Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

charitable remorse; and upon their surviving friends, with the wishes of a hearty reconciliation.

And here (though I would not have it look likc flattery) le being a person I have little acquaintance with, and one that, probably, may never know me, as author of these papers, I cannot choose but commend the calm and equal temper of Mr. John Fus. sel, eldest son to the gentleman that was slain; whom, as well by the publick report, as by my own private experience (I having been since some time in his company), I find to behave himself with that comely discretion, that, though he did violently prosecute him, as his father's murderer, he hath not been, at any time, heard to let fall any undecent language concerning his uncle Strangeways, but such as appcars to express more sorrow for the offence, than envy to the man: a temper which, by preserving, will gain him, whilst living, the love of all, whom the common invitation of a general pity, or the nearer call of relative respects, summons, as mourners for either of the lamented dead.

I have now done with the introduction to this tragick and dismal story, having unravelled almost as many of those almost occult causes, by which, being first propagated, it since bath been made horridly publick, as civility or necessity in enucleating the truth requires. For he that would see more, it is his best course to confer with their council, and look over the large impertinencies of liti. gious courts, than to expect them in this piece, whose small bulk, by as much of their sense, as, in an ordinary dialect, might be expressed in two lines, when stuffed with their fucagoes of tautologies, would be swelled beyond its intended growth: wherefore, to leave that to those it more concerns, I shall hasten to reveal how he carried on the design, since any discovery on his confession argues, he intended to murder him. Mr. Fussel, byth for the better prosecuting his own suits against his brother Strangeways, as likewise for the following of several causes for many others (ho being a man of very great employment), being in this city on Hilary term last, had his lodging one story high, at the sign of the George and Half-Moon, three doors farther, without the Bar, than the Palsgrave's. Head tavern, opposite to a pewterer's shop: He being retired to his lodgings between ninc and ten, not having bien in it above a quarter of an hour before the fact was done, he sitting writing at his disk, with his face towards the window, the cur. tain belonging to it being so near drawn, that there was only left room enough to discero him, two bullets, shot from a carbine, struck him, the one through the forehead, and the other in about his mouth; the third bullet or slug stuck in the lower part of the timber of the window, the passage, where the other two came in (since in the corner of the window), being so narrow, that little more than an inch over, or under, had saved his life, by obstructing their passage: but,

Nemo tam dives habuit faventes,
Crastinum al possit sibi polliceri.

Sen. in Hippol.

[ocr errors]

Ilis appointed time was come, and those eternal decrees, by which all men are ordained once to die, had stinted the farther progress of his life to this fatal minute. In that punctilio of time, wherein the bullets struck him, e're giving warning by a dying groan, or heing tortured by those almost inseparable concomitants of death, convulsive motions, he is in an instant disanimated, the swiftness of the action not giving warning to his clerk, though then in the room, to assist his murdered master, till, perceiving him lean his head on the desk, and knowing him not apt to fall asleep as he wrote, conceiving that some more than ordinary distemper was the cause of it, he draws near to assist him; but, being suddenly. terrified with the unexpected sight of blood, such an amazing horror seizes him, that, for the present, he is, in a dreadful extasy, lost to action: but, speedily recollecting himself, hc, with an hasty summons, calls up some of the houshold, by whose assistance he discovers what sad disaster had bereaved him of his master. They speedily make down into the street, but found there nothing that might light them with the least beam of information; all, as if directed by those evil angels that favour such black designs, appearing, as they conceived, more silent and still than is usual in this populous city, at that time of night. Officers are raised, and Mr. Fussel's son acquainted with the sad news; who, e're he could spare time to mourn his father's unexpected death, must, with more active passion (as near as those dark suspicions, which ooly directed them, could give leave), prosecute his revenge. Several places are troubled with a fruitless search; the first, that was apprehended, being a barber, whose lodging being in the same house with Mr. Fussel's, and he that night absent, gave them very pregnant causes of suspicion, all being aggravated by the wild humour of his wife, and she exasperated by the extravagancy of her husband, as if she had done it purposely to foment their suspicion: besides, that constant torrent of her passion, which rar with the usual current of ordinary scolds, had some collateral streams of expressions; so that, had not the sudden providence of the Almighty, Protector of innocence, by as much of miracle as this latter age hath heard of, discovered the author of the murder, it had, with. out doubt, wafted her husband to a gibbet: but, presuming that, for what she did then, in the hot intemperance of a jealous rage, she hath long since made a calm recantation, I will here give no farther occasion of continuing a difference betwixt them, but go on in the prosecution of my story, which proceeded thus:

Having yet apprehended none, that they had, on former dif. ferences, any important reasons to suspect, young Mr. Fussel, calling to mind these irreconcileable quarrels, which had of long time been between his father and his uncle Strangeways; and knowing him to be a man, whose impetuous rage had formerly been so often allayed in blood, that, thoug the then motive to it being a legitimate war, made the action not only honest, but ho. nourable, yet, being so well versed in that killing trade, he might still retain enough of the sharp humour to sharpen his anger into

so vindictive a guilt, that he might be prompted to act what weaker spirits would tremble to think.

Upon which considerations, he propounds to the officers the apprehending of him; which motion, finding a general approbation, is suddenly prosecuted, and he apprehended between two and three in the morning, being then in bed at his lodging in the Strand, over against Ivy bridge, at one Mr. Pim's, a tailor, a door on this side the Black Bull. He, being now in the officers' custody, is had before Justice Blake, by wbom, although with an undaunted confidence denying the act, he is committed to Newgate, where remaining till the next morning, he is then by a guard conveyed to the place where Mr. Fussel's body lay, where, before the coroner's jury, he is commanded to take his dead brother-inlaw by the hand, and to touch his wounds; a way of discovery, which the di fenders of sympathy highly applaud (on what grounds, here is no place to dispute). But here the magnetism fails; and those effuriums, which, according to their opinion, being part of the anima media, tenaciously adhere to the body, till separated by its corruption, being the same that, by united atoms becoming visible, compose those spectrums that wander about the cænotaphs and dormitories of the dead; and do, when hurried from the actions of vitality by a violent death, as endeavouring to revenge its wrongs, fly in the face of the murderer, and, though in such minute parts as are too subtile for the observations of sense, keep still hovering about him; and, when he is brought to touch the mu dered body, which was its former habitation, by the motion of sympathy, calls from those 'sally-ports of life some of those parts of her life, whieh yet remain within it; who, that they may flow forth to meet it, are conveyed in the vehiculum of the blood. They illustrate this by dogs, and other animals, which, with a violent impetuosity, assail those that make a custom of murdering things of the same species.

There having been nothing discoverable by this experiment, he is returned back to the prison, and the jury, though but with little hopes of satisfaction, continue their inquest; when now, to the amazing wonder of future ages, and the farther confirmation of those continued miracles, by which the all-discerning power of the eternal and ever-living God pleases often to manifest itself in the discovery of black and secret murders, which, though acted in the silent region of the night, and plotted with all the deep obscurity that hell and the black spirits of eternal darkness can lend to the assistance of such dismal and horrid designs, yet are disveloped by ways so unthought of, even by those which torture their wits for discovery, that man, though adorned with all the knowledge the world's first transgressors ravished from the forbidden tree, instead of an angel-illuminated paradise, finds his fancy clouded in a chaos of confusion, black and obscure as that which, e're penetrated by heaven's segregating breath, spread its gloomy curtains over the first unformed matter.

Several questions are propounded amongst all, by the foreman

[ocr errors]

of the jury ; one of which, though not to the disparagement of the gentleman, succeeding ages will count more fortunate than wise. It was this: that all the gunsmiths' shops in London, and the ad. jacent places, should be examined what guns they had either sold or lent that day. This being a question, in the apprehension of most of the jury, so near approaching to an impossibility, as not, without much difficulty, to be done; one Mr. Holloway, a gunsmith, living in the Strand, then one of the jury, makes answer, It was a task, in his opinion, who knew how numerous men of that profession were, in and about the city, not to be done; withal replying, that, for his own part, he lent onc, and made po ques. tion but several others had done the like. This answer of his being, by the apprehensive foreman, specdily took notice of, he is demanded, for the satisfaction of the rest of the jury, to declare to whom he lent the gun. Hle, after some small recollection, answers, to one Mr. Thomson, living in Long-Acre, formerly a major in the king's army, and now married to a daughter of Sir James Aston. Upon this, a speedy search is made after Major Thomson, who, being abroad, as some say fled, though most noderate men conceive, about his ordinary occasions, it being un. likely any man would discover a guilt by flight, which, if culpable of, though by all charitable people the contrary is generally hoped, he might rationally expect more security in a contident stay, than in a betraying absence; besides, being of no former acquaint. ance with Mr. Fussel, there was no probable cause to render him suspected.

But, with our charitable prayers for his freedom, referring our censures, either of his innocence or guilt, to his further trial at the next sessions, we will return to our relation.

Major Thomson not being found, his wife is taken in hold, who, though clearing herself from the knowledge of any such thing as borrowing of the gun, yet is continued a prisoner till her husband shall be produced; who, being then about some urgent occasions in the country, on the first news of her confinement, suddenly hastens to London, where, being examined before a jus-, tice of peace, he confesses he borrowed a carbine that day of Mr. llolloway, and that he borrowed it at the desire of Mr. George Strangeways, who acquainted him with no farther use he intended to make of it, than for the killing of a deer: for which use, he charged it with a lease of bullets, and, as some say, a slug, which, I believe not, there being but two orifices, where they entered his head, and one bullet sticking in the window.

If any object two bullets may enter at one orifice, though it be something unlikely, we will not stand to dispute it; the num. ber not being so uncertain, as their fatal errand was certainly performed.

Being thus charged and primed, between the hours of seven and eight at night, he meets Mr. Strangeways in St. Clement's Church. yard, to whom he delivers the gun. Where he spent that interval of time, between the reception of it and the execution of the mur.

ther, is uncertain, he having left in that kind no satisfying relation. It is, most like, traversing the streets near the place, that so he might take advantage of the fairest opportunity which now unluckily offers itself.

Mr. Fussel, in the manner as is declared before, was retired into his chamber; he that shot the gun, as some report, stood on a bulk belonging to a pewterer, living over-right Mr. Fussel's lodging; but it is something unlikely, the bulk being of such a shelving form, as not to admit a firm standing place, unless he stood on that end of it next to Temple-Bar, which, if so, the situation of the window would have forced him to shoot much sloping; wherefore I rather conceire, which hath been to some confirmed by Major Strangeways's own confession, that he which shot stood on the ground, which hath the most probable appear. ance of truth, the window not being so high as to impede his aim, nor the distance so great for the shot to lose its force, though the carlip is but short, wanting some inches of a yard in the barrel, as is affirmed by young Mr. Fussel, in whose hands it now is.

To give you a certain relation who fired the gun, is that which I believe no man living can do, except there be, which I hope not, some such unhappy person yet alive, Mr. Strangeways carrying that great secret with him to his grave, denying to reveal it at the sessions here, as reserving it for the general assize hereafter; but, joining with the common opinion of most men, I think it to be himself, knowing him to be a person that, through the whole course of his life, in those actions that deserveil the name of dis. creet, shewed too great a want of that in this, where a wicked subtlety was as requisite as ever, in his former actions, a noble policy had been, to commit his life, which lay exposed to the danger of every engager's discovery, into the hands of many, in the performing an act which might, with more facility, be done by one. When he had fired it, the streets were so empty, that he passed nonoted by any. Between the hours of ten and eleven, he brought back the gun to Major Thomson's house, where leaving it, he relires to his lodging, where, in his absence, he had left one to personate him. That piece of policy being thus performed, he comes, according to his usual custom, into his lodging, about seven in the evening, and, going up into his chamber, made some small stay there; from whence, taking the advantage of a time, in which he foond the employments of the houshold such, as not to have the leisure to take much notice of his actions, he secret!s conveys himself down the stairs, and, having a private way of opening the door, conveys himself out, and his disguised friend in; who, by those of the family, being oft heard walking about the chamber, occasions that mistaken deposition of theirs, concerning his being in the house.

Having now concluded that act of darkness he went about, he is once more returned to his lodging, and secretly discharges his disguised friend; hastening to bed, he lay there, though, in all probability, with no very quiet night's rest, till three in the morning, at which time the officers, sent to apprehend him, enter the

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »