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hussy. What does she mean?" exclaimed Miss Maria, with a toss of her head." I have given my affections to one thoroughly worthy of them, but whom the force of circumstances prevents from openly claiming my hand."-The audacious little minx!" He is, he tells me, and I believe him"-The little fool, she'd believe anything!" a rover—a corsair, the world might call him-but surely one so brave and good would only have plundered the rich that he might bestow their ill-gotten wealth on the poor and helpless."-Very likely, indeed! What would she have said if this roving gentleman and his ragamuffins-as Paul Jones once did-had landed and carried off all my plate and jewels-ill-gotten, indeed !— legally left me by my dear, kind father, the late Jeremiah Thornton, alderman of Bristol? Suppose they had come in the night and murdered us all in our beds? Or- Õh, horrible! what a catastrophe for my perfect household. I'll never take charge of a niece again as long as I live. I haven't got another, that's one comfort. But let me see what the hussy says more." He is bound to far distant seas, to brave the battle and the breeze. He requires some one to comfort and support him, and I have resolved, therefore, should he ask me, as I know he will, to accompany him in the perilous adventures he is about to undertake. Be not alarmed for your niece's honour, dear aunt. That is in the keeping of an honourable man (it would be base to doubt it) as well as in her own, and he will make me legally his at the first port at which we arrive. You will not blame me, therefore, dear aunt, for the step I have taken. It may be a bold one-it is a bold one, and yet I follow but the example of numberless heroines whose histories it has been the chief delight of my existence to peruse. Should my dear uncle arrive, give him my love and duty, and tell him that I hope to return and present to you both my beloved husband, when he has performed some gallant deed worthy of his name, and obtained as his reward, like Sir Henry Morgan, the honour of knighthood. "Your loving Niece, "CLARA MOWBRAY."
"Loving niece, indeed! Little hypocrite!" exclaimed the perplexed and bewildered Miss Thornton. "I wonder, now, whether my maid Barbara knew anything of this affair? She is such a pink of propriety, such a perfect lady's-maid, it is not possible."
Miss Thornton hurried to Barbara's room, and knocked at the door. No answer. She opened the door, though timid about the fever. Barbara's bed was vacant, and her box, which stood at its foot, was gone. On her table-denuded of its usual ornaments-was a note. It ran thus:
"Miss Thornton, marm, I gives this notice that I am leaving your service, because as how Miss Clara is going to get married, and I thinks fit to follow her example. If things turns up as I expect, we shall be back again to receive your pardon. And so no more just now from your obedient servant,
though that isn't to be my name very long, I hope, marm."
"Enough to drive any ordinary-minded person out of her seven senses
exclaimed Miss Thornton. "Clara and that poor misguided Barbara carried off by rovers. Never supposed such a thing could happen in the nineteenth century. It's all Clara's fault. If I'd had the bringing her up it would have been very different. Happily my dear Lieutenant Sparks will be here soon, and I'll confide my troubles to his tender bosom. He'll assist me, if any man can, and maybe sail forth and rescue the girls from the power of the buccaneers, returning in triumph to claim my tender hand as the guerdon of his valour."
Having thus relieved her mind, Miss Maria hastened down stairs to prepare for the reception of Lieutenant Sparks.
Of course no one in the house knew how Miss Clara and Barbara had managed to carry off their trunks, as well as to get away themselves, without being perceived, and so Miss Maria, hopeless of getting any assistance, even from her perfection of a butler, sat down before her hissing tea-urn to await the arrival of her gallant admirer, as she considered him. Every now and then she hurried to the window to ascertain if he were coming. Should she go into the garden to meet him, or await his arrival in the breakfast-room? In the garden she might be overlooked; besides, the subdued light of the breakfast-room, and the viands with which the table was spread, might, for certain reasons, be more favourable to her. She decided to remain in the house. Her heart beat quick as Lieutenant Sparks was announced. She rose to meet him with both her hands extended. Miss Maria was tall and thin, with a long nose and somewhat large grey eyes. Lieutenant Sparks was short-very short, with broad shoulders, and broad all the way down; Dutch-built, with great floating powers, as he said of himself. He had a nose of the button order, like a red spot in the middle of his face; and as to his eyes, they were decidedly ferrety. What had been the colour originally it was impossible to say. His whole countenance, however, though a mass of the most extraordinary weather-beaten indentations and furrows, beamed with jolly good nature, and prevented most people from finding fault with his looks. His arms were long, and his hands, from long acquaintance with the tar-bucket and wet ropes, were as hard as the hide of a rhinoceros. Still Miss Maria pronounced him handsome, and had some fear lest Clara might not prove indifferent to his perfections. Lieutenant Sparks had a good appetite. He prided himself on it. Miss Maria was aware of the fact, and lovingly allowed him to shovel into his capacious mouth a large supply of rolls and eggs and ham before she opened the subject of her grief and alarm. At length she commenced, and ran on till she was almost out of breath, winding up by saying:
"Who would have thought it, Lieutenant Sparks, that an elopement should have taken place from my house-my establishment-where everything is so perfect, so correct?"
"And yet not to be compared to its sweet mistress!" exclaimed the lieutenant, taking her hand, which she did not withdraw.
"Can you help me?" she asked, softly.
"Of course, Miss Maria-of course! I'll go through fire and water to please you," he answered, pressing the hand he held to his somewhat bread-and-buttery lips. "We'll go in chase of the schooner, and bring back the truants, though, between you and I and the bedpost, the fellow's being a corsair is all humbug. Now you see, Miss Maria, the fact of the
case is this: If I was to come up with the schooner, and claim the young lady, it's my belief she wouldn't come with me. Where's my authority? I've none. My commission only authorises me to capture contraband, not runaway young ladies, whatever you may choose to call 'em. Now, it strikes me if you, dear Miss Maria, was to come with me, you'd have due authority over your niece, and could bring her back to the path of rectitude and virtue, while I could tackle the audacious young villain who has run off with her, and clap him in limbo should he prove obstrepolous."
Miss Maria hung down her head.
"But consider my reputation, dear Mr. Sparks," she said, softly. "The world might misconstrue my motives. Would my going be as correctly perfect in all respects as is desirable?"
"Oh, bless your heart, Miss Maria, yes!" exclaimed the gallant officer, pressing the hand he held with renewed vigour. "I can make it all right, d'ye see, whenever you choose to name the day."
"Then I'll consent, dear Sammy," said the lady, sinking gracefully into the lieutenant's arms-that is to say, if Betty will go, since the faithless Barbara has deserted me."
"Betty! Oh, bless you, yes, Betty will go!" cried the lieutenant. "My old coxswain, Tom Stumps, has long been a-courting her, and he'll look well after her, depend on that."
Betty forthwith was called in, and made no objection. A trunk and two or three bandboxes were speedily packed. Stumps, who had followed his master up to the house, was ordered to carry them quickly down to the boat; Miss Maria, summoning Grimes, the perfect butler, told him that she should leave the house in his charge till her return in the evening, and then, leaning on the arm of the lieutenant, she followed her luggage and Betty, who had accompanied it, and had not forgotten to lay hands on such savoury viands as were ready in the house, and not probably to be found on board the cutter.
"A pretty rig!" exclaimed Grimes, lifting up his hands as he saw them embark; "Miss Clara been and run off with a handsome young chap; and I'll not blame her, though as for Barbara, I'll not say what I but for the old woman for to go for to hop off with that seaturtle of an officer, it's more than I can stand, and I must take my measures accordingly. Oh, Barbara! Oh, Betty! for to treat me in that way for to desert your loving Giles Grimes. But they're all alike! Oh, womankind!-oh, womankind!"
ON the 3rd of May last, Mr. Neate, one of the members for the city of Oxford, after Mr. Ewart's motion and Lord H. Lennox's amendment had been withdrawn, moved, as a substantive resolution, “That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she will be graciously pleased to issue a royal commission to inquire into the provisions and operation of the law under which the punishment of death is inflicted, and the manner in which it has been executed in the United Kingdom, and to report whether it is desirable to make any alteration therein."
The government has not only assented to the motion, but it has also asserted that there are many points connected with the law of homicide which might well be made the subjects of inquiry.
We may, therefore, congratulate ourselves that, after a discussion of some years' duration, this all-important question will shortly be settled.
It appears that in Tuscany, Portugal, two of the cantons of Switzerland, and in five of the states of America-viz. Rhode Island, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin, the punishment of death has been abolished, and that most favourable results have ensued, whilst in Russia, France, and Belgium, though not actually abolished, it is seldom inflicted.
The abolitionists-those who wish for justice tempered with mercyare laughed at by their opponents as sentimental philanthropists, and as good-natured old women, who have accepted a brief from the murderer and the depraved. However, those who support the present system of capital punishment for murder, use arguments as well as taunts. They uphold that the infliction of death is more dreaded, and has consequently a greater deterring power, than any other punishment known to man. They insist that its abolition would inevitably be followed by an increase of those crimes which it is now intended to check; that the abolitionists are bound to prove that the proposed change would be beneficial to mankind, and that the present old and approved institution has proved a failure. They further insist that murder should be more severely punished than any other crime, and that the punishment of death has been and is still sanctioned and ordained by God.
Death, inflicted in the name of the law, is not only the most severe punishment we possess, but is the most impressive moral lesson that society can give to its corrupt members. Life is so dear to one, that a life of toil, wretchedness, and ignominy, without a single gleam of hope in this world, may be chosen to certain and instantaneous death. But this lesson we have no right to give until we have tried to do without it; it is wrong and impolitic to use harsh and cruel measures before we have tried the success of those that are mild and humane.
It is not the severity of punishment that deters, it is the certainty of it. Let punishment, however light, be the immediate and certain consequence of breaking the law, and with the exception of offences committed from a spirit of revenge, crime would almost cease. But we cannot ensure the commitment of the offenders, much less their punishment, but this is certain, that more severe the penalty, more chance is
there of the culprit escaping unpunished. Juries have very often perjured themselves, and still do so, in preference to sentencing a wretched creature to suffer death, whom their common sense of justice tells them deserves a far lighter punishment.
Murder, and treason against the state, are the crimes for which the highest penalty of the law are reserved. But, in order that they should deserve such a penalty, it ought to be shown that they are of a kind to increase with a less severe punishment.
In the case of treason: a rebellion has been put down, and the ringleaders caught, tried, and sentenced to death. What can be the use of taking away the life of these misguided men? their power to do harm is gone, and their death will not arrest any fresh rising. Imprisonment for life, or even for a term of years, would, therefore, be as effective as the harsher penalty.
In order to discover whether a sentence of death looming in the distance is effective in arresting many would-be murderers, it would be necessary to find out under what circumstances, and from what motives, murders are committed.
They may be committed, first, from feelings of revenge, hatred, malice, &c.; or, secondly, from accident.
1. The thought, the wish, and the intention, to commit murder follow one another very closely. Nothing, then, remains but to find an opportunity to do the deed. This may be done openly-careless of all consequences when it is generally called madness, or it may be conceived and carried out with an ability that, but for one fatal flaw, would have shrouded the crime in eternal mystery. The former course betokens such rashness-we might almost say madness-that it may be assumed that a thought of the future never entered the brain of the murderer, and that, therefore, to all such men or women whose desire it is to take the life of one or more of their fellow-creatures, the threat of death, or of any punishment whatever, will not turn them from their hellish purpose.
With the more calculating ruffians this may not be so apparent. They take their chance of death, but, at the same time, do all in their power to escape detection and the punishment the law awards. Now, if the penalty were not death, but imprisonment for life, would the number of these plotting, scheming wretches increase? Does the fear of suffering death keep many from killing their enemies? We should be inclined to answer, No. The certainty of detection would doubtless prevent the class of murders of which we are now treating, except, indeed, those which are inspired by revenge. These it would be next to impossible for any legislation to arrest or repress. No punishment will deprive the murderer of the fruits of his crime. It is the fear of detection, and not the fear of any particular punishment, that restrains our murderous propensities. But if the former dread is not very powerful, if the murderer has sufficient courage and confidence in his own ability to run the gauntlet of the gallows, the highest penalty of the law evidently does not deter him. At present, from the consciousness that he is hazarding his own life, the wish, the act of revenge in killing his adversary, is almost ennobling. It is a brave man or woman who slays, who has courage enough to destroy one of God's works. We are threatening one who possibly does not dread