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shawls or shoes to obtain the price of the summons-a charge of two shillings, imposed by the legislature in the vain hope of checking frivolous complaints.
It is worthy of note that the magistrates, having their peculiarities also, adopt different methods of dealing with this class of busi
His worship, Mr. A., being a stickler for legal precision in regard to the rules of evidence, stops the witness every two minutes to remind her of the 'inadmissibility of statements irrelevant to the case, or having reference to alleged misdemeanours not embraced in the terms of the summons.' Thus:
Please yer worship, this female at the bar, if she can call herself sich
Now, my good woman, no reflections upon the defendant, if you please.
'Well, sir, ever since last Tuesday-week, come next Christmas twelvemonth
"Never mind about next Christmas twelvemonth. Be good enough to confine yourself to what occurred last week.'
Please yer worship, she told Mr. Waters, her landlord
Don't bother us with what she said to Mr. Waters, the landlord, but tell us what she said to you' (getting angry).
Well, sir (getting confused), "Mrs. Finch told me
Never mind what Mrs. Finch told you' (enraged); 'it isn't evidence, and it can't be taken down.'
In this way half an hour or more is consumed in the useless effort to get an ignorant woman to conform with the principles of evidence, as laid down by the recognized decisions of the courts.
But his worship's brother-magistrate, Mr. B., is not so scrupulous about the legal restrictions imposed by the forensic wisdom of ages, in the way of giving common evidence. His theory, in dealing with a woman, especially, is to let her have her own say in her own way. By suffering this simple process of self-exhaustion to go on, it is surprising how soon the real facts of the case, and,
better still, the real motives of the proceedings, are ascertained. Thus:
'Please yer worship, I'm a lone, 'lorn widow, without a husband to protect my character, and I lives by working hard at the tub for the support of nine children, four living and five dead, please yer honour; and ever since that female at the bar come to live in our yard-which it was last Christmas twelvemonth -there's never been no peace whatsumever; for she is that scandalous that no one wouldn't condescend to have nothin' to say to her-which she owes her landlord nine weeks' rent, and is known to be no better than she should be, please yer worship! not that I wishes to have anything to say to her, nor any sich, if she'll have the goodness not to millest me, after strikin' my daughter with a flat iron, and raisin' a bump on her head as big as a coker-nut, which her back-comb was driv' right into-and all because the pump at the top of the yard, as is common to all alike, and mostly to them as pays their way-which the poor child happened to splash her ladyship by accident, as I have nine witnesses to prove upon their Bible-oathsand the nasty millishious wretch threw a whole bucketful over the poor girl, as is just left the hospital with a fit of rhoomatics in her head; and I, bein' the only mother of the child, couldn't stand by and see it done, and no sooner was the word said than she struck me here, yer worship, and kicked me here, and scratched me here, and bit a piece out of my gown, which the flesh is gone, as I've brought to show the court; and she tore my new bonnet, as cost six and sixpence last Tuesday week, into shreds and patches (crying), which if she'll pay the money, your worship (softening), I've no desire to punish the woman, for the sake of her poor childrenaltho' she has been six times to this court for assaults and battery, which is a place as I never set eyes on afore this day-my character being well known in the neighbourhood as a hard-working industrious woman (sobbing bitterly), which the police can prove.'
When a woman of this sort comes to tears, there is hope of speedy relief for the court, while the magistrate, by simply listening to the illegal narrative, is enabled to grasp the entire merits' of the case, pro and con. He sees that the only object of the complainant is to recover the price of her bonnet; and as the defendant has no objection to pay the money, now that she has
had her spite out,' the quarrel is adjusted to the satisfaction of all parties, without examining any of the sixteen witnesses in attendance, all of whom, fraternizing with complainant and defendant, repair to the
nearest tavern to 'finish up the afternoon.'
Then there are the cases of 'distress.' Real, helpless poverty hides its rags, and shudders at the bare thought of publicity; but your idle ne'er-do-well goes straight to the magistrate without a blush; and the benevolent A. B. C.'s' and 'X. Y. Z.'s,' who contribute so liberally to the poor-boxes of the London police courts, and 'respectfully request acknowledgments in the "Times," little imagine to what extent they are responsible for the affliction daily befalling their fellowcreatures.
Here is a forlorn-looking Irishman, accompanied by his wife and two children, found begging within the very precincts of the court; and the woman (usually the 'spokesman'), tells a doleful story about their having scraped their earnings together to join a wealthy brother at the diggings, and being robbed of every farthing in a lodging-house near the docks the night before the vessel started-necessitating their return, penniless and barefooted, to Cork. The woman is affected to invisible tears; the man wipes his unmoistened eye; and the welldrilled children-boy and girl-roar a chorus of assent. There is a
benevolently-disposed, bald-headed old gentleman in the body of the court, who thinks it perfectly monstrous that the magistrate can listen so dispassionately to such a tale of woe, or hesitate for a moment to empty the contents of the imaginary poor-box into the unhappy woman's lap. His indignation is increased when he hears the man and his wretched offspring ordered out of court,' in order that they may be examined separately as to the details of their calamity.
'Now, my good woman, that's your husband, is it?'
'Yes, plaise your honour, and a honest, hard-working--'
'Are these your only children in twelve years?'
'Well, yer honour, they're the only darlings left to us by the marcy of Providence; or there would have been five, but for the three that was taken from us with the typhus; and a trouble it was to us till we rais'd the money for the diggings'Call in the man.'
He is placed by the gaoler at the opposite end of the dock.
What's your name, my man?' 'Kelly, yer honour.'
'Oh, indeed! I thought it was Macarthy.'
THE GENTLEMAN WHO TELLS THE MAGISTRATE HE DINED AT GREENWICH YESTERDAY.
'So it is, yer honour; Kelly Macarthy. I didn't know it was me other name ye were axing fir.'
'And so this woman is your wife, is she?'
'Yes, yer honour; and a hardworking, industrious
'Wait a bit. What was her name before you were married?'
'Well, yer honour, I hardly remimber, for it was a long time ago
'Oh! you've been married seven years, then?'
About that, your honour-to the best of my recollection; bit if you ax me wife, she'll tell yer right, yer honour.'
'Where were you married?'
'I'm not sure, yer honour, for I've a bad memory; but if you ax me wife'
'Surely you remember where you were married?"
'Well, then, I think it was Dublin, to the best of my belafe"Then, if your wife said Cork'Oh, certainly; Cork it was, yer honour.'
'It so happens, then, that she did not say Cork. Come, sir, how many children have you? Perhaps you can remember that?'
'There's the two darlings in court here to-day, yer honour.'
'Oh, but haven't you lost some children?'
The woman holds up three fingers, and makes a secret sign across the dock.
'Plaise, yer honour, I didn't think of the three that died with the measles
'But how many have you had?' The man looks dismayed, and the woman holds up five fingers. The man mistakes her meaning. 'Well, I never thought to men
tion the five we have in service, for they're no sort of trouble to us, and earning the honest penny for themselves; and if ever we get to the diggings
Never mind the diggings. How many children do you make of it altogether?'
'Plaise yer honour, I'm no hand at calculation-I'm no scholar; but if you'll ax
'I think I can help you, sir. Two here to-day, three dead, and five in service-that makes ten. Ten children in seven years. Can you explain that, my man?'
Well, yer honour, I'm no scholar; but if you'll ax my wife
'Stand down, sir. Call in the two
children. Put the boy in the box (a dirty little urchin of about eight). Now, boy, look at me. Where's your father and mother? Don't look at these people; I know you don't belong to them. Come, tell the truth. Boy (crying)
'Please, sir, my father he was transported for life for picking up a handkercher in the Dials; and mother she sells oranges in the street.'
Here the gaoler observes
'I know these children, your worship. They belong to Muddy Moll, as she is called. She hails mostly
SENT FOR TRIAL.
about the dark-arches, in the 'Delphi, and gets her living by letting these children out at sixpence a day to the beggars of London.'
'No, please sir, 'taint no such thing. Me and my sister Kate, we gets a honest respectable living, we do, by running after 'busses, and turning topsy-turvy for the 'musement of the gents outside, we do.'
By this time the magistrate comprehends the whole case. He commits the man and woman to three months, as rogues and vagabonds, and hands over the boy and girl to the tender mercies of the master of
the workhouse. Even the sympathetic stranger in court yields to the conviction that the magistrate was right, and he has already abandoned his intention to write to the Times' about 'man's inhumanity to man.'
But the magistrates, being mortal, have their little prejudices and weaknesses, too, and it is curious to note how these are consulted by the shrewder attorneys, police, prosecutors, and witnesses, who habitually come before them. I remember a knowing officer of the Mendicity Society, who called regularly at the police court every morning at ten, to ascertain which
of the magistrates was sittingwhether it was Mr. A., who never spared a beggar; or Mr. B., who never committed one,-a contingency which settled the nature and extent of his operations for the day. Ay, and you may have seen some of the more cunning of the professional beggars themselves, who have enjoyed perfect immunity on Mr. B.'s days, paying an early visit to the court, and regulating their operations too,-quitting the district altogether on Mr. A.'s days, for a moral certainty.
Then the inspector of the Z division, who has long since discovered
Mr. B.'s antipathy to publicans, and Mr. A.'s invariable leniency towards the same class, will be sure to select the former to investigate his charge against the landlord of the 'Magpie and Stump,' for having sold Mary Watkins a 'leetle drop' of gin during the prohibited hours of Sunday-although she was not a bona fide traveller, and had no excuse to offer except that she was 'seized with the pinches in the left side,' and had prevailed on the humanity of the defendant to make her a present of the gin; which the barmaid and potman swore was a
VOL. X.-NO. LVIII.
free gift, but which the sergeant and the inspector declared they saw her pay for.
In the same way the cabman, having faith in the proverbial tendency of Mr. A. to crush the persecuted and immaculate fraternity to which he belongs, takes good care not to apply to him for a summons against the gent as only give sixpence for being druv two mile and a quarter on a wet night, but waits patiently for Mr. B.'s day of sitting; while, on the other hand, individuals who step forward on public grounds,' to expose the extortionate