Jane Eccles

The criminal business of the office was, during the first three or four years of our partnership, entirely superintended by Mr. Flint; he being more au fait, from early practice, than myself in the art and mystery of prosecuting and defending felons, and I was thus happily relieved of duties which, in the days when George III was king, were frequently very oppressive and revolting. The criminal practitioner dwelt in an atmosphere tainted alike with cruelty and crime, and pulsating alternately with merciless decrees of death, and the shrieks and wailings of sentenced guilt. And not always guilt! There exist many records of proofs, incontestable, but obtained too late, of innocence having been legally strangled on the gallows in other cases than that of Eliza Fenning. How could it be otherwise with a criminal code crowded in every line with penalties of death, nothing but—death? Juster, wiser times have dawned upon us, in which truer notions prevail of what man owes to man, even when sitting in judgment on transgressors; and this we owe, let us not forget, to the exertions of a band of men who undeterred by the sneers of the reputedly wise and practical men of the world, and the taunts of “influential” newspapers, persisted in teaching that the rights of property could be more firmly cemented than by the shedding of blood—law, justice, personal security more effectually vindicated than by the gallows. Let me confess that I also was, for many years, amongst the mockers, and sincerely held such “theorists” and “dreamers” as Sir Samuel Romilly and his fellow workers in utter contempt. Not so my partner Mr. Flint. Constantly in the presence of criminal judges and juries, he had less confidence in the unerring verity of their decisions than persons less familiar with them, or who see them only through the medium of newspapers. Nothing could exceed his distress of mind if, in cases in which he was prosecuting attorney, a convict died persisting in his innocence, or without a full confession of guilt. And to such a pitch did this morbidly-sensitive feeling at length arrive, that he all at once refused to undertake, or in any way meddle with, criminal prosecutions, and they were consequently turned over to our head clerk, with occasional assistance from me if there happened to be a press of business of the sort. Mr. Flint still, however, retained a monopoly of the defences, except when, from some temporary cause or other, he happened to be otherwise engaged, when they fell to me. One of these I am about to relate, the result of which, whatever other impression it produced, thoroughly cured me—as it may the reader—of any propensity to sneer or laugh at criminal law reformers and denouncers of the gallows.

One forenoon, during the absence of Mr. Flint in Wiltshire, a Mrs. Margaret Davies called at the office, in apparently great distress of mind. This lady, I must premise, was an old, or at all events an elderly maiden, of some four-and-forty years of age—I have heard a very intimate female friend of hers say she would never see fifty again, but this was spite—and possessed of considerable house property in rather poor localities. She found abundant employment for energies which might otherwise have turned to cards and scandal, in collecting her weekly, monthly, and quarterly rents, and in promoting, or fancying she did, the religious and moral welfare of her tenants. Very barefaced, I well knew, were the impositions practised upon her credulous good nature in money matters, and I strongly suspected the spiritual and moral promises and performances of her motley tenantry exhibited as much discrepancy as those pertaining to rent. Still, deceived or cheated as she might be, good Mrs. Davies never wearied in what she conceived to be welldoing, and was ever ready to pour balm and oil into the wounds of the sufferer, however self-inflicted or deserved.

“What is the matter now?” I asked, as soon as the good lady was seated, and had untied and loosened her bonnet, and thrown back her shawl, fast walking having heated her prodigiously. “Nothing worse than transportation is, I hope, likely to befall any of those interesting clients of yours?”

“You are a hard-hearted man, Mr. Sharp,” replied Mrs. Davies between a smile and a cry; “but being a lawyer, that is of course natural, and, as I am not here to consult you as a Christian, of no consequence.”

“Complimentary, Mrs. Davies; but pray go on.”

“You know Jane Eccles, one of my tenants in Bank Buildings: the embroideress who adopted her sister’s orphan child?”

“I remember her name. She obtained, if I recollect rightly, a balance of wages for her due to the child’s father, a mate, who died at sea. Well, what has befallen her?”

“A terrible accusation has been preferred against her,” rejoined Mrs. Davies; “but as for a moment believing it, that is quite out of the question. Jane Eccles,” continued the warm-hearted lady, at the same time extracting a crumpled newspaper from the miscellaneous contents of her reticule— “Jane Eccles works hard from morning till night, keeps herself to herself; her little nephew and her rooms are always as clean and nice as a new pin; she attends church regularly; and pays her rent punctually to the day. This disgraceful story, therefore,” she added, placing the journal in my hands, “cannot be true.”

I glanced over the police news: “Uttering forged Bank-of-England notes, knowing them to be forged,” I exclaimed; “the devil!”

“There’s no occasion to be spurting that name out so loudly, Mr. Sharp,” said Mrs. Davies with some asperity, “especially in a lawyer’s office. People have been wrongfully accused before today, I suppose?”

I was intent on the report, and not answering, she continued, “I heard nothing of it till I read the shameful account in the paper half an hour agone.  The poor slandered girl was, I dare say, afraid or ashamed to send for me.”

“This appears to be a very bad case, Mrs. Davies,” I said at length. “Three forged ten-pound notes changed in one day at different shops each time, under the pretence of purchasing articles of small amount, and another ten-pound note found in her pocket! All that has, I must say, a very ugly look.”

“I don’t care,” exclaimed Mrs. Davies, quite fiercely, “if it looks as ugly as sin, or if the whole Bank of England was found in her pocket! I know Jane Eccles well: she nursed me last spring through the fever; and I would be upon my oath that the whole story, from beginning to end, is an invention of the devil, or something worse.”

“Jane Eccles,” I persisted, “appears to have been unable or unwilling to give the slightest explanation as to how she became possessed of the spurious notes. Who is this brother of hers, “of such highly respectable appearance,” according to the report, who was permitted a private interview with her previous to the examination?”

“She has no brother that I have ever heard of,” said Mrs. Davies. “It must be a mistake of the papers.”

“That is not likely. You observed, of course, that she was fully committed—and no wonder!”

Mrs. Davies’s faith in the young woman’s integrity was not to be shaken by any evidence save that of her own bodily eyes, and I agreed to see Jane Eccles on the morrow, and make the best arrangements for the defence—at Mrs. Davies’s charge—which the circumstances, and the short time I should have for preparation—the Old Bailey session would be on in a few days—permitted. The matter so far settled, Mrs. Margaret hurried off to see what had become of little Henry, the prisoner’s nephew.

I visited Jane Eccles the next day in Newgate. She was a well-grown young woman of about two or three-and-twenty—not exactly pretty, perhaps, but very well looking. Her brown hair was plainly worn, without a cap, and the expression of her face was, I thought, one of sweetness and humility, contradicted in some degree by rather harsh lines about the mouth, denoting strong will and purpose. As a proof of the existence of this last characteristic, I may here mention that when her first overweening confidence had yielded to doubt, she, although dotingly fond of her nephew, at this time about eight years of age, firmly refused to see him, “in order,” she once said to me, and the thought brought a deadly pallor to her face— “in order that, should the worst befall, her memory might not be involuntarily connected in his mind with images of dungeons, and disgrace, and shame.” Jane Eccles had received what is called in the country, “a good schooling,” and the books Mrs. Davies had lent her she had eagerly perused. She was therefore, to a certain extent, a cultivated person; and her speech and manners were mild, gentle, and, so to speak, religious. I generally found, when I visited her, a Bible or prayerbook in her hand. This, however, from my experience, comparatively slight though it was, did not much impress me in her favour—devotional sentiment so easily, for a brief time, assumed, being in nine such cases out of ten a hypocritical deceit. Still she, upon the whole, made a decidedly favourable impression on me, and I no longer so much wondered at the bigotry of unbelief manifested by Mrs. Davies in behalf of her apparently amiable and grateful protégée.

But beyond the moral doubt thus suggested of the prisoner’s guilt, my interviews with her utterly failed to extract anything from her in rebutment of the charge upon which she was about to be arraigned. At first she persisted in asserting that the prosecution was based upon manifest error; that the impounded notes, instead of being forged, were genuine Bank-of-England paper. It was some time before I succeeded in convincing her that this hope, to which she so eagerly, desperately clung, was a fallacious one. I did so at last; and either, thought I, as I marked her varying colour and faltering voice, “either you are a consummate actress, or else the victim of some frightful delusion or conspiracy.”

“I will see you, if you please, tomorrow,” she said, looking up from the chair upon which, with her head bowed and her face covered with her hands, she had been seated for several minutes in silence. “My thoughts are confused now, but tomorrow I shall be more composed; better able to decide if—to talk, I mean, of this unhappy business.”

I thought it better to comply without remonstrance, and at once took my leave. When I returned the next afternoon, the governor of the prison informed me that the brother of my client, James Eccles, quite a dashing gentleman, had had a long interview with her. He had left about two hours before, with the intention, he said, of calling upon me.

I was conducted to the room where my conferences with the prisoner usually took place. In a few minutes she appeared, much flushed and excited, it seemed to be alternately with trembling joy and hope, and doubt and nervous fear.

“Well,” I said, “I trust you are now ready to give me your unreserved confidence, without which, be assured, that any reasonable hope of a successful issue from the peril in which you are involved is out of the question.”

The varying emotions I have noticed were clearly traceable as they swept over her telltale countenance during the minute or so that elapsed before she spoke.

“Tell me candidly, sir,” she said at last, “whether, if I owned to you that the notes were given to me by a—a person, whom I cannot, if I would, produce, to purchase various articles at different shops, and return him—the person I mean—the change; and that I made oath this was done by me in all innocence of heart, as the God of heaven and earth truly knows it was, it would avail me?”

“Not in the least,” I replied, angry at such trifling. “How can you ask such a question? We must find the person who, you intimate, has deceived you, and placed your life in peril; and if that can be proved hang him instead of you. I speak plainly, Miss Eccles,” I added in a milder tone; “perhaps you may think unfeelingly, but there is no further time for playing with this dangerous matter. Tomorrow a true bill will be found against you, and your trial may then come on immediately. If you are careless for yourself, you ought to have some thought for the sufferings of your excellent friend Mrs. Davies; for your nephew, soon perhaps to be left friendless and destitute.”

“Oh spare me—spare me!” sobbed the unhappy young woman, sinking nervelessly into a seat. “Have pity upon me, wretched, bewildered as I am!” Tears relieved her, and after a while she said, “It is useless, sir, to prolong this interview. I could not, I solemnly assure you, if I would, tell you where to search for or find the person of whom I spoke. And,” she added, whilst the lines about her mouth of which I have spoken grew distinct and rigid, “I would not if I could. What indeed would it, as I have been told and believe, avail, but to cause the death of two deceived innocent persons instead of one? Besides,” she continued, trying to speak with firmness, and repress the shudder which crept over and shook her as with ague— “besides, whatever the verdict, the penalty will not, cannot, I am sure, I know, be— be—”

I understood her plainly enough, although her resolution failed to sustain her through the sentence.

“Who is this brother, James Eccles he calls himself, whom you saw at the police-office, and who has twice been here, I understand—once today?”

A quick start revealed the emotion with which she heard the question, and her dilated eyes rested upon me for a moment with eager scrutiny. She speedily recovered her presence of mind, and with her eyes again fixed on the floor, said in a quivering voice, “My brother! Yes—as you say—my brother.”

“Mrs. Davies says you have no brother!” I sharply rejoined.

“Good Mrs. Davies,” she replied in a tone scarcely above a whisper, and without raising her head, “does not know all our family.”

A subterfuge was, I was confident, concealed in these words; but after again and again urging her to confide in me, and finding warning and persuasion alike useless, I withdrew discomfited and angry; and withal as much concerned and grieved as baffled and indignant. On going out, I arranged with the governor that the “brother,” if he again made his appearance, should be detained, bongré malgré, till my arrival. Our precaution was too late: he did not reappear; and so little notice had anyone taken of his person, that to advertise a description of him, with a reward for his apprehension, was hopeless.
A true bill was found, and two hours afterwards Jane Eccles was placed in the dock. The trial did not last more than twenty minutes, at the end of which an unhesitating verdict of guilty was returned, and she was duly sentenced to be hanged by the neck till she was dead. We had retained the ablest counsel practising in the court, but, with no tangible defence, their efforts were merely thrown away. Upon being asked what she had to say why the sentence of the law should not be carried into effect, she repeated her previous statement—that the notes had been given her to change by a person in whom she reposed the utmost confidence; and that she had not the slightest thought of evil or fraud in what she did. That person, however, she repeated once more, could not be produced. Her assertions only excited a derisive smile; and all necessary forms having been gone through, she was removed from the bar.

The unhappy woman bore the ordeal through which she had just passed with much firmness. Once only, whilst sentence was being passed, her high-strung resolution appeared to falter and give way. I was watching her intently, and I observed that she suddenly directed a piercing look towards a distant part of the crowded court. In a moment her eye lightened, the expression of extreme horror which had momently darkened her countenance passed away, and her partial composure returned. I had instinctively, as it were, followed her glance, and thought I detected a tall man enveloped in a cloak engaged in dumb momentary communication with her. I jumped up from my seat, and hastened as quickly as I could through the thronged passages to the spot, and looked eagerly around, but the man, whoever he might be, was gone.

The next act in this sad drama was the decision of the Privy Council upon the recorder’s report. It came. Several were reprieved, but amongst them was not Jane Eccles. She and nine others were to perish at eight o’clock on the following morning.

The anxiety and worry inseparable from this most unhappy affair, which, from Mr. Flint’s protracted absence, I had exclusively to bear, fairly knocked me up, and on the evening of the day on which the decision of the council was received, I went to bed much earlier than usual, and really ill. Sleep I could not, and I was tossing restlessly about, vainly endeavouring to banish from my mind the gloomy and terrible images connected with the wretched girl and her swiftly-coming fate, when a quick tap sounded on the door, and a servant’s voice announced that one of the clerks had brought a letter which the superscription directed to be read without a moment’s delay. I sprang out of bed, snatched the letter, and eagerly ran it over. It was from the Newgate chaplain, a very worthy, humane gentleman, and stated that, on hearing the result of the deliberations of the Privy Council, all the previous stoicism and fortitude exhibited by Jane Eccles had completely given way, and she had abandoned herself to the wildest terror and despair. As soon as she could speak coherently, she implored the governor with frantic earnestness to send for me. As this was not only quite useless in the opinion of that official, but against the rules, the prisoner’s request was not complied with. The chaplain, however, thinking it might be as well that I should know of her desire to see me, had of his own accord sent me this note. He thought that possibly the sheriffs could permit me to have a brief interview with the condemned prisoner in the morning, if I arrived sufficiently early; and although it could avail nothing as regarded her fate in this world, still it might perhaps calm the frightful tumult of emotion by which she was at present tossed and shaken, and enable her to meet the inevitable hour with fortitude and resignation.

It was useless to return to bed after receiving such a communication, and I forthwith dressed myself, determined to sit up and read, if I could, till the hour at which I might hope to be admitted to the gaol should strike. Slowly and heavily the dark night limped away, and as the first rays of the cold wintry dawn reached the earth, I sallied forth. A dense, brutal crowd were already assembled in front of the prison, and hundreds of well-dressed sightseers occupied the opposite windows, morbidly eager for the rising of the curtain upon the mournful tragedy about to be enacted. I obtained admission without much difficulty, but, till the arrival of the sheriffs, no conference with the condemned prisoners could be possibly permitted. Those important functionaries happened on this morning to arrive unusually late, and I paced up and down the paved corridor in a fever of impatience and anxiety. They were at last announced, but before I could, in the hurry and confusion, obtain speech of either of them, the dismal bell tolled out, and I felt with a shudder that it was no longer possible to effect my object. “Perhaps it is better so,” observed the reverend chaplain in a whisper. “She has been more composed for the last two or three hours, and is now, I trust, in a better frame of mind for death.” I turned, sick at heart, to leave the place, and in my agitation missing the right way, came directly in view of the terrible procession. Jane Eccles saw me, and a terrific scream, followed by frantic heartrending appeals to me to save her, burst with convulsive effort from her white quivering lips. Never will the horror of that moment pass from my remembrance. I staggered back, as if every spasmodic word struck me like a blow; and then, directed by one of the turnkeys, sped in an opposite direction as fast as my trembling limbs could carry me—the shrieks of the wretched victim, the tolling of the dreadful bell, and the obscene jeers and mocks of the foul crowd through which I had to force my way, evoking a confused tumult of disgust and horror in my brain, which, if long continued, would have driven me mad. On reaching home, I was bled freely, and got to bed. This treatment, I have no doubt, prevented a violent access of fever, for, as it was, several days passed before I could be safely permitted to re-engage in business.

On revisiting the office, a fragment of a letter written by Jane Eccles a few hours previous to her death, and evidently addressed to Mrs. Davies, was placed by Mr. Flint, who had by this time returned, before me. The following is an exact copy of it, with the exception that the intervals which I have marked with dots, ..... were filled with erasures and blots, and that every word seemed to have been traced by a hand smitten with palsy:—

“FROM MY DEATH-PLACE, Midnight.

“DEAR MADAM—No, beloved friend, mother let me call you . . . . . Oh kind, gentle mother, I am to die . . . . . to be killed in a few hours by cruel men!—I, so young, so unprepared for death, and yet guiltless! Oh never doubt that I am guiltless of the offence for which they will have the heart to hang me . . . . . Nobody, they say, can save me now; yet if I could see the lawyer . . . I have been deceived, cruelly deceived, madam—buoyed up by lying hopes, till just now the thunder burst, and I—oh God! . . . . . As they spoke, the fearful chapter in the Testament came bodily before me—the rending of the vail in twain, the terrible darkness, and the opened graves! I did not write for this, but my brain aches and dazzles . . . . . It is too late—too late, they all tell me! . . . . . Ah, if these dreadful laws were not so swift, I might yet—but no; he clearly proved to me how useless . . . . . I must not think of that . . . . . It is of my nephew, of your Henry, child of my affections, that I would speak. Oh, would that I . . . . . But hark!—they are coming . . . . . The day has dawned . . . . . to me the day of judgment! . . . . .”

This incoherent scrawl only confirmed my previous suspicions, but it was useless to dwell further on the melancholy subject. The great axe had fallen, and whether justly or unjustly, would, I feared, as in many, very many other cases, never be clearly ascertained in this world. I was mistaken. Another case of “uttering forged Bank-of-England notes, knowing them to be forged,” which came under our cognisance a few months afterwards, revived the fading memory of Jane Eccles’s early doom, and cleared up every obscurity connected with it.

The offender in this new case was a tall, dark-complexioned, handsome man, of about thirty years of age, of the name of Justin Arnold. His lady mother, whose real name I shall conceal under that of Barton, retained us for her son’s defence, and from her and other sources we learned the following particulars:—

Justin Arnold was the lady’s son by a former marriage. Mrs. Barton, a still splendid woman, had, in second nuptials, espoused a very wealthy person, and from time to time had covertly supplied Justin Arnold’s extravagance. This, however, from the wild course the young man pursued, could not be for ever continued, and, after many warnings, the supplies were stopped. Incapable of reformation, Justin Arnold, in order to obtain the means of dissipation, connected himself with a cleverly-organized band of swindlers and forgers, who so adroitly managed their nefarious business, that, till his capture, they had contrived to keep themselves clear of the law—the inferior tools and dupes having been alone caught in its fatal meshes. The defence, under these circumstances necessarily a difficult, almost impossible one, was undertaken by Mr. Flint, and conducted by him with his accustomed skill and energy.

I took a very slight interest in the matter, and heard very little concerning it till its judicial conclusion by the conviction of the offender, and his condemnation to death. The decision on the recorder’s report was this time communicated to the authorities of Newgate on a Saturday, so that the batch ordered for execution, amongst whom was Justin Arnold, would not be hanged till the Monday morning. Rather late in the evening a note once more reached me from the chap­lain of the prison. Justin Arnold wished to see me, not Mr. Flint. He had something of importance to communicate, he said, relative to a person in whom I had once felt great interest. It flashed across me that this Justin might be the “brother” of Jane Eccles, and I determined to see him. I immediately sought out one of the sheriffs, and obtained an order empowering me to see the prisoner on the afternoon of the morrow (Sunday).

I found that the convict had expressed great anxiety lest I should decline to see him. My hoped-for visit was the only matter which appeared to occupy the mind or excite the care of the mocking, desperate young man; even the early and shameful termination of his own life on the morrow he seemed to be utterly reckless of. Thus prepared, I was the less surprised at the scene which awaited me in the prisoner’s cell, where I found him in angry altercation with the pale affrighted chaplain.

I had never seen Justin Arnold before; this I was convinced of the instant I saw him; but he knew, and greeted me instantly by name. His swarthy, excited features were flushed and angry, and after briefly thanking me for complying with his wishes, he added in a violent, rapid tone, “This good man has been teasing me. He says, and truly, that I have defied God by my life; and now he wishes me to mock that inscrutable Being, on the eve of death, by words without sense, meaning, or truth!”

“No, no, no!” ejaculated the reverend gentleman. “I exhorted you to true repentance, to peace, charity, to”—

“True repentance, peace, charity!” broke in the prisoner with a scornful burst: “when my heart is full of rage, and bitterness, and despair! Give me time for this repentance which you say is so needful—time to lure back long since banished hope, and peace, and faith! Poh!—you but flout me with words without meaning. I am unfit, you say, for the presence of men, but quite fit for that of God, before whom you are about to arrogantly cast me! Be it so: my deeds upon my head! It is at least not my fault that I am hurled to judgment before the Eternal Judge himself commanded my presence there!”

“He may be unworthy to live,” murmured the scared chaplain, “but oh how utterly unfit to die!”

“That is true,” rejoined Justin Arnold with undiminished vehemence. “Those, if you will, are words of truth and sense: go you and preach them to the makers and executioners of English law. In the meantime I would speak privately with this gentleman.”

The reverend pastor, with a mute gesture of compassion, sorrow, and regret, was about to leave the cell, when he was stayed by the prisoner, who exclaimed, “Now I think of it, you had better, sir, remain. The statement I am about to make cannot, for the sake of the victim’s reputation, and for her friends’ sake, have too many witnesses. You both remember Jane Eccles?” A broken exclamation from both of us answered him, and he quickly added— “Ah, you already guess the truth, I see. Well, I do not wonder you should start and turn pale. It was a cruel, shameless deed—a dastardly murder if there was ever one. In as few words as possible, so you interrupt me not, I will relate my share in the atrocious business.” He spoke rapidly, and once or twice during the brief recital the moistened eye and husky voice betrayed emotions which his pride would have concealed.

“Jane and I were born in Hertfordshire, within a short distance of each other. I knew her from a child. She was better off then, I worse than we subsequently became—she by her father’s bankruptcy, I by my mo—, by Mrs. Barton’s wealthy marriage. She was about nineteen, I twenty-four, when I left the country for London. That she loved me with all the fervour of a trusting woman I well knew; and I had, too, for some time known that she must be either honourably wooed or not at all. That with me was out of the question, and, as I told you, I came about that time to London. You can, I dare say, imagine the rest. We were—I and my friends I mean—at a loss for agents to dispose of our wares, and at the same time pressed for money. I met Jane Eccles by accident. Genteel, of graceful address and winning manners, she was just fitted for our purpose. I feigned reawakened love, proffered marriage, and a home across the Atlantic, as soon as certain trifling but troublesome affairs which momently harassed me were arranged. She believed me. I got her to change a considerable number of notes under various pretexts, but that they were forged she had not and could not have the remotest suspicion. You know the catastrophe. After her apprehension I visited this prison as her brother, and buoyed her up to the last with illusions of certain pardon and release, whatever the verdict, through the influence of my wealthy father-in-law, of our immediate union afterwards, and tranquil American home. It is needless to say more. She trusted me, and I sacrificed her—less flagrant instances of a like nature occur every day. And now, gentlemen, I would fain be alone.”

“Remorseless villain!” I could not help exclaiming under my breath as he moved away.

He turned quickly back, and looking me in the face, without the slightest anger, said, “An execrable villain if you like—not a remorseless one! Her death alone sits near, and troubles my to all else hardened conscience. And let me tell you, reverend sir,” he continued, resuming his former bitterness as he addressed the chaplain— “let me tell you that it was not the solemn words of the judge the other day, but her pale, reproachful image, standing suddenly beside me in the dock, just as she looked when I passed my last deception on her, that caused the tremor and affright, complacently attributed by that grave functionary to his own sepulchral eloquence. After all, her death cannot be exclusively laid to my charge. Those who tried her would not believe her story, and yet it was true as death. Had they not been so confident in their own unerring wisdom, they might have doomed her to some punishment short of the scaffold, and could now have retrieved their error. But I am weary, and would, I repeat, be alone. Farewell!” He threw himself on the rude pallet, and we silently withdrew.

A paper embodying Justin Arnold’s declaration was forwarded to the Secretary of State, and duly acknowledged, accompanied by an official expression of mild regret that it had not been made in time to save the life of Jane Eccles. No further notice was taken of the matter, and the record of the young woman’s judicial sacrifice still doubtless encumbers the archives of the Home Office, forming, with numerous others of like character, the dark, sanguine background upon which the achievements of the great and good men who have so successfully purged the old Draco code that now a faint vestige only of the old barbarism remains, stand out in bright relief and changeless lustre.

 

From Leaves from the Diary of a Law-Clerk by the Author of Recollections of a Detective Police Officer, London: J.C. Brown & Co., 1857.