutoire ; and he answered, that when the officers of justice came to seize his master, he was terrified for himself, knowing that he had in his chest these instruments, which the private drawer could not contain ; and fearing that he might be included in the warrant, his consciousness of guilt kept him in continual dread and suspicion : that for this reason, before the officers went up stairs, he opened the scrutoire with his false key, and having fetched his tools from his box in the garret, he deposited them there, and had just locked it when he heard them at the door.
In this case even the positive evidence of Du Moulin, that the money he brought back to Harris was the same he had received of him, was not true, though Du Moulin was not guilty of perjury either wilfully or by neglect, inattention or forgetfulness. And the circumstantial evidence against him, however strong, would only have heaped one injury upon another, and have taken away the life of an unhappy wretch, from whom a perfidious servant had taken away everything else.
In the year 1742 a case of a very remarkable nature occurred near Hull. A gentleman travelling to that place was stopped late in the evening, about seven miles from the town, by a single highwayman with a mask on his face, who robbed the traveller of a purse containing twenty guineas. The highwayman rode off by a different path full speed, and the gentleman, frightened, but not injured, except in purse, pursued his journey. It was growing late, however, and being naturally much agitated by what had passed, he rode only two miles further, and stopped at the Bell Inn, kept by Mr James Brunell. He went into the kitchen to give directions for his supper, where he related to several persons present the fact of his having been robbed ; to which he added this peculiar circumstance, that when he travelled he always gave his gold a peculiar mark, and that every guinea in the purse taken from him was thus marked. Hence he hoped that the robber would yet be detected. Supper being ready, he retired.
The gentleman had not long finished his supper, when Mr Brunell came into the parlour where he was, and after the usual inquiries of landlords as to the guest's satisfaction with his meal, observed, 'Sir, I understand you have been robbed not far hence this evening?' 'I have, sir,' was the reply. "And your money was marked ?'
continued the landlord. “It was,' said the traveller. 'A circumstance has arisen,' resumed Mr Brunell,' which leads me to think that I can point out the robber. Pray, at what time in the evening were you stopped ?' 'It was just setting in to be dark, replied the traveller.The time confirms my suspicions,' said the landlord ; and he then informed the gentleman that he had a waiter, one John Jennings, who had of late been so very full of money, and so very extravagant, that he (the landlord) had been surprised at it, and had determined to part with him, his conduct being every way suspicious; that long before dark that day he had sent out Jennings to change a guinea for him; that the man had only come back since the arrival of the traveller, saying he could not get change; and that, seeing Jennings to be in liquor, he had sent him off to bed, determining to discharge him in the morning. Mr Brunell continued to say, that when the guinea was brought back to him, it struck him that it was not the same which he had sent out for change, there being on the returned one a mark, which he was very sure was not upon the other ; but that he should probably have thought no inore of the matter, Jennings having frequently had gold in his pocket of late, had not the people in the kitchen told him what the traveller had related respecting the robbery, and the circumstance of the guineas being marked. He (Mr Brunell) had not been present when this relation was made, and unluckily, before he heard of it from the people in the kitchen, he had paid away the guinea to a man who lived at some distance, and who had now gone home. “The circumstance, however,' said the landlord in conclusion, 'struck me so very strongly, that I could not refrain, as an honest man, from coming and giving you information of it.'
Mr Brunell was duly thanked for his candid disclosure. There appeared from it the strongest reasons for suspecting Jennings; and if, on searching him, any others of the marked guincas should be found, and the gentleman could identify them, there would then remain no doubt in the matter. It was now agreed to go up to his room. Jennings was fast asleep : his pockets were searched, and from one of them was drawn forth a purse, containing exactly nineteen guineas. Suspicion now became certainty ; for the gentleman declared the purse and guineas to be identically those of which he had been robbed. Assistance was called; Jennings was awakened, dragged out of bed, and charged with the robbery. He denied it firmly; but circumstances were too strong to gain him belief. He was secured that night, and next day taken before a justice-of-the-peace. The gentleman and Mr Brunell deposed to the facts upon oath ; and Jennings, having no proofs, nothing but mere assertions of innocence, which could not be credited, was committed to take his trial at the next assizes.
So strong seemed the case against him, that most of the man's friends advised him to plead guilty, and throw himself on the mercy