« ForrigeFortsæt »
and submission. Next day, he sent to the commander-in-chief a present of one thousand cows, the acceptance of which would have been a pledge of friendship. They were not accepted; but Theodore was led to believe that they had been; and thereupon he dismissed the artisans who were still with him, with their wives and families, to the British camp. On the mistake being discovered, he became desperate, attempted suicide, finally tried to make his escape into the country of the Gallas; but these old foes of his were watchful, and he had to return to the mountain. On the 13th of April, the British troops assaulted the fortress, and met with scarcely any resistance. Theodore's principal chiefs had already submitted to the British general, and with their followers departed from Magdala. He himself had just been making an unsuccessful attempt to escape, and the soldiers remaining with him were completely disheartened. Had the place been resolutely defended, it could not have been taken without serious loss; as it was, only ten men were wounded in the assault. When the resistance was over, the dead body of Theodore was found bearing three wounds, one of which had been inflicted by his own hand. “There was,' says Dr Blanc, 'a smile on his lip—that happy smile, which he so seldom wore of late : it gave an air of calm grandeur to the features of one whose career had been so remarkable, whose cruelties are almost unparalleled in history, but who at the last hour seems to have recalled the days of his youth, fought like a brave man, and killed himself rather than surrender.'
The remains of Theodore were honourably interred, under the orders of the British general. His crown and royal seal were taken possession of and brought to England. The cannons and mortars, thirty-seven in number, in the manufacture of which he had been so deeply interested, and which, even more than his prestige as a warrior, struck terror into his enemies, were destroyed by blasting. His stronghold of Magdala was dismantled. His widow, and his only legitimate child, a boy eight years old, accompanied the British force on its return to the coast. The mother died on the journey. The child, Alamayo (' I have seen the world'), was brought to England, and is being educated at the expense of the British government.
The return march of the British force was begun with the least possible delay, and by the beginning of June the last column had quitted the Abyssinian highlands. The troops were immediately withdrawn from the coast to India or England. The object of the expedition-the vindication of British honour, the punishment of the ill-treatment offered to the British envoys—had been fully accomplished. More than that, Theodore's European captives, escaping death almost by a miracle, had been liberated, and restored to their homes. The British government resisted the temptation to seize, what might have been deemed the legitimate reward of a costly success, a portion of the Abyssinian territory. The success was not gained without a great expenditure of money. During 1867 and 1868,
the House of Commons voted five millions on account of the Abyssinian war. The cost of the expedition will probably be even more. Honours and rewards have been liberally dispensed among the officers engaged in the expedition. The able commander, Sir Robert Napier, has been raised to the peerage as Lord Napier of Magdala.
After the withdrawal of the British troops, there were three principal candidates for power in Abyssinia-Gobbazé, the wakshum or hereditary prince of Lasta ; Menilek, the hereditary prince of Shoa; and Kassa, or Kassai, a descendant of the Ras Michael of Bruce's time, who had, before the British invasion took place, established himself as sovereign of Tigré. Of these, the last, in return for considerable services rendered to the British army, received a present of mountain-guns and muskets from the British general. He only of the three seems content with the possessions he has acquired, and hitherto he has succeeded in retaining them. Between Menilek and Gobbazé a contest for the vacant crown is going on : according to the latest accounts, it is likely to terminate, if it has not already terminated, in favour of the latter. Gobbazé has proclaimed himself king of Abyssinia. At present, however, there is no abouna, and his claims cannot yet have been consecrated by coronation. It is unlikely that Gobbazé will succeed in bringing about the permanent union of all Abyssinia under one sovereign, a task which Theodore, with his great genius, could not accomplish ; and the future of the country is dark with threatenings of wars, divisions, and decay.
HE records of every country abound in remarkable cases
of persons being judicially put to death for crimes of which they were entirely innocent. A mistaken resemblance to the actual perpetrator, the fact of having been
seen near the spot where the crime was committed, or some other suspicious circumstance, has contributed to bring the guilt and punishment on the wrong party. At one time, cases of injustice were also committed by condemning individuals for murder when it was not proved that a murder had been perpetrated. The now well-recognised principle in criminal law, that no murder can be held as having been committed till the body of the deceased has been discovered, has terminated this form of legal oppression. Another, and perhaps one of the most common causes of injustice in trials of this nature, is the prevarication of the party charged with the offence. Finding himself, though innocent, placed in an awkward predicament, he invents a plausible story in his defence, and the deceit being discovered, he is at once presumed to be in every resper : guilty. Sir Edward Coke mentions a melancholy case of this kind. A gentleman was charged with having made away with his niece. He was innocent of the crime ; but having, in a state of
trepidation, put forward another child as the one said to hav been destroyed, the trick was discovered, and the poor gentlema executed-a victim of his own disingenuousness.
The following interesting cases of loss of life from too g at a leaning on circumstantial or presumptive evidence, we selec from various authorities, English and foreign.
In the year 1721 there resided in Edinburgh an uphol terer named William Shaw, who had a daughter, Catherine Shaw who lived with him. This young woman, it appears, encourage the addresses of John Lawson, a jeweller, to whom William haw declared the most insuperable objections, alleging him to be a profligate young man, addicted to every kind of dissipation. He was forbidden the house ; but the daughter continuing to see him :landestinely, the father, on the discovery, kept her strictly confined.
William Shaw had for some time urged his daughter to receive the addresses of a son of Alexander Robertson, a friend and neighbour; and one evening, being very urgent with her thereon, she peremptorily refused, declaring she preferred death to being young Robertson's wife. The father grew enraged, and the daughter more positive, so that the most passionate expressions arose on both sides, and the words barbarity, cruelty, and death, were frequently pronounced by the daughter. At length he left her, locking the door after him.
The greater number of the buildings in Edinburgh are tall and massive, divided into flats or floors, each inhabited by one or more families, all of whom enter by a general stair leading to the respective floors. William Shaw resided in one of these flats, and a partition only divided his dwelling from that of James Morrison, a watch-case maker. This man had indistinctly overheard the conversation and quarrel between Catherine Shaw and her father, and was particularly struck with the repetition of the above words, she having pronounced them loudly and emphatically. For some little time after the father was gone out all was silent, but presently Morrison heard several groans from the daughter. Alarmed, he ran to some of his neighbours under the same roof; these entering Morrison's room, and listening attentively, not only heard the groans, but distinctly heard Catherine Shaw two or three times faintly exclaim, “Cruel father, thou art the cause of my death. Struck with this, they flew to the door of Shaw's apartment; they knocked-no answer was given. The knocking was repeated-still no
Suspicions had before arisen against the father ; they were now confirmed. A constable was procured and an entrance forced : Catherine was found weltering in her blood, and the fatal knife by her side. She was
alive, but speechless; but on questioning her as to owing her death to her father, was just able to make a motion with her head, apparently in the affirmative, and expired. At this critical moment William Shaw returns, and enters the room : immediately all eyes, are on him. Seeing his neighbours and a constable in his apartment, he appears much disordered; but at the sight of his daughter he turns pale, trembles, and is ready to sink. The first surprise and the succeeding horror leave little doubt of his guilt in the breasts of the beholders; and even that little is done away on the constable discovering that the shirt of William Shaw is bloody.
He was instantly hurried before a magistrate, and, upon the depositions of all the parties, committed to prison on suspicion. He was shortly after brought to trial, when in his defence he acknowledged his having confined his daughter to prevent her intercourse with Lawson; that he had frequently insisted on her marrying Robertson; and that he had quarrelled with her on the subject the evening she was found murdered, as the witness Morrison had deposed; but he averred that he left his daughter unharmed and untouched, and that the blood found upon his shirt was there in consequence of his having bled himself some days before, and the bandage becoming untied. These assertions did not weigh a feather with the jury when opposed to the strong circumstantial evidence of the daughter's expressions of "barbarity, cruelty, death,' and of cruel father, thou art the cause of my death,' together with that apparently affirmative motion with her head, and of the blood so seemingly providentially discovered on the father's shirt. On these several concurring circumstances was William Shaw found guilty, and executed at Leith Walk in November 1721.
Was there a person in Edinburgh who believed the father guilt, less ? No, not one, notwithstanding his latest words at the gallows were, 'I am innocent of my daughter's murder. But in August 1722, as a man, who had become the possessor of the late William Shaw's apartments, was rummaging by chance in the chamber where Catherine Shaw died, he accidentally perceived a paper that had fallen into a cavity on one side of the chimney. It was folded as a letter, which on being opened ran as follows: ‘Barbarous father, your cruelty in having put it out of my power ever to join my fate to that of the only man I could love, and tyrannically insisting upon my marrying one whom I always hated, has made me form a resolution to put an end to an existence which is become a burden to me. I doubt not I shall find mercy in another world, for sure no benevolent Being can require that I should any longer live in torment to myself in this. My death I lay to your charge : when you read this, consider yourself as the inhuman wretch that plunged the murderous knife into the bosom of the unhappy-CATHERINE SHAW.'
This letter being shewn, the handwriting was recognised and avowed to be Catherine Shaw's by many of her relations and friends.