Jane Eccles, by Samuel Warren
of a Barrister, and Confessions of an Attorney
The criminal business of the office was, during the first three or four
years of our partnership, entirely superintended by Mr. Flint; he being
more an fait, from early practice, than myself in the art and mystery
of prosecuting and defending felons, and I was thus happily relieved of
duties which, in the days when George III. was king, were frequently very
oppressive and revolting. The criminal practitioner dwelt in an
atmosphere tainted alike with cruelty and crime, and pulsating
alternately with merciless decrees of death, and the shrieks and wailings
of sentenced guilt. And not always guilt! There exist many records of
proofs, incontestable, but obtained too late, of innocence having been
legally strangled on the gallows in other cases than that of Eliza
Fenning. How could it be otherwise with a criminal code crowded in every
line with penalties of death, nothing but—death? Juster, wiser times
have dawned upon us, in which truer notions prevail of what man owes to
man, even when sitting in judgment on transgressors; and this we owe, let
us not forget, to the exertions of a band of men who, undeterred by the
sneers of the reputedly wise and practical men of the world, and the
taunts of "influential" newspapers, persisted in teaching that the rights
of property could be more firmly cemented than by the shedding of
blood—law, justice, personal security more effectually vindicated than
by the gallows. Let me confess that I also was, for many years, amongst
the mockers, and sincerely held such "theorists" and "dreamers" as Sir
Samuel Romilly and his fellow-workers in utter contempt. Not so my
partner, Mr. Flint. Constantly in the presence of criminal judges and
juries, he had less confidence in the unerring verity of their decisions
than persons less familiar with them, or who see them only through the
medium of newspapers. Nothing could exceed his distress of mind if, in
cases in which he was prosecuting attorney, a convict died persisting in
his innocence, or without a full confession of guilt. And to such a pitch
did this morbidly-sensitive feeling at length arrive, that he all at once
refused to undertake, or in any way meddle with, criminal prosecutions,
and they were consequently turned over to our head clerk, with occasional
assistance from me if there happened to be a press of business of the
sort. Mr. Flint still, however, retained a monopoly of the defences,
except when, from some temporary cause or other, he happened to be
otherwise engaged, when they fell to me. One of these I am about to
relate, the result of which, whatever other impression it produced,
thoroughly cured me—as it may the reader—of any propensity to sneer or
laugh at criminal-law reformers and denouncers of the gallows.
One forenoon, during the absence of Mr. Flint in Wiltshire, a Mrs.
Margaret Davies called at the office, in apparently great distress of
mind. This lady, I must premise, was an old, or at all events an elderly
maiden, of some four-and-forty years of age—I have heard a very intimate
female friend of hers say she would never see fifty again, but this was
spite—and possessed of considerable house property in rather poor
localities. She found abundant employment for energies which might
otherwise have turned to cards and scandal, in collecting her weekly,
monthly, and quarterly rents, and in promoting, or fancying she did, the
religious and moral welfare of her tenants. Very bare-faced, I well knew,
were the impositions practiced upon her credulous good-nature in money
matters, and I strongly suspected the spiritual and moral promises and
performances of her motley tenantry exhibited as much discrepancy as
those pertaining to rent. Still, deceived or cheated as she might be,
good Mrs. Davies never wearied in what she conceived to be well-doing,
and was ever ready to pour balm and oil into the wounds of the sufferer,
however self-inflicted or deserved.
"What is the matter now?" I asked as soon as the good lady was seated,
and had untied and loosened her bonnet, and thrown back her shawl, fast
walking having heated her prodigiously. "Nothing worse than
transportation is, I hope, likely to befall any of those interesting
clients of yours?"
"You are a hard-hearted man, Mr. Sharp," replied Mrs. Davies between a
smile and a cry; "but being a lawyer, that is of course natural, and, as
I am not here to consult you as a Christian, of no consequence."
"Complimentary, Mrs. Davies; but pray, go on."
"You know Jane Eccles, one of my tenants in Bank Buildings—the
embroidress who adopted her sister's orphan child?"
"I remember her name. She obtained, if I recollect rightly, a balance of
wages for her due to the child's father, a mate, who died at sea. Well,
what has befallen her?"
"A terrible accusation has been preferred against her," rejoined Mrs.
Davies; "but as for a moment believing it, that is quite out of the
question. Jane Eccles," continued the warm-hearted lady, at the same time
extracting a crumpled newspaper from the miscellaneous contents of her
reticule—"Jane Eccles works hard from morning till night, keeps herself
to herself; her little nephew and her rooms are always as clean and nice
as a new pin; she attends church regularly; and pays her rent punctually
to the day. This disgraceful story, therefore," he added, placing the
journal in my hands, "cannot be true."
I glanced over the police news:—'Uttering forged Bank-of-England notes,
knowing them to be forged;' I exclaimed, "The devil!"
"There's no occasion to be spurting that name out so loudly, Mr. Sharp,"
said Mrs. Davies with some asperity, "especially in a lawyer's office.
People have been wrongfully accused before to-day, I suppose?"
I was intent on the report, and not answering, she continued, "I heard
nothing of it till I read the shameful account in the paper half an hour
agone. The poor slandered girl was, I dare say, afraid or ashamed to
send for me."
"This appears to be a very bad case, Mrs. Davies," I said at length.
"Three forged ten-pound notes changed in one day at different shops each
time, under the pretence of purchasing articles of small amount, and
another ten-pound note found in her pocket! All that has, I must say, a
very ugly look."
"I don't care," exclaimed Mrs. Davies quite fiercely, "if it looks as
ugly as sin, or if the whole Bank of England was found in her pocket! I
know Jane Eccles well; she nursed me last spring through the fever; and I
would be upon my oath that the whole story, from beginning to end, is an
invention of the devil, or something worse."
"Jane Eccles," I persisted, "appears to have been unable or unwilling to
give the slightest explanation as to how she became possessed of the
spurious notes. Who is this brother of hers, 'of such highly respectable
appearance,' according to the report, who was permitted a private
interview with her previous to the examination?"
"She has no brother that I have ever heard of," said Mrs. Davies. "It
must be a mistake of the papers."
"That is not likely. You observed of course that she was fully
committed—and no wonder!"
Mrs. Davies's faith in the young woman's integrity was not to be shaken
by any evidence save that of her own bodily eyes, and I agreed to see
Jane Eccles on the morrow, and make the best arrangements for the
defence—at Mrs. Davies' charge—which the circumstances and the short
time I should have for preparation—the Old Bailey session would be on in
a few days—permitted. The matter so far settled, Mrs. Margaret hurried
off to see what had become of little Henry, the prisoner's nephew.
I visited Jane Eccles the next day in Newgate. She was a well-grown young
woman of about two or three-and-twenty—not exactly pretty perhaps, but
very well-looking. Her brown hair was plainly worn, without a cap, and
the expression of her face was, I thought, one of sweetness and humility,
contradicted in some degree by rather harsh lines about the mouth,
denoting strong will and purpose. As a proof of the existence of this
last characteristic, I may here mention that, when her first overweening
confidence had yielded to doubt, she, although dotingly fond of her
nephew, at this time about eight years of age, firmly refused to see him,
"in order," she once said to me—and the thought brought a deadly pallor
to her face—in order that, should the worst befall, her memory might
not be involuntarily connected in his mind with images of dungeons, and
disgrace, and shame. Jane Eccles had received what is called in the
country, "a good schooling," and the books Mrs. Davies had lent her she
had eagerly perused. She was therefore to a certain extent a cultivated
person; and her speech and manners were mild, gentle, and, so to speak,
religious. I generally found, when I visited her, a Bible or prayer-book
in her hand. This, however, from my experience, comparatively slight
though it was, did not much impress me in her favor—devotional sentiment
so easily, for a brief time, assumed, being in nine such cases out of ten
a hypocritical deceit. Still she, upon the whole, made a decidedly
favorable impression on me, and I no longer so much wondered at the
bigotry of unbelief manifested by Mrs. Davies in behalf of her apparently
amiable and grateful protégée.
But beyond the moral doubt thus suggested of the prisoner's guilt, my
interviews with her utterly failed to extract anything from her in
rebutment of the charge upon which she was about to be arraigned. At
first she persisted in asserting that the prosecution was based upon
manifest error; that the impounded notes, instead of being forged, were
genuine Bank-of-England paper. It was some time before I succeeded in
convincing her that this hope, to which she so eagerly, desperately
clung, was a fallacious one. I did so at last; and either, thought I, as
I marked her varying color and faltering voice, "either you are a
consummate actress, or else the victim of some frightful delusion or
"I will see you, if you please, to-morrow," she said, looking up from the
chair upon which, with her head bowed and her face covered with her
hands, she had been seated for several minutes in silence. "My thoughts
are confused now, but to-morrow I shall be more composed; better able to
decide if—to talk, I mean, of this unhappy business."
I thought it better to comply without remonstrance, and at once
took my leave.
When I returned the next afternoon, the governor of the prison informed
me that the brother of my client, James Eccles, quite a dashing
gentleman, had had a long interview with her. He had left about two hours
before, with the intention, he said, of calling upon me.
I was conducted to the room where my conferences with the prisoner
usually took place. In a few minutes she appeared, much flushed and
excited, it seemed to be alternately with trembling joy and hope, and
doubt, and nervous fear.
"Well," I said, "I trust you are now ready to give me your unreserved
confidence, without which, be assured, that any reasonable hope of a
successful issue from the peril in which you are involved is out of the
The varying emotions I have noticed were clearly traceable as they swept
over her tell-tale countenance during the minute or so that elapsed
before she spoke.
"Tell me candidly, sir," she said at last, "whether, if I owned to you
that the notes were given to me by a—a person, whom I cannot, if I
would, produce, to purchase various articles at different shops, and
return him—the person I mean—the change; and that I made oath this was
done by me in all innocence of heart, as the God of heaven and earth
truly knows it was, it would avail me?"
"Not in the least," I replied, angry at such trifling. "How can you ask
such a question? We must find the person who, you intimate, has
deceived you, and placed your life in peril; and if that can be proved,
hang him instead of you. I speak plainly, Miss Eccles," I added in a
milder tone; "perhaps you may think unfeelingly, but there is no further
time for playing with this dangerous matter. To-morrow a true bill will
be found against you, and your trial may then come on immediately. If you
are careless for yourself, you ought to have some thought for the
sufferings of your excellent friend, Mrs. Davies; for your nephew, soon
perhaps to be left friendless and destitute."
"Oh spare me—spare me!" sobbed the unhappy young woman, sinking
nervelessly into a seat. "Have pity upon me, wretched, bewildered as I
am!" Tears relieved her, and after awhile, she said, "It is useless, sir,
to prolong this interview. I could not, I solemnly assure you, if I
would, tell you where to search for or find the person of whom I spoke.
And," she added, whilst the lines about her mouth of which I have spoken,
grew distinct and rigid, "I would not if I could. What indeed would it,
as I have been told and believe, avail, but to cause the death of two
deceived innocent persons instead of one? Besides," she continued, trying
to speak with firmness, and repress the shudder which crept over and
shook her as with ague—"besides, whatever the verdict, the penalty will
not, cannot, I am sure, I know, be—be"—
I understood her plainly enough, although her resolution failed to
sustain her through the sentence.
"Who is this brother—James Eccles, he calls himself—whom you saw at the
police-office, and who has twice been here, I understand—once to-day?"
A quick start revealed the emotion with which she heard the question,
and her dilated eyes rested upon me for a moment with eager scrutiny.
She speedily recovered her presence of mind, and with her eyes again
fixed on the floor, said in a quivering voice, "My brother! Yes—as you
"Mrs. Davies says you have no brother!" I sharply rejoined.
"Good Mrs. Davies," she replied in a tone scarcely above a whisper, and
without raising her head, "does not know all our family."
A subterfuge was, I was confident, concealed in these words; but after
again and again urging her to confide in me, and finding warning and
persuasion alike useless, I withdrew, discomfited and angry, and withal
as much concerned and grieved as baffled and indignant. On going out, I
arranged with the governor that the "brother," if he again made his
appearance, should be detained, bongré malgré, till my arrival. Our
precaution was too late—he did not reappear; and so little notice had
any one taken of his person, that to advertise a description of him with
a reward for his apprehension was hopeless.
A true bill was found, and two hours afterwards Jane Eccles was placed in
the dock. The trial did not last more than twenty minutes, at the end of
which, an unhesitating verdict of guilty was returned, and she was duly
sentenced to be hanged by the neck till she was dead. We had retained the
ablest counsel practicing in the court, but, with no tangible defence,
their efforts were merely thrown away. Upon being asked what she had to
say why the sentence of the law should not be carried into effect? she
repeated her previous statement—that the notes had been given her to
change by a person in whom she reposed the utmost confidence; and that
she had not the slightest thought of evil or fraud in what she did. That
person, however, she repeated once more, could not be produced. Her
assertions only excited a derisive smile; and all necessary forms having
been gone through, she was removed from the bar.
The unhappy woman bore the ordeal through which she had just passed with
much firmness. Once only, whilst sentence was being passed, her
high-strung resolution appeared to falter and give way. I was watching
her intently, and I observed that she suddenly directed a piercing look
towards a distant part of the crowded court. In a moment her eye
lightened, the expression of extreme horror which had momently darkened
her countenance passed away, and her partial composure returned. I had
instinctively, as it were, followed her glance, and thought I detected a
tall man enveloped in a cloak engaged in dumb momentary communication
with her. I jumped up from my seat, and hastened as quickly as I could
through the thronged passages to the spot, and looked eagerly around, but
the man, whosoever he might be, was gone.
The next act in this sad drama was the decision of the Privy Council upon
the recorder's report. It came. Several were reprieved, but amongst them
was not Jane Eccles. She and nine others were to perish at eight
o'clock on the following morning.
The anxiety and worry inseparable from this most unhappy affair, which,
from Mr. Flint's protracted absence, I had exclusively to bear, fairly
knocked me up, and on the evening of the day on which the decision of the
Council was received, I went to bed much earlier than usual, and really
ill. Sleep I could not, and I was tossing restlessly about, vainly
endeavoring to banish from my mind the gloomy and terrible images
connected with the wretched girl and her swiftly-coming fate, when a
quick tap sounded on the door, and a servant's voice announced that one
of the clerks had brought a letter which the superscription directed to
be read without a moment's delay. I sprang out of bed, snatched the
letter, and eagerly ran it over. It was from the Newgate chaplain, a very
worthy, humane gentleman, and stated that, on hearing the result of the
deliberations of the Privy Council, all the previous stoicism and
fortitude exhibited by Jane Eccles had completely given way, and she had
abandoned herself to the wildest terror and despair. As soon as she could
speak coherently, she implored the governor with frantic earnestness to
send for me. As this was not only quite useless in the opinion of that
official, but against the rules, the prisoner's request was not complied
with. The chaplain, however, thinking it might be as well that I should
know of her desire to see me, had of his own accord sent me this note. He
thought that possibly the sheriffs would permit me to have a brief
interview with the condemned prisoner in the morning, if I arrived
sufficiently early; and although it could avail nothing as regarded her
fate in this world, still it might perhaps calm the frightful tumult of
emotion by which she was at present tossed and shaken, and enable her to
meet the inevitable hour with fortitude and resignation.
It was useless to return to bed after receiving such a communication,
and I forthwith dressed myself, determined to sit up and read, if I
could, till the hour at which I might hope to be admitted to the jail,
should strike. Slowly and heavily the dark night limped away, and as the
first rays of the cold wintry dawn reached the earth, I sallied forth. A
dense, brutal crowd were already assembled in front of the prison, and
hundreds of well-dressed sight-seers occupied the opposite windows,
morbidly eager for the rising of the curtain upon the mournful tragedy
about to be enacted. I obtained admission without much difficulty, but,
till the arrival of the sheriffs, no conference with the condemned
prisoners could be possibly permitted. Those important functionaries
happened on this morning to arrive unusually late, and I paced up and
down the paved corridor in a fever of impatience and anxiety. They were
at last announced, but before I could, in the hurry and confusion,
obtain speech of either of them, the dismal bell tolled out, and I felt
with a shudder that it was no longer possible to effect my object.
"Perhaps it is better so," observed the reverend chaplain, in a whisper.
"She has been more composed for the last two or three hours, and is now,
I trust, in a better frame of mind for death." I turned, sick at heart,
to leave the place, and in my agitation missing the right way, came
directly in view of the terrible procession. Jane Eccles saw me, and a
terrific scream, followed by frantic heart-rending appeals to me to save
her, burst with convulsive effort from her white quivering lips. Never
will the horror of that moment pass from my remembrance. I staggered
back, as if every spasmodic word struck me like a blow; and then,
directed by one of the turnkeys, sped in an opposite direction as fast
as my trembling limbs could carry me—the shrieks of the wretched
victim, the tolling of the dreadful bell, and the obscene jeers and
mocks of the foul crowd through which I had to force my way, evoking a
confused tumult of disgust and horror in my brain, which, if long
continued, would have driven me mad. On reaching home, I was bled
freely, and got to bed. This treatment, I have no doubt, prevented a
violent access of fever; for, as it was, several days passed before I
could be safely permitted to re-engage in business.
On revisiting the office, a fragment of a letter written by Jane Eccles
a few hours previous to her death, and evidently addressed to Mrs.
Davies, was placed by Mr. Flint, who had by this time returned, before
me. The following is an exact copy of it, with the exception that the
intervals which I have marked with dots,…. were filled with erasures
and blots, and that every word seemed to have been traced by a hand
smitten with palsy:—
"From my Death-place, Midnight.
"Dear Madam—No, beloved friend—mother, let me call you…. Oh kind,
gentle mother, I am to die … to be killed in a few hours by cruel
men!—I, so young, so unprepared for death, and yet guiltless! Oh never
doubt that I am guiltless of the offence for which they will have the
heart to hang me…. Nobody, they say, can save me now; yet if I could
see the lawyer…. I have been deceived, cruelly deceived, madam—buoyed
up by lying hopes, till just now the thunder burst, and I—oh God!…. As
they spoke, the fearful chapter in the Testament came bodily before
me—the rending of the vail in twain, the terrible darkness, and the
opened graves!…. I did not write for this, but my brain aches and
dazzles…. It is too late—too late, they all tell me! … Ah, if these
dreadful laws were not so swift, I might yet—but no; he clearly proved
to me how useless…. I must not think of that…. It is of my nephew, of
your Henry, child of my affections, that I would speak. Oh, would that
I…. But hark!—they are coming…. The day has dawned … to me the day
This incoherent scrawl only confirmed my previous suspicions, but it was
useless to dwell further on the melancholy subject. The great axe had
fallen, and whether justly or unjustly, would, I feared, as in many, very
many other cases, never be clearly ascertained in this world. I was
mistaken. Another case of "uttering forged Bank-of-England notes, knowing
them to be forged," which came under our cognizance a few months
afterwards, revived the fading memory of Jane Eccles's early doom, and
cleared up every obscurity connected with it.
The offender in this new case, was a tall, dark-complexioned, handsome
man, of about thirty years of age, of the name of Justin Arnold. His lady
mother, whose real name I shall conceal under that of Barton, retained us
for her son's defence, and from her, and other sources, we learned the
Justin Arnold was the lady's son by a former marriage. Mrs. Barton, a
still splendid woman, had, in second nuptials, espoused a very wealthy
person, and from time to time had covertly supplied Justin Arnold's
extravagance. This, however, from the wild course the young man pursued,
could not be forever continued, and after many warnings the supplies were
stopped. Incapable of reformation, Justin Arnold, in order to obtain the
means of dissipation, connected himself with a cleverly-organized band of
swindlers and forgers, who so adroitly managed their nefarious business,
that, till his capture, they had contrived to keep themselves clear of
the law—the inferior tools and dupes having been alone caught in its
fatal meshes. The defence, under these circumstances necessarily a
difficult, almost impossible one, was undertaken by Mr. Flint, and
conducted by him with his accustomed skill and energy.
I took a very slight interest in the matter, and heard very little
concerning it till its judicial conclusion by the conviction of the
offender, and his condemnation to death. The decision on the
recorder's report was this time communicated to the authorities of
Newgate on a Saturday, so that the batch ordered for execution,
amongst whom was Justin Arnold, would not be hanged till the Monday
morning. Rather late in the evening a note once more reached me from
the chaplain of the prison. Justin Arnold wished to see me—me, not
Mr. Flint. He had something of importance to communicate, he said,
relative to a person in whom I had once felt great interest. It
flashed across me that this Justin might be the "brother" of Jane
Eccles, and I determined to see him. I immediately sought out one of
the sheriffs, and obtained an order empowering me to see the prisoner
on the afternoon of the morrow, (Sunday).
I found that the convict had expressed great anxiety lest I should
decline to see him. My hoped-for visit was the only matter which
appeared to occupy the mind or excite the care of the mocking,
desperate young man; even the early and shameful termination of his own
life on the morrow, he seemed to be utterly reckless of. Thus prepared,
I was the less surprised at the scene which awaited me in the
prisoner's cell, where I found him in angry altercation with the pale
and affrighted chaplain.
I had never seen Justin Arnold before, this I was convinced of the
instant I saw him; but he knew and greeted me instantly by name. His
swarthy, excited features were flushed and angry; and after briefly
thanking me for complying with his wishes, he added in a violent rapid
tone, "This good man has been teasing me. He says, and truly, that I have
defied God by my life; and now he wishes me to mock that inscrutable
Being, on the eve of death, by words without sense, meaning, or truth!"
"No, no, no!" ejaculated the reverend gentleman. "I exhorted you to true
repentance, to peace, charity, to"—
"True repentance, peace, charity!" broke in the prisoner, with a scornful
burst; "when my heart is full of rage, and bitterness, and despair! Give
me time for this repentance which you say is so needful—time to lure
back long since banished hope, and peace, and faith! Poh!—you but flout
me with words without meaning. I am unfit, you say, for the presence of
men, but quite fit for that of God, before whom you are about to
arrogantly cast me! Be it so—my deeds are upon my head! It is at least
not my fault that I am hurled to judgment before the Eternal Judge
himself commanded my presence there!"
"He may be unworthy to live," murmured the scared chaplain, "but oh, how
utterly unfit to die!"
"That is true," rejoined Justin Arnold, with undiminished vehemence.
"Those, if you will, are words of truth and sense—go you and preach them
to the makers and executioners of English law. In the meantime I would
speak privately with this gentleman."
The reverend pastor, with a mute gesture of compassion, sorrow, and
regret, was about to leave the cell, when he was stayed by the prisoner,
who exclaimed, "Now, I think of it, you had better, sir, remain. The
statement I am about to make cannot, for the sake of the victim's
reputation, and for her friends' sake, have too many witnesses. You both
remember Jane Eccles?" A broken exclamation from both of us answered him,
and he quickly added—"Ah, you already guess the truth, I see. Well, I do
not wonder you should start and turn pale. It was a cruel, shameless
deed—a dastardly murder if there was ever one. In as few words as
possible, so you interrupt me not, I will relate my share in the
atrocious business." He spoke rapidly, and once or twice during the brief
recital, the moistened eye and husky voice betrayed emotions which his
pride would have concealed.
"Jane and I were born in Hertfordshire, within a short distance of each
other. I knew her from a child. She was better off then, I worse than we
subsequently became—she by her father's bankruptcy, I by my mo—, by
Mrs. Barton's wealthy marriage. She was about nineteen, I twenty-four,
when I left the country for London. That she loved me with all the
fervor of a trusting woman I well knew; and I had, too, for some time
known that she must be either honorably wooed or not at all. That with
me, was out of the question, and, as I told you, I came about that time
to London. You can, I dare say, imagine the rest. We were—I and my
friends, I mean—at a loss for agents to dispose of our wares, and at the
same time pressed for money. I met Jane Eccles by accident. Genteel, of
graceful address and winning manners, she was just fitted for our
purpose. I feigned re-awakened love, proffered marriage, and a home
across the Atlantic, as soon as certain trifling but troublesome affairs
which momently harassed me were arranged. She believed me. I got her to
change a considerable number of notes under various pretexts, but that
they were forged she had not and could not have the remotest suspicion.
You know the catastrophe. After her apprehension I visited this prison as
her brother, and buoyed her up to the last with illusions of certain
pardon and release, whatever the verdict, through the influence of my
wealthy father-in-law, of our immediate union afterwards, and tranquil
American home. It is needless to say more. She trusted me, and I
sacrificed her; less flagrant instances of a like nature occur every day.
And now, gentlemen, I would fain be alone."
"Remorseless villain!" I could not help exclaiming under my breath as he
He turned quickly back, and looking me in the face, without the slightest
anger, said, "An execrable villain if you like—not a remorseless one!
Her death alone sits near, and troubles my, to all else, hardened
conscience. And let me tell you, reverend sir," he continued, resuming
his former bitterness as he addressed the chaplain—"let me tell you that
it was not the solemn words of the judge the other day, but her pale,
reproachful image, standing suddenly beside me in the dock, just as she
looked when I passed my last deception on her, that caused the tremor and
affright, complacently attributed by that grave functionary to his own
sepulchral eloquence. After all, her death cannot be exclusively laid to
my charge. Those who tried her would not believe her story, and yet it
was true as death. Had they not been so confident in their own unerring
wisdom, they might have doomed her to some punishment short of the
scaffold, and could now have retrieved their error. But I am weary, and
would, I repeat, be alone. Farewell!" He threw himself on the rude
pallet, and we silently withdrew.
A paper embodying Justin Arnold's declaration was forwarded to the
secretary of state, and duly acknowledged, accompanied by an official
expression of mild regret that it had not been made in time to save the
life of Jane Eccles. No further notice was taken of the matter, and the
record of the young woman's judicial sacrifice still doubtless encumbers
the archives of the Home Office, forming, with numerous others of like
character, the dark, sanguine background upon which the achievements of
the great and good men who have so successfully purged the old Draco code
that now a faint vestige only of the old barbarism remains, stands out in
bright relief and changeless lustre.