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Suppose him innocent, and think for an instant what his feelings must be. His position in the dock is in itself an ignominy; circumstantial evidence is brought against him which, even to himself, is staggering to his reason. His answers are, perhaps, broken and uncertain at first-then afterwards, as his inferior intellect yields beneath the practised talent of his assailant, become equivocal and even contradictory. His truth is shaken-his confidence in himself broken-what are the chances that he escape? Such is the history, in a few words, of a French criminal trial. We have witnessed many such, and always with but one feeling that of horror and disgust. But the evil ends not here; and the very fault the practice was adopted to correct is absolutely encouraged by its employment. In the very same ratio that the innocent man is exposed, by the risk of a confusing and terrifying cross-examination, the guilty one is favoured if he be a man of clever ness, by the opening this affords to a most artful species of defence. A case of the kind lately came before my notice.
Carl Shumacher, a German physician, was accused before the "Cour d'Assizes of Seine et Marne," of having caused the death of his friend, Heinrich Rheinhausen, by poison. These two persons, both men of education and family, had met at Cologne, where a controversy upon the subject of one of Shumacher's medical theories had made them acquainted. Rheinhausen had been at first a bitter antagonist; but subsequently became a strong advocate and warm supporter of the new discovery. A close intimacy followed, and Rheinhausen, who was engaged to be married to a young lady in that city, introduced his friend Shumacher to the family, where he soon became a frequent visiter. So far all went on well: the union between Rheinhausen and his fiancée only waited for some pecuniary arrangements, which required a few months; and it was advised that to pass the interval Heinrich should accompany Shumacher into Switzerland, where he was about to make a short tour. While these arrangements were pending, Shumacher, who was a man possessed of great conversational powers, and highly-gifted in many ways, contrived to weaken the feeling of the young lady for her betrothed husband. He affected to feel desperately in love with her, and only to be withheld from its
avowal by his attachment to his friend. In this way matters remained till the eve of their departure for Switzerland, when Shumacher made a confession of his feelings to her, and obtained in return an acknowledgment that she loved him. The next morning the two friends departed.
They had been absent about three months when they arrived at Barege. Here Rheinhausen falling suddenly ill, was tended by his companion with the utmost solicitude, who himself made up all the medicines which were administered. Rheinhausen grew worse, and on the second day after his being seized, Shumacher departed from Barege for Geneva, telling his friend that finding his state precarious, he should go for his brother, who was a pretre in that city, and bring him to see him. The next morning Rheinhausen died. The circumstances which attended the whole case were sufficiently suspicious to cause inquiry: an autopsie of the body was performed by order of the authorities, and it was pronounced that Rheinhausen had died of poison.
Shumacher had meanwhile left the country, and all search after him proved fruitless at the time. About six months after these events took place, Mademoiselle de Branen, the fiancée of Rheinhausen, left Cologne to visit some friends at Vichy, where she was soon joined by Shumacher, who was quite unknown there, and who had been in constant correspondence with her ever since their parting-she never having heard any rumour of his imputed guilt whatever. Their acquaintance continued for some time, and at length he proposed to marry her. cepted, and the day fixed-when, walking one morning in the promenade of the town he was arrested by the commissaire of police, and thrown into prison.
He was ac
These affairs march rapidly in France. He was brought to trial; and then came forth that most ingenious species of defence, in allusion to which I have mentioned these circumstances.
All the efforts of the Procureur du roi to throw even discredit upon his conduct failed utterly. He represented himself as having treated his late friend upon their own mutual system of medicine, in which alone they had any confidence. He acknowledged that prussic acid had been largely administered, but asserted that the greatest benefit was always the result. very desertion of Rheinhausen he ap
favours the really criminal, if he be endowed with cleverness, to effect his escape. The former is the butt of a brow-beating and insulting attack: the latter, from his superior ability, is treated with a caution almost bordering on respect, for it is a gladiatorial combat, in which the strength and dexterity of the antagonist are well weighed and pondered over by his assailant.
So much for one side of the picture. Let us now turn to the other. Chance and that spirit of inquiry, which Paul Pry excuses in himself by calling it the characteristic of the age, once led us to visit the lunatic asylum of Charenton. Amid the many sad and afflicting instances of debased and degraded humanity we met with, one man struck us most particularly. He was about five-and-thirty years of age, tall and well-built, with a lofty forehead and a deep-set penetrating eye. The whole character of his head was highly intellectual; but the expression of his features was melancholy and depressing beyond any thing my words can give an idea of. The face was deadly pale, and marked by small blue veins; and the dragged mouth and downcast look bespoke utter despair. He never noticed the persons about him, but stared fixedly at vacancy, and muttered constantly in a broken and supplicating voice, as if entreating forgiveness of some great and heinous crime.
pealed to as a proof of his attachment, as having undertaken a long journey merely to relieve his mind. He adverted to his return to France as a proof of his innocence--such a course being certain, if he were guilty, to prove his ruin. Finally, his letters to Mademoiselle de Branen were produced, in which expressions throwing out vague hopes of one day realising his wishes respecting her, were frequently met with. These he explained by an absolute and direct reference to the "Dictionaire de l'Academie," where the signification he pretended to have put upon them was really found, and gave a very favourable view of his meaning. This, being a German, was a most admirable explanation, and the effect upon the court strongly in his favour. His examination lasted above five hours, and when it concluded there was scarcely a single person in the crowded tribunal who did not beliève him innocent; and yet, in the face of all this, evidence came out subsequently from other witnesses, that Rheinhausen had been poisoned, and that he himself knew it; and Shumacher made a confession of his guilt by a letter to Mademoiselle de Branen the evening preceding his appointed execution, when he committed suicide in the gaol. Now, it may be replied that every portion of this defence might have been made according to our English laws by the system adopted in our criminal trials; but, mark the difference. Here the accused stood forth in the beginning, not charged as with us by a long indictment setting forth his crime, and supported by evidence, as witness after witness came forward and attested to each portion which came under their cognizance. He stood not under the weighty impression which imputed guilt conveys, but at once by putting his own construction upon every tittle of the charge, established a character before the jury of the greatest consequence to his chances of escape. And this a clever and ingenious man, however guilty, may always do; while the ignorant and uninformed, however conscious of his innocence, may break down by the artful attack of a Procureur, who numbers his triumphs, like an Indian savage, by the scalps of his victims. And thus we return to our former assertion, that this mode of conducting a trial not only is prejudicial to the chances of the guiltless man's assertion of his innocence, but also, and in nearly as great a proportion, strongly
Will he recover ?" said we, as we turned to leave the spot.
Never," said the keeper. "his is a madness never curable."
On our return to Paris M. E—, the celebrated physician, who had accompanied us to Charenton, gave us the following brief account of this man's
Monsieur Eugene S had so brilliantly distinguished himself in his career at the French bar, that, at the early age of twenty-eight he was named Procureur du roi, an office in many respects similar to that of our attorney-general. To a great knowledge of his profession, rarely attainable at so early a period of life, he united the gift of a most convincing eloquence; and, stranger still, a thorough acquaintance with human nature in all its shapes and phases, which seemed absolutely incompatible with his habits of close study and seclusion. There was no art nor "metier" with the details of which he was unacquainted; no rank or walk in life, whose feelings and prejudices he could not dip into,
and identify himself with. The very dialect of the lowest classes he had made his study, and from the patois of Normandy, to the outlandish jargon of the Gascogne, he was familiar with all. Talents like these were not long in establishing the fame of their possessor, and before he had been four years at the bar, it was difficult to say whether he was more feared as a rival by his colleagues, or dreaded as an accuser by the criminal. This to a French avocat was the pinnacle of professional fame.
As his practice extended, his labour at home became much greater; frequently he did not leave his study till daybreak, and always appeared each morning at the opening of the court. The effect upon his health was evident in his pallid look, and his figure, formerly erect and firm, becoming stooped and bent; the life of excitement his career presented, left neither time nor inclination for society or amusement; and his existence was thus one great mental struggle.
All who understand the nature of a trial for life and death in France, are aware that it is neither more nor less than a drama, in which the Procureur du roi plays the principal character; and whose success is estimated by but one test-the conviction of the accused. There is no preparation too severe, no artifice too deep, no plot too subtle for the advocate upon occasions like this; he sets himself patiently to learn the character of the prisoner, his habits, his feelings, his prejudices, his fears; and by the time that the trial comes on is thoroughly familiar with every leading trait and feature of the man.
In combats like this our advocate's life was passed; and so complete a mastery had the demoniacal passion gained over him, that whenever, by the acquittal of "prevenu," he seemed to be defrauded in his rightful tribute of admiration and applause, the effect upon his spirits became evident; his head drooped; and for several days he would scarcely speak. The beaten candidate for collegiate honours never suffered from defeat as he did; and at last to such a height had this infatuation reached, that his own life seemed actually to hang in the scale upon every trial for a capital offence; and upon the issue, threatened death to the advocate or the accused. Laquel de deux," said an old barrister, at the opening of a case, and the words became a proverb concerning Monsieur S.
This mania was at its height when the government directed him to proceed to Bourdeaux to take the direction of a trial, which, at that period, was exciting the greatest interest in France. The case was briefly this :A gentleman travelling for pleasure, accompanied by a single servant, had taken up his residence for some weeks upon the banks of the Garonne. Here the mild urbanity of his manners and prepossessing address had soon won for him the attention and good will of the inhabitants, who were much taken with him, and in an equal degree prejudiced against the servant, whose Bretagne stupidity and rudeness were ill calculated to make friends for him. In the little village where they sojourned two new arrivals were sure to attract their share of attention, and they were most rigidly canvassed, but always with the same judgment.
Such was the state of matters, when one morning the village was thrown into commotion by the report that the stranger had been murdered in the night, and that the servant was gone, no one knew whither. On opening the door of the little cottage a strange and sad sight presented itself: the floor was covered with packing cases and chests, corded and fastened as if for a journey; the little plate and few books of the deceased were carefully packed, and every thing betokened the prepa ration for departure. In the bed-room the spectacle was still more strange; the bed-clothes lay in a heap upon the floor covered with blood, and a broken razor, a twisted and torn portion of a dressing-gown lay beside them; there were several foot-tracks in the blood upon the floor; and these were traced through a small dressing-room which led out upon a garden where they disappeared in the grass; the servant was no where to be found, neither could any trace of the body be discovered. Such were, in few words, the chief circumstances which indicated the commission of the dreadful crime, and in the state of public feeling towards the two parties, were deemed sufficiently strong to implicate the servant, who, it was now discovered, had been seen some leagues up on the road to Bourdeaux early that morning.
The commissaire of police set out immediately in pursuit; and before night the man was arrested. At first his usual, stupid, and sullen manner was assumed; but on hearing that the death of his master was now proved,
he burst into tears and never spoke
The most diligent search was now made to discover the body, but without the slightest success. It was no where to be found; a hat belonging to the deceased was taken up near the river, and the general belief was, that the corpse had been thrown into the river and carried down by the current which is here very rapid. The indignation of all parties who were never kindly disposed to the servant, rose to the greatest height, that he would never acknowledge what had been done with the body, although now no doubt remained upon their mind as to his guilt.
His trial at length came on; and Monsieur S- arrived "special" in Lyons to conduct it. The great principal in English criminal law, that a conviction cannot be held for murder until the body be found, exists not in France; but in lieu of it, they require a chain of circumstantial evidence of the strongest and most convincing
To discover this where it existed, to fashion it where it did not, were easy to the practised advocate; and the poor prisoner, whose reasoning powers were evidently of the weakest order, and whose intelligence was most limited, offered an easy victim to every subtle question of the lawyer; he fell deeper and deeper into the snare laid for him: he was made to say that though upon the road to Bourdeaux, he knew not why he was there: that the watch and keys in his possession were his master's he acknowledged; but why they were in his keeping he could not tell every hesitation of his manner, every momentary indication of trouble and confusion were turned against him; and even when a fitful gleam of intelligence would shoot across his clouded brain, it was anticipated by his torturer and converted to his injury. The result may be easily guessed; he was condemned to death; and the following morning, as the advocate received at his levee the congratulations of the authorities upon his success and ability, the prisoner was led to the guillotine amid the execration of ten thousand people.
Two years after this trial took place our advocate was passing through Amiens on his way to Peronne. There
was considerable bustle and confusion in the hotel, from an incident which had just occurred, and which shocked all the inmates. A gentleman who had arrived the evening before, having attempted to commit suicide by cutting his throat, and was found two miles from the town upon the high road, where it appeared he had fallen from loss of blood, having walked thus far after his intended crime.
"His name is Lemoine," said some one in the crowd, as they carried him bleeding, and nearly lifeless into the house.
"Lemoine!" said Monsieur S. musingly; "the name of the man murdered at Lyons by Jean Labarte."
"And what is most strange," said another, not hearing the muttered observation of Monsieur S, "he is now perfectly sensible and most penitent for his attempt, which he ascribes to a passing insanity that he has been liable to from a boy; the impulse is first to destroy, then to conceal himself."
"That is indeed singular," said Monsieur S, "but there is no combatting a monomania."
"So the poor man feels, for he has already essayed the same thing several times-in the last he nearly succeeded when living on the Garonne." "The Garonne Lemoine ____" screamed, rather than spoke the advocate-"when-where-the name of the
"La Hulpe," said the stranger.
"Great God, I am a murderer!" said S, as he fell upon the pavement, the blood streaming from his mouth and nose; they lifted him up at once and carried him into the house; but the shock had been too much. face of the murdered Jean Labarte, as with stupid look, and heavy inexpressive gaze, he stared up from the dock, never left him after; and he passed his remaining days in Charenton a despairing, broken-hearted maniac.
It subsequently came out that poor Labarte, knowing that his master was threatened with an attack, had packed up all he possessed, and set out for Bourdeaux to procure a physician, trusting that from his precaution no mischief could accrue in the meanwhile -one razor was unfortunately forgotten, and gave rise to all the circumstances we have mentioned.
CHAP. V.—THE POLICE AND THE LIVRE NOIR.
How little do we know-most happily for us-in England, by the word police, of what is meant by the same phrase in France? With us a certain mixed and confused notion is formed of sundry old gentlemen called magistrates, presiding in very dusty and pestilential dens, assisted by various emissaries in blue uniform, with enigmatical letters on their collars, engaged in transmitting vagabonds to their parish, and sending artful dodgers to the house of correction, their highest function being a brow-beating committal to the tread-mill, or a panegyric upon their own merciful leniency in pardoning a pickpocket. This, with an occasional dry, judicial jest-for as Mr. Weller would observe, "they have wery nice notions of fun"-constitute at once their duty and delight. Long may they enjoy such pleasing pursuits, say we with all our hearts, and still longer may they live in all practical ignorance of the more complicated engine which our neighbours outre mer have called by the same name-police.
The preventive system which is carried on in France against crime, wonderfully reminds us of the treatment so profitably practised by the late St. John Long upon his patients: taking it always for granted, that there was something wrong in your constitution, he "established a raw" upon your back to get rid of it: if you were afflicted with any malady, then he pronounced the application indispensable to your cure; if you were not, why then the more luck yours. This is precisely what takes place in France; your house may be searched, your papers ransacked, your very pockets scrutinized as evidences of some imputed offence against the laws; and all the satisfaction you get on proving your innocence is "ce'st tant mieux pour vous.'"
Read the accounts of the inquisition in Spain, study the records of the "Heilige Wehme" in Germany, and I defy you to point out a more iniqui tous system in either than that which now exists in the police of many continental countries.
When using the phrase police, we would expressly stipulate that we mean not thereby that lazy and inefficient appanage to every city and town abroad, who, under the direction of the municipal authorities, parade the streets in cocked hats and broad
swords, under the pretence of preserv ing the peace; but who, upon every occasion of riot or disturbance, are seen flying from the spot with a valour of which discretion is the strongest feature. Bless their hearts, they are as little warlike as a battle-axe guard, or a college porter, and a terror to none except some vagrant urchin who strays from his nurse's guidance to cross a plot in the Tuilleries garden, or [the park in Bruxelles.
No, no-what we mean is very dif ferent, indeed; and as in the Austrian states, there are two species of coinage denominated by the same name floriu, one of which is worth about two shillings sterling, and the other eight pence, so on the continent, and pretty much with the same intent, are these two orders of the government called by the one word police. I can see nothing to grumble at in the police of France," says a newly arrived traveller to a French table d'hote acquaintance, alluding of course to the innocuous tribe we have mentioned. The other eyes him with subtlety, and assents; he himself being an "Agent de la police" in coloured clothes, who dines in public every day, mingling in the conversation, grumbling at the government, condemning the ministry, and enacting a species of foreign Joe Hume to entrap some single-minded and inexperienced traveller into some expression of his opinions, which, if once pronounced unfavourable, or even suspicious, he gets a private hint from the Ministre de la police that he had better have kept his politics for England, and that his passport is waiting for him to leave the country in twenty-four hours. Such, perhaps, is all fair and reasonable; at least there are persons who insist, that as we are only guests in a foreign country, we should rigorously abstain from disturbing the economy of our host's household; and in this we perfectly agree; we only see any thing reprehensible in the means adopted for detecting, in some cases, creating, the expressions complained of.
These secret agents of the police are a large body in a continental state culled from every rank and walk in life, and exercising with this their hidden "metier," different trades, professions, and occupations; sometimes the agent is a mere 'flaneur," keeping his cab, living at a first-rate hotel, drinking