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guilty of that horrible crime. And the reply was as plain, as legible, or audible, whichever you choose to call it, as was the question. Every one who knew the relation of that boy to the good woman, knew that his answer was true, and if there had been doubt before, it fled before that clear, bright look of rectitude and calmness.
And now the presiding judge entered the courtroom. For a little while there was a gathering near him, and he chatted pleasantly with the members of the bar whom he knew, and then took his scat. Before opening court, and even while the clerk was calling the jury, he occupied himself in reading a newspaper from the city, interrupting himself occasionally, or allowing himself to be interrupted, to grant an order or sign a paper thrust before him by an audacious attorney.
At the moment when Stephen Forster was arraigned and pleaded to the indictment, a vailed lady, leaning on the arm of a well-known country gentleman, entered the private door of the courtroom from the sheriff's apartments, and took a seat near the judge, and within the bar. I need not conceal the fact that this was Miss Wilson, whose faith remained unshaken to the last, although I doubt much whether the prisoner recognized her at first, or until his vision had penetrated the folds of her vail, at a moment when she was remarkably occupied in listening to the opening counsel.
There is one prominent fault in our system of administering justice, which is derived from old times in England. I allude to the prescribed course of conduct on the part of the prosecuting officer. I know by experience how difficult it is for the attorney for the State to get rid of the professional idea of antagonism which requires him, if possible, to be successful in the contest. But it is manifest at a glance that the whole duty of the district attorney consists in having a fair, impartial statement presented to the jury, and then laying before them the entire testimony, while he takes care that no improper or illegal course is pursued by the defense. The custom of supposing testimony, of not subpenaing witnesses whose evidence is likely to favor the prisoner, of stretching rules of law to their utmost tension, or with the aid of an easy court, even beyond all legitimate bounds—the laboring assiduously with all the force, talent, and trickery of the profession combined, to procure a conviction, and the opposing every effort of the prisoner to establish innocence and good character, all this is an offense against justice which prevails to too great an extent among officers of the State in our courts, and which by no means tends to procure justice or to secure the punishment of crime, since it reduces trials at the bar to a skirmish between opposing counsel, and leaves justice to be administered according to the skill of the contestants.
There is no more painful scene to an idle looker on, than the anxiety of some district attorneys to procure the conviction of criminals; and, indeed, it is at the first a painful employment to the attorneys themselves; but the eager excitement of professional labor soon removes all thought
of pain; and the eagerness with which the victim is hunted to the death, while every avenue of escape is guarded and stopped, is absolutely appalling. Let us look and labor for improvement in these customs of the courts, and for a substitution of impartial, substantial justice in the place of the two-sided contests which now assume the name of justice, and in which court and jurors vainly strive not to enlist their feelings with one or the other side, and which result necessarily in the escape of the guilty, or the punishment of the innocent, quite as often as in correct verdicts.
In the trial of which I now write, the prosecuting attorney was a man of undoubted talent, whose life had been devoted to his profession, and who regarded a verdict of not guilty as in all cases a triumph over himself, which he must strive against with might and main.
He opened the case to the jury with deliberation, but with tremendous force. He detailed the simple incidents of the family history with telling effect. He had not spoken ten minutes bofore the audience began to look dark, and a gloom settled on the countenances of all present; for there were few in that crowd who had not loved Stephen Forster, and who did not feel deeply his awful position.
As the counsel stated the testimony which he proposed to oiler, there was a hopeless look in the eyes of the whole assembly which I have never seen before nor since in all my practice, and when he closed, there was a feeling of relief, a momentary breathing, as if a weight were removed from the breast of every one.
Then came the testimony, slowly piling up its mountain-load on the young man's fate.
First of all was the medical testimony, describing minutely, and in terms which physicians alone know how to use, the death and the causes of death. Then followed the long cross-examination, which failed to shake the calm medical men, and the State called its next witness.
The day wore along slowly and painfully, and the evening approached. The court had taken a short recess for dinner, and an interruption of a few minutes now occurred, during which 1 approached the prisoner and conversed with him. He seemed to have made up his mind to a verdict of guilty, and to be weary of the delay.
"I wish it were over," he said; "why torture me in this way? 1 do not love life enough to pay this price for it. I have had but one wish since I sat here to-day, and that was, that I had died like my old friend, three years ago.
"It was a summer night like this; the clouds lay even as now in the west when he died. He had not lived long enough to know that the w orld was a poor place to live, a hard place to suffer, a pleasant enough world to die out of. To him it seemed agony to go, and he longed for life and its experiences. How blessed to go away thus, and yet he knew it not. How blessed to die in the young spring of life, and yet he would have lingered till the summer heats overpowered him, or the winter frosts chilled his very soul.
"And here am I, the mock and gaze of the crowd, waiting to hear the doom which is soon to be pronounced, and which you lawyers are postponing hoar by hour, only to increase my pain. Let it be over at once and forever, I beg of you. Let—"
"Mr. Phillips—one moment, if you please."
I hastened to the counsel for the defense, who were calling, and found them deep in consultation about a proposition suddenly started. The object of the elder Forstcr in convicting his son of murder was to my mind very clear. He had doubtless expected to inherit the really splendid landed estates of Judge Dusenberry, and the motive appeared by no means insufficient, when the enmity and hatred which had existed for years between him and his wife and son is taken into consideration. The testimony for the prosecution was now all in, excepting only the clinching evidence, namely, that of Stephen Forstcr the father, which, on close examination, proved to be the sole evidence which connected his son with the poisoning. The proofs thus far had been complete, to the effect that Mrs. Forster had been poisoned and was dead, but no idea was given that her son had committed the deed, except in the fact that he had purchased the article in the city shortly before the death; but this was relieved by the circumstance that he had purchased other articles for chemical experiments at the same time, and had several times, at least twice previously, purchased the same poisonous drug.
It was therefore with no small degree of risk, and yet with a cool and well-advised professional determination, that the counsel engaged for the defense determined to direct all their force toward breaking down the evidence of the elder Forster, and abandoning all other chances. It was, in point of fact, a new idea, suggested by the junior counsel at this stage of the case, and involved the abandonment of the previously adopted theory of defense, which had been that the harassed and weary wile had committed suicide. The moment of time in which this consultation took place may well afford to readers of this history an idea of the momentous responsibilities under which lawyers labor. The cool face, the smiling countenance, the quick sparkling retorts, the gay, trifling manners, which lead the bystander to imagine that the lawyer is enjoying his contest as he might a game of chess or of billiards, often cover the deepest anxiety, the most fearful tremblings for the fate of the client whose life hangs on the quickness or skill of that apparently thoughtless intellect. I think there is no other consideration needed to convince men that the profession is one of most terrible labor and responsibility, than the idea that in such a trial as this I am now describing there may be several moments when it is necessary to determine, again and again, what new theory of defense shall now be adopted, what new plan of action devised, to save the life of a man whose innocence is clear to the mind of the lawyer, but whose guilt appears almost established to the minds of the jury.
Such was the responsibility which I now felt, for the senior counsel had not yet seen the dreaded witness, and made up his mind on any brief description. It was decided in an instant, and the first blow to be struck was devised by the junior counsel, who had indeed formed the idea of this plan of defense from the fact that he had learned a few moments before that young Forster was that day twenty-one years of age.
In five minutes I had prepared a brief but comprehensive last will and testament for the prisoner to execute, giving his entire fortune to Mary Wilson and her heirs. We begged the indulgence of the court a moment, while it was duly executed, and then announced our readiness to proceed.
It was strange that Stephen Forster the elder had never thought of this. It afterward appeared that he had made an error of an entire year in his son's age, and had not dreamed of his being able to devise real estate within a twelvemonth.
As Forster took the stand at the opening of court after the recess, a cloud came up and obscured the setting sun, while the low muttering of distant thunder foretold a coming storm. I did not notice the faco of the senior counsel of the prisoner when the district-attorney commenced his examination, and when my attention was first called to it, I was appalled at the expression which I saw coining over it. Slowly, steadily, it grew pale, fierce, and calm. There was a fixed stare into the eyes of the witness, which made him uneasy, and he averted his gaze. Otherwise Forster was cold and firm. But my associate followed him whichever way he turned, with a fixed icy gaze that might have frozen him with horror had ho but caught it.
He related his story, with enough apparent reluctance to give an idea of his suffering; and some, indeed all, pitied the broken-down man so soon to be childless and desolate. They did not know the fiend.
At length came the cross-examination, which was to have been conducted by myself. But the senior laid his hand on my arm, and turning to him, I shrank from his now ghastly countenance.
He essayed to speak, but his lips emitted only a husky sound; and he motioned to me that he would go on if I would pass the paper I held in my hand to the witness. While I did so, he drank a glass of water.
When I passed the will of his son to Stephen Forstcr, he looked at it, swept his eyes over it, stared a moment in my face, lifted his eyes, and thought in silence. Through what tempestuous years did that fierce soul sweep back to the spring morning when his boy lay, a young babe, in his young arms! How did he count them— one by one—those years of bitterness, of hate, of want—want of love, bitter poverty of affection, hatred, malice, and all manner of household anguish, up to this last and blackest year in all the twenty-one! And when he counted the last— when the lawyer's intellect had done the cbild'a problem in subtraction, and taken the year 18— from 18—, and found that the difference proved that be had made the moat awful error of his life in his former count—he uttered a cry, a howl of agony, that startled the silent court-room more than the thunder crash which followed it.
"What paper is that V demanded the districtattorney, furiously.
"Merely a memorandum we have prepared to help your case. We have made your witness disinterested by giving bis son's property to another person."
The effect of the suggestion was instantaneous, and was visible in the jury box as well as in the audience. A hundred curious eyes were turned toward the witness, whose countenance was ashy, and whose disturbed, bewildered air was precisely what wt had anticipated from the somewhat extraordinary course we had adopted. The whole aim and object of his terrible occupation being removed instantly and forever, he knew not what course to pursue, and while he hesitated and perplexed himself with doubts and uncertainties, the first question of my associate, asked in a low, scarcely audible tone, reached his ear.
"Where were you bom?"
A gloom almost like night suddenly came over the room, and the storm burst on the village with furious violence. The witness sprang from his seat at the question, and then sinking back, peered into the gloom with curious, anxious eyes, as if striving to connect that voice with the face of some known person, but he made no reply.
"You were bom in England," continued the same low voice.
The witness trembled from head to foot. I could see it, and I observed it, overwhelmed as I was with anxiety and astonishment at the course of the leader.
"Your father's name was Gordon; he was a lawyer in London."
Still no reply.
"Your mother—who was your mother?"
For a moment there was profound silence. Even the sharp district-attomey, in his surprise, forgot to object, and the judge leaned eagerly forward to watch the strange scene.
At length Stephen Forster rose from his chair, and gazed across the bar, and uttered a strange sentence for a witness:
"In God's name, who arc you?
The counselor rose to his feet, and stretched his tall form to its utmost height. The look of fierceness that I had seen was still there, and a flash of lightning illuminated the room, throwing a wild light on his face, at which the witness in the box uttered a cry of horror, and sank motionless to the floor, while torrents of blood gushed from his nostrils and mouth.
The court was instantly adjoumed to the next morning; and the astonished crowd separated, each relating his own fanciful idea of the cause of this curious scene.
My companion walked out leaning on my arm, which scarcely supported him, hanging on it as he did.
That night we stood together by the bed of Stephen Forster, now going fast by the dark road.
"George, George !—Mother of God, is it you?"
"It is none other, Stephen Gordon. And I thank that Holy Mother's Son that I was here in time to save you this last and most awful crime."
"Dead, thirty years ago!"
A deep groan and a gush of blood were the response from the dying man.
"And Lucy!" muttered he, as soon as he was able.
"Her grave is by my mother."
"And father—did they know—"
"All—every thing—even to the weapon you used. He lived long enough to curse you, and died with a curse hall uttered on his tongue.
"It is enough. If there be no hell for others there is one for me."
"The apostate returns to the faith of his youth," said my associate, with a sneer that I never forgave.
"The apostate has no hope on earth, or in heaven, or hell. I am dying, George. Forgive me! Forgive me!"
"Stephen Gordon, my brother, murderer of my father, my mother, my sister, of your own wife and son, destroyer of my own once bright home, of my honor, of my all in life, if God forgive you in the day of judgment I will not!"
"No, no! I have not yet murdered my son. The rest is true, all true; but I can save him yet. Let that be some atonement."
"Atonement for what? Can you call the dead from their graves in England? Can you unsay one of the curses uttered by our dying father? Can you recall the agonizing tears of our mother and sister? Can you give me back my wife, my angel wife?"
"She was an angel. She is an angel now."
"Yes, dead. In a convent in France; penitent, peaceful, so they told me—has she not told you so?"
"I forgot. She visits me in dreams; but always pale, and cold, and sad-cyed. Ah !—there, I see her now—calm and beautiful, but so cold, so bitterly cold. George, George, forgive me! forgive me, brother!—I am dying—let me not go to hell all unforgiven. See, I have not an instant! —quick, quick—speak—Holy Saviour, Ma— Mary, mother—Jesu—"
There was a flood of crimson on the bed, a struggle—the dying man reached his arms out piteously toward his brother, who stood motionless—there was a shudder, a sharp convulsive motion of the features; he crossed the forefingers of his hands as if in token of his dying belief, not hope—and then—and then—what then!
Why then I have sometimes fancied a scene in the other world—a scene on the bank of the swift river that flows along the confines of heaven down to the abode of the damned. I have fancied a mother, radiant and star-eyed, with three most holy babes beside her, standing serenely on that flower-clad bank, and I could see her start and shrink back from the dark flow of the river, as she caught sight of a face above the wave—a black and fiendish face, that gazed one instant lovingly into her heavenly eyes, and then swept madly, in the whirling, eddying current, down to woe unutterable.
The next morning after Stephen Forster's death, a nol. pros. was entered in the murder case, and it may please some to know that Mary Wilson was in court to hear the announcement. And for years after that, an old grayheaded man, unrecognized by any villager, might be seen almost any evening standing by the grave of the murdered wife, and at length some one learned that his name was Norton. But the story of Ellen Dusenberry's early love had been forgotten for twenty years—save by the true heart of her old lover.
THE OCEAN AND THE ATMOSPHERE.
LIEUTENANT MAURY'S "Sailing Directions"—a huge quarto volume of well-nigh a thousand pages—lies before us. It is designed to accompany and explain the "Wind and Current" and " Whaling" Charts that have won for their author so honorable a place in the scientific world. At first sight the book would scorn to concern those only who do business upon the great deep. A landsman, upon casual inspection, would perceive little to interest him in the long columns bristling with the names of vessels, figures, dates, abbreviations, and symbols, as unintelligible to him as the inscriptions dug up at Nineveh. Then he would encounter page after pa^e of matter like this:
"Barque Parthian (Smith). May, 13, 1853. Lat. 50° 55' S.; long. 63° 52' W. Barom. 29-1; temp, of air, 50°; of water, 48°. Winds: N., N.W.,S.S.W. Fineweather; whole sail breeze."
And so on for a score or two of pages in succession. Here are facts enough to satisfy Mr. Gradgrind himself. The reader's first feeling is one of pity for the printer who, day by day and all day long, has been picking up, letter by letter and point by point, these wearisome paragraphs; and commiseration for the proof-reader who has strained eye and brain to make sure that every letter and point and symbol is in its proper place.
A very dry book, apparently, is this volume of "Sailing Directions." It reminds one of the toppling piles of brick and stone, wide beds of mortar, and heaps of planks and scaffolding that block up our thoroughfares. Yet. under the guidance of the architect, these unformed heaps and shapeless piles assume fonn and proportions; growing up into the airy spire of a Trinity Church or the graceful facade of a Saint Nicholas Hotel. In like manner from this seeming chaos of columns and paragraphs is evolving—we may even say has already evolved—one of the most beautiful sciences that has ever tasked and rewarded the exertions of the human intellect.
For this science Humboldt has proposed the name of "The Physical Geography of the Sea." To us this seems an inadequate designation. We would propose for it the more comprehensive
name of " the Science of the Atmosphere and the Ocean."
We are just beginning to learn some of the manifold relations which the ocean and the atmosphere sustain in the general economy of nature. The sea which covers three-fourths of the surface of the globe is something more than the highway for the commerce of nations. It is the fountain from which rise all the streams that make green the earth, as well as the reservoir into which they all flow. It is an apparatus by which the torrid heat is conveyed to temper the polar cold, and the polar cold is brought in turn to mitigate the tropical heat.
The atmosphere also, apart from its obvious function of vitalizing the blood which courses through the veins of every breathing thing, performs other duties than that of filling the sails of commerce. It is the great receptacle into which all organized matter is cast and from which it is again evoked. The carbonic acid which our breathing pours into the air, is taken up by the vegetation on tht other side of the globe. The oxygen which we inhale was perhaps given out by the cedars of Lebanon. The carbon exhaled by the denizens of London is transmuted into the flowers that adorn our western prairies. Every blade of grass on the pampas of South America, every leaf in the jungles of the Himalayas, is distilling oxygen for the Esquimaux and the Laplander The atmosphere is also a great hydraulic engine that pumps up from the ocean every drop of water that descends in dew or falls in showers. It conveys it for leagues, and thousands of leagues, and deposits it upon the mountain sides or on the thirsty plain. The water that swells the Mississippi or thunders over Niagara was caught up from the Indian Ocean or the Pacific The dew drop that glistens on the flower at our door, once sparkled in the surf that breaks upon the coral reefs of the South Seas. The water that flows in the visible channels of the Amazon, the Volga, and the Nile, has before flowed in the invisible channels of the atmosphere. Those unseen rivers flowing through the air are as constant in their courses as those that run in visible channels through the land. The atmosphere draws up from the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere an amount of water sufficient to drain them to their lowest beds within a period of time less than that embraced in recorded history. The larger portion of this is borne aloft, and poured into the seas of the Northern Hemisphere; yet the one is never empty, the other never overflows the bounds set to it of old.
Thus ocean and air arc ever working together for the well-being of the dwellers upon dry land; and were any great change to be wrought in the properties or relations of either, an entire alteration would take place in the whole economy of our planet. Science that has hitherto busied itself almost exclusively with the dry land, is now extending its researches into the regions of the air and the water, and from them gathering the richest harvests. The foremost explorer and pioneer in this new field is undoubtedly Lieutenant Maury, and the main results of his labors are embodied in these charts and in the volume which accompanies them.
Nothing can be more simple and effective than the manner in which were collected the facts upon which his theories and speculations arc based. As many log-books and journals of voyages as possible were collated, and from the notices contained in them were laid down the various tracks which had been pursued, together with all the information they contained as to winds and currents and other nautical phenomena. But the results obtained from these unmethodical observations, though valuable in themselves, only served to show what might be accomplished were a aeries of combined efforts made with a definite end, and upon a scale sufficiently extensive. Mariners sailing upon every sea were speedily enlisted to keep an accurate record of all the facts relating to winds and currents, storms and calms, and the like, at stated hours during every day of their voyage. These wero to be transmitted to Lieutenant Maury, to be collated and arranged, so that the information collected by each might be rendered available for the benefit of all.
It was not long before reports began to pour in from every sea whitened by American sails. They came from among the Arctic icebergs and the palm-shaded islands of the Pacific; from the great ocean highways furrowed by the commerce between the Old World and the New, between the East and the West, and from those recently opened up to the golden regions of California and Australia—highways almost as well defined as are the roads cast up upon the land; from the two stormy capes which form the southern extremities of the eastern and western continents; from the far off, wide-lying seas in which our adventurous whalemen chase leviathan, " hugest of things that swim the ocean flood." A thousand navigators were soon enlisted in the enterprise. The abstracts of these reports, preserved at the National Observatory, already fill nearly four hundred large manuscript volumes, containing records made upon nearly two millions of days—as many as have elapsed since man was first placed upon this planet. These constitute the raw material, the brick and mortar, from which is constructing and to be constructed, the Science of the Ocean and Atmosphere.
From the materials thus brought together were constructed the Wind and Current Charts. Upon the " Pilot Charts" the entire surface of the ocean was marked off into squares of five degrees of latitude and longitude. In each of these divisions was entered the results of all the observations made by all the navigators who had sailed over it in each month. The number of observations was given; the number of days in which the wind had blown from each point of the compass; the temperature of the air and water, the number of days of storm and calm, and fair weather; the force and direction of the currents; and every thing which could be of service to the sailor.
It is the purpose of Lieutenant Maury to collect at least a hundred observations for each month upon every one of these districts of five degrees; this alone would make a total of more than a million and a half of observations. For the districts which lie along the great routes of commerce, this number has already been lar exceeded.
Copies of these charts, as rapidly as they were completed, have been placed in the hands of every master of a vessel who would engage to make the observations required, and at the end of each voyage transmit them to our National Observatory. Thus the observations made by each, enure to the benefit of all. Every master of a vessel, no matter in what part of the ocean he may be, has the benefit of the experience of hundreds who have been there before him. Ha can tell precisely what winds their united experience gives him reason to expect, at any season of the year; in what quarters he may hope for favorable ones, and where he has to apprehend those that arc adverse. He multiplies his own experience by that of the thousand others who have undertaken the like voyages.
For the great commercial routes, the information thus collected has been still further generalized. Precise tracks have been laid down, by adhering to which the greater number of favorable circumstances may be secured, and the greater number of adverse ones avoided. And it has come to be generally admitted that just in the degree in which the track laid down upon the charts is adhered to, in just so far a speedy voyage may be anticipated. Previous to the publication of these charts the average length of the voyage between our Eastern ports and California was one hundred and eighty-three days. The average length of the voyages between the same ports, performed by vessels on board which these charts are used, has been one hundred and thirtysix days; and in instances not very rare, it has been performed within less than a hundred—in one case in eighty-eight days. In the most successful of these voyages—those which have been performed in less than half the time formerly consumed—the track of the vessel's keel through the ocean corresponds almost precisely with that traced for its guidance upon the chart.
The Whaling Charts have been constructed upon the same general principle, with such modifications in the details as the nature of the subject demands. It has long been known that whales migrate from season to season, following their food through the ocean. The object of the charts is to show at a glance in what portion of the ocean the whales may be expected to be found at each season. The whole ocean is in these charts also divided into squares of five degrees, in which, by a simple arrangement of lines, is indicated how many days during each month all the vessels who send in their reports have been on the lookout for whales in each division, and upon how many days whales have been seen, distinguishing moreover between the "right" and the "sperm" whales. The experience of any one whaler can hardly extend to beyond a dozen or