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spectator to have a perfect view of the whole. Appropriate moral mottos 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 scarss of blue and silver fringe, and sat upon an elevated semicircular bench, raised upon a flight of steps, placed in a large akove, lined with tapestry. The secretaries, and subordinate ossicers were seated below them. On the lest the prisoner was placed, without irons, in the custody of two gend'armes, fermorly called marechaussees, who had their long swords drawn. These soldiers have a very military appearance, and are a sine and valuable body of men. I fear the respectable impreffion 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 furprising. We were received with politeness, and conducted to a convenient place for hearing, and feeing all that pasted. The accusateur general wlfc sat 0:1 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 encrusity of the osfence, 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 CHAP. VI.] IN FRANCE. 65
- was very florid, and vehement, and attended by violent gesture, occasionally graceful. The pleaders of Normandy are considered as the most eloquent n.ea in France, I have heard several of them, but they appear to me to be too impaffioned. 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 bisom appeared to listen to him with the greatest 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, and upon different persons. The women who gave their testimony, , exhibited a striking contrast between the timidity of English females, confronting the many eyes of a crowded court of justice, and the calm self posseflion .wi^t which the French ladies hfcre delivered their unperturbed testimony. The charges were clearly proved,.and the prisoner was called upon for his defence.. Undismayed, and with ail 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 hot then know, of persons he could not name, aud.fc*.
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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 tours retired, and the criminal was re-conducted to die prison behind the hall; After an absence of about twenty minutes, a bell rang to announce the return cf the judges, the prisoner re-entered, escorted by a sile of national guards, to hear his fate. The court 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 f! The face of tins wretched being presented a sine subject for the pencil. His countenance was dark, marked, and melancholy; over it was spread the sallow tint of long imprisonment. His beard was unshora, and he displayed an indifference to his fate, which not a little surprised me. He immediately retired, and upon his return to his eel), a priest was fenrforfo prepare him for his doom. At present, in.the provinces, aH criminal offences are tried before military tribunate* qualisied', as. I have described this to be, by a mixture of civil judges and bourgeois. •' ','1'
It is. one of the peculiar characteristics of such tribunals, to order immediate punilhment after convic. tion. In the present instance, the fate of: the offen
<der was well known, for his crimes were many, and manifest, and as the interval allowed by military courts between the sentence, and its fulsilment, is Ib very short, the administrators of the law had postponed his trial for sive months from As 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 s bat it would be unfair to comment upon laws, which prevailed in times of revolution, and are permitted only to operate, until the fabric of French criminal jurisprudence, which is-now constructing, shall ba presented to the people. To the honor of our country, and one oftbegraatestorrtMnentsof theBrkisl* bar, the honorable T. Esslsine, in the year 1769, furnistied the French with some of these great principles of criminal law, which it was impoffible to perfect during (he long«ra of . convulsion, and instability which followed, and winch witt constitute a considerable part os that great, and humane code, which is about so be bestowed upon the nation, and which wB^ Ho doubt, prove m bo one. ©f the greatest bfeff. ings, which human wisdom can confer upon human weaknefi* .
Its foundation is nearly similarto that of our own.. The great and: enlightened genius whose name" I have mentioned, has provided thatthe contumacy of one juryman sliallnotbeabletoforce the opinion of therest.
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 magnisicently lodged, and well deserved during their existence, to bear the name of the blessed. The two grand staircases are very sine, 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 silled with allegorical banners, pasteboard and canvass arches of triumph, altars, emblems of liberty, and despotism, and all the scenic decorations suitable to the frenzied orgies of a republican fete. Thank
j. 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 Heaven i.,we are now » no longer free" Upon which, he wrote his name in the sirst consul's book, which was here lying open,„ upon a table, for the purpose of receiving the suffrage , es of the department.
The laconic irony* and mannerof the speaker, afforded me a tolerably, gocd djlplay of the. nature of