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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 Begging your pardon for detaining you earth, as may frustrate the profane attempts so long among graves, and worms, and of such as would violate his repose, yet suffi- epitaphs,” ciently on this side the centre to give his
I friends hopes of an easy and practicable
Your humble servant, resurrection. And here we leave him, casting
ON THE DANGER OF CONFOUNDING MORAL WITH PERSONAL
WITH A HINT TO THOSE WHO HAVE THE FRAMING OF ADVERTISEMENTS FOR APPREHENDING OFFENDERS.
MR. REFLECTOR,—There is no science in read a stupid habit of looking pleased at their pretensions to which mankind are more everything ?—if for serenity he does not read apt to commit grievous mistakes, than in the animal tranquillity, the dead pool of the supposed very obvious one of physiognomy. heart, which no breeze of passion can stir I quarrel not with the principles of this into health ? Alas! what is this book of science, as they are laid down by learned the countenance good for, which when we professors ; much less am I disposed, with have read so long, and thought that we unsome people, to deny its existence altogether derstood its contents, there comes a countless as any inlet of knowledge that can be de- list of heart-breaking errata at the end ! pended upon. I believe that there is, or may But these are the pitiable mistakes to be, an art to "read the mind's construction which love alone is subject. I have inadin the face.” But, then, in every species of vertently wandered from my purpose, which reading, so much depends upon the eyes of was to expose quite an opposite blunder, into the reader ; if they are blear, or apt to which we are no less apt fall, through dazzle, or inattentive, or strained with too hate. How ugly a person looks upon whose much attention, the optic power will infal- reputation some awkward aspersion hangs, libly bring home false reports of what it and how suddenly his countenance clears up reads. How often do we say, upon a cursory with his character ! I remember being perglance at a stranger, “What a fine open suaded of a man whom I had conceived an countenance he has !” who, upon second in- ill opinion of, that he had a very bad set of spection, proves to have the exact features of teeth ; which, since I have had better oppora knave ? Nay, in much more intimate tunities of being acquainted with his face and acquaintances, how a delusion of this kind facts, I find to have been the very reverse shall continue for months, years, and then of the truth. That crooked old woman, I break up all at once.
once said, speaking of an ancient gentleAsk the married man, who has been so woman, whose actions did not square alto. but for a short space of time, if those blu gether with my notions of the rule of right. eyes where, during so many years of anxious The unanimous surprise of the company becourtship, truth, sweetness, serenity, seemed fore whom I uttered these words soon conto be written in characters which could not vinced me that I had confounded mental with 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 This humour of mankind to deny personal (the mimic of constancy) which changes not, comeliness to those with whose moral attrionly because it wants the judgment to make butes they are dissatisfied, is very strongly a preference ?-if for sweetness he does not I shown in those advertisements which stare us
in the face from the walls of every street, lately of Clerkenwell. Whoever shall apand, with the tempting bait which they hang prehend, or cause to be apprehended and forth, stimulate at once cupidity and an lodged in one of his Majesty's jails, the said abstract love of justice in the breast of every John Tomkins, shall receive the above repassing peruser: I mean, the advertisements ward. He is a thickset, sturdy man, about offering rewards for the apprehension of ab- five foot six inches high, halts in his left leg, sconded culprits, strayed apprentices, bank- with a stoop in his gait, with coarse red hair, rupts who have conveyed away their effects, nose short and cocked up, with little grey debtors that have run away from their bail. eyes, (one of them bears the effect of a blow I observe, that in exact proportion to the which he has lately received,) with a pot indignity with which the prosecutor, who is belly ; speaks with a thick and disagreeable commonly the framer of the advertisement, voice; goes shabbily drest; had on when he conceives he has been treated, the personal went away a greasy shag great-coat with pretensions of the fugitive are denied, and rusty yellow buttons." his defects exaggerated.
Now although it is not out of the comp139 A fellow whose misdeeds have been of possibility that John Tomkins aforesaid directed against the public in general, and may comprehend in his agreeable person all in whose delinquency no individual shall feel the above-mentioned aggregate of charms; himself particularly interested, generally yet, from my observation of the manner in meets with fair usage. A coiner or a smug- which these advertisements are usually gler shall get off tolerably well. His beauty, drawn up, though I have not the pleasure if he has any, is not much underrated, his of knowing the gentleman, yet would I lay a deformities are not much magnified. A run- wager, that an advertisement to the following away apprentice, who excites perhaps the effect would have a much better chance of next least degree of spleen in his prosecutor, apprehending and laying by the heels this generally escapes with a pair of bandy legs; John Tomkins than the above description, if he has taken anything with him in his although penned by one who, from the good flight, a hitch in his gait is generally super- services which he appears to have done for added. A bankrupt, who has been guilty of him, has not improbably been blessed with withdrawing his effects, if his case be not some years of previous intercourse with the very atrocious, commonly meets with mild said John. Taking, then, the above adverusage. But a debtor, who has left his bail tisement to be true, or nearly so, down to in jeopardy, is sure to be described in cha- the words “left leg” inclusive, (though I racters of unmingled deformity. Here the have some doubt if the blemish there impersonal feelings of the bail, which may be plied amount to a positive lameness, or be allowed to be somewhat poignant, are ad- perceivable by any but the nearest friends of mitted to interfere; and, as wrath and re- John,) I would proceed thus:venge commonly strike in the dark, the “ Leans a little forward in his walk ; his colours are laid on with a grossness which hair thick and inclining to auburn ; his nose I am convinced must often defeat its own of the middle size, a little turned up at the purpose.
The fish that casts an inky end ; lively hazel eyes, (the contusion, as its cloud about him that his enemies may not effects are probably gone off by this time, I find him, cannot more obscure himself by judge better omitted ;) inclines to be corputhat device than the blackening representa- lent; his voice thick but pleasing, especially tions of these angry advertisers must inevi- when he sings; had on a decent shag greattably serve to cloak and screen the persons coat with yellow buttons." of those who have injured them from detec Now I would stake a considerable wager tion. I have before me at this moment one (though by no means a positive man) that of these bills, which runs thus :
some such mitigated description would lead the beagles of the law into a much surer
track for finding this ungracious varlet, than “ FIFTY POUNDS REWARD.
to set them upon a false scent after fictitious “Run away from his bail, John Tomkins, ugliness and fictitious shabbiness ; though, formerly resident in Princes-street, Soho, but to do those gentlemen justice, I have no
doubt their experience has taught them in world in general much more of that first all such cases to abate a great deal of the idea which you formed (perhaps in part deformity which they are instructed to ex- erroneous) of his physiognomy, than of that pect, and has discovered to them that the frightful substitute which you have suffered Devil's agents upon this earth, like their to creep in upon your mind and usurp upon master, are far less ugly in reality than they it; a creature which has no archetype except, are painted.
in your own brain. I am afraid, Mr. Reflector, that I shall be 2. If you be a master that have to adverthought to have gone wide of my subject, tise a runaway apprentice, though the young which was to detect the practical errors of dog's faults are known only to you, and no physiognomy, properly so called ; whereas I doubt his conduct has been aggravating have introduced physical defects, such as enough, do not presently set him down as lameness, the effects of accidents upon a having crooked ankles. He may have a good man's person, his wearing apparel, &c., as pair of legs, and run away notwithstanding. circumstances on which the eye of dislike, Indeed, the latter does rather seem to imply looking askance, may report erroneous con- the former. clusions to the understanding.
But if we 3. If the unhappy person against whom are liable, through a kind or an unkind your laudable vengeance is directed be a passion, to mistake so grossly concerning thief, think that a thief may have a good things so exterior and palpable, how much nose, good eyes, good ears. It is indismore are we likely to err respecting those pensable to his profession that he be posnicer and less perceptible hints of character sessed of sagacity, foresight, vigilance ; it is in a face whose detection constitutes the more than probable, then, that he is endued triumph of the physiognomist!
with the bodily types or instruments of To revert to those bestowers of unmerited these qualities to some tolerable degree of deformity, the framers of advertisements for perfectness. the apprehension of delinquents, a sincere 4. If petty larceny be his offence, I exhort desire of promoting the end of public justice you, do not confound meanness of crime induces me to address a word to them on with diminutiveness of stature. These things the best means of attaining those ends. I have no connexion. I have known a tall will endeavour to lay down a few practical, man stoop to the basest action, a short man or rather negative, rules for their use, for my aspire to the height of crime, a fair man be ambition extends no further than to arm guilty of the foulest actions, &c. them with cautions against the self-defeating 5. Perhaps the offender has been guilty of of their own purposes :
some atrocious and aggravated murder. 1. Imprimis, then, Mr. Advertiser! If Here is the most difficult case of all. It is the culprit whom you are willing to recover above all requisite that such a daring be one to whom in times past you have violator of the peace and safety of society shown kindness, and been disposed to think should meet with his reward, a violent and kindly of him yourself, but he has deceived ignominious death. But how shall we get your trust, and has run away, and left you at him? Who is there among us that has with a load of debt to answer for him,--sit known him before he committed the offence, down calmly, and endeavour to behold him that shall take upon him to say he can sit through the spectacles of memory rather down coolly and pen a dispassionate descripthan of present conceit. Image to yourself, tion of a murderer ? The tales of our before you pen a tittle of his description, the nursery,-the reading of our youth,—the bame plausible, good-looking man who took ill-looking man that was hired by the Uncle you in ; and try to put away from your to despatch the Children in the Wood,—the mind every intrusion of that deceitful spectre grim ruffians who smothered the babes in which perpetually obtrudes itself in the the Tower,—the black and beetle-browed room of your former friend's known visage. assassin of Mrs. Ratcliffe,—the shag-haired It will do you more credit to have been villain of Mr. Monk Lewis,—the Tarquin deceived by such a one; and depend upon it, tread, and mill-stone dropping eyes, of the traitor will convey to the eyes of the Murder in Shakspeare,—the exaggerations
of picture and of poetry,—what we have read with astonishment reflected on the difference and what we have dreamed of,-rise up and between a real committer of a murder, and the crowd in upon us such eye-scaring portraits idea of one which he has been collecting and ! of the man of blood, that our pen is abso- heightening all his life out of books, dreams, lutely forestalled; we commence poets when &c. ? The fellow, perhaps, is a sleek, smugwe should play the part of strictest historians, looking man, with light hair and eyebrows, and the very blackness of horror which the —the latter by no means jutting out or like deed calls up, serves as a cloud to screen the a crag,—and with none of those marks doer. The fiction is blameless, it is accordant which our fancy had pre-bestowed upon with those wise prejudices with which him. nature has guarded our innocence, as with I find I am getting unawares too serious; impassable barriers, against the commission the best way on such occasions is to leave of such appalling crimes ; but, meantime, the off, which I shall do by generally recomcriminal escapes ; or if,-owing to that wise mending to all prosecuting advertisers not abatement in their expectation of deformity, to confound crimes with ugliness ; or rather, which, as I hinted at before, the officers of to distinguish between that physiognomical pursuit never fail to make, and no doubt in deformity, which I am willing to grant cases of this sort they make a more than always accompanies crime, and mere physical ordinary allowance,-if, owing to this or any ugliness,—which signifies nothing, is the accident, the offender is caught and brought opponent of nothing, and may exist in a good to his trial, who that has been led out of or bad person indifferently. curiosity to witness such a scene has not
ON THE INCONVENIENCES RESULTING FROM BEING HANGED.
TO THE EDITOR OF
Sir, — I am one of those unhappy persons (drawn down upon me this vengeance, 50 whose misfortunes, it seems, do not entitle disproportionate to my actions on this them to the benefit of pure pity. All that is globe. bestowed upon me of that kindest alleviator My brain sickens, and my bosom labours of human miseries comes dashed with a to be delivered of the weight that presses double portion of contempt. My griefs have upon it, yet my conscious pen shrinks from nothing in them that is felt as sacred by the the avowal. But out it must bystanders. Yet is my affliction, in truth,
0, Mr. Reflector! guess at the wretch’s of the deepest grain—the heaviest task that misery who now writes this to you, when, was ever given to mortal patience to sustain. with tears and burning blushes, he is obliged Time, that wears out all other sorrows, can to confess that he has been—HANGED never modify or soften mine.
Here they Methinks I hear an involuntary exelamust continue to gnaw as long at that fatal mation burst from you, as your imagination mark
presents to you fearful images of your Why was I ever born? Why was inno-correspondent unknown-hanged ! cence in my person suffered to be branded
Fear not, Mr. Editor. No disembodied with a stain which was appointed only for spirit has the honour of addressing you. I the blackest guilt ? What had I done, or am flesh and blood, an unfortunate system my parents, that a disgrace of mine should of bones, muscles, sinews, arteries, like involve a whole posterity in infamy? I am yourself. almost tempted to believe, that, in some pre Then, I presume, you mean to be pleasant.existent state, crimes to which this sublunary That expression of yours, Mr. Correspondent, life of mine hath been as much a stranger as must be taken somehow in a metaphorical the babe that is newly born into it, have I sense
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 But, alas ! such is the portentous and allof the last consolatory orange,—this tongue pervading chain of connexion which links has chanted the doleful cantata which no together the head and members of this great performer was ever called upon to repeat,-community, my scheme of lying perdu was this face has had the veiling night-cap drawn defeated almost at the outset. A countryover it
man of mine, whom a foolish law-suit had But for no crime of mine.-Far be it from brought to town, by chance met me, and the me to arraign the justice of my country, secret was soon blazoned about. which, though tardy, did at length recognise In a short time, I found myself deserted my innocence. It is not for me to reflect by most of those who had been my intimate upon judge or jury, now that eleven years friends. Not that any guilt was supposed have elapsed since the erroneous sentence to attach to my character. My officious was pronounced. Men will always be fallible, countryman, to do him justice, had been and perhaps circumstances did appear at the candid enough to explain my perfect innotime a little strong
cence. But, somehow or other, there is a Suffice it to say, that after hanging four want of strong virtue in mankind. We have minutes, (as the spectators were pleased to plenty of the softer instincts, but the heroic compute it,-a man that is being strangled, character is gone. How else can I account I know from experience, has altogether a for it, that of all my numerous acquaintance, different measure of time from his friends among whom I had the honour of ranking who are breathing leisurely about him,-I sundry persons of education, talents, and suppose the minutes lengthen as time worth, scarcely here and there one or two approaches eternity, in the same manner as could be found who had the courage to the miles get longer as you travel north- associate with a man that had been hanged. ward,)-after hanging four minutes, accord Those few who did not desert me altogether ing to the best calculation of the bystanders, were persons of strong but coarse minds ; a reprieve came, and I was cut down and from the absence of all delicacy in them
Really I am ashamed of deforming your I suffered almost as much as from the pages with these technical phrases — if I superabundance of a false species of it in the knew how to express my meaning shorter 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