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Old W. No, Monsieur; nonenoneall my
relations are dead.

Pres. Well then, your friends must give
you assistance.

Old W. Ah, Monsieur, I have no friends;
and, indeed, I never had but one, in my life;
but he too is gone.

Pres. And who was he?

Old W. Monsieur de Robespierre––le pauvre
cher homme! (The poor, dear man!)

Pres. Robespierre!––why what did you
know of him?

Old W. Oh, Monsieur, my mother was one
of the tricoteurs (knitting-women) who used
to sit round the foot of the guillotine, and I
always stood beside her. When Monsieur de
Robespierre was passing by, in attending his
duties, he used to touch my cheek, and call
me (here the old woman shed tears) la belle
Marguerite:––le pauvre, cher homme!

We must here pause to remind the reader
that these women, the tricoteurs, who used to
sit round the foot of the guillotine on the
mornings when it was at its hideous work,
were sometimes called the "Furies;" but only
as a grim jest. It is well known, that, although
there were occasionally some sanguinary hags
amongst them, yet, for the most part, they
were merely idle, gossiping women, who came
there dressed in neat white caps, and with
their knitting materials, out of sheer love of
excitement, and to enjoy the spectacle.

Pres. Well, Goody; finish your history.

Old W. I was married soon after this, and
then I used to take my seat as a tricoteur
among the others; and on the days when
Monsieur de Robespierre passed, he used
always to notice me––le pauvre cher homme.
I used then to be called la belle tricoteuse, but
now now, I am called la vielle radoteuse
(the old dotardess). Ah, Monsieur le
President, it is what we must all come to!

The old woman accompanied this reflection
with an inimitable look at the President,
which completely involved him in the we, thus
presenting him with the prospect of becoming
an old dotardess; not in the least meant
offensively, but said in the innocence of her
aged heart.

Pres. Ahem! silence! You seem to have
a very tender recollection of Monsieur Robespierre.
I suppose you had reason to be grateful
to him?

Old W. No, Monsieur, no reason in
particular; for he guillotined my husband.

Pres. Certainly this ought to be no reason
for loving his memory.

Old W. Ah, Monsieur, but it happened
quite by accident. Monsieur de Robespierre
did not intend to guillotine my husband he
had him executed by mistake for somebody
else––le pauvre cher homme!

Thus leaving it an exquisite matter of
doubt, as to whether the "poor dear man"
referred to her husband, or to Monsieur de
Robespierre; or whether the tender epithet
was equally divided between them.



IN the history of crime, as in all other
histories, there is one great epoch by which
minor dates are arranged and defined. In a
list of remarkable events, one remarkable
event more remarkable than the last, is the
standard around which all smaller
circumstances are grouped. Whatever happens in
Mohammedan annals, is set down as having
occurred so many years after the flight of the
Prophet; in the records of London commerce
a great fraud or a great failure is mentioned
as having come to light so many months after
the flight of Rowland Stephenson. Sporting
men date from remarkable struggles for the
Derby prize; and refer to 1840 as "Bloomsbury's
year." The highwayman of old dated
from Dick Turpin's last appearance on the
fatal stage at Tyburn turnpike. In like
manner, the standard epoch in the annals of
Bank Note Forgery, is the year 1797, when
(on the 25th of February) one pound notes
were put into circulation instead of golden
guineas; or, to use the City idiom, "cash
payments were suspended."

At that time the Bank of England note
was no better in appearance had not
unproved as a work of art since the days of
Vaughan, Mathieson, and Old Patch; it was
just as easily imitated, and the chances of the
successful circulation of counterfeits were
increased a thousand-fold.

Up to 1793 no notes had been issued even
for sums so small as five pounds.
Consequently, all the Bank paper then in use,
passed through the hands and under the
eyes of the affluent and educated, who could
more readily distinguish the false from the
true. Hence, during the fourteen years
which preceded the non-golden and small-
note era, there were only three capital
convictions for the crime. When, however, the
Bank of England notes became "common and
popular," a prodigious quantity––to complete
the quotation––was also made "base," and
many persons were hanged for concocting them.

To a vast number of the humbler orders,
Bank Notes were a rarity and a "sight."
Many had never seen such a thing before
they were called upon to take one or two
pound notes in exchange for small merchandise,
or their own labour. How were they
to judge? How were they to tell a good
from a spurious note?––especially when it
happened that the officers of the Bank themselves,
were occasionally mistaken, so complete
and perfect were the imitations then afloat.
There cannot be much doubt that where one
graphic rascal was found out, ten escaped.
They snapped their fingers at the executioner,
and went on enjoying their beefsteaks and
porter; their winter treats to the play; their
summer 'excursions to the suburban tea-
gardens; their fashionable lounges at