Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

his clothes, and batter his brains like a pigeon-house door, and trouble themselves no farther about him. But for all this, Paddyland is the land for pickpockets; lots of money, oceans of drink, and knocking down pell-mell even on (Q?); then is the time to work away at the business. England is too much hunted, and there is no money in Scotland."

At Belfast he was informed against by a brother prisoner, who had been confined with him in Dumfries gaol. He was dragged from a public-house before a magistrate.

"The first question was, 'What is your name?'

"I answered, in high Tipperara, Why sure, and its John M'Colgan.

"One of the bulkies said, 'Och! we're mistaken.'

"The magistrate continued, Where are you from?' "Why, sure, plase your honour, I am from Armagh,' "What place there?'

26 6 Why, sure, the town.'

"What part of the town?'

"Right opposite the market-house?'

"He then cross-examined me; and handing me the Dublin paper, called the Hue and Cry, pointing to a paragraph with a description of my person, and an offer of reward for me, asked, if that was not my name?

"I said, I had told my name; if he was not plased with it he might let it alone.

"He then informed me, I must be detained.

"I answered, that I had no objection to be detained, if I knew what it was for.

"He said, it was on account of the paragraph he had shewn me. "Sure, sir,' said I, 'that's a Scotchman. I never was in Scotland in my life; but if you detain me, it will be at your own expence.'

"He then ordered three yeomen to sit up with me all night, along with the bulkies, in the Court-room; and retired, after having witnessed a strict search of my person. Nothing was got upon me but a 30s. note, and some silver.

"I now thought that all was over with me, and determined to make a desperate struggle to gain my liberty, or perish in the attempt. I plied the yeomen and bulkies with plenty of budge, and they were very civil to me. About eleven o'clock at night, I prevailed upon them to allow an acquaintance to bring me some supper. When the young woman came, I asked leave to speak to her for a minute behind the boxes in the court, where there was a large window: they granted me my request; and taking a Harlequin leap, I bolted right through the window, and lighted upon the street, without being either cut by the glass or hurt by the fall. I crossed the street to an opposite entry, and immediately saw the whole of my keepers below the window, staring at each

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

other, not knowing what to do. At last, one of them said, By jappers, we were tould he was the boy. Another said, Arra, he's the broth of a boy, but we'll follow him yet.' They all went off, and I took the road for Belfast, and soon got there, having run fifteen Irish miles in two hours and a quarter.' P. 116.

[ocr errors]

After this escape, he paid for a passage to America, but a casual renconter with an old friend made him give up his prudent intention. This too was owing to Fate: but, alas! he had "the ill luck to be born left-handed, and with thieves' fingers; for his "forks are equally long, and they never failed" him. Business now flowed in fast. At a cock-fight at Derry, he observed a cove winning every bet he took. Haggart crossed over, and thinking himself unobserved, quietly cased him first of his lilt, next of his skin ‡, and lastly, of his scout §. On moving round the pit, a gentleman (one of the gentlemen of boxing matches and badger baits) addressed him, "You are the Switcher! Some take all, but you leave nothing." Thus he obtained one, and not the least glorious of his many agnomina; and no further notice was taken of the robbery.

At length, the measure of his iniquity was to be full. He was tried for a robbery at Downpatrick, and if we accept his own account of the matter, although guilty of the offence, he was condemned most illegally and unjustly, in the absence of all evidence, to "lag for seven stretch. The reflection which this event draws from him is whimsical, and partakes of the character of the country which he then inhabited.

"I have been twice tried for my life in Scotland. The first time I got more than justice, for I was acquitted. The second time I got justice, for I was convicted. But in Ireland I got no justice at all; for at Downpatrick there was none to speak for me but the Judge, and he spoke against me." P. 138.

From Kilmainham jail, to which he was committed, he made one ineffectual attempt to escape. He formed also an acquaintance with two very beautiful young women, sisters, of the name of Bridget, in an adjoinining cell, who were accused, and afterwards executed, for the murder of a young lady in Dublin. "I shivered," he says, "when I looked at them, as my own hands were redded with the blood of man. I gave them such serious advice as a poor guilty wretch could." His conversation with these girls was not approved of by the turnkey, and after some little discussion, Haggart,

* A man.
Watch.

+ Pocket-book.

Purse.

Be transported for seven years.

on refusing to be silent, was encaged in a mouth-joke, an instrument which came down with iron bars before and behind his head, the front bar having a thick iron tongue which entered his mouth in this state he was confined for an hour.

[ocr errors]

But greater ills succeeded this: the gaol delivery soon took place, and John Richardson inspected the prisoners. Do you ken me Davie?" struck terror in Haggart's ear. He was immediately removed to the condemned yard, in which his companion was "one of the oddest characters" he ever saw in his life: an insane man confined "for having skinned a horse alive!" This miserable wretch is described as clamoring at his meals, which he devoured "like a raven," with perpetual cries of "Cabbage and Tea! Bacon and Tea." At other times he amused himself by chasing Haggart round the yard, which, although his pursuer was confined by a straight waiscoat, he justly enough complains was "a horrible situation."

In two days he was removed in strong custody and heavily ironed to Dumfries.

"On our approach towards Dumfries, which was in the dark, there were many thousands of people on the road, many of them with torches in their hands, waiting my arrival; and when I got to the jail-door, it was scarcely possible to get me out of the coach for the multitude-all crowding for a sight of HAGGART THE MURDERER. Some seemed sorry, and some terrified for me: but there was not one of them all so sorry or so terrified as I was. Ι. plunged through them, rattling my chains, and making a great shew of courage, but my heart was shaking at the thought of poor Morrin. As I went up the narrow stair to the cells, I had to pass the very spot where I struck him; and, oh! it was like fire under my feet." P. 145.

His trial at Edinburgh soon followed.

"All that man could do was done for me at my trial, and I had good hopes till the Judge began to speak; but then my spirits fell, for his speaking was sore against me. I did not altogether despair when I saw the Jury talking together-but oh! when they said Guilty, my very heart broke; but I was even then too proud to shew my feelings, and I almost bit my lip through in hiding them. When the Judge was passing the awful sentence, I turned dizzy, and gasped for breath. They say I looked careless, but they could not see within me. I did not know what had happened, or where I was I thought of every thing in a minute-I thought of my father-I thought of my mother, who died of a broken heart-I thought of escape, and very near made a plunge over the heads of the crowd-then I could have cried out. When the sentence was over, I gathered my thoughts, and my heart was as hard as ever;

-

for I said, 'Well! the man that is born to be hanged, will not be drowned!" This was very wicked, but I could not help it, for I had no command of my thoughts or words." P. 148.

"But these wild and wicked thoughts soon left me. Every body was very kind to me. How this happens, I cannot tell, for from my infancy my hand has been against every man, and I never saw a human being without trying to do them a harm. This kindness is an awful lesson to me now, but it has done my heart good, for it is the sorest punishment I have met with yet in this world, I have been visited by several clergymen. They have prayed much with me and for me. I told them I had no words to pray, but they taught me, made me read my Bible, and gave me hopes of mercy in Heaven-at least such hopes as a poor miserable wretch like me can have, for my sins stick close to me.

"I have tried to tell my story as I thought and felt when it all happened, not as I feel now, for I wanted to shew my awful wickedness, as a warning to others. I have no thought now but death, and it is coming so near, that I must forget this world, and think only of the next. I have told all I remember of my life truly. I hope the tale will shew my old comrades, if they ever see it, that their wicked ways will bring them to untimely ends; and I leave it to my poor old father, as all that he will ever get from his unfortunate son." P. 150.

He was executed on the 18th of July, and appears to have met death with firmness worthy of a better life. One trial to which he submitted during his confinement was of a singular nature. A Mister George Combe, a writer to the Signet, and a crackbrained Craniologist, visited him, in order to examine "the developement of his head;" and has appended his remarks to this volume in a somewhat tedious note. For the benefit of other addle-pated disciples of Messrs. Gall and Spurzheim, we may remark, that Mr. Combe discovered Haggart's organs of benevolence and justice to be more prominent than he expected. His remaining qualities, as deduced from the examination, were "great self-esteem, a large combativeness, a prodigious firmness, a great secretiveness, and a defective love of approbation." All this was only silly, but to force the miserable convict to write a commentary upon the character which the Sincipital sage had sketched from his protuberances, was very little short of being cruel.

If our extracts have been copious, it has arisen from a feeling that no words can give so lively a picture of Haggart's mind as his own. He is a fearful exemplar of the possible extent to which great powers (for such he doubtless possessed) may be depraved and perverted. We have seldom read of one who more richly deserved the fate for which

he laboured; and yet the concluding portion of his days exhibits a revulsion from evil which, if the Christian doctrine of repentance needed such an argument in its behalf, displays most clearly the nice adaptation of that doctrine to the laws of our nature.

ART. VII. Report from the Select Committee, to whom the several Petitions, complaining of the distressed State of the Agriculture of the United Kindom, were referred. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 18th June, 1821.

ART. VIII. Report of the Committee of Management for the Agricultural Associations throughout Great Britain, with Observations on the Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons.

No branch of political economy and legislation has been treated with so little regard to first principles, as the laws which have hitherto regulated the production and sale of corn. Men have never yet been found sufficiently dispassionate to view the question on general grounds; for, as the whole population of the country are either growers or consumers of corn, every discussion which either immediately or remotely affects the price of that commodity, enlist on the one side or the other, every individual who can form an opinion in regard to it, and thousands, besides, who can form no opinion. On almost every other subject of trade or taxation, it is only the interest of a particular class which is directly concerned; but wheresoever the corn laws are brought before the legislature, and the occupiers of the soil are heard to claim the protection of Parliament, the vox populi is lifted up on high, and the spirit of the whole land is troubled. If foreign wine be raised in price by an additional charge at the Custom-house, or if the spiceries of the East should by similar means be enhanced to double their wonted rates, the only effect thereby produced would appear in a careless shrug of the shoulder, or perhaps in a few fashionable imprecations on the insatiable appetite of the public Exchequer. But, were it to be so much as suspected that the House of Commons meant to raise the importation-prices of wheat, or to create any farther obstacles to the use of foreign corn in general, a powerful body of opposers would presently make themselves to be heard, in the lanes,

« AnteriorContinuar »