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THE DEMEANOUR OF MURDERERS

The recent trial of the greatest villain that
ever stood in the Old Bailey dock, has
produced the usual descriptions inseparable from
such occasions. The public has read from
day to day of the murderer's complete self-
pssession, of his constant coolness, of his
profound composure, of his perfect equanimity.
Some describers have gone so far as to represent
him, occasionally rather amused than
otherwise by the proceedings; and all the
accounts that we have seen, concur in more or
less suggesting that there is something
admirable, and difficult to reconcile with guilt,
in the bearing so elaborately set forth.

As whatever tends, however undesignedly,
to insinuate this uneasy sense of incongruity
into any mind, and to invest so abhorrent a
ruffian with the slightest tinge of heroism,
must be prejudicial to the general welfare,
we revive the detestable subject with the
hope of showing that there is nothing at all
singular in such a deportment, but that it is
always to be looked for and counted on, in the
case of a very wicked murderer. The blacker
the guilt, the stronger the probability of its
being thus carried off.

In passing, we will express an opinion that
Nature never writes a bad hand. Her
writing, as it may be read in the human
countenance, is invariably legible, if we come
at all trained to the reading of it. Some little
weighing and comparing are necessary. It is
not enough in turning our eyes on the demon
in the Dock, to say he has a fresh color, or a
high head, or a bluff manner, or what not,
and therefore he does not look like a
murderer, and we are surprised and shaken.
The physiognomy and conformation of the
Poisoner whose trial occasions these remarks,
were exactly in accordance with his deeds;
and every guilty consciousness he had gone
on storing up in his mind, had set its mark
upon him.

We proceed, within as short a compass as
possible, to illustrate the position we have
placed before our readers in the first
paragraph of this paper.

The Poisoner's demeanour was considered
exceedingly remarkable, because of his
composure under trial, and because of the
confident expectation of acquittal which he
professed to the last, and under the influence
of which he, at various times during his
incarceration, reffered to the plans he entertained
for the future when he should be free again.

Can any one, reflecting on the matter for
five minutes, suppose it possiblewe do not
say probable, but possiblethat in the breast
of this Poisoner there were surviving, in the
days of his trial, any lingering traces of
sensibility, or any wrecked fragment of the
quality which we call sentiment? Can the
profoundest or the simplest man alive, believe
that in such a heart there could have
been left, by that time, any touch of Pity?
An objection to die, and a special objection
to be killed, no doubt he had; and with that
objection very strong within him for divers
very weighty reasons, he wasnot quite
composed. Distinctly not quite composed, but,
on the contrary, very restless. At one time,
he was incessantly pulling on and pulling off
his glove; at another time, his hand was
constantly passing over and over his face;
and the thing most instanced in proof of his
composure, the perpetual writing and
scattering about of little notes, which, as the
verdict drew nearer and nearer, thickened
from a sprinkling to a heavy shower, is in
itself a proof of miserable restlessness.
Beyond this emotion, which any lower animal
would have, with an apprehension on it of a
similar fate, what was to be expected from
such a creature but insensibility? I poison
my friend in his drink, and I poison my friend
in his bed, and I poison my wife, and I
poison her memory, and do you look to ME,
at the end of such a career as mine, for
sensibility? I have not the power of it even in
my own behalf, I have lost the manner of it, I
don't know what it means, I stand contemptuously
wondering at you people here when I see
you moved by this affair. In the Devil's name,
man, have you heard the evidence of that
chambermaid, whose tea I should like to have the
sweetening of? Did you hear her describe
the agonies in which my friend expired?
Do you know that it was my trade to be
learned in poisons, and that I foresaw all
that, and considered all that, and knew, when
I stood at his bedside looking down upon his
face turned to me for help on its road to the
grave through the frightful gate then swinging

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