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Robert E. Lee Portrait
Page) four guns were mounted in the fort. If the rebels had succeeded
in taking the place, they would have been able, with the rations on hand, to
have held it for several weeks.
General SHERMAN witnessed the action front
Kenesaw Mountain. Two days afterward he issued
s congratulatory order, commending General CORSE for his gallant defense, which
he considered an example illustrating both the necessity and possibility of
defending fortified positions to the last.
OVER THE HILL-SIDE.
FAREWELL ! In dimmer distance I
watch your figures glide Across the sunny moorland
And brown hill-side.
Each momently uprising,
Large, dark, against the sky;
Then, in the vacant moorland, Alone sit I.
Along the unknown country,
Where your lost footsteps pass,
What beauty decks the heavens
And clothes the grass !
Over the mountain shoulder,
What glories may unfold ! Though
I see but the mountain,
Blank, bare, and cold ;
And the white road, slow winding
To where, each after each,
You slipped away—ah, whither ?
I can not reach.
And if I call, what answers?
Only, 'twixt earth and sky, Like
wail of parting spirit,
The curlew's cry.
Yet sunny is the moorland,
And soft the pleasant air ; And
little flowers, like blessings,
Grow every where.
While over all the mountain
Stands, sombre, calm, and still; Immutable and steadfast
As the One Will ;
Which, done on earth, in heaven,
By men, and saints, and angels,
Be ever blest!
Under Its infinite shadow,
Safer than light of ours, I'll
sit me down a little
And gather flowers.
Then I will rise and follow,
Without one wish to stay, The
path ye all have taken
The appointed way.
CASE OF MONS. D'EGVILLE.
Tins remarkable case of
circumstantial evidence, though generally known to the curious in such matter;
who have searched into West Indian records, is as yet, we believe, entirely new
to the American public. The details, however, might never have been laid before
them had not the original papers been recently discovered in the
Provost-marshal's office in Barbadoes, and copied and forwarded to the writer.
Besides the intrinsic interest attaching to the story itself as a mere anecdote,
there is the object of adding another instance to the list of executions carried
out upon the evidence of circumstance alone, and of exhibiting some of the
strong as well as the weak points which characterize this peculiar
form of judgment. Perhaps a close
and careful comparison of numerous instances of circumstantial evidence might
assist in moulding into something like a system the various and sometimes almost
contradictory inferences deduced during trials of this character, and in
bringing them under a legal form which might be applied when similar occasions
required. At present it is well known that the law of circumstantial evidence is
very uncertain, and the story before its is a most conspicuous in-stance.
In the year 1824, Michael Harvey
Peter William Henry D'Egville, resident in the island of Barba-does, West
Indies, dancing master, was brought up before the local June Sessions charged
with having caused the death of his wife by administering to her poison in the
form of arsenic.
The name of D'Egville has been
always famous as the title of a family of dancing-masters and mistresses : there
were some of the family, I believe, in Cheltenham when I was a boy, and I
certainly was instructed in the art by a D'Egville, though whether the name was
assumed as a recommendation or not I can not say. The unhappy man of whom I
write had, though a Frenchman, migrated to Barbadoes with the view of teaching
dancing, and was, it is reported, very successful. After a some-what long
residence in the island, he married a lady -whose family name was LIewellyn,
though whether maid or widow at the time of her union with D'Egyille is not
shown. The Frenchman was net a man of good character : he was addicted to
debauched society and to drink. In many of his tipsy fits he was wont to strike
and ill-use his wife, though he never seemed to cherish the least ill-feeling
toward her. He was not therefore malicious, though he was quarrelsome in his
cups. Still, his ill-usage of Mrs. D'Egville was so continuous and excessive
that the long-suffering wife determined upon a separation. This was effected
without any scene of violence or
recrimination between the
parties; and while the dissolute husband pursued at uncertain interval his
profession of danncing-master, the relieved wife lived at some distance, out of
his and harem's way as was supposed. It is to be particularly notice( that,
though separated from each other, no ill-feeling was to be discerned between Mr.
and Mrs. D'Egville; on the contrary, the wife was in the habit of sending to her
depraved partner little attentions in the form of dainties, such as she knew he
was attached to, as for instance, fruit, soup, rare fish, etc. etc. D'Egville
recognized these attentions, and (occasionally) returned them, though the
fluctuation of his gains at times prohibited an equivalent interchange of gifts.
Now D'Egville was aware that his wife had not only signified her intention of
leaving to him a sum of money at her death, but had actually executed the
instrument by which he was to be entitled at her demise to a bequest of £500 old
Barbadoes currency, i. e., about £330 sterling.
It was proved that D'Egville had
bought arsenic some few days previously at a druggist's shop, and being asked if
it was required for rats, said, " Yes: and I shouldn't care much if f they were
two-legged ones!" Observe, that to be in the possession of arsenic was nothing
of itself, for there generally was a supply in every house in the island for the
ex-termination of rats and wood-ants; indeed, I can vouch for the fact of my
grandfather keeping a very large quantity in the medicine chest for periodical
poisonings of wood-ants which infested one of the mills on his estates, so that
no stress can be laid on the mere purchase of the arsenic.
Mrs. D'Egville was particularly
fond of toasted cheese, and at times of the year cheese was a very scarce
article in the island. However, things had been prosperous with the Frenchman of
late ; for he purchased a piece, had it prepared, end sent it to his wife by the
hands of a little mulatto boy, with these instructions: "Tell her to eat it
herself, and not to give any of it to Miss Llewellyn." This was Mrs. D'Egville's
sister, who lived in the same house with her.
Mrs. D'Egville was found dead in
her bed next morning; Miss Llewellyn was dead also, and two or three of the
negro servants were ill, though they ultimately recovered.
An inquest was immediately held,
and Dr. Cutting tested the contents of the stomachs of the de-ceased, the
rejected matter from the negroes who were suffering at the time, and the
remainder of the cheese which was left in the dish. In all was arsenic found.
D'Egville was arrested, and
brought up at the June Sessions in 1824. It was the interim between the death of
the late Attorney-General Beckles and the appointment of his successor, and Mr.
Coulthurst (acting attorney-general) prosecuted. Mr. Hinds defended the
prisoner, resting his defense on the fact that a link in the chain of evidence
was wanting. This meant of course the evidence of the little mulatto boy who had
carried the cheese to Mrs. D'Egville, for negro evidence could not be received
in court at that time.
The jury, after long
consultation, came into court and said that it was impossible that they could
ever agree, nine of their number being for an acquittal and three for a verdict
of " Guilty ;" so they were discharged, and the prisoner remanded to the next
sessions. Meantime, Samuel Hinds was appointed Attorney-General. When the
sessions arrived (December, 1824), Mr. Hinds declined to prosecute, on the
ground of having formerly defended the prisoner, so the prosecution devolved
upon Mr. Solicitor-General Griffith. The jury were empanneled, the evidence and
all other proceedings carried on from the last sessions were read over to them,
and after a short deliberation they brought in a verdict of " Guilty"
Extract from the minute-book of
the Court of Grand Sessions held December 17, 1824:
Michael Harvey Peter William
Henry D'Egville was then brought up and set to the bar to receive judgment;
when, upon being asked if he had any thing to say why sentence of death should
not be pawed upon him, he de-livered in a paper writing, signed by himself and
Mr. Moore, as his counsel, protesting, alleging, and pleading that he, the said
D'Egville, was put on his trial at a former sessions for the same offense, and,
therefore, prayed that judgment might be arrested and stayed against him. Mr.
Attorney-General Hinds objected to the same, on the ground that the former trial
was not complete, inasmuch as no verdict was rendered, and inasmuch as the
prisoner had on the present trial pleaded "not guilty," and put himself upon the
country, he was by that plea barred from any other. The opinion of the court
being taken, the said paper writing was rejected, but the court declared
them-selves ready to hear any thing, by way of reasons in arrest, which the
prisoner or his counsel might think proper to offer; when Mr. Moore moved that
the judgment in the cause of the "King v. M. H. P. W. H. D'Egville" be arrested,
on the following reasons, namely: because it appears by the proceedings of the
last Court of Grand Sessions, holden for the body of this island, in the month
of June last, in the Town Hall, in Bridgetown, in the said Island of Barbadoes,
that the said M. H. P. W. H. D'Egville was arraigned on an indictment preferred
against him by our Sovereign Lord the King for the murder by poison of his wife
Susanna D'Egville, whereto he pleaded "not guilty," and that a jury of twelve
men was empaneled, sworn, and charged to try, and he, the said M. H. P. W. H.
D'Egville, was actually put on his trial on the said indictment for the said
offense, and whereto he, by his counsel, entered upon, disclosed, and made his
defense; and further, because that the said jury, is sworn, empaneled, and
charged to try him, the said M. H. P. W. H. D'Egville, afterward actually
retired and went out to the petit jury-room, and remained several hours
deliberating on their verdict ; and further, because the offense whereof he hath
been tried at the present sessions, and the offense for which he was put on
trial, as before mentioned, at the Second Court of Grand Sessions, in the month
of June last, are one and the same offense, and not divers, which said reasons
being taken into the serious consideration of the court, were rejected, and
sentence of death was accordingly pronounced.
This extract shows the procedure
of the court (which was acting upon the condemnatory evidence alone) to have
been crippled by the absence of the one link in the evidence exculpatory, viz.:
the testimony of the mulatto boy who had been intrusted with the cheese. The
common precaution of inquiry into the conduct and motives of the person through
whose hands the poisoned cheese had last passed was thus cast aside, and this
being not received, the poor dancing-master returned to prison without a hope.
Here is a copy of his death
GEORGE THE FOURTH, by the Grace
of God, of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, etc.
To our Provost-Marshal of our
said Island of Barbadoes
or his lawful deputy, greeting:
WHEREAS Michael Harvey Peter
William Henry D'Egville, late of the parish of St. Michael, in the island afore
said, yeoman, now detained in your custody in our jail of our said island, was,
at a Court of Grand Sessions of Oyer and Terminer, General Jail Delivery, and
General Sessions of the Peace, held for the body of our said island, and begun
on Tuesday, the fourteenth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and
twenty-four, and so continued and held by special adjournment de die in diem, on
the fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth days of the said month, at
the Town Hall, in the parish of St. Michael, it our island aforesaid, indicted
and arraigned for the man der of Susanna D'Egville, and thereupon was tried,
convicted, and in due form of law attainted, and now stand, adjudged unto death,
of which judgment execution re-mains to be done. We therefore command, and by
these presents firmly enjoin you, that in and upon Monday the fourteenth day of
this instant February, between the hours of nine and twelve in the forenoon of
the same day, you carry the said M. H. P. W. H. D'Egville to the place of
execution within the jail-yard, in the town of St. Michael, in our island
aforesaid, and there cause him the said M. H. P. W. H, D'Egville to be hanged by
the neck until he be dead, and that this you fail not to do upon peril thereon
Witness.--His Excellency Sir
Henry Warde, K.C.B., etc., his Majesty's Captain-General and Governor,
Commander-in-Chief, etc., of this island, etc., at Government House, this
seventh day of February, in the sixth year of our reign.
(Signed) HENRY WARDS.
This warrant was duly carried
Some years afterward, when
D'Egville's name was forgotten, a negro man who had been a slave in the
possession of Mrs. D'Egville, and who was, by her father's will, to receive his
manumission, confessed that he had received the cheese from the mulatto boy and
had put in the arsenic, as he was aware that his freedom was to follow upon his
mistress's death. The link wanting (as the learned I counsel observed), namely,
what had passed between the time the cheese was put out of D'Egville's hands and
its delivery into those of his wife, was now supplied. The negro's name was
Christian, and he went, as was usual, by the family name of Llewellyn. All this
he confessed upon his death-bed, to the great discomfiture of those who had
condemned the wretched dancing-master, and to the shame of the system of
refusing any evidence, though from negro lips, in a trial where life and death
depended upon evidence alone.
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