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EGGS. — CRIMINAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL. 51

no other sensation there, than a little merriment. Carnot's Chap.
bold negative was a little talked of, but as it was solitary, it vr'
was considered harmless. To the love of finery which the
french still retain to a certain degree, I could alone attribute
the gay appearance of the eggs in the market, upon which had
been bestowed a very smart stain of lilac colour. The effect
was so singular that I could not help noting it down.

On the third day after our arrival in this city, we attended die trial of a man who belonged to one of the banditti which infest the country round this city. The court was held in the hall of the ancient parliament house, and was composed of three civil judges (one of whom presided) three military judges, and two citizens. The arrangements of the court, which v/as crowded, were excellent, and afforded uninterrupted accommodations to all its members, by separate doors and passages allotted to each, and' also to the people, who were permitted to occupy the large area in front, which gradually rose from the last seats of the persons belonging to the court, and enabled every spectator to have a perfect view of the whole. Appropriate moral mottoes were inscribed in characters of gold, upon the walls. The judges wore long laced bands, and robes of black, lined with light blue silk, with scarfs of ^ blue and silver fringe, and sat upon an elevated semicircular bench, raised upon a flight of steps, placed in a large alcove, W lined with tapestry. The secretaries, and subordinate officers were seated below them. On the left the prisoner was placed, without irons, in the custody of two gendarmes, formerly called marechaussees, who had their long swords drawn.

H 2 These

CRIMINAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL.

These soldiers have a very military appearance, and are a fine, and valuable body of men. I fear the respectable impression which I would wish to convey of them will suffer, when I inform my reader, that they are servants of the police, and answer to our Bow-street runners. The swiftness with which they pursue, and apprehend offenders, is surprising. We were, received with politeness and conducted to a convenient place for hearing, and seeing all that passed. The accusateur general who sat on the left, wore a costume similar to that of the judges, without the scarf. He opened the trial by relating the circumstances, and declaiming upon the enormity of the offence, by which it appeared that the prisoner stood charged with robbery, accompanied with breach of hospitality; which, in that country, be the amount of the plunder ever so trifling, is at present capital. The address of the public accuser was very florid, and vehement, and attended by violent gestures, occasionally graceful. The pleaders of Normandy are considered as the most eloquent men in France, I have heard several of them, but they appear to me, to be too impassioned. Their motions in speaking frequently look like madness. He ransacked his language to furnish himself with reproachful epithets against the miserable wretch by the side of him, who with his hands in his bosom appeared to listen to him, with great sang froid. The witnesses who were kept separate, previous to their giving their evidence, were numerous, and proved many robberies against him, attended with aggravated breaches of hospitality. The court entered into proofs of offences committed by the prisoner at different

times, CRIMINAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL.

times, and upon different persons. The women who gave their testimony, exhibited a striking distinction between the timidity of english females, confronting the many eyes of a crowded court of justice, and the calm self possession with which the french ladies here delivered their unperturbed testimony. The charges were clearly proved, and the prisoner was called upon for his defence. Undismayed, and with all the practised hardihood of an Old Bailey felon, he calmly declared, that he purchased the pile of booty produced in the court, for sums of money, the amount of which, he did not then know, of persons he could not name, and in places which he did not remember. He had no advocate. The subject was next resumed, and closed by the official orator who opened it. The court retired, and the criminal was reconducted to the prison behind the hall. After an absence of about twenty minutes, a bell rang to announce the return of the judges, the prisoner entered now, escorted by a file of national guards, to hear his fate. The court then resumed its sitting. The president addressed the unhappy man, very briefly, recapitulated his offences, and read the decree of the republic upon them, by which he doomed him to lose his head 'at four o'clock that afternoon..

It was then ten minutes past one!! The face of this wretched being presented a fine subject for the pencil. His countenance was dark, marked, and melancholy; over it was spread the sallow tint of long imprisonment. His beard was unshorn, and he displayed an indifference to his fate, which not a little surprised me. He immediately retired, and upon his

return 54 CRIMINAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL.

Chap. return to his cell, a priest was sent for to prepare him for his v r' doom. At present, in the provinces, all criminal offences are tried before military tribunals, qualified, as I have described this to be, by a mixture of civil judges and bourgeois.

It is one of the peculiar characteristics of such tribunals, to order immediate punishment after conviction. In the present instance, the fate of *the offender was well known, for his crimes were many, and manifest, and as the interval allowed by military courts between the sentence, and its fulfilment, is so very short, the administrators of the law had postponed his trial for five months from the period of his commitment, for the purpose of affording him an indulgent procrastination. This mode, although arising from merciful motives, is, I am aware, open to objection; but it would be unfair to comment upon laws, which prevailed in times of revolution, and are permitted only to operate, until the fine fabric of french criminal jurisprudence, which is now constructing, shall be presented to the people. To the honour of our country, and one of the greatest ornaments of the british bar, the honourable T. Erskine, in the year 1789, furnished the french, with some of these great principles of criminal law, which it was impossible to perfect during the long asra of convulsion, and instability which followed, and • which will constitute a considerable part of that great, and humane code, which is about to be bestowed upon the nation, • and which will, no doubt, prove to be one of the greatest blessings, which human wisdom can confer upon human weakness.

Its

TOWN HOVSE, j 55

Its foundation is nearly similar to that of our own. The Chap, great and enlightened genius whose name I have mentioned, V1, has provided that the contumacy of one juryman shall nor be able to force the opinion of the rest.

After the court had broken up, I visited the town house, which, before the revolution, was the monastery of the benedictines, who, from what appeared of the remains of their establishment, must have been magnificently lodged, and well deserved during their existence, to bear the name of the blessed. The two grand staircases are very fine, and there is a noble garden behind. Upon entering the vestibule of the council chamber, formerly the refectory, I thought I was going behind the scenes of a theatre. It was nearly filled with allegorical banners, pasteboard and canvas arches of triumph, altars, emblems of liberty, and despotism, and all the scenic decorations suitable to the frenzied orgies of a republican fete. Thank God! they appeared to be tolerably well covered with dust and cobwebs. At the end of this noble room, seated upon a high pedestal, was the goddess of liberty, beautifully executed in marble. "Look at that sanguinary

** prostitute," cried Mons. G— , to me, pointing to the

statue, " for years have we had liberty and bloodshed, thank H" Heaven I we are now no longer free." Upon which, he wrote his name in the first consul's book, which was here lying open, upon a table, for the purpose of receiving the suffrages of the department.

The laconic irony, and manner of the speaker, afforded me a tolerably good display of the nature of the blessings conferred upon the french, by their late political philosophy.

From.

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