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at which the bones of the dead man may in dust to dust, which is the last friendly rest, which he ordinarily contrives may be office that he undertakes to do.” at such a distance from the surface of this earth, as may frustrate the profane attempts of such as would violate his repose, yet sufficiently on this side the centre to give his friends hopes of an easy and practicable resurrection. And here we leave him, casting
Begging your pardon for detaining you so long among graves, and worms, and epitaphs,”
Mr. Reflector,—There is no science in their pretensions to which mankind are more apt to commit grievous mistakes, than in the supposed very obvious one of physiognomy. I quarrel not with the principles of this science, as they are laid down by learned professors; much less am I disposed, with some people, to deny its existence altogether as any inlet of knowledge that can be depended upon. I believe that there is, or may be, an art to "read the mind's construction in the face." But, then, in every species of reading, so much depends upon the eyes of the reader; if they are blear, or apt to dazzle, or inattentive, or strained with too much attention, the optic power will infallibly bring home false reports of what it reads. How often do we say, upon a cursory glance at a stranger, "What a fine open countenance he has!" who, upon second inspection, proves to have the exact features of a knave? Nay, in much more intimate acquaintances, how a delusion of this kind shall continue for months, years, and then break up all at once.
I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,
ON THE DANGER OF CONFOUNDING MORAL WITH PERSONAL
WITH A HINT TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE FRAMING OF ADVERTISEMENTS FOR APPREHENDING OFfenders.
read a stupid habit of looking pleased at everything ?—if for serenity he does not read animal tranquillity, the dead pool of the heart, which no breeze of passion can stir into health? Alas! what is this book of the countenance good for, which when we have read so long, and thought that we understood its contents, there comes a countless list of heart-breaking errata at the end!
But these are the pitiable mistakes to which love alone is subject. I have inadvertently wandered from my purpose, which was to expose quite an opposite blunder, into which we are no less apt to fall, through hate. How ugly a person looks upon whose reputation some awkward aspersion hangs, and how suddenly his countenance clears up with his character! I remember being persuaded of a man whom I had conceived an ill opinion of, that he had a very bad set of teeth; which, since I have had better opportunities of being acquainted with his face and facts, I find to have been the very reverse of the truth. That crooked old woman, I once said, speaking of an ancient gentlewoman, whose actions did not square altogether with my notions of the rule of right. The unanimous surprise of the company before whom I uttered these words soon convinced me that I had confounded mental with
Ask the married man, who has been so but a short space of time, if those blue eyes where, during so many years of anxious courtship, truth, sweetness, serenity, seemed to be written in characters which could not be misunderstood-ask him if the characters bodily obliquity, and that there was nothing which they now convey be exactly the same? | tortuous about the old lady but her deeds.
-if for truth he does not read a dull virtue (the mimic of constancy) which changes not, only because it wants the judgment to make a preference?—if for sweetness he does not
This humour of mankind to deny personal comeliness to those with whose moral attributes they are dissatisfied, is very strongly shown in those advertisements which stare us
in the face from the walls of every street, and, with the tempting bait which they hang forth, stimulate at once cupidity and an abstract love of justice in the breast of every passing peruser: I mean, the advertisements offering rewards for the apprehension of absconded culprits, strayed apprentices, bankrupts who have conveyed away their effects, debtors that have run away from their bail. I observe, that in exact proportion to the indignity with which the prosecutor, who is commonly the framer of the advertisement, conceives he has been treated, the personal pretensions of the fugitive are denied, and his defects exaggerated.
A fellow whose misdeeds have been directed against the public in general, and in whose delinquency no individual shall feel himself particularly interested, generally meets with fair usage. A coiner or a smuggler shall get off tolerably well. His beauty, if he has any, is not much underrated, his deformities are not much magnified. A runaway apprentice, who excites perhaps the next least degree of spleen in his prosecutor, generally escapes with a pair of bandy legs; if he has taken anything with him in his flight, a hitch in his gait is generally superadded. A bankrupt, who has been guilty of withdrawing his effects, if his case be not very atrocious, commonly meets with mild usage. But a debtor, who has left his bail in jeopardy, is sure to be described in characters of unmingled deformity. Here the personal feelings of the bail, which may be allowed to be somewhat poignant, are admitted to interfere; and, as wrath and revenge commonly strike in the dark, the colours are laid on with a grossness which I am convinced must often defeat its own purpose. The fish that casts an inky cloud about him that his enemies may not find him, cannot more obscure himself by that device than the blackening representations of these angry advertisers must inevitably serve to cloak and screen the persons of those who have injured them from detection. I have before me at this moment one of these bills, which runs thus :—
" FIFTY POUNDS REWARD.
"Run away from his bail, John Tomkins, formerly resident in Princes-street, Soho, but
lately of Clerkenwell. Whoever shall apprehend, or cause to be apprehended and lodged in one of his Majesty's jails, the said John Tomkins, shall receive the above reward. He is a thickset, sturdy man, about five foot six inches high, halts in his left leg, with a stoop in his gait, with coarse red hair, nose short and cocked up, with little grey, eyes, (one of them bears the effect of a blow which he has lately received,) with a pot belly; speaks with a thick and disagreeable voice; goes shabbily drest; had on when he went away a greasy shag great-coat with rusty yellow buttons."
Now although it is not out of the compass of possibility that John Tomkins aforesaid may comprehend in his agreeable person all the above-mentioned aggregate of charms; yet, from my observation of the manner in which these advertisements are usually drawn up, though I have not the pleasure of knowing the gentleman, yet would I lay a wager, that an advertisement to the following effect would have a much better chance of apprehending and laying by the heels this John Tomkins than the above description, although penned by one who, from the good services which he appears to have done for him, has not improbably been blessed with some years of previous intercourse with the said John. Taking, then, the above advertisement to be true, or nearly so, down to the words "left leg" inclusive, (though I have some doubt if the blemish there implied amount to a positive lameness, or be perceivable by any but the nearest friends of John,) I would proceed thus:
"Leans a little forward in his walk; his hair thick and inclining to auburn; his nose of the middle size, a little turned up at the end; lively hazel eyes, (the contusion, as its effects are probably gone off by this time, I judge better omitted ;) inclines to be corpulent; his voice thick but pleasing, especially when he sings; had on a decent shag greatcoat with yellow buttons."
Now I would stake a considerable wager (though by no means a positive man) that some such mitigated description would lead the beagles of the law into a much surer track for finding this ungracious varlet, than to set them upon a false scent after fictitious ugliness and fictitious shabbiness; though, to do those gentlemen justice, I have no
doubt their experience has taught them in all such cases to abate a great deal of the deformity which they are instructed to expect, and has discovered to them that the Devil's agents upon this earth, like their master, are far less ugly in reality than they are painted.
world in general much more of that first idea which you formed (perhaps in part erroneous) of his physiognomy, than of that frightful substitute which you have suffered to creep in upon your mind and usurp upon it; a creature which has no archetype except in your own brain.
I am afraid, Mr. Reflector, that I shall be thought to have gone wide of my subject, which was to detect the practical errors of physiognomy, properly so called; whereas I have introduced physical defects, such as lameness, the effects of accidents upon a man's person, his wearing apparel, &c., as circumstances on which the eye of dislike, looking askance, may report erroneous conclusions to the understanding. But if we are liable, through a kind or an unkind passion, to mistake so grossly concerning things so exterior and palpable, how much more are we likely to err respecting those nicer and less perceptible hints of character in a face whose detection constitutes the triumph of the physiognomist!
To revert to those bestowers of unmerited deformity, the framers of advertisements for the apprehension of delinquents, a sincere desire of promoting the end of public justice induces me to address a word to them on the best means of attaining those ends. I will endeavour to lay down a few practical, or rather negative, rules for their use, for my ambition extends no further than to arm them with cautions against the self-defeating of their own purposes :—
1. Imprimis, then, Mr. Advertiser ! If the culprit whom you are willing to recover be one to whom in times past you have shown kindness, and been disposed to think kindly of him yourself, but he has deceived your trust, and has run away, and left you with a load of debt to answer for him,-sit down calmly, and endeavour to behold him through the spectacles of memory rather than of present conceit. Image to yourself, before you pen a tittle of his description, the same plausible, good-looking man who took you in; and try to put away from your mind every intrusion of that deceitful spectre which perpetually obtrudes itself in the room of your former friend's known visage. It will do you more credit to have been deceived by such a one; and depend upon it, the traitor will convey to the eyes of the
2. If you be a master that have to advertise a runaway apprentice, though the young dog's faults are known only to you, and no doubt his conduct has been aggravating enough, do not presently set him down as having crooked ankles. He may have a good pair of legs, and run away notwithstanding. Indeed, the latter does rather seem to imply the former.
3. If the unhappy person against whom your laudable vengeance is directed be a thief, think that a thief may have a good nose, good eyes, good ears. It is indispensable to his profession that he be possessed of sagacity, foresight, vigilance; it is more than probable, then, that he is endued with the bodily types or instruments of these qualities to some tolerable degree of perfectness.
4. If petty larceny be his offence, I exhort you, do not confound meanness of crime with diminutiveness of stature. These things have no connexion. I have known a tall man stoop to the basest action, a short man aspire to the height of crime, a fair man be guilty of the foulest actions, &c.
5. Perhaps the offender has been guilty of some atrocious and aggravated murder. Here is the most difficult case of all. It is above all requisite that such a daring violator of the peace and safety of society should meet with his reward, a violent and ignominious death. But how shall we get at him? Who is there among us that has known him before he committed the offence, that shall take upon him to say he can sit down coolly and pen a dispassionate description of a murderer ? The tales of our nursery, the reading of our youth,—the ill-looking man that was hired by the Uncle to despatch the Children in the Wood,-the grim ruffians who smothered the babes in the Tower, the black and beetle-browed assassin of Mrs. Ratcliffe, the shag-haired villain of Mr. Monk Lewis,-the Tarquin tread, and mill-stone dropping eyes, of Murder in Shakspeare, the exaggerations
of picture and of poetry,-what we have read with astonishment reflected on the difference between a real committer of a murder, and the idea of one which he has been collecting and heightening all his life out of books, dreams, &c.? The fellow, perhaps, is a sleek, smuglooking man, with light hair and eyebrows,
the latter by no means jutting out or like a crag,—and with none of those marks which our fancy had pre-bestowed upon him.
and what we have dreamed of,-rise up and
ON THE INCONVENIENCES RESULTING FROM BEING HANGED.
SIR,-I am one of those unhappy persons whose misfortunes, it seems, do not entitle them to the benefit of pure pity. All that is bestowed upon me of that kindest alleviator of human miseries comes dashed with a double portion of contempt. My griefs have nothing in them that is felt as sacred by the bystanders. Yet is my affliction, in truth, of the deepest grain—the heaviest task that was ever given to mortal patience to sustain. Time, that wears out all other sorrows, can never modify or soften mine. Here they must continue to gnaw as long at that fatal mark
I find I am getting unawares too serious; the best way on such occasions is to leave off, which I shall do by generally recommending to all prosecuting advertisers not to confound crimes with ugliness; or rather, to distinguish between that physiognomical deformity, which I am willing to grant always accompanies crime, and mere physical ugliness,-which signifies nothing, is the opponent of nothing, and may exist in a good
Why was I ever born? Why was innocence in my person suffered to be branded with a stain which was appointed only for the blackest guilt? What had I done, or my parents, that a disgrace of mine should involve a whole posterity in infamy? I am almost tempted to believe, that, in some preexistent state, crimes to which this sublunary life of mine hath been as much a stranger as the babe that is newly born into it, have
In the plainest sense, without trope or my fancy in that respect, I endeavoured, by figure-Yes, Mr. Editor! this neck of mine mingling in all the pleasures which the town has felt the fatal noose, these hands have affords, to efface the memory of what I had tremblingly held up the corroborative prayer- undergone. book, these lips have sucked the moisture of the last consolatory orange,-this tongue has chanted the doleful cantata which no performer was ever called upon to repeat, this face has had the veiling night-cap drawn over it
But, alas! such is the portentous and allpervading chain of connexion which links together the head and members of this great community, my scheme of lying perdu was defeated almost at the outset. A countryman of mine, whom a foolish law-suit had brought to town, by chance met me, and the secret was soon blazoned about.
In a short time, I found myself deserted by most of those who had been my intimate friends. Not that any guilt was supposed to attach to my character. My officious countryman, to do him justice, had been candid enough to explain my perfect innocence. But, somehow or other, there is a want of strong virtue in mankind. We have plenty of the softer instincts, but the heroic character is gone. How else can I account for it, that of all my numerous acquaintance, among whom I had the honour of ranking sundry persons of education, talents, and worth, scarcely here and there one or two could be found who had the courage to associate with a man that had been hanged.
Those few who did not desert me altogether were persons of strong but coarse minds; and from the absence of all delicacy in them I suffered almost as much as from the superabundance of a false species of it in the others. Those who stuck by me were the But to proceed.-My first care after I had jokers, who thought themselves entitled by been brought to myself by the usual methods, the fidelity which they had shown towards (those methods that are so interesting to the me to use me with what familiarity they operator and his assistants, who are pretty pleased. Many and unfeeling are the jests numerous on such occasions,—but which no that I have suffered from these rude (because patient was ever desirous of undergoing a faithful) Achateses. As they passed me in second time for the benefit of science,), my the streets, one would nod significantly to first care was to provide myself with an his companion and say, pointing to me, enormous stock or cravat to hide the place- Smoke his cravat, and ask me if I had got a you understand me ;-my next care was to wen, that I was so solicitous to cover my procure a residence as distant as possible neck. Another would inquire, What news from that part of the country where I had from *** Assizes? (which you may guess, suffered. For that reason I chose the Mr. Editor, was the scene of my shame,) and metropolis, as the place where wounded whether the sessions was like to prove a honour (I had been told) could lurk with maiden one? A third would offer to insure the least danger of exciting inquiry, and me from drowning. A fourth would tease stigmatised innocence had the best chance of me with inquiries how I felt when I was hiding her disgrace in a crowd. I sought swinging, whether I had not something like out a new circle of acquaintance, and my a blue flame dancing before my eyes? A circumstances happily enabling me to pursue fifth took a fancy never to call me anything
But for no crime of mine.-Far be it from me to arraign the justice of my country, which, though tardy, did at length recognise my innocence. It is not for me to reflect upon judge or jury, now that eleven years have elapsed since the erroneous sentence was pronounced. Men will always be fallible, and perhaps circumstances did appear at the time a little strong
Suffice it to say, that after hanging four minutes, (as the spectators were pleased to compute it, a man that is being strangled, I know from experience, has altogether a different measure of time from his friends wh are breathing leisurely about him,-I suppose the minutes lengthen as time approaches eternity, in the same manner as the miles get longer as you travel northward,)-after hanging four minutes, according to the best calculation of the bystanders, a reprieve came, and I was cut DOWN———
Really I am ashamed of deforming your pages with these technical phrases - if I knew how to express my meaning shorter