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posed; but there is a propensity in human nature to regard the shedder of man's blood, whether by accident or design, with abhorrence. He who but a minute ago was a favourite with all the bystanders, became now an object of loathing to the majority. Whilst a few voices, therefore, called aloud to let the poor fellow go, hundreds were decidedly of opinion that he ought to be detained. As to Joe himself he never attempted to escape. Whilst the fate of the fallen wrestler was in doubt, or rather as long as his hurts were considered in no degree to endanger his life, Joe kept aloof from him, and probably congratulated himself on the extent of the chastisement which he had inflicted; but when a cry was raised," the keeper is dead," there was not an individual in the throng who appeared more anxious to falsify the rumour, by bestowing upon its object every attention in his power. Dead, however, the keeper was; and Joe readily gave himself up to the parish constable, until the issue of the coroner's inquest should be ascertained.
Several hours of daylight still remaining, no time was lost in dispatching a messenger for the coroner; and as the office for this part of the county happened at the time to be filled by a Folkestone attorney, that gentleman speedily arrived. A jury was summoned, witnesses examined, and the body viewed on the spot where it had ceased to breathe. There cannot be a doubt that a verdict of accidental death would have been returned, but for the unfortunate speech delivered by Joe previous to the commencement of the match-"Do not spare me, for, by the Lord, I do not mean to spare you." This sounded very like malice prepense; and the fact, that the parties were at the moment in a state of hostility towards one another, furnished strong ground of suspicion that, if there existed no design on either side positively to take away life, still each was resolved to inflict upon the other as severe a bodily punishment as it was possible to inflict. "Under these circumstances, gentlemen," said the coroner, "I see not how we can suffer this matter to end here. You must return a verdict either of murder or manslaughter, which you think proper. My own opinion is, that the latter will suit best with the state of the present affair." It is said that the co
roner was the identical attorney who had conducted all the prosecutions hitherto carried on against the Lees. Whether his judgment was warped by prejudice, or whether he hoped to conciliate the good-will of the landed aristocracy by involving one member of a detested family in trouble, or whether he acted, as charity would dictate, in accordance with his own sense of duty, I cannot tell. Certain it is, that a verdict was returned according to his recommendation, and, under the coroner's warrant, Joe Lee was removed to jail.
It is needless to describe with minuteness the circumstances which attended the young man's imprisonment and trial. Neither is it necessary to observe that the misfortune in which their son was involved gave to Simon and his wife the deepest concern; more especially as they dreaded a degree of interference from certain high quarters, which they considered capable of carrying all before it, even to the conviction of an accused person, in defiance of the clearest evidence of his innocence. Simon and his wife, however, only fell, in this respect, into the double error which frequently possesses the minds of the lower orders in this country. They groundlessly ima gined, first, that their betters would desire to pervert the course of justice, for the sake of furthering a selfish purpose a crime of which some no doubt may be guilty, but from which the aristocracy of England are, as a body, entirely free; and, secondly, they erroneously conceive, that wealth and rank are able to overwhelm innocence and poverty-a calamity from which our glorious constitution effectually guards us all. Had Joe Lee been arraigned before a bench of county magistrates, it is just possible that his general character might have told against him; but he was given over to be dealt with according to the judgment of twelve plain Englishmen, in whose eyes there really are some crimes more heinous than that of killing game without qualification, licence, or permission. Nor did the jury which tried his case disappoint my expectation. In spite of the formidable sentence which, in the view of the subject taken by the coroner, rendered a verdict of manslaughter inevitable, Joe Lee was fully acquitted; and he returned home, after a sojourn of a week or two at Maidstone, to follow his former occupations.
If the Lees had formerly been objects of general dislike, they now became so in a tenfold greater degree. The game-keepers on all the neighbouring estates entered into close alliance with the tenantry, for the protection, as it was said, of their masters' property, but more justly, I believe, to revenge the death of their, comrade. The farmers, again, resolved to give neither work nor relief to characters so desperate; and the very labouring classes shunned them, as if they had been polluted creatures, and a deadly infection rode upon their breaths. Simon and his family were not unaware of this. It had the effect, not of softening or reclaiming, but of rendering them more ruthless than ever; and it was now pretty generally understood, that both father and son were resolved to follow their vocation at all hazards; whilst strong, and even armed parties, were nightly abroad, for the purpose of intercepting them. It was in vain that I sought to reason with either party. The world would not give way to an individual; that individual would not give way to the world: indeed, I soon found that, by attempt ing to make things better, I only made them worse, and weakened my influence over each of the contending factions. Matters at length attained to such a crisis, that I anxiously desired to hear of Simon's capture and conviction; for I had little doubt that the latter event would be followed his banishment from the country; and I was quite sure, that nothing short of his removal would prevent some act of desperate violence from being sooner or later committed. A single month had barely elapsed from the return of Joe out of prison, when, on wandering to Simon's cottage one morning, with the view of making a last effort to reclaim him, I found that my worst fears had been realized.
was inhabited. I stepped in. There sat Simon in his old corner, with his head bent down, and arms crossed upon his bosom; of his dogs, only one was near him, the identical black terrier which usually accompanied his son; and it lay upon the ground, with its tongue hanging out, and its limbs at full stretch, apparently in the agonies of death. Simon either did not, or would not, notice me. The wounded dog, however, for on a nearer inspection I saw a desperate wound in its flank, made an effort to raise its head, and repeated the melancholy growl which it had given when I first stepped across the threshold; but the head dropped again to the earth, and the sound ceased. Still Simon took no notice. I went up to him, placed my hand or his shoulder, and called him by his name; he looked up, and in my life I never beheld such expression in the human countenance. Agony, grief, rage, and despair, were all depicted there. His eyes were bloodshot, his cheeks pale as ashes; there was blood upon his garments, and his whole form was defiled with mud. Without apparently knowing what he was about, he sprung to his feet. In a moment the but-end of a gun was brandished over me; and, had I not quickly stepped back, it would have dashed my skull to pieces. As it was, the blow falling upon the unfortunate dog, put an end at once to its agonies.
Having knocked at the door several times without receiving any answer, I raised the latch, for the purpose of entering. Instead of the loud barking which usually gave notice of the watchfulness of Simon's four-footed companions, a sort of broken growl, something between the sound of a bark and a howl, alone caught my ear. It was accompanied with a wailing noise-the noise of a woman weeping; but, except from these noises, there was no intimation that the house
"Simon," said I, "what means this? Why lift your hand against me?" The unhappy man stared at me for a moment; the savage expression gradually departed from his face, and, falling down again upon his seat, he burst into tears. I know no spectacle more harrowing than that of an old man when he is weeping. The grief must be deep-seated indeed, which wrings salt tears from the eyes of such a man as Simon Lee; and I accordingly trembled when I again requested to be made acquainted with the cause of behaviour so extraordinary, and so unlike that which I usually met at his hands.
"I thought you had been one of the blood-hounds, sir," cried he; "I thought you had tracked us to our very home; but go up stairs, go and you will see, for I cannot speak of it." I went up accordingly, and beheld, upon a miserable pallet, all that remained of the stoutest wrestler, the
has this happened?" asked I, hardly able to articulate. "Oh, my boy! my boy!" exclaimed the unhappy mother, my first born, and the dearest of my children, has it come to this? Was it for this end that I reared you with so much care, that you should die by the hands of common murderers? Look here," cried she, at the same time rolling down the bedclothes," look what they have done." I did look, and beheld a wide wound upon the left breast of the corpse, as if a whole charge of slugs, or swanshot, had entered. The left arm, too, I saw was broken; it was a horrible spectacle. I covered it up again. It was plain enough that a rencounter had taken place, during the preceding night, between some of the keepers and Simon and his son; and that it had ended fatally, the proof was now before me. I could not, however, inquire into particulars just at that moment, for the parents were too much overcome by the fate of their child to repeat them; but I learned them soon after. They were as follows:
About ten o'clock on the preceding night, the moon being in her first quarter, Simon and his son, each armed with a fowling-piece, and attended by their dogs, set out, according to custom, in quest of game. As they had placed several snares in the woods of Denne in the course of the preceding morning, they directed their steps thither; not only because they were tolerably sure of filling their bag in a moderate space of time, but with the view of ascertaining whether or not the wires had availed them. The distance was considerable. They walked seven good miles before they reached their ground, consequently midnight was hard at hand when they began to penetrate the preserves. Their object being to obtain as many head of game, and with as little noise as possible, they had taken care to provide themselves with brimstone matches, for the purpose of smoking such pheasants as they might happen to see at roost upon the boughs. They had succeeded in bagging a brace with
[Jan. out the necessity of firing, when the dogs starting a couple of hares, both father and son discharged their pieces almost at the same moment. All this occurred close to a particular corner of the wood where they had placed no fewer than three wires, at short distances from one another. No doubt the wires had been observed; and the keepers, rightly judging that those who set them would return at night to take away their spoil, laid themselves up in ambush in their immediate vicinity. The report of firearms drew them instantly to the spot; neither Simon nor Joe considered it at all derogatory to their dignity to es-> cape, if they could; so, seeing three men advancing towards them, they took to their heels. The keepers followed. Joe might have escaped with ease; but his father, grown stiff by years, was unable to keep up with him. The pursuers gained upon him rapidly. Run, Joe; run, my boy," cried the old man; never mind me. Remember your mother and sisters; run, and take care of them."-" That I will not, father," answered Joe; "where you are, I am; let them come on." Old Simon was by this time pretty well spent with running. He stopped to breathe: Joe stopped also. He endeavoured to load his gun, but had only time to ram home the powder, when the assailants came up. One of them made a blow at the old man's head with a bludgeon, which, had it taken effect, would have put him beyond the reach of surgical art; but Joe caught it ere it fell. His left arm received it, and was broken. Still the right remained to him, and with a single stroke from the but of his gun he laid the fellow flat upon the earth. A desperate struggle now ensued be tween the two remaining keepers and the poachers. Though powerless of one hand, Joe was still a match for most men; and Simon, having reco vered his breath, fought as if only half the load of years had been upon his back. The keepers gave ground. The sole object of the Lees being escape, they abstained from pursuing them, and made the best of their way for the high road, and along it to wards their home. But they were not permitted to go unmolested. The keepers followed. By way of checking their farther advance, Joe unfortunately turned round and levelled his piece. He had hardly done so,
wound was not, however, immediately fatal. "I am hurt, father," cried he; "fly, and leave me to my fate." Another shot was fired while he was yet speaking, which took effect upon the only dog that stuck to them. Wild with rage, old Simon would have loaded his gun, and revenged his son or perished, had not the latter assured him that he was still able to proceed. By darting down a deep ravine they managed to evade the keepers; and then taking the most unfrequented ways, they made for the moor. But just as the light in their cottage window became discernible, Joe's strength forsook him; he reeled and fell; nor was it without much waste of time, and almost super-human exertions, that the old man continued to drag, rather than carry him home. Joe never spoke after. He was laid upon his bed in a state of stupor, and about half an hour before daybreak breathed his last.
Such is a brief relation of the events that brought about the melancholy scene to which I was now a witness. From it I learned, that the blood upon Simon's gaberdine was his son's. The state of frantic sorrow, too, in which I found him, was sufficiently explained, as well as the impulse which drove him to raise a murderous arm against any intruder; and though I could not acquit this old man of blame, though, indeed, I felt that the death of Joe was entirely owing to his lawless proceedings, I could not but pity him to a far greater degree than I condemned him. I did my best to comfort both him and the lad's mother; but my words fell upon inattentive ears, and I departed, much troubled in my own mind, and without having the consolation to reflect, that I had in any degree lightened the troubles of others.
The affair, fatal as it was, never came before a court of justice. It was not, of course, to the interest of Simon, had he been capable of attending to his interests, to stir in the mat
ver, from the hour of his son's death, in a fit state to conduct any business, or even to take care of himself. His stubborn temper, if it could not bend, was at length broken. All his misfortunes, real and imaginary, seemed to press upon his mind with double violence, now that the child of his pride was taken away from him. I have myself seen him weep, at times, like a woman. Long after his wife had regained her composure, Simon was inconsolable; and the ravages made by sorrow upon his health and frame were many degrees more visible and more serious, than those which three score and three winters had effected. Simon was an altered man. The gun and the net were laid aside, but the spade and the hoe took not their place. At first he was deemed lazy; the parish refused to assist him; he was cited before the magistrates, and committed to jail. Having remained there till the period of his sentence expired, he was again set at liberty. But of his liberty he made no good use. His very wife now complained of him. He would sit, she said, for hours at a time, with folded arms, staring into the fire. He seldom spoke either to her or her young ones; and when he did, it was incoherently and wildly. At length he was missing. He wandered forth one morning, unshod and bare-headed. In this plight he was seen to pass through the church-yard, resting for a minute or two on Joe's grave. But what became of him after no one can tell. He was never heard of again. By some it was surmised, that, under the influence of a crazed brain, he had wandered into a distant part of the country; and hence that, sooner or later, tidings of him would certainly arrive. By others it was insinuated, that he must have either thrown himself from the cliffs into the sea, or fallen over and been destroyed. That the first report was groundless, an absence of five years, during which no intelligence of his destiny has reached his family, furnishes ample ground for belief; whether either of the latter surmises be correct, I am ignorant. All that I know is, that he has never been seen or heard of in these quarters since the morning above alluded to; and that his wife, and four surviving children, are now wholly sup◄ ported from the poor's-rates.
POSTHUMOUS LETTERS OF CHARLES EDWARDS, ESQ.
WELL! here I am, once more, in London. You saw my name among the "arrivals." "Charles Edwards, Esq. from a tour!" They would have said as much, although I had come from Botany Bay, so that I drove to P's Hotel with four horses; and I won't be positive as to the fact of coming back-but I should not be the first who had set out from that house for such a destination.
I staid one evening at Clifton, and posted from Bath upwards-the world certainly cannot match such travelling, for people who are in haste. Marry! the same circumstances-(every thing shows as new to me here as if I were an Esquimaux, or a Kamschatcan born, instead of an Englisman)but the same circumstances which combine to furnish the power for this rapid locomotion, make its adoption, now they exist, pretty nearly compulsory. Farewell to the last incarnation of the eccentric, and adventurous-the scenes that inspired Smollett, and Farquhar, and Fielding. It would be heavy work now to ride through England on horseback-putting up, every twelve hours, for the night, at the close of the day's stage or journey: and without even the chance of a sword drawn at the inn where you stopped, or a scuffle with a highwayman (or a brace of footpads) before you got there.
The joys which charmed the youth of our grandfathers, are departed! There are no people robbed in St Paul's church-yard, nor in Holborn, now. The "Paddington stage is never stopped now (unless to deliver parcels, not once a-year!) instead of being plundered regularly every night, and the coachman stripped to his shirt, and so set upon his box again-sometimes without any shirt-as it used to be. There has not been a burglary, that is, not a proper burglary-the people tied back to back and put down in the coal-cellar, while the house was gutted, and so on-scarcely within my recollection. Nor a fine young thief at least nineteen times escaped from Newgate-of" five-and-twenty, or thereabouts," taken at such a place as
"Hockley in the Hole,"-indeed there is no such place with three brace of pistols, his hair in papers, and a hundred guineas in his pocket! And, as for wild, solitary journeying, by bridle paths, over mountains and through forests, to muse along at a foot pace in ; scanty luncheons by the side of a river, or under the shade of a cork-tree; cottage and convent up-puttings, or any other of the casualties that to you and me, in earlier and better days, used to make travel delightful! Mail-coaches forsake us! the whole hundred and twenty miles of road from London to Bristol is but one great high street, now, almost with houses upon both sides of the way; cursed with turtle, gas-light, horse patrole, excellent inn, turnpike at every half mile, and every other nuisance of wealth and regularity.
In fact, I look at England now, something with the eye, though not at all with the heart, of a foreigner-did it never strike you, bating, of course, the loss of national strength which unfortunately would accompany such a change, that the people here would be happier if they were not quite so enlightened as they are; and still more so, if there were not quite so many of them? What say you to a good rummaging plague again--such as that treated of in the veritable and moth-eaten tome that you have sent me; and which (do me the favour to say so much, with my profound respects, to your lady sister) shall be returned, translated in the best way that I can make it out-a plague of purpose, and which, as Fletcher's grave-digger suggests it, should take the apothecaries and physicians first, that there might be no help left for money?
London alone, for a genuine stranger, the work of half a life would hardly be sufficient for him to examine it. The mere new matter which has arisen since I was here last—in six years-is such a survey to go through, that I must die very slightly informed as to three-fourths of it. "Improvement" or, at least, increase of extent, will make it a post-stage from one end of the town to the other,