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continued to say, "Do your worst, and be d--d!" And as his hands were being fastened together, he said, with an oath, addressing the gaoler,

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You have chiselled us out of the bell tolling last night; suppose you and the sexton over the way make that all right between you?"

This was an allusion to a former custom of tolling St. Sepulchre's bell on the eve of an execution,-a custom that had its rise out of a bequest.

Robert Dowe, in 1706, gave 50l. to the end that the vicar and churchwardens of St. Sepulchre's parish should for ever, previously to every execution at Newgate, cause a bell to be tolled, and certain words to be delivered to the prisoner in the form and manner specified in the terms of the gift. An annual sum of 11. 6s. 8d. is now paid to the sexton, who employs a person to go to Newgate on the night previous to every execution, when he offers to perform the prescribed duty, which is always declined. The words of the exhortation are,"You prisoners that are within,

Who, for your wickedness and sin, after many mercies shewn you, are appointed to die to-morrow in the forenoon, give ear and understand that to-morrow morning the greatest bell of St. Sepulchre's shall toll for you in form and manner of a passing-bell, as used to be tolled for those appointed to death, to the end that all godly people hearing that bell, and knowing it is for you going to your death, may be stirred up heartily to pray God to bestow grace and mercy whilst you live," &c.

Another bequest in the same parish provides a new shroud for every malefactor executed at Newgate. The knowledge of these rights appears to have entered into the very walls of Newgate, most of the condemned speaking of them with levity. Horrible as all this is, together with the manner in which the majority of condemned persons meet death, can philosophy explain it ?

Let us not, however, omit a statement made by the forger :

"I can," said he one morning, as he came from his cell, "explain why it is that men commit crime punishable with death, even when they reflect on the consequences that may result from the act. My own case has led me to this consideration. Harassed and worn out as I was by

troubles and long struggles with pe cuniary difficulties, to maintain my caste in society, my mind and active resolution at length gave way, when I fell into a state of despondency. In this condition I first thought of suicide; but wanting courage to commit the act, I lingered on in hopelessness and despair, yet every day desiring death to come to my relief and free me from a life that seemed to be unendurable. Hope of sudden or accidental death then came to my relief, when, instead of viewing death as a remote contingency, I brought the probabilities of its approach as being near at hand. Each morning, as I awoke to the consciousness of being environed with insurmountable difficulties, I almost reproached my God with perpetuating my existence; and asked myself, as if all men were conscious of my unworthiness, whether it was probable that some one might not shoot me in the course of the ensuing day. After remaining for some months in this condition of mind, it all of a sudden occurred to me, that as the ultimatum of the punishment for the crime of forgery was death, why I should not take the chance of daring the alternative; that is, of obtaining a sufficient sum of money, through the means of a forgery, to relieve myself from all difficulties, or meet that fate I had so long mentally courted, namely, death. In this mood," he concluded, "I committed the act for which I am to suffer death."

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Being asked, if the punishment for the crime of forgery had been any thing short of death, whether he should have committed the act? he replied, Certainly not; I took the dice-box in hand knowing that the chances of the throw were against me, yet preferring, in my then state of mind, the stake of death on which event to cast the dies to any other. It was not my object to play a game against a life of slavery, but to obtain a victory over my difficulties or die in the attempt. Now I find death to present itself to the mind as being the climax of all ills, more especially a violent and an ignominious one. Yet, changed as I am since my incarceration in these cells, I have not dwelt much on the latter point. It is death itself, and death only, that now presses on the mind, like a huge

bag of sand, which no consideration, no thought, not even sleep, forced on some, as it occasionally is, by weariness of thinking on it, can for a moment lighten the inertness of its pressure. Previously to my coming under the sentence of the law, whenever I thought of the punishment of death, it presented itself to me that, in the event of my failing to obtain the money on the forged document, as a dernier ressort it was the most desirable of all others. Probably all that have gone before me, and have trodden in my path, together with others travelling a different road, though converging to the one point, namely, the fatal drop, pausing to take only a momentary prospective view of the punishment of death, have looked on it as I unhappily did,

that is, an alternative to be preferred to a lengthened and otherwise disgraceful penalty. An impetuous mind, rendered desperate by adverse circumstances, viewing the prospect of death through the medium of a troubled atmosphere, and the flattering lens of the chances of impunity, is easily brought to dare the risk of committing a forgery, and probably all other crimes, according to the orbit in which individuals are propelled at the commencement of their carcer."

This view of the punishment of death by criminals will cease to surprise us, if we reflect that the finest of poetical and moral writers, not to mention those of a religious nature, describe death as being the termination of man's woes. The criminal, as he imbibes the same idea, whether from books or in his contact with the world, stops not to reflect that death is never spoken of by good and wise men as being desirable to any but the pious and the virtuous :

"But conscious worth and innocence repays

Our sufferings yet, and Providence is kind

In sending death to terminate our

woes."

Since the forger gave his opinion that the punishment of death was

rather an inducement than a restraint on the crime of forgery, the extreme penalty of the law has been abrogated, and the soundness of his reason been proved by the decrease of the crime.

In giving publicity to these papers, the object is to present our readers with a view of criminal characters, as they have been seen in the condemned cells while awaiting the execution of the judgment of the court. We record facts, together with an occasional reference to the effects of the then existing criminal laws, omitting a description of many harrowing scenes which the rigid execution of those laws brought under our view-scenes that have moved and beguiled tears from the eye of the oldest janitor in the prison, such as the valedictory interviews between the doomed and their parents, wives, children, or other near and dear relatives.

One of these scenes occurred in the case of the forger, who had been united to a sensitive and accomplished lady-for such she still was, although the wife of a felon—a scene that alike defies the imagination of the most powerful writer in the intensity school of fiction, or the signs they use to convey their ideas. Who but those who feel know any thing of the agony the mind endures under these accumulated causes of woes? Not even those who have felt them; for feelings, like ideas, are passing things, fading away with time. An hour being appointed for the last earthly interview, pale and trembling, the wife with three children entered to them the tomb of a living being, who had been their only love and hope in this world-he whose solicitude to insure their happiness was the cause of their misery. After an absence, it is natural to rush into the arms of those we love; but disgrace and consequent shame make strange havoc with the impulses of the heart.

"Do you forgive me, Maria ?" said the husband, keeping aloof from his wife, as if his touch would be pollution.

"Would that others could as readily forgive!" replied the agonised wife, sinking on a seat near to her.

"Ah, you mean God! Ah, have you prayed for me, Maria? Do you think there is hope for me? Speak! I have been a great sinner-a wicked sinner, Maria. Yet do not tell these, your children, what a bad man their father was. But wherefore are they

here? Is not my punishment sufficiently heavy without bringing my children to reproach me?"

The gaoler reminded the bewildered man that he had expressed a wish to see them.

"Yes-true!" he ejaculated; "but I have been mad, and have not recovered my senses. Maria, your husband is mad!"

Maria heard him not; she was lying senseless on the floor. The children, aged six, eight, and ten, were crying over her, thinking that their unhappy and evidently distracted father had been the cause of her death.

Both husband and wife had thousands of questions to ask, and more matter to communicate, but the interview was ended. Several hours elapsed ere the wife was restored to perfect consciousness; and it was late in the evening before her doomed husband could be brought to resume his preparations for the fate that awaited him the following morning. "Shall I not see him once more?" inquired the wife, as she slowly recovered her recollection: "only once more-only one look! I am now prepared, and can command my feelings."

This privilege was denied her, as such interviews rarely answer any purpose but to distract the mind of the one whose business it is to forget the world and all its attractions, and to agonise the feelings of the other, who stand in need of all the resolution they possess to sustain the calamities attendant on a catastrophe so fatal to their worldly prospects.

It was evening before the wife and her children could be conveyed home; the latter, while at the prison and on their road, asking their agonised mother a number of questions regarding their father, every one of which penetrated the soul, and caused her further anguish. It was the first time the subject of death had been forced on their attention, and they were too young to have any thing but a confused notion of it, now they had learned that their father was doomed in a few hours to meet it before the public gaze. In all these cases, the truth is that the wife and children of the offenders are the only parties really punished. Even the hanging itself falls with a heavier weight of suffering on the sensibilities of an attached wife than it does on the actual culprit, whose sense of pain has a termination. The wife, tortured with the picture of the scene of strangulation on her imagination, in vain, when worn out with distress of mind, secks repose; the excited and deranged nerves keep the fancy at work; she dreams that they have laid her dead husband, cold and clammy, by her side, and awakes in terror at being so near one whose absence a short time since was her only trouble. The hours, as the morning approaches, are counted; then minutes are watched. The fatal period arrives-the clock strikes eight-she sees the signal-hears the drop fall-feels the jerk-the sensation of choking—and swoons, again to revive to the consciousness that all is desolation and misery around her!

THE LAST NEW LIFE OF SHAKSPEARE.*

WHAT a lovely little place is this Stratford-on-Avon, with its antique houses and silent streets; its fine old cathedral-looking church, its winding river, its noble woodland scenery, and its host of Shakspeare associations, that seem to fill the air and shine on the whole like a halo over a saint in some sweet Italian or Spanish picture! The country is now clothed in summer beauty; the fields, bounded by their neat plashed hedges and full-blown hedge-rows, are green as an emerald; the elms tower up in their pride of foliage, and every cottage porch and window is garlanded with roses. The "gentle Shakspeare," as his contemporaries delighted to call him, must have insensibly, from year to year, imbibed the prevailing character of his native scenery. Among the Alps he might have been a hunter bold; or if he took up the pen, he would have dashed off some wild romance redolent of crags, castles, and waterfalls.

Here he could not choose but be gentle. He was subdued by the genius of the spot, like Coleridge's Genevieve by the thrilling music, the doleful tale, and the "rich and balmy eve." He was a worshipper of nature, and he drank in the lovely landscape that nature had spread before his young eyes and heart. Through many a year he trod these fields, in wondering and delighted infancy, and in his hot and restless youth, forced prematurely into manhood by the strength of his passions and the poverty of his lot, that shewed him the primal curse of man, to earn

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a scene, perfect and entire, snatched from the Elizabethan age. With a mixture of curiosity and delight we sought out the Hathaway mansion, half hid among the elmtrees, by the side of which the poet could slide unperceived. We ascended to the humble door, still opened by an oaken latch, and entering, found the ancient wooden seat that, by no great stretch of fancy, we may conclude had often received the youthful poet and his rustic beauty. The walls of timber and plaster are covered outside with roses, and the garden is studded with old appletrees. The Hathaways were a comfortable people. The garden and orchard led to ample fields and inclosures, and in this sunny retreat they long enjoyed an inheritance of peace. These rural cottages seem fitted to last for ages-as long as the proud castles, under which many of them once sought protection. The timber is all good, sound oak, solid and abundant, from floor to roof; the doors and window-frames are of the same hardy material; and the plaster or bricks which fill up the panels seem bedded in adamant. Full three centuries does Ann Hathaway's cottage appear to have borne the winter's blast and the summer's sun, that shines among these retired nooks and gardens as if with a more intense lustre, ripening every thing into luxuriant beauty. The old cottage, its orchard, and wall-roses (the latter should be as sacred and celebrated as those of Pæstum), and the rural paths that lead to it ought to

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patrimonial estate of Asbies, the pride and the support of the family (it was the dower of the poet's mother), was heavily mortgaged; and among his fellows and townsmen John Shakspeare was a "broken man," exempted, on the score of necessity, from paying the customary contributions to the poor. Five younger children than the poet also lived, and must have filled the humble household at times with more than mirth. Heavy and painful, therefore, must his early lot have pressed on the mind of the poet, while his genius was yet shaping its golden visions and opening its blossoms, soon to ripen into fruit worthy of paradise. We conceive him only to have tasted of pure, exalted enjoyment when he escaped, as it were, from his uncongenial destiny, and roamed among the sequestered and woodland scenery of his native vale. The vista of life, tinged with the hues of hope and fancy, would open bright before him, and the consciousness of superior powers, then struggling into light, would soothe and gratify his youthful ambition.

We shall liberally suppose the reader to have read all the lives of Shakspeare prefixed to the various editions of his works. A goodly library they would form, from Nicholas Rowe down to Thomas Campbell! Few and uncertain are the facts, yet commentators and biographers go on stringing their hypotheses, apparently in love with a subject that is exhaustless and never tiring. We have ourselves read all the lives of Shakspeare that we could buy, borrow, or steal; and in the most operose, as in the most frivolous, we have always met with something to interest or amuse. The last that has fallen into our hands is one by that curiously meditative and subtle spirit, Thomas De Quincey, who has thrust an admirable and ingenious memoir into a grave and ponderous work, the Encyclopædia Britannica, where it shines among treatises on the Senses, Serpents, and Ship-building. The Opium Eater must be a new man. The dreamy languor of his former state seems to have passed away; and he is as alert and vigorous, and as zealous in his researches and investigations, as if he had all his life, like Milton, risen at the first crowing of the cock and been un

conscious of the black bottle that graced his table through the long hours of midnight among the wilds of Westmoreland. We remember once passing a night with this most eloquent dissertator and conversationist. The winds, keen and cutting as a scythe, swept the North Bridge of Edinburgh; but snugly seated in the Rainbow, we bade defiance to its blasts. Hour after hour glided on the stream of talk, welling out from the capacious overflowing cells of Thought and Memory, that a single word, a hint, or token, could stir and agitate. De Quincey seems to live in the past, and the past has few such admirers or painters. When fully kindled up and warmed on his subject, his whole talk is poetry; and his slight, attenuated frame, pale countenance, and massive forehead, with the singular sweetness and melody of his voice and language, impress one as if a voice from the dead-from some "old man eloquent"- had risen to tell us of the hidden world of thought, and imagination, and knowledge.

"No plant that grows on mortal soil, Nor in the glistering foil

Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies."

This is to exhibit the Opium Eater in his best vein, and the picture is not overcharged. From such a source we expected an interesting sketch of Shakspeare's life- --some ingenious speculation and philosophising, a little wayward criticism or captious objection, as the wind might sit and we have not been disappointed. About twenty close-printed, doublecolumned quarto pages, has Mr. De Quincey presented to his readers on the subject of Shakspeare, running up his story even from his boyish days, and descanting on every salient point and prominent circumstance in that brief but glorious life.

The narrative, of course, is merely a few facts- a slender thread on which to hang a string of pearls.

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Shakspeare was baptised on the 25th of April; and, according to tradition, he was born two days previous, on the 23d, St. George's Day. Mr. De Quincey says,—

"One only argument has struck us for supposing that the 22d might be the

day and not the twenter third which

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