Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science
Part 3 out of 4
and interest as she stood and watched every slackening or tightening
of the line as the fish went up the pool and down the pool, and
crossed the current in his efforts to escape. The only self-possessed
person, indeed, was Lavender himself, who presently said, "Miss
Mackenzie, won't you take the rod now and have the honor of landing
him? I don't think he will show much more fight."
At this moment, however, the line slackened suddenly, and the fish
threw himself clean out of the water, turning a complete summersault.
It was a dangerous moment, but the captive was well hooked, and in his
next plunge Lavender was admonished by Duncan to keep a good strain on
"I will take the second one," Sheila promised, "if you like; but you
must surely land your first salmon yourself."
I suppose nobody but a fisherman can understand the generosity of the
offer made by the young man. To have hooked your first salmon--to have
its first wild rushes and plunges safely over--and to offer to another
the delight of bringing him victoriously to bank! But Sheila knew. And
what could have surpassed the cleverness with which he had hooked the
fish, and the coolness and courage he showed throughout the playing of
him, except this more than royal offer on the part of the young hero?
The fish was losing strength. All the line had been got in, although
the fore finger of the fisherman felt the pulse of his captive, as it
were, ready for any expiring plunge. They caught occasional glimpses
of a large white body gliding through the ruddy-brown water. Duncan
was down on his knees more than once, with the landing-net in his
hand, but again and again the big fish would sheer off, with just
such indications of power as to make his conqueror cautious. At length
he was guided slowly in to the bank. Behind him the landing-net
was gently let into the water--then a quick forward movement, and a
fourteen-pounder was scooped up and flung upon the bank, landing-net
and all. "Hurrah!" cried Ingram, and Lavender blushed like a
school-girl; and Sheila, quite naturally and without thinking, shook
hands with him and said, "I congratulate you;" and there was more
congratulation in her glad eyes than in that simple little gesture.
It was a good beginning, and of course the young man was very much
pleased to show Sheila that he was no mere lily-fingered idler about
town. He buckled to his work in earnest. With a few more casts he soon
got into the way of managing the big rod; and every time the flies
fell lightly on the other side of the pool, to be dragged with gentle
jerks across the foaming current of the stream. Ingram went back to
his couch on the rock. He lay and watched the monotonous flinging
back of the long rod, the light whistle of the line through the air,
and the careful manipulation of the flies through the water. Or was
it something else that he was watching--something that awakened in
his mind a sudden sense of surprise and fear, and a new and strange
consciousness that he had been guiltily remiss?
Sheila was wholly preoccupied with her companion and his efforts. He
had had one or two rises, but had struck either too soon or too late,
until at last there was a terrific plunge and rush, and again the line
was whirled out. But Duncan did not like the look of it, somehow. The
fish had been sheering off when it was hooked, and the deep plunge at
the outset was ugly.
"Now will you take the rod?" said Lavender to Sheila.
But before she could answer the fish had come rushing up to the
surface, and had thrown itself out of the water, so that it fell on
the opposite bank. It was a splendid animal, and Duncan, despite his
doubts, called out to Ingram to slacken his hold. There was another
spring into the air, the fish fell with a splash into the water, and
the line was flying helplessly in the air, with the two flies floating
"Ay," said Duncan, with a sigh, "it wass foul-hooked. It wass no
chance of catching him whatever."
Lavender was more successful next time, however, with a pretty little
grilse of about half a dozen pounds, that seemed to have in him the
spirit and fight of a dozen salmon. How he rushed and struggled, how
he plunged and sulked, how he burrowed along the banks, and then ran
out to the middle of the pool, and then threw himself into the air,
with the line apparently but not really doubling up under him! All
these things can only be understood by the fisherman who has played in
a Highland stream a wild and powerful little grilse fresh in from the
salt water. And it was Sheila who held him captive, who humored him
when he sulked, and gently guided him away from dangerous places, and
kept him well in hand when he tried to cross the current, until at
last, all the fierceness gone out of him, he let himself be tenderly
inveigled into the side of the pool, where Duncan, by a dexterous
movement, surrounded him with network and placed his shining body
among the bright green grass.
But Ingram was not so overjoyed this time. He complimented Sheila in a
friendly way, but he was rather grave, and obviously did not care for
this business of fishing. And so Sheila, fancying that he was rather
dull because he was not joining in the sport, proposed that he should
walk back to the house with her, leaving Mr. Lavender with Duncan. And
Ingram was quite ready to do so.
But Lavender protested that he cared very little for salmon-fishing.
He suggested that they should all go back together. The sun was
killing the wind, and soon the pools would be as clear as glass. Had
they not better try in the afternoon, when perhaps the breeze would
freshen? And so they walked back to the house.
On the garden-seat a book lay open. It was Mr. Mill's _Essay on
Liberty_, and it had evidently been left there by Mr. Mackenzie,
perhaps--who knows?--to hint to his friends from the South that he was
familiar with the problems of the age. Lavender winked to Ingram, but
somehow his companion seemed in no humor for a joke.
They had luncheon then, and after luncheon Ingram touched Lavender
on the shoulder and said, "I want to have a word with you privately.
Let's walk down to the shore."
And so they did; and when they had got some little distance from the
house, Ingram said, "Look here, Lavender. I mean to be frank with you.
I don't think it fair that you should try to drag Sheila Mackenzie
into a flirtation. I knew you would fall in love with her. For a week
or two, that does not matter--it harms no one. But I never thought
of the chance of her being led into such a thing, for what is a mere
passing amusement to you would be a very serious thing to her."
"Well? Is not that enough? Do you think it fair to take advantage of
this girl's ignorance of the world?"
Lavender stopped in the middle of the path, and said, somewhat
stiffly, "This may be as well settled at once. You have talked of
flirtation and all that sort of thing. You may regard it as you
please, but before I leave this island I mean to ask Sheila Mackenzie
to be my wife."
"Why, you are mad!" cried Ingram, amazed to see that the young man was
The other shrugged his shoulders.
"Do you mean to say," continued Ingram, "that even supposing Sheila
would consent--which is impossible--you would try to take away that
girl from her father?"
"Girls must leave their fathers some time or other," said Lavender
"Not unless they are asked."
"Oh well, they are sure to be asked, and they are sure to go. If their
mothers had not done so before them, where would they be? It's all
very well for you to talk about it and argue it out as a theory, but
I know what the facts of the case are, and what any man in my position
would do; and I know that I am careless of any consequences so long as
I can secure her for my wife."
"Apparently you are--careless of any consequences to herself or those
"But what is your objection, Ingram?" said the young man, suddenly
abandoning his defiant manner: "why should you object? Do you think I
would make a bad husband to the woman I married?"
"I believe nothing of the sort. I believe you would make a very good
husband if you were to marry a woman whom you knew something about,
and whom you had really learned to love and respect through your
knowledge of her. I tell you, you know nothing about Sheila Mackenzie
as yet. If you were to marry her to-morrow, you would discover in six
months she was a woman wholly different from what you had expected."
"Very well, then," said Lavender with an air of triumph, "you can't
deny this: you think so much of her that the real woman I would
discover must be better than the one I imagine; and so you don't
expect I shall be disappointed?"
"If you marry Sheila Mackenzie you will be disappointed--not through
her fault, but your own. Why, a more preposterous notion never entered
into a man's head! She knows nothing of your friends or your ways of
life: you know nothing of hers. She would be miserable in London, even
if you could persuade her father to go with her, which is the most
unlikely thing in the world. Do give up this foolish idea, like a good
fellow; and do it before Sheila is dragged into a flirtation that may
have the most serious consequences to her."
Lavender would not promise, but all that afternoon various resolutions
and emotions were struggling within him for mastery, insomuch that
Duncan could not understand the blundering way in which he whipped
the pools. Mackenzie, Sheila and Ingram had gone off to pay a visit
to an old crone who lived in a neighboring island, and in whom Ingram
had been much interested a few years before; so that Lavender had
an opportunity of practicing the art of salmon-fishing without
interruptions. But all the skill he had shown in the morning seemed to
have deserted him; and at last he gave the rod to Duncan, and, sitting
down on a top-coat flung on the wet heather, indolently watched the
Should he at once fly from temptation and return to London? Would
it not be heroic to leave this old man in possession of his only
daughter? Sheila would never know of the sacrifice, but what of that?
It might be for her happiness that he should go.
But when a young man is in love, or fancies himself in love, with a
young girl, it is hard for him to persuade himself that anybody else
can make her as happy as he might. Who could be so tender to her, so
watchful over her, as himself? He does not reflect that her parents
have had the experience of years in taking care of her, while he would
be a mere novice at the business. The pleasure with which he regards
the prospect of being constantly with her he transfers to her, and
she seems to demand it of him as a duty that he should confer upon her
this new happiness.
Lavender met Sheila in the evening, and he was yet undecided.
Sometimes he fancied, when their eyes met unexpectedly, that there
was something wistful as well as friendly in her look: was she too
dreaming of the vague possibilities of the future? This was strange,
too, that after each of those little chance reveries she seemed to be
moved by a resolution to be more than usually affectionate toward
her father, and would go round the table and place her hand on his
shoulder and talk to him. Perhaps these things were but delusions
begotten of his own imaginings, but the possibility of their being
real agitated him not a little, and he scarcely dared to think what
That evening Sheila sang, and all his half-formed resolutions
vanished into air. He sat in a corner of the curious, dimly-lit and
old-fashioned chamber, and, lying back in the chair, abandoned himself
to dreams as Sheila sang the mystic songs of the northern coasts.
There was something strangely suggestive of the sea in the room
itself, and all her songs were of the sea. It was a smaller room than
the large apartment in which they had dined, and it was filled with
curiosities from distant shores and with the strange captures made by
the Borva fishermen. Everywhere, too, were the trophies of Mackenzie's
skill with rod and rifle. Deer's horns, seal skins, stuffed birds,
salmon in glass cases, masses of coral, enormous shells and a thousand
similar things made the little drawing-room a sort of grotto; but it
was a grotto within hearing of the sound of the sea, and there was no
musty atmosphere in a room that was open all day to the cold winds of
With a smoking tumbler of whisky and water before him, the King of
Borva sat at the table, poring over a large volume containing plans
for bridges. Ingram was seated at the piano, in continual consultation
with Sheila about her songs. Lavender, in this dusky corner, lay and
listened, with all sorts of fancies crowding in upon him as Sheila
sang of the sad and wild legends of her home. Was it by chance, then,
he asked himself, that these songs seemed so frequently to be the
lamentation of a Highland girl for a fair-haired lover beyond the sea?
First of all she sang the "Wail of Dunevegan," and how strangely her
voice thrilled with the sadness of the song!--
Morn, oh mantle thy smiles of gladness!
Night, oh come with thy clouds of sadness!
Earth, thy pleasures to me seem madness!
Macleod, my leal love, since thou art gone.
Dunevegan, oh! Dunevegan, oh!
It was as in a dream that he heard Ingram talking in a matter-of-fact
way about the various airs, and asking the meaning of certain lines of
Gaelic to compare them with the stiff and old-fashioned phrases of the
translation. Surely this girl must have sat by the shore and waited
for her absent lover, or how could she sing with such feeling?--
Say, my love, why didst thou tarry
Far over the deep sea?
Knew'st thou not my heart was weary,
Heard'st thou not how I sighed for thee!
Did no light wind bear my wild despair
Far over the deep sea?
He could imagine that beautiful face grown pale and wild with anguish.
And then some day, as she went along the lonely island, with all the
light of hope gone out of her eyes, and with no more wistful glances
cast across the desolate sea, might not the fair-haired lover come
at last, and leap ashore to clasp her in his arms, and hide the
wonder-stricken eyes and the glad face in his bosom? But Sheila sang
of no such meeting. The girl was always alone, her lover gone away
from her across the sea or into the wilds.
Oh long on the mountain he tarries, he tarries:
Why tarries the youth with the bright yellow hair:
Oh long on the mountain he tarries, he tarries:
Why seeks he the hill when his flock is not there?
That was what he heard her sing, until it seemed to him that her
singing was a cry to be taken away from these melancholy surroundings
of sea and shore, and carried to the secure and comfortable South,
to be cherished and tended and loved. Why should this girl be left
to live a cruel life up in these wilds, and to go through the world
without knowing anything of the happy existence that might have been
hers? It was well for harder and stronger natures to withstand the
buffetings of wind and rain, and to be indifferent to the melancholy
influences of the lonely sea and the darkness of the northern
winters; but for her--for this beautiful, sensitive, tender-hearted
girl--surely some other and gentler fate was in store. What he, at
least, could do he would. He would lay his life at her feet; and if
she chose to go away from this bleak and cruel home to the sunnier
South, would not he devote himself, as never a man had given himself
to a woman before, to the constant duty of enriching her life with all
the treasures of admiration and respect and love?
It was getting late, and presently Sheila retired. As she bade
"Good-night" to him, Lavender fancied her manners was a little less
frank toward him than usual, and her eyes were cast down. All the
light of the room seemed to go with her when she went.
Mackenzie mixed another tumbler of toddy, and began to expound to
Ingram his views upon deer-forests and sheep-farms. Ingram lit a
cigar, stretched out his legs and proceeded to listen with much
complacent attention. As for Lavender, he sat a while, hearing vaguely
the sounds of his companions' voices, and then, saying he was a trifle
tired, he left and went to his own room. The moon was then shining
clearly over Suainabhal, and a pathway of glimmering light lay across
He went to bed, but not to sleep. He had resolved to ask Sheila
Mackenzie to be his wife, and a thousand conjectures as to the future
were floating about his imagination. In the first place, would she
listen to his prayer? She knew nothing of him beyond what she might
have heard from Ingram. He had had no opportunity, during their
friendly talking, of revealing to her what he thought of herself; but
might she not have guessed it? Then her father--what action might not
this determined old man take in the matter? Would his love for his
daughter prompt him to consider her happiness alone? All these things,
however, were mere preliminaries, and the imagination of the young man
soon overleapt them. He began to draw pictures of Sheila as his wife
in their London home, among his friends, at Hastings, at Ascot, in
Hyde Park. What would people say of the beautiful sea-princess with
the proud air, the fearless eyes and the gentle and musical voice?
Hour after hour he lay and could not sleep: a fever of anticipation,
of fear and of hope combined seemed to stir in his blood and throb in
his brain. At last, in a paroxysm of unrest, he rose, hastily dressed
himself, stole down stairs, and made his way out into the cool air of
It could not be the coming dawn that revealed to him the outlines of
the shore and the mountains and the loch? The moon had already sunk in
the south-west: not from her came that strange clearness by which all
these objects were defined. Then the young man bethought him of what
Sheila had said of the twilight in these latitudes, and, turning to
the north, he saw there a pale glow which looked as if it were the
last faint traces of some former sunset. All over the rest of the
heavens something of the same metallic clearness reigned, so that the
stars were pale, and a gray hue lay over the sea, and over the island,
the white bays, the black rocks and the valleys, in which lay a
scarcely perceptible mist.
He left the house and went vaguely down to the sea. The cold air,
scented strongly with the seaweed, blew about him, and was sweet and
fresh on the lips and the forehead. How strange was the monotonous
sound of the waves, mournful and distant, like the sound in a
seashell! That alone spoke in the awful stillness of the night, and
it seemed to be telling of those things which the silent stars and the
silent hills had looked down on for ages and ages. Did Sheila really
love this terrible thing, with its strange voice talking in the night,
or did she not secretly dread it and shudder at it when she sang
of all that old sadness? There was ringing in his ears the "Wail of
Dunevegan" as he listened for a while to the melancholy plashing
of the waves all around the lonely shores; and there was a cry of
"Dunevegan, oh! Dunevegan, oh!" weaving itself curiously with those
wild pictures of Sheila in London which were still floating before his
He walked away around the coast, seeing almost nothing of the objects
around him, but conscious of the solemn majesty of the mountains and
the stillness of the throbbing stars. He could have called aloud,
"Sheila! Sheila!" but that all the place seemed associated with her
presence; and might he not turn suddenly to find her figure standing
by him, with her face grown wild and pale as it was in the ballad,
and a piteous and awful look in her eyes? Did the figure accuse him?
He scarcely dared look round, lest there should be a phantom Sheila
appealing to him for compassion, and complaining against him with her
speechless eyes for a wrong that he could not understand. He fled from
her, but he knew she was there; and all the love in his heart went out
to her as if beseeching her to go away and forsake him, and forgive
him the injury of which she seemed to accuse him. What wrong had
he done her that he should be haunted by this spectre, that did not
threaten, but only looked piteously toward him with eyes full of
entreaty and pain?
He left the shore, and blindly made his way up to the pasture-land
above, careless whither he went. He knew not how long he had been away
from the house, but here was a small fresh-water lake set round about
with rushes, and far over there in the east lay a glimmer of the
channels between Borva and Lewis. But soon there was another light
in the east, high over the low mists that lay along the land. A pale
blue-gray arose in the cloudless sky, and the stars went out one by
one. The mists were seen to lie in thicker folds along the desolate
valleys. Then a faintly yellow whiteness stole up into the sky, and
broadened and widened, and behold! the little moorland loch caught
a reflection of the glare, and there was a streak of crimson here
and there on the dark-blue surface of the water. Loch Roag began to
brighten. Suainabhal was touched with rose-red on its eastern slopes.
The Atlantic seemed to rise out of its purple sleep with the new
light of a new dawn; and then there was a chirruping of birds over
the heath, and the first shafts of the sunlight ran along the surface
of the sea, and lit up the white wavelets that were breaking on the
beach. The new day struck upon him with a strange sense of wonder.
Where was he? Whither had gone the wild visions of the night, the
feverish dread, the horrible forebodings? The strong mental emotion
that had driven him out now produced its natural reaction: he looked
about in a dazed fashion at the revelation of light around him, and
felt himself trembling with weakness. Slowly, blindly and hopelessly
he set to walk back across the island, with the sunlight of the fresh
morning calling into life ten thousand audible things of the moorland
And who was this who stood at the porch of the house in the clear
sunshine? Not the pale and ghastly creature who had haunted him during
those wild hours, but Sheila herself, singing some snatches of a song,
and engaged in watering the two bushes of sweetbrier at the gate. How
bright and roseate and happy she looked, with the fine color of her
face lit up by the fresh sunlight, and the brisk breeze from the sea
stirring now and again the loose masses of her hair! Haggard and faint
as he was, he would have startled her if he had gone up to her then.
He dared not approach her. He waited until she had gone round to the
gable of the house to water the plants there, and then he stole into
the house and up stairs, and threw himself upon the bed. And outside
he still heard Sheila singing lightly to herself as she went about her
ordinary duties, little thinking in how strange and wild a drama her
wraith had that night taken part.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
[Footnote 12: Pronounced _Argyud-chark_; literally, "hen-money."]
MEDICAL EXPERT EVIDENCE.
There is scarcely any position of more responsibility than that of
the medical expert in cases of alleged poisoning. Often he stands with
practically absolute power between society and the accused--the former
looking to him for the proof of the crime and for the protection which
discovery brings; the latter relying upon him for the vindication
of his innocence. How profound and complete, then, should be
his knowledge! how thorough his skill! how pure and spotless his
integrity! how unimpeachable his results! Yet recently the humiliating
spectacle has been repeatedly presented of expert swearing against
expert, until the question at issue was apparently degraded into one
of personal feeling or of professional reputation. So far has this
gone that both judicial and public opinion seems to be demanding
the abolition of expert testimony. The medical expert must, however,
remain an essential feature in our criminal procedures, partaking as
he does of the functions of the lawyer, inasmuch as he has, to some
extent, the right to argue before the jury, partaking also of the
judicial character in that it is his duty to express an opinion upon
evidence, but differing from both judge and advocate in that as a
witness he testifies to facts. Were the attempt made to do away with
his functions, there would be an end to just convictions in the class
of cases spoken of, because no one would be qualified to say whether
any given death had been produced by poison or by a natural cause.
In many matters that come under the notice of medical experts there is
room for honest differences of opinion. Of such nature are questions
of sanity and insanity. It must be remembered that these are, after
all, _relative_ terms. Reason leaves its seat by almost imperceptible
steps. Who can determine with exactness the line that separates
eccentricity from madness--responsibility from irresponsibility?
Moreover, the phenomena upon which opinion is based are, in such
cases, so hidden, so complex, so obscure, that in the half-lights of a
few short interviews they will often be seen differently by different
In scarcely any of its parts does toxicology belong to this class
of subjects--certainly not at all in so far as it deals with mineral
poisons. To a great extent it is a fixed science--a science whose
boundaries may be widened, whose processes may be rendered more
delicate, but whose principles are in great measure settled for ever.
Not in the imperfections of the science, but in the habits of the
American medical profession and in the methods of our criminal
procedures, lies the origin of the evils complained of.
Some of the causes of the present difficulties are readily to be seen.
One is the common ignorance of legal or forensic medicine among the
members of the profession. In none of our medical colleges is legal
medicine taught as a part of the regular course or as an essential
branch of study. Consequently, when the student graduates he has only
heard a few passing allusions to the subject from professors of other
branches. Unfortunately, this is more or less true of many other
medical subjects of importance: helped out, however, by his mother
wit, and impelled by necessity, the imperfectly-educated graduate
after a time becomes very generally a skillful practitioner. During
the period of growth his daily needs govern the direction of his
studies, which are therefore more or less exclusively confined to the
so-called practical branches. Forensic medicine is not one of these,
poison cases are comparatively rare, and to be called upon to give a
definite opinion upon such matters before a legal tribunal happens
not once in the lifetime of most medical men. Consequently, to a great
part of the American medical profession legal medicine is a veritable
Moreover, the whole drift of modern medicine is toward a division
of labor, and forensic medicine is more widely separated from the
ordinary specialties of the science than these are from one another.
In a case of delicate eye-surgery who would value the opinion of a
man whose attention had been devoted mainly to thoracic diseases? What
specialist of the latter character would even offer an opinion? Yet
physicians who acknowledge that they have paid no especial attention
to toxicology do not hesitate to give the most positive opinions upon
the most delicate questions of that science. Men who would, as in
honor bound, ask for a consultation in any case of serious sickness
outside of their line of private practice, on the witness-stand put
forth with the utmost boldness their ignorant crudities, careless
or forgetful of the fact that they may be imperiling the life of an
innocent human being. On the trial of Mrs. Wharton for the attempted
murder of Mr. Van Ness, Dr. Williams asserted that there are
peculiar characteristic symptoms or groups of symptoms of tartar
emetic poisoning; and both he and Dr. Chew--who with frankness
acknowledged that he had not especially studied toxicology--did most
positively recognize tartar emetic as the sole possible cause of
certain symptoms which were but a little beyond the line of medicinal
action, and for which obviously possible natural cause existed.
Contrast these bold opinions with the cautious statement of a man
who had given a lifetime of study to this particular subject. On the
trial of Madeleine Smith, Professor Christison--at that time the first
toxicologist of England--stated that if in any case the symptoms and
post-mortem appearances corresponded exactly with those caused by
arsenic, he should be led to _suspect_ poisoning.
Another source of mischief lies in the fact that the law does not
recognize the well-established principles of forensic medicine, and
consequently the books in which these principles are laid down by the
highest authorities are excluded by the courts, while the _viva voce_
evidence of any medical man, however ignorant on such points, is
admitted as that of an expert.
It is therefore not to be wondered at that juries give but little
consideration to the knowledge or professional standing of expert
witnesses. It is, in fact, notorious that the medical autocrat of the
village, who has superintended the entrance of the majority of the
jurymen into this troublous world, is a more important witness than
the most renowned special student of the branch: indeed, the chief
value of the real expert often rests on his ability to influence the
local physician. At the late Wharton-Van Ness trial the defence
desired to show that the work of the chemist employed by the
prosecution was unreliable, because the analyses made by him in a
previous case had "been condemned by the united voice of the whole
scientific world." The court was not able to see the _relevancy_ of
this, and refused to allow the professional ability or standing of an
expert to be called in question. The witness thus adjudged competent
brought no results into court; had kept no laboratory notes; relied
solely on a memory so deficient that although he had been teaching for
thirty-five years, he could not tell the shape of a crystal of tartar
emetic, the poison in question; and upon the stand made a statement
different from one which he had furnished officially to the district
attorney of Baltimore fourteen months before.
There are principles of toxicology which ought to have legal force
and recognition, and ought to govern expert testimony in the same
way that the principles of evidence govern ordinary testimony.
Without presuming to enumerate these, I will cite two or three for
illustration. Certain substances, the so-called irritant poisons, such
as arsenic, tartar emetic and the like, induce their toxic effects
by causing irritation and inflammation of the alimentary canal. All
authorities agree that poisoning by these substances cannot be proved,
or even rendered, very probable, by symptoms alone--that chemical
evidence, the discovery of the poison in the food, dejections, or in
case of death the body, is absolutely essential for making out a case.
Irritation and inflammation of the alimentary canal occur so often
and so suddenly from natural causes, which are sometimes apparent, but
often hidden, that no especial weight can be attached to them.
In the case of the so-called neurotic poisons, those which act upon
the nervous system, the symptoms are so closely simulated by natural
disease that even when they agree in the most absolute manner with
those usually developed by any such poison they only render poisoning
highly probable, not certain. When in any case the symptoms
diverge from the typical array, poisoning becomes improbable just in
proportion to the amount of divergence.
All toxicological authorities also agree that in the case of the
metallic poisons, such as tartar emetic and arsenic, the metal must be
brought into court, and that the so-called "color tests" are not to be
relied on. When sulphuretted hydrogen is passed through solutions of
these metallic substances colored precipitates are thrown down, which
at one time were thought to be absolute proof of the existence of the
poison in the original solution. But in the celebrated Donnal case,
tried at Falmouth, England, in 1817, Dr. Neale saved the accused by
showing that a decoction of onions, of which the deceased had eaten a
short time before death, yielded similar precipitates to those relied
upon by the prosecution as establishing the presence of arsenic in
the stomach. In regard to tartar emetic, Dr. Taylor, in his work on
medical jurisprudence, says: "Antimony in the metallic state is so
easily procured from a small quantity of material that on no account
should this be omitted. A reliance on a small quantity of a colored
precipitate would be most unsatisfactory as chemical evidence." In
defiance of all the authorities the prosecution, on the trial of Mrs.
Wharton for the murder of General Ketchum, rested its proof of poison
upon these color tests and their sequences. The defence, however,
found that the counterparts of three out of the four so-called
characteristic reactions were readily performed with the substances
known to have been in the stomach of General Ketchum at the time of
Several cases of poisoning which have been tried recently in this
State and Maryland have attracted much attention, and I propose now
briefly to outline these, and show that the disgraceful scenes
which have taken place were not due to deficiencies of toxicological
science, but to the causes already spoken of.
First in time among these _causes celebres_ was the Schoeppe case,
the facts of which may be briefly summed up as follows: Dr. Schoeppe,
a young German practicing medicine in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, became
engaged to be married to a Miss Stennecke, a maiden lady of sixty
years of age. Miss Stennecke was somewhat of an invalid, not often
actually sick, but habitually distressed by dyspeptic symptoms, etc.
On the morning of the 27th of January, 1869, feeling unwell, she sent
for Dr. Schoeppe, who gave her an emetic. In the afternoon, according
to the testimony of her maid, she was weak, but apparently not ill.
Between 7 and 8 P.M., however, she became much worse, and her servant
noticed that she was very drowsy, so that if left alone she would
immediately fall asleep whilst sitting in her chair. Shortly after
this she was put to bed, and was not seen again until the next morning
about six o'clock, when she was found comatose, with contracted
pupils, irregular respiration and complete muscular relaxation. Late
in the afternoon of the same day she died quietly.
Nothing was said about poisoning until some days afterward, when, a
will having been produced in favor of Dr. Schoeppe, an accusation
was made against him. The body of Miss Stennecke was exhumed, and
underwent a post-mortem examination, which, for culpable carelessness
and inexcusable omissions, stands unrivaled. Not a single organ in
the whole body was thoroughly examined, and many of the more important
parts were not looked at. Death, preceded by the symptoms exhibited
in the case of Miss Stennecke, occurs not infrequently from insidious
disease of the kidneys, yet these organs were not taken out of the
body. The stomach was examined chemically by Professor Aiken of the
University of Maryland, who reported that he had found prussic acid,
and who testified on the trial that Miss Stennecke had received a
fatal dose of that poison. When, however, his evidence was sifted, it
was discovered that he had only obtained traces of the poison by the
distillation of the stomach with sulphuric acid. As saliva contains
ferrocyanide of potassium, out of which sulphuric acid generates
prussic acid, the latter substance will always be obtained by the
process adopted by Professor Aiken from any stomach which has in it
the least particle of saliva. If, then, the professor did really get
prussic acid, without doubt he manufactured it.
Dr. Hermann, however, testified that Miss Stennecke, whom he saw on
the morning of her death, must have died of a compound poison, because
her eye looked like that of a hawk killed by himself some years before
with a dose of all the poisons he had in his apothecary's shop. Dr.
Conrad confirmed the assertion of Dr. Hermann, that Miss Stennecke
could not have died from a natural cause, and testified that as the
liver was healthy, therefore the kidneys must have been so too--a
conclusion which could only have been evolved from his inner
In vain Professor Wormley protested, declaring that it was impossible
Miss Stennecke could have been killed by prussic acid, because that
poison always does its work in a few minutes, if at all, whereas Miss
Stennecke lived nearly twenty-four hours after the alleged poisoning.
What did it matter that Dr. Conrad had shown himself by his
post-mortem examination ignorant of the first rudiments of legal
medicine, and that Dr. Hermann was a village doctor of the olden
type dragged into court from a mediaeval contest with the diseases of
simple country-folk, while Professor Wormley had devoted his life to
toxicology and achieved a world-wide reputation? What did it matter
that the written words of all authorities upon such subjects in every
land were in absolute accord with Dr. Wormley? Under the ruling--which
has been reaffirmed at Annapolis--the settled principles of science
were overborne by ignorant conjecture, and to the mockery of justice,
to the deep disgrace of our commonwealth, Dr. Schoeppe was condemned
to death upon evidence which, from the same bench, was subsequently
stigmatized as being insufficient to warrant his commitment for trial.
Three years of close confinement under the shadow of death followed.
The governor refused a pardon, and Dr. Schoeppe heard the hammer
driving the nails into his scaffold beneath the prison-window. He was
measured for his coffin, but at the last moment was reprieved, and
listened to the heavy thud as the drop fell and a man whose companion
he was to have been on the scaffold was launched into eternity.
Finally, moved by the incessant pleadings of Mr. Hepburn, the junior
counsel, by the urgings of the public press, led by the Philadelphia
_Evening Bulletin_, and by the protests of numerous scientific bodies,
the legislature passed a special act granting Dr. Schoeppe a new
trial. On this occasion the judge allowed the weakness of the expert
testimony for the prosecution to be demonstrated, and chiefly as a
result of this demonstration--of what has been called the "coarse
brutality" of showing Dr. Conrad's ignorance--Dr. Schoeppe was
If the principles contended for in this article had been acknowledged,
the processes and results in the case of Dr. Schoeppe would have been
far different. In the first place, the post mortem would have been
entrusted to some one qualified to make it--an expert in legal
medicine--and very probably a natural cause for the death of Miss
Stennecke would have been found. Such post mortem not having been
made, the case, after Professor Aiken's analysis, would have been
dropped, because it was impossible that prussic acid could have caused
the death. Had, however, capable experts failed to detect a natural
cause of death, a very serious case might have been made out against
Dr. Schoeppe, even though the analyst had not found morphia in the
stomach. The prosecution might have affirmed that the poison had been
absorbed, and therefore was not in the stomach, and, for the support
of the charge, relied upon the resemblance of the symptoms to those
produced by morphia, and upon the absence of natural cause of death.
A case which has acquired even more celebrity than the last is that of
Mrs. Wharton of Baltimore. The chief facts, as developed at the first
trial at Annapolis, are as follows: General Ketchum, a man of over
middle age and usually in good health, was very much engaged in
attending to matters of business at Washington throughout the entire
day of the 24th of June, 1871. The weather was very hot, yet he walked
about hurriedly and steadily, getting no dinner, and returning in
the evening to Mrs. Wharton's at Baltimore about 9 P.M., where he
ate a very hearty meal, consisting partly of raspberries. During the
night he was heard to go down stairs several times. The next day he
complained of feeling unwell, but took at bed-time a glass of lemonade
with brandy, and during the night had some slight vomiting and
purging. In the morning he complained of sick stomach and giddiness,
and at Mrs. Wharton's earnest request Dr. Williams was finally
sent for, and on arriving at 4 P.M. found him sitting up and vomiting,
and prescribed as for a slight attack of cholera morbus. The next
morning General Ketchum thought himself so much better that he
discharged his physician. He was, however, very drowsy during the
day, and the evidence at the trial rendered it probable that he took
laudanum on this day upon his own responsibility. In the evening
he was found sleeping heavily upon the lounge, and again at Mrs.
Wharton's request Dr. Williams was sent for, but did not think it
worth while to come. The next morning Mrs. Wharton again sent for Dr.
Williams, as General Ketchum was found still lying upon the lounge in
a stupor. He remained in this state until his death, which took place
in a convulsion at 3 P.M. He had had during the intervening period
repeated convulsions, and about one o'clock had become very uneasy,
uttering incoherent cries, but did not recover true consciousness. At
the examination of the body, made the following morning, the spinal
cord was not looked at: the inner membranes of the brain were found
congested, and the brain-substance presented throughout "those dark
points of blood which indicate passive congestion." No other lesions
were found, and the stomach was handed for analysis to Professor
Aiken, who in due time reported that he had "satisfied himself" of
the existence of at least twenty grains of tartar emetic in it.
It is highly probable that this official announcement had much
influence upon the minds of Drs. Williams and Chew, with
their colleagues, and it is very certain that by it and their
representations was created the public belief in Baltimore that
General Ketchum had been poisoned. The false analysis remained
for months uncontradicted, and backed up as it was by the whole
intellectual and moral force of the University of Maryland, it could
scarcely happen otherwise than that public opinion should become
so set and hardened that no testimony at the trial could affect it,
especially as local pride and local prejudice came to its support
when experts from other cities questioned the work of the Baltimore
Mrs. Wharton's servants were first accused, but after a few days she
was arrested, and with her daughter--who has clung throughout to her
faith in her mother's purity and goodness--was thrust into a common
felon's cell, with only the grated bars between her and the lowest of
men in every stage of drunkenness and delirium. After nearly two weeks
her lawyers obtained her removal to one of the better rooms of the
jail, but it was months before anything was said in her favor.
The trial opened on December 4, 1871, at Annapolis, and lasted nearly
two months. The circumstantial evidence certainly went no farther than
to render it probable that if General Ketchum died of poison it was
administered by Mrs. Wharton. The State attempted to prove as a
motive that Mrs. Wharton owed the deceased money. They were signally
unsuccessful in this, however; so that a very intelligent member of
the jury said to the writer since the trial, "Whether Mrs. Wharton
did or did not poison General Ketchum, certainly the State completely
failed to prove a motive." The defence admitted that Mrs. Wharton
had bought tartar emetic near the time of the alleged poisoning,
but proved that she was in the habit of using it externally as a
counter-irritant, and that it was purchased in the most open manner,
through a third party, not with the secresy that marks the steps of
Thus the whole case centred in a rather remarkable degree upon the
expert testimony, and the very point of it all was the chemical
analysis. This is not the place to follow out in detail the scientific
testimony, but only to point out some peculiarities of it. Almost
all the medical witnesses for the prosecution were colleagues of
Professor Aiken, none of them men of eminence in toxicological
science--surgeons, physiologists, obstetricians, the whole faculty,
trying apparently to hide the nakedness of their colleague. Never
was strong language more justifiable than that of Mr. Hagner, when
he said, "It seemed that the University of Maryland was on trial, and
that blood was demanded to support it."
After all, the testimony of most of these gentlemen amounted only to
this: that they did not believe the death of General Ketchum could
have occurred from natural causes. On the other hand, the numerous
medical witnesses for the defence, unconnected by any bond of common
interest, testified that natural causes, were sufficient to account
for the death; many of them asserting that the case in all its
symptoms and post-mortem appearances tallied precisely with the
so-called fulminating form of cerebro-spinal meningitis, which was
prevalent in Baltimore at the time of General Ketchum's death.
The medical witnesses for the defence further called attention to
the fact that the symptoms of General Ketchum's illness were wholly
different from those produced by tartar emetic, and some denied that
the latter could have caused the sickness. The chemical evidence for
the prosecution was triumphantly refuted. It was shown that antimony
did not conform in its reactions with at least one of the tests,
which Professor Aiken said his precipitates did; that almost all the
other reactions could be closely simulated with ordinary organic
bodies; that the processes used were those universally condemned by
authorities; and that carelessness was everywhere so manifest in their
conduction as to entirely vitiate any results. It was also proved that
Professor Aiken had simply estimated the amount of tartar emetic in
General Ketchum's stomach by the _ocular comparison_ of the _bulk of
precipitates, neither of which could have been pure_, and _in neither
of which was the existence of antimony really proved_. To weigh
a precipitate was a labor not to be thought of when nothing more
important than the life of a woman was involved: _guessing_ was all
that such a trifling issue demanded!
The most extraordinary event of this most extraordinary trial occurred
when the chemists for the defence had completely broken down the
testimony of Professor Aiken. With the knowledge, it is said, of at
least one of the judges, without the presence of a representative of
the defence, or even of a legal officer, the body of General Ketchum
was secretly exhumed by the doctors who had shown themselves so eager
for the execution of Mrs. Wharton. The viscera, which they removed,
were put into the hands not of a chemist of national reputation,
but of an individual who had been advanced from the position of
hospital steward at Washington to that of professor of chemistry in
a small local institute at Baltimore. This professor, when on the
witness-stand, was singularly confused as to his weights and measures,
and finally shared the ignominy of his predecessor. The defence had
several chemists at Annapolis of world-wide reputation and unspotted
integrity. If the prosecution really believed that General Ketchum had
been poisoned, if they really did expect tartar emetic to be found,
why did they not allow the presence of these gentlemen at the
analysis, and thereby ensure the condemnation of Mrs. Wharton? The
conviction is irresistible that they were _afraid of the truth_--that
they were simply determined to procure the desired verdict at
all hazards and by any means. Yet this was the procedure for the
completion of which the court suspended the trial for two days,
because, as Chief-Justice Miller stated from the bench, "it thought
the ends of justice demanded it"! Is any further evidence needed of
the strange ideas, of the perversion of truth and justice, which have
grown out of the American method of using expert testimony?
Before leaving this trial I desire to quote from advanced sheets of
the edition of Dr. Taylor's great work on medical jurisprudence, now
passing through the press. Reviewing the trial in London with that
freedom from bias which the isolation of distance produces, he
says: "The trial lasted fifty-two days, and an astonishing amount
of evidence was brought forward by the defence and prosecution,
apparently owing to the high social position of the parties, for there
is nothing, medically speaking, which might not have been settled in
forty-eight hours. The general died after a short illness, but the
symptoms, taken as a whole, _bore no resemblance_ to those observed in
poisoning with antimony; and but for the alleged discovery after death
of tartar emetic in the stomach, _no suspicion of poisoning_ would
probably have arisen.... The chemical evidence," he adds, "does not
conflict with the pathological evidence, for _it failed to show_ with
clearness and distinctness _the presence_ and proportion of poison
said to have been found. The _evidence that antimony was really there_
was not satisfactory, and that twenty grains were in the stomach
What would have been the course of this trial if expert testimony were
established upon proper principles? Professor Aiken having shown his
complete incompetency in the Schoeppe case, the analysis would have
been entrusted to some skillful chemist, who by failing to discover
poison would have established the innocence of Mrs. Wharton, or by
bringing positive results into court have ensured conviction; or,
Dr. Aiken having made the analysis, and having broken all the laws of
toxicological evidence, his testimony would have been ruled out, and
the case dismissed because the bungling of the State's witness had
destroyed the evidences of guilt or of innocence.
In January, 1873, Mrs. Wharton was tried at Annapolis for attempting
to poison Eugene Van Ness. The facts of the case are briefly as
follows: Mr. Van Ness, whose relations with the Wharton family had
been extremely intimate for many years, was a bank-clerk, but during
the spring and early summer of 1871, besides attending to his regular
duties, was employed in settling a large estate. He habitually rose
early, often at 5 A.M., and generally worked until eleven o'clock at
night. During this period he suffered from severe nervous headaches,
and probably from other symptoms of an overworked nervous system, but
on this point the testimony disagreed. His stomach is at all times so
sensitive that brandy nauseates him. On the 19th of June, after taking
some claret on an empty stomach at Mrs. Wharton's, he felt very
badly, suffering from lightness of the head or giddiness and general
wretchedness, with stiffness and numbness in the back of his neck.
On the 20th he stopped at Mrs. Wharton's about 4 P.M., having eaten
nothing for seven or eight hours, and took raspberries with cream,
and drank claret. This claret, he stated, "had a taste like peach
leaves." Directly after this he had an attack similar to, but
much more violent than, that of the day before. Some little time
after this, whilst in a condition of profound relaxation, he took some
brandy, and at once emptied his stomach by a single spasmodic effort
of vomiting, with immediate relief. The weather was extremely hot
during the whole time in which the various attacks here narrated took
On the 24th of June, Mr. Van Ness rose at 5 A.M., but was forced to
return to bed by a severe headache. At 9 A.M., after dressing, he
said to his wife that he would not eat at home, but would stop at Mrs.
Wharton's on his way to the office, to get a cup of her "nice black
tea." A piece of toast was all he ate before his return to Mrs.
Wharton's from the banking-house at 4 P.M. Mrs. Wharton then offered
him some lager beer, and, partly at his own suggestion, put into it
something out of a bottle labeled "Gentian Bitters." He found the
liquid so bitter that he took but a part of it.
Shortly afterward Mr. Van Ness became partially blind, and was "seized
with the same feeling of giddiness" as on the day before. After this
he had convulsions, with unconsciousness, for which large doses of
chloroform and chloral were given. During the attack the patient
repeatedly said it was of the same character as the preceding ones,
and referred the trouble to the pit of the stomach and to indigestion.
The next morning (Sunday), about an hour after waking, he took some
tea and toast, and in ten minutes was seized with nausea, followed by
heartburn and retching, which lasted all day. On Monday morning some
beef tea--two-thirds of a cupful--was given him, and in less than an
hour as much more, which induced nausea with heartburn. In the evening
he was roused, and more beef tea offered him, which he refused because
the last dose had made him sick, and he was afraid this would have the
same effect. He was, however, prevailed on to take it. After this he
fell asleep, but in a short time woke up with violent nausea, burning
at the pit of the stomach, and finally vomiting. Not until this
occurred did he discover anything wrong with the beef tea: as he
vomited it he found it had an acrid metallic taste.
The circumstantial evidence in the case did not amount to any more
than, or indeed as much as, in the previous trial. It was distinctly
admitted that no motive could be found, Mr. Van Ness testifying that
the relations between himself and Mrs. Wharton were most friendly;
that he held four thousand dollars of her government bonds, for
which she had not even a receipt; that she depended upon him for the
completion of her pecuniary arrangements for a contemplated trip to
Europe; or, in other words, that she had nothing to gain and much to
lose by his death, and that there was no conceivable emotional motive,
such as hate, revenge or envy.
No attempt was made to prove that Mrs. Wharton had at any time in her
possession strychnia, the poison alleged to have been used by her. As
on the previous trial, the case centred upon the expert testimony, but
there was no direct chemical evidence, neither the food, the matters
vomited nor the bodily secretions having been examined. Some sediment
found in a tumbler of punch was asserted by Dr. Aiken to consist
largely of tartar emetic. This tumbler was not connected with Mrs.
Wharton, except by being found at her house in a position where, in
the language of one of the State's witnesses, "hundreds of persons"
had access to it. It was carried about in the pocket of a lady
inimical to Mrs. Wharton, and into at least one drug-store, before it
reached Professor Aiken, whose analysis was as faulty as before. Any
tartar emetic present in the sediment might have been procured in
a pure form by the simple process of dialysis. The only apparatus
necessary for this would have been a glass vessel divided into two
compartments by a piece of hog's bladder stretched across it. These
chambers having been partially filled with distilled water, and the
sediment of the tumbler put into one of them, the tartar emetic
would have left the other ingredients and passed into the second
compartment. By taking the water out of this and evaporating it, the
poison would have been obtained in a pure crystalline state, and might
have been brought into court. But Dr. Aiken thought it sufficient for
him to "satisfy himself:" as he stated on the witness-stand, he did
not consider it his business whether other people were or were not
satisfied. Consequently, the court was only favored with a memorized
report of the color tests used by him, exactly as in the previous
trial. One of the reactions which he said he obtained antimony does
not conform to.
Drs. Williams and Chew unhesitatingly stated on the witness-stand that
they recognized poisoning as early as the Saturday of Mr. Van Ness's
illness. Yet they gave no antidote. They employed on Monday and
Tuesday a treatment which, although well adapted to a case of natural
disease presenting such symptoms, would in a case of poisoning have
materially increased the risk to life. They did not save the matters
vomited: they did not save the secretions, which would certainly
have contained antimony if Mr. Van Ness had been poisoned as alleged.
According to their testimony, Mr. Van Ness received six doses of
poison on as many different days, four of the doses administered under
their eyes; yet they gave no warning to the unfortunate victim or to
his friends. If the theory they upheld be correct, that Mrs. Wharton
poisoned both General Ketchum and Mr. Van Ness, the extraordinary
spectacle was presented of one man lying dead in the house from the
effect of poison, of another receiving day after day the fatal dose
with the knowledge of the attending physician, yet no antidote given,
no warning word put forth, no saving of the evidences of guilt! It
would seem as though silence at a trial would best become gentlemen
with such a record, yet they were the only experts who asserted that
strychnia was the sole possible cause for the attack of the 24th of
June, and tartar emetic of the subsequent attacks.
The experts for the defence asserted that the convulsion of Saturday
could not have been caused by strychnia or other known poison; that
although the symptoms of the later attacks resembled those of tartar
emetic poisoning, they were not identical with those usually produced
by that drug; and that it was exceedingly improbable that these
attacks were due to the poison named, because obvious natural causes
for them existed.
The impropriety and total insufficiency of our methods of criminal
prosecutions were very strongly shown by this trial. One member of
the jury could barely write his name, and not more than one or two
of them were in the lowest sense of the term educated; no record of
the testimony was kept by the court, and none, except in the very
beginning, by the jury, who must therefore have been guided chiefly
by impressions, lawyers' speeches or newspaper records; the feeling
amongst the populace, with whom the jurymen freely mingled, was so
bitter that one of the experts was barred out of his lodgings at
ten o'clock at night, openly because he was for the defence of Mrs.
Wharton; the newspaper which circulated most largely in the place
misrepresented the testimony, and devoted its columns to scurrilous
attacks upon the integrity and professional ability of the medical
witnesses for the defence. Yet under these influences, mazed and
confused by the subtleties and partial statements of the lawyers,
these twelve honest but ignorant men were called upon to decide
between physicians offering precisely opposite opinions. It is well
when this so-called administration of justice ends as a monstrous
farce and not as a tragedy.
The conduct of the Wharton-Van Ness trial would have been far
different if the expert testimony had been what it ought to have
been. If the excretions of Mr. Van Ness had been put in the hands of
a properly-qualified chemist, by finding the metal antimony or by
proving its absence he would at once have settled the case. As it
is, there is no proper evidence of the guilt of Mrs. Wharton. The
probabilities are in favor of her innocence, because the symptoms were
certainly widely divergent from those induced by poison, if not, as I
believe, absolutely incompatible with poisoning. The medical gentlemen
who attended Mr. Van Ness, by destroying all the evidence, have made
a just conviction and an absolute proving of innocence equally
If it were necessary, further illustrations of the deficiencies of our
criminal processes could be detailed. Some little time since, upon the
chemical evidence of Professor Aiken, a poor colored woman was hung
in Anne Arundel county, Maryland. She died protesting her innocence,
and the general impression appears to be now that she did not commit
the crime. A prominent member of the Maryland Bar told me recently
of a case tried in that State, in which the accused, as he stated,
certainly did kill the deceased with arsenic, yet in which, by showing
the insufficiency of Professor Aiken's analysis of the stomach, he
obtained the acquittal of the prisoner.
It cannot be stated too strongly that the trouble is not in the
science of toxicology, nor in the real students of it. So far as
mineral poisons are concerned, any qualified expert will determine
the question of poisoning with the unwavering step of a mathematical
The legal recognition of the true character and position of the
expert, and of certain principles of medical jurisprudence, would
probably improve the present status, but it is doubtful whether some
other method of reform may not be more available. Professor Henry
Hartshorne, at the last meeting of the American Medical Association,
suggested that the court should appoint in poisoning cases a
commission to collect the scientific testimony and make report on the
same. This seems at first sight practicable, but suppose the court
had appointed, as is not at all improbable they would have done,
Professors Aiken and Chew and Dr. Williams as the commission in
Mrs. Wharton's case? The result would certainly have been an unjust
In Spain and some other countries of Europe the custom is to refer
the case to the local medical society. If the opinion afterward given
is unanimous, the court is bound by it; if any member object to the
opinion, the case is referred to the medical society of the province;
if the disagreement continue, the matter is brought before the chief
society of the capital. Evidently, this plan would not work well here.
In Prussia it was formerly, and may still be, the custom for an expert
holding a fixed appointment under the government to investigate the
case, and to send his report to the Royal Medical College of Prussia.
A standing committee of this body, after investigating the matter,
sent the original report, with their comments, to the ministry, by
whom it was referred to a permanent commission of experts. The report
of the latter body, with all the other papers, was finally sent to
the criminal court. This method seems complicated, but it resulted in
giving to Prussia the best corps of experts the world has ever seen,
as well as the most eminent individual medical jurists.
It is not, however, the object of the present paper to urge any
especial method of reform, but to call attention to the need of
it, and to show that the present evils do not grow out of the
imperfections of medical jurisprudence, but out of the methods of our
criminal procedures. Certainly, the matter needs investigation, and
it is hardly possible but that some practicable means of relief could
be devised by the deliberations of a mixed commission of lawyers and
medical jurists of eminence.
H.C. WOOD, JR., M.D.
[Footnote 13: The utter absurdity of Dr. Williams's assertion is shown
by the fact that on the first and second trials of Mrs. Wharton he
affirmed that the violent convulsions, the extreme muscular rigidity,
the retentive stomach, seen in the last day of General Ketchum's life
were due to tartar emetic, and that to tartar emetic were due the
excessive vomiting, the motionless prostration and muscular relaxation
of Mr. Van Ness on the Sunday and Monday of his illness. Tartar emetic
the sole possible cause of precisely opposite symptoms!]
[Footnote 14: The parsimony of many legal authorities is an indication
of their want of appreciation of the differences in men. Not
rarely medical experts are forced to sue a borough or county for
compensation, even when the fee has been agreed on beforehand. In
Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, some time ago a woman was arrested
on the charge of poisoning her mother-in-law, and the stomach of the
deceased was sent to Professor Reese of this city for analysis. Warned
by previous experience, he refused to make the analysis without a
written agreement as to the fees. Nearly three months were spent by
the authorities in vainly trying to get him to do it without such
arrangement, and finally the stomach was returned unopened. During the
whole of this time the poor woman, very probably innocent, was lying
in prison with the dreadful charge hanging over her.]
[Footnote 15: A very forcible illustration occurs to me from my own
experience. I was once summoned to see a woman in the Philadelphia
Hospital to whom an assistant nurse of bad character had been seen
to administer laudanum. At the time of my arrival she was apparently
suffering from the advanced stages of opium poisoning. I spent about
five hours in trying to restore her. The nurse protested that she
had given only the medicinal dose ordered by the doctor, but was
not believed. After death we found thrombosis of the brain--a rare
affection, leaving such minute traces behind it that a careless
examination will always fail to detect them. This was one of the
affections which, as I had stated on the witness-stand some months
before the occurrence just narrated, might have caused the death of
Miss Stennecke with symptoms resembling those of opium poisoning.]
[Footnote 16: According to the testimony in both the cases of alleged
poisoning by Mrs. Wharton, professional advice was called in at her
[Footnote 17: I think the general opinion of the profession has
endorsed the position of the defence. It is very probable that General
Ketchum did die of the disease named, but there are other affections
of which he I may have died; and certainly there were no sufficient
grounds for asserting that the facts of his case were inconsistent
with natural disease. The truth is, disease is often so hidden, its
manifestations so obscure, its stamp upon the tissues so faint, that
rarely is a physician justified in asserting from the symptoms and
a _partial_ negative post mortem, such as was performed on General
Ketchum, that any given death could not have been due to a natural
cause. Numerous cases of death from natural causes have occurred in
which science has been apparently baffled. I have myself seen at least
one sudden death in which a careful post mortem failed entirely to
detect the cause.]
[Footnote 18: Since writing the present paper I have been shown a
private letter of Judge Pierce, written last April in regard to the
first trial of Mrs. Wharton. After considerable solicitation the judge
has allowed the publication of an extract from it, which I insert
here as the words of one of our most eminent criminal jurists, He
says: "I had made up my mind, when Dr. Williams's first testimony
was concluded, that the case would fail. When Professor Aiken's
examination was concluded it was beyond recovery. All efforts to
secure a conviction after that were a waste of time and money. The
case could have been safely for the defendant given to the jury on the
testimony of the prosecution alone. If I had been sitting as a judge
in the case, I would have instructed the jury at the close of the case
for the State, if there had been no other testimony, that the evidence
would not warrant a conviction. And I would have set aside the verdict
if the jury had found the defendant guilty. I do not know the lady
who was so wantonly charged with this crime, and I do not know of any
case in the annals of criminal jurisprudence which, from the evidence
submitted in the case, had so baseless a foundation for so grave a
[Footnote 19: It is proper to state that Miss Wharton, in his
presence, partook of the same claret, but perceived nothing peculiar
either in its taste, as she told him at the time, or in its effects
upon her afterward. According to Miss Wharton's testimony, Mrs.
Wharton actually drank the claret left in the glass of Mr. Van Ness
directly after he left the room.]
[Footnote 20: This bottle was found in the house after the arrest of
Mrs. Wharton, with compound tincture of gentian in it.
I have outlined the circumstances as Mr. Van Ness told them. A
peculiarity of this trial was the direct contradiction of witnesses.
Mr. Van Ness for a long time refused to entertain the idea that Mrs.
Wharton had poisoned him. Whilst he was being persuaded into this
belief he sent for Mrs. Neilson, a prominent lady of Baltimore, with
whom both he and Mrs. Wharton were very intimate, and dismissing his
wife from the room had a private conversation with her. During this,
according to Mrs. Neilson's testimony, he stated that Mrs. Wharton
could not have poisoned him on the Saturday, because they had
exchanged glasses when he complained of the bitterness of the one
into which she had put the gentian. On the stand Mr. Van Ness flatly
denied ever having said anything of the sort. In a point of such
vital importance it is impossible to account for the contradiction by
"failure of memory."
Miss Neilson also contradicted Mr. Van Ness, and the act was in this
case especially impressive from the manner in which it was done. Miss
Neilson being on the stand, a dispute arose as to whether Mr. Van Ness
had or had not previously made a sufficient denial for contradiction.
To settle this, Miss Neilson left the stand: Mr. Van Ness went up and
took the oath. Then the question was put, "Did you say so and so?" He
answered, "I certainly did not." Miss Neilson returning to the stand
immediately after this, the question was put to her. The court-room
was in the deepest silence while in a low but audible voice she
replied, "He did say it." The testimony of these ladies was in no
degree shaken by a severe cross-examination.]
[Footnote 21: An essential symptom of tartar emetic poisoning is
purging as well as vomiting. Dr. Williams of course knows this. It
is a singular circumstance that whilst Mr. Van Ness stated that his
bowels were scarcely affected at all, Dr. Williams testified that
there was frequent purging. No remedies calculated to arrest purging
were employed by Dr. Williams, however, during the illness of Mr. Van
[Footnote 22: Mrs. Wharton's trip to Europe had been arranged and her
passage engaged months before the occurrence of these events. If the
theory of the State of Maryland, that she poisoned General Ketchum,
be true, by poisoning Mr. Van Ness she placed herself in the position
of the criminal who voluntarily and without motive destroys his means
of escape. Either she was insane, or the asserted crimes were not
[Footnote 23: It is well worthy of mention in this connection that Mr.
I.G. Moale of Baltimore testified that he went for Dr. Chew on Sunday
morning, on account of the sick stomach of Mr. Van Ness, and that Dr.
Chew told him that the vomiting was the almost necessary result of the
remedies used the day before--a truth which, previous to Mr. Moale's
appearance in Annapolis, the experts for the defence had insisted
upon. H. Clay Dallam also testified that Dr. Williams had told him
on Saturday that the indisposition of Mr. Van Ness the day before had
been a nervous attack from overwork. This opinion also was in absolute
agreement with the opinion expressed by the experts for the defence.]
[Footnote 24: The detailed reasons for this opinion will be given in
a medical journal at the proper time. It is allowable here to state,
however, that not one of the symptoms laid down by authorities as
characteristic of strychnia poisoning was present in the attack of the
24th of June, and that not one of the symptoms which characterizes the
natural convulsion was absent. Further, there is a connection between
the various portions of Mr. Van Ness's illness which is inconsistent
with the theory advanced by the prosecution. Mr. Van Ness stated
very positively that the attacks of the 19th, 20th and 24th of June
commenced in the same way, with the same symptoms. Yet, according to
the theory alluded to, they were the result of poisons which act in
precisely opposite methods. On the other hand, the very simple natural
explanation of the illness of Mr. Van Ness which was offered by the
defence at the trial accounts for the unity and the diversity of the
attacks, the basis of which, according to it, was over-susceptibility
of the nervous system and of the stomach, produced by overwork and
THE SWEET WATERS.
The denizens of great cities, whose weary eyes are doomed to rest
eternally on long rows of buildings, unrelieved by anything softer
or fresher than brownstone or marble fronts, thirst for an occasional
glimpse of Nature, so healing to jaded mind and wearied body. So
universal is this sentiment that provision for gratifying it is not
confined to the cities which our modern civilization has reared, nor
do the capitals of Christendom alone boast of their parks and similar
places of resort. In effete and uncivilized Turkey the "institution"
has long been established, and still flourishes; and the "Sweet Waters
of Constantinople" draw quite as well, as regards both male and female
visitors, as either Fairmount, Central or Hyde Park, or even the Bois
de Boulogne, to which far-famed resort of all that is wise, wicked or
witty in Paris these Turkish parks most nearly assimilate.
One of the two "Valleys of the Sweet Waters" is on the European,
the other on the Asiatic, side of the Bosphorus. The former is more
frequented by the Greek and other Christian populations, while the
latter is chiefly resorted to by the higher classes among the Turks
and the veiled ladies of their hareems, and is often visited by the
To the Asiatic Sweet Waters you must go by boat, or rather by
_caique_, a peculiar little frail cockle-shell of a conveyance, rowed
by the most truculent-looking and unmitigated ruffians, Turkish
or Grecian, to be found on any waters or in any land, Christian or
heathen. Picturesque in costume and exceedingly ragged and dirty,
with the most cut-throat expression of face possible to conceive of,
when you entrust your person and purse to their tender mercies you
involuntarily remember with satisfaction that you insured your life
for a good round sum before leaving your native country, and that this
is one of the risks it covers.
To the European Sweet Waters you may go by carriage, but if wise will
go there also by caique; for even the corduroy roads of our Southern
country, so famous for their dislocating qualities, can be paralleled
by the so-called road over which once (and once only), for our sins,
we suffered ourselves to be shaken, not driven. It is the fashion at
Constantinople to visit the Asiatic Sweet Waters only on Friday (the
Mussulman Sabbath), and the European Sweet Waters on Sunday; and
on those days all that may be seen of Turkish ladies is on full
If you select the Asiatic Sweet Waters for your visit, you go down to
the wharf at Tophane, where the rival boatmen (caiquejees) raise as
loud a din and make as fierce a fight for your person and piastres as
you ever encountered on your arrival at New York in a European steamer
from rival hack-drivers or hotel "touters." Pulled, pushed and shoved
about in all directions as fiercely as ever was the body of Patroclus
in the _Iliad_, when Greek and Trojan contended for possession of it,
you are at last hustled into a caique, and deposited in the bottom
on soft cushions, your back supported by the end of the boat, your
face to the two boatmen. The caique is gayly ornamented and pretty
to look at, but it is the crankiest and tickliest of all nautical
inventions--more resembling a Canadian birch-bark canoe than any other
craft you are acquainted with. Admiring the view, you partially rise
up and lean your elbow on the side of the boat. A warning cry from
your boatmen and a sudden dip of your frail bark, which almost upsets
you head-foremost to feed the fishes of the Bosphorus, admonish you
to sit quietly, and you can scarcely venture to stir again during
the long row. The caique is long and very narrow, and sharp at both
ends--pointed, in fact. It is boarded over at these ends to prevent
shipping seas. These planks are prettily varnished, with gilded rails,
which give the boat a gay look.
The men row vigorously, and the frail skiff skims along the water at
a rate of speed equal to an express-train. But the rushing of the
rippling waters past the boat is the chief indication of the rapidity
of our progress, so smoothly do we glide along. One peculiarity of the
caique is that there are no rowlocks for the oars, which are held by a
loop of leather fastened on the boat.
All the senses are soothed and steeped in Elysium during this rapid
transit. The eye lazily runs over the squat-looking red houses with
flat roofs which line the shore, to rest on the dark cypress trees
which fill the intervening spaces, with the gilded balconies of
some pleasure-palace of sultan or high Turk catching the sight
occasionally. Caiques similar to your own are darting about in all
directions, following, passing or meeting you, until at length you
reach your destination, indicated by the crowd of caiques tied up
there, like cabs on a grand-opera night waiting for their customers.
Those of high Turkish functionaries or foreign ambassadors are very
different from yours--as different as a coach-and-four from a common
cab. Many of these have twelve rowers, all in fancy uniforms--red
fezzes and jackets embroidered with gold--while the larger caiques are
profusely and expensively ornamented.
Stepping ashore, you see a long line of carriages drawn up in several
rows, and of every conceivable variety--from the Turkish araba to the
most coquettish-looking Parisian coupe--gilded and adorned in a style
to make a French lorette stare with amazement at a lavishness of
expenditure exceeding her own.
The fair ones to whom these carriages belong may be seen in the
distance squatting down on rugs spread out beneath the trees,
and sipping coffee or sherbert while listening to musicians or
story-tellers. You stroll toward them as near as their attendant
guardians--grim-looking black eunuchs armed to the teeth, and quite
ready to use those arms with very little provocation on the persons
of any "dogs of infidels" who may interfere or seem to interfere with
their fair charges--will permit. You see bundles of the gayest colored
silks worn by women whose veils are thin as gossamer, and generally
permit a very fair view of their charms, not only of face, but of
bust as well. The bold black eyes of the caged birds flash out
unshrinkingly on the strangers, who inspire curiosity, and not always
aversion, if the language of those eyes be interpreted according to
the Western code. In fact, the women seem to take a malicious pleasure
in annoying their guards by encouraging such advances as can be made
by the mute language of looks and signs.
Every Friday in the year the same pantomime is performed. The women
go to the Sweet Waters to sit and stare at men whom they do not and
never will know or speak to, and the men go to walk or waddle about
and stare back at the women in the same way. This monotonous and
melancholy pastime is varied by much stuffing of sweetmeats and cakes
and sipping of colored beverages by the fair ones, and endless smoking
by the men. There are strolling jugglers and musicians plying their
trades for the amusement and paras of the public, and they are
liberally patronized in the dreary dearth of amusement on these
To the foreigner, after the sight has been seen a few times and
divested of its novelty, the whole thing becomes tedious in the
extreme; but we must remember that in his tastes the Turk is the very
opposite of the Western man, and what would be death to us is fun
to him. His idea of true enjoyment is that it should be passive, not
active: his highest happiness is in "keff," a perfect repose of mind
and body--an exaggeration of the Italian _dolce far niente_. This keff
he enjoys at these weekly meetings, and the women in their way enjoy
it too as the only public exposition of themselves they are permitted
to make, and as a break in the monotony of their dreary and secluded
But there is another mode of killing time there, evidently borrowed,
as are the carriages, from Europe. The conveyances at intervals are
driven round a circular road in two long files, going and coming, to
permit people to stare at each other, just as in London, Paris or New
York, minus the salutations to friends or conversation. As the poet
says of the stars--
In silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball,
though the women, while sitting under the trees, chatter like magpies
to one another. The etiquette is to recline languidly back in the
carriage and speak through the eyes alone to the mounted cavaliers,
who prance as near the carriages containing veiled inmates as the
sable guards will permit, to the infinite amusement of Fatima and
Zuleika, and boundless wrath and disgust of Hassan or Mustapha, "with
his long sword, saddle, bridle, etc."
Two of these carriages are so peculiar to the place and people as
to merit description. One of these, the "araba," is an heirloom
from their old Tartar ancestry, and is only an exaggerated ox-cart
with seats, and a scaffolding of poles around it. Over these poles
there hangs a canopy of red to keep off the sun, and the seats are
well-stuffed cushions, making a kind of bed of the bottom of the
wagon. Into this curious conveyance are piled promiscuously the
mother, children and slaves of the establishment--packed in as tightly
as possible; and the contrast of costumes, faces, colors and ages
between its occupants may be imagined, but cannot be described. For a
genuine old-fashioned family carriage commend us to the araba.
This curious conveyance is drawn not by horses, but by white oxen,
whose broad fronts are pleasingly painted between the eyes bright red
with henna, the dye with which the Turkish ladies tinge their own fair
hands and the soles of their feet. The oxen bear high wooden yokes
covered with fringes and tassels, and their tails are often looped up
with bright cords. Their pace, bearing their heavy burden of wood and
flesh, is slow and stately, and the jolting of the springless wagon
over the rough roads seemingly very severe. But the inmates seem
used to their discomforts, and sit placidly and contentedly on their
uneasy seats, apparently proud of their turn-out and the effect
they are producing. These cumbrous vehicles are much affected
by the elder ladies of the sultan's court, who constitute the
Faubourg-Saint-Germain portion of society. True old-school Turks
these, who look down with scorn on the new fashions, both in costume
and carriage, stolen or adopted from the despised Franks.
Chief and most conspicuous of these latter is the small imitation
brougham or coupe, termed a "teleki," and generally built at Paris
regardless of cost, and resembling a Christian carriage about as
nearly as the Turk resembles a European when he puts on a similar
dress. The teleki is pumpkin-shaped, almost round, painted and gilded
in the gayest colors, with large bunches of the brightest flowers
painted on panels and on the glasses which shut it in all round. It
is the most dazzling carriage the imagination of carriage-makers ever
devised, and well adapted to the taste of the grown-up children it is
intended for, who, clad in raiments of rose-color, pink, bright blue
or scarlet, seem a fit lining for the gorgeous exterior. Unlike the
French carriage, the teleki has no springs; so the exercise these fair
ladies get is about equal to that of a ride on a hard-trotting horse.
Another peculiarity consists in the driver's dismounting from his box
and walking gravely alongside the carriage, holding in his hands the
colored silken reins to guide the well-bred horses.
On horseback alongside prance the ill-favored eunuchs, ready to
swear at or smite the insolent Frank venturing too near the moon-eyed
beauties in the teleki.
At these Sweet Waters the sultan has his own kiosk, a gilded
monstrosity of architecture, and at its window, worn, pallid, haggard,
gazing out with lacklustre and indifferent eye upon the scene below,
this shadow of the Prophet might frequently be seen a few years since.
It was etiquette for him to come sometimes, so he did it as a duty,
not a pleasure; for the poor man had no pleasures, being the most
utterly _blase_ man in this wide world. The drawback on all his pomp
and power is the condition annexed to it, that no one is worthy of
his society, and he must be ever alone, in public as in private. A
representative of the faith as well as of the loyalty of his people,
no one can be supposed to meet or associate with him on terms
approaching equality, and hence his isolation from human sympathy or
The fountain is covered by a square roof, and all around it are marble
slabs with Turkish inscriptions in gilt letters praising the virtues
of the water. In that scriptural phraseology so common in the East you
are notified that "These waters are as sweet as those of the well of
Zemzem, of which Abraham drank, and like unto those of the rivers
of Paradise to the hot and thirsty who come here to taste them." The
water was really very good water, but its praises struck us as rather
hyperbolical, possibly because the Frank at Constantinople generally
drinks and prefers other and more potent beverages.
But drinking the water is the least part of the performance here, and,
unlike Saratoga, "flirtation around the spring" is a thing undreamed
of where the sexes, at peril of life and limb, dare not even
approximate, much less exchange courtesies over the draught.
There is a narrow road which leads you away from this busy spot to
the sources of the fountains of these Sweet Waters. But road-making
is not one of the triumphs of Turkish skill, and this is a very dirty
and dusty road, full of holes which would smash the springs of any
conveyances less primitive and strong than those in use. It is hedged
in by fig trees growing to a size which would astonish those who have
only seen the dwarf trees of the species which we possess. Passing
along this road, we reach the inner valley. Here we find fewer people,
but the same astonishing variety of race and costume which makes the
other so curious and characteristic. The richness of the silk and
satin dresses, all of the brightest colors, which adorn the women,
and the gayly-embroidered jackets of the men, make the eyes ache which
gaze upon them. Almost every specimen of the Eastern races may be
seen here--all taking their pleasure in the same indolent way which
distinguishes Eastern enjoyment. The Circassian and Georgian women
are certainly very beautiful, as far as regularity of features, bold
flashing eyes and great symmetry of form can make them; but they lack
expression, the highest feminine charm, and softness is alien to those
bold beauties. They remind you of Jezebel, and like her they "paint
their faces" before going into public. Not only do they smear their
faces freely with white and red, but they also join together their
eyebrows by a thick black band of _kohl_, and with the same pigment
blacken the lower lids of the eyes, giving a wicked and peculiar
expression to the eyes. The tips of the fingers are stained red
with henna; and without these appliances no Eastern woman deems her
toilette complete. Many of them would doubtless be exceedingly lovely
were they to let themselves alone, but Turkish taste requires these
appliances, and an unpainted woman is a rarity.
It is an Eastern saying that a woman should be a load for a camel, and
in deference to this taste they fatten themselves up until they become
mountains of flesh. Where obesity is considered a charm, delicacy of
outline ceases to be regarded, and a woman who has not rotundity is
regarded as an unfortunate being. They are decidedly the greatest
collection of well-fed females to be seen in the world.
The task of the black guards who accompany these houris is anything
but a sinecure, and "nods and becks and wreathed smiles" are freely
bestowed on the male passers-by in spite of etiquette and eunuchs. If
the scandalous chronicles of the coffee-shops and bazaars are to
be relied upon, "Love laughs at locksmiths" here as well as in more
civilized lands, and Danger and Opportunity wink at each other. There
is far less decorum and outward reserve of manner here than in our
parks, but this freedom is all confined to looks and gestures, access
and converse being both forbidden.
Frequently, however, the bad-tempered guardians of the hareem commit
outrages on the persons of real or supposed aggressors in this way,
and from these even members of the foreign embassies have not always
been exempt. The difficulty of identifying the offender in such cases
enhances the impunity of these wretches, for to arrest one on the spot
would be impossible in the midst of a crowd which sympathizes with
the offender, instead of the sufferer, and looks upon it as a proper
punishment for the insolent Giaour. A private person unconnected with
an embassy has still less chance for satisfaction, but must pocket the
affront, even if smitten by whip or flat of sabre, considering himself
fortunate to have escaped maiming or mutilation should he incautiously
give a pretext for Ethiopian or Nubian intervention.
Few persons of foreign birth and training would go more than twice
to visit the Sweet Waters of Asia, whose peculiarities and amusements
have been thus briefly sketched. The spectacle at the European Sweet
Waters differs somewhat from the routine already described. There,
although you also meet the Turks, the greater proportion of the
visitors are either Greeks or native Christians of different races.
You see fewer arabas and telekis, and more carriages, or rather hacks,
and men galloping along on raw-boned horses in a kind of imitation
"Rotten-Row" style. The men wear the European dress, often surmounted
by the red fez: the women dress in an insane imitation of French
fashions, and glitter with jewelry--a passion with Eastern women of
all races and creeds. Frequently a woman carries her whole fortune
and her husband's in these ornaments, which, in a country where the
difference between _meum_ and _tuum_ is so little observed by persons
in authority, is regarded as the safest mode of investment.
The European Sweet Waters are rather more dull and less interesting
than the Asiatic, owing to the causes already described, nor is
compensation to be found in the superior beauty of the women; for,
as a general rule, the Greek men are better looking than the women;
and the intercourse between the sexes is regulated on the Eastern
plan to a very great extent, though there is not the same absolute
prohibition, nor the same peril attendant on the attempt to open an
acquaintance. In all Eastern countries, however, the position and
treatment of woman are modified by the prevailing prejudice, which
places her on a much lower level than the man, and deprives her of
most of the cherished privileges of her more favored Western sisters.
If the Turk has failed in forcing his religious faith on his Christian
vassals, he has succeeded in fixing the social status of their women
on much the same basis as his own.
The day selected for visiting the European Sweet Waters by the native
or Greek population is either Sunday or on the festival of some one
of the many saints whose names are legion in the Greek calendar. Never
was there a people so fond of holidays, or who take them oftener under
religious pretexts. Yet they celebrate them in anything but a pious
manner. Their fasts are much fewer and not so punctiliously observed.
As the restriction on intoxicating beverages is not such a cardinal
article of faith at the European as at the Asiatic Sweet Waters,
that element enters into the diversions at the former place, to the
frequent scandal of the decorous and abstemious Turks. The fiery
wines of Sicily and the Greek islands are freely indulged in, and
tipsy cavaliers, caracoling on the hacks of Pera and Galata, are not
infrequent accessories, aggravating the danger and discomfort to the
stranger of the return in carriage or on horseback. The roughness of
the road, its heat and dust, are bad enough; but to aggravate these
discomforts you have a crowd of hacks and a swarm of cavaliers
pursuing the same route, with all the collisions inevitable from
unskillful coachmen and tipsy riders. It is a long, dreary drive too,
with no scenery worth looking at on the route, even could you discern
it through the dense clouds of dust which envelop you from its
commencement to its close. When you reach your hotel you take a bath
to refresh yourself, and go down to supper, exclaiming with a sigh of
relief, "Well, thank Heaven! I have seen the Sweet Waters!"
EDWIN DE LEON.
[Footnote 25: This rule was observed by Abdul Medjid, the late sultan,
of whom I speak. It is said that his successor has broken through this
restriction to a considerable extent, and is a social being.]
The discussion between Mr. John Woodstock and his sister was becoming
animated, and their aunt, who never could understand the difference
between a discussion and a quarrel, was listening anxiously, expecting
every moment to see Marjory flounce out of the room at one door, and
John at the other, in their respective furies. It began in this way:
John had just read a notice of an extraordinary concert to come off
the next week, and had pushed the paper over to Marjory, with the
remark, "Like to go, Peg?"
_She_. Of course I should like to go! You don't mean to say you have
tickets for it? (Excitedly.)
_He_. No, of course I don't: I am not a thief.
_She_. No, you are only the next thing to it--a shabby fellow. Why did
you ask me in that way when you knew we couldn't go?
_He_. How you do jump at lame and impotent conclusions! Who said we
could not go? I am sure I did not.
_She_. John Woodstock, if you don't stop this, and tell me what you
mean, I will never make you another shirt!
_He_. Small loss! Of all mean things, a homemade shirt is the meanest;
and why a man of my native nobility of character should be condemned
to wear them--
_Their aunt_ (distressedly). Children! children!--
_He_ (soothingly). Never mind, aunty: she did not mean it. She would
not put it out of her power to say that she had made every shirt I
ever wore for all the mines of Golconda.
_She_. What a small potato you are!
_He_. Now, my dear Marjory, how often must I tell you that calling a
fellow names is not arguing? If you could keep from being abusive for
five minutes, you might hear of something to your advantage. I have
a little money, for a wonder, but it is like the turkey--too much for
one, and not enough for two. You cannot go by yourself, for it is an
evening affair; but if you were not so frightfully vain about your
personal appearance, I think we could manage it. I heard you say
yesterday that you had the money for a new pair of gloves: if you will
sacrifice them, we can go, and in two weeks I can give you the gloves
besides. I can't before, for my princely income is at present heavily
mortgaged. Can you furbish up your old ones till then, and thereby
prove yourself sensible for once?
_She_. You are a pretty good boy, after all; but really I have not a
decent pair to my name: that last pair of light ones got lemonade all
over them, and it took the color out, of course.
_He_. Now I'll tell you what! I can take them for you on my way down
town, and leave them to be dyed, and then you can do some fancy-work
on their backs; and what more do you want?
_She_ (doubtfully). But would black gloves do?
_He_ (conclusively). Of course they would for a thing like that. Fetch
them out, and be quick about it; and bring your money too, for I
had better buy the tickets this morning, and then we shall have some
choice as to seats.
So it was arranged. Marjory's lofty mind did wince a little at the
idea of dyed gloves, but she tried not to think of it. John brought
the objectionable kids home in time for elaborate decoration "on their
backs;" but, as he watched her in the pauses of his reading aloud,
they both observed with anxiety that the black "came off a little,"
and Marjory asked him to warn her if he saw her let them go anywhere
near her face.
Two children never enjoyed a holiday more than these two enjoyed that
concert. Dyed gloves and all other sublunary trials were forgotten:
Marjory did not touch her face once; and when the happy evening was
over, the gloves were put away with a loving pat on their backs, and
John had risen ten degrees in Marjory's respect.
If those gloves had but rested on their laurels! But if people of
genius will not do that, can you expect it of dyed gloves? Few are the
authors who have not followed up a brilliant success with something
very like a failure, and Marjory's gloves seemed to catch the spirit
of the times.
Before the two weeks were up which were to restore John to
comparatively easy circumstances, and Marjory to respectability so far
as her hands went, John asked her to go with him to hear a lecture.
Just about that time he was rather wild concerning natural history,
for which, I am sorry to say, Marjory did not care a pin. She
indignantly repelled the idea of a gorilla somewhere toward the top of
her family tree, asserting that she preferred to believe that she had
descended from so mean a man as Adam, and so curious a woman as Eve,
to that: furthermore, she was indifferent upon the subject. But there
was not much she would not do to please John; so when he asked her to
go with him to hear a lecture about the gorilla, she made a face to
herself, and said certainly she would.
She consented with rather better grace from the fact that Mr.
Pradamite--such was the lecturer's euphonious name--undertook to prove
conclusively that man was _not_ descended from the gorilla; but when
the little old gentleman walked briskly upon the stage, she whispered
John that he would have been a valuable advocate of the theory held
by the other side: he wanted nothing but a little pointed felt hat,
with a feather in it, to look very much like a small edition of
the original gorilla reduced to earning his living by assisting a
The lecture, to John, was delightful--so clear, so logical, went so
far back, and so deep down, and so high up. "Walked all around that
fellow I heard last week on the other side," John said. But Marjory,
who had herself taken a long walk that afternoon, thought the whole
thing unutterably stupid: her eyelids would drop, her neck felt
double-jointed and would not stay erect. Fortunately, their seats
were far back, not very brilliantly lighted, and Marjory's had the
advantage of being next a pillar. John, however, considered this fact
unfortunate, for he could not obtain a good view of the remarkable
figures with which the old gentleman was illustrating his lecture,
talking in spasmodic jerks as he drew, and when John saw a dear and
scientific friend on a front seat, with a vacant place beside him, he
could not resist the temptation to take it. He looked at Marjory: she
was half asleep, but still contending bravely for the other half. He
surveyed their immediate neighbors--three strong-minded-looking women
just behind them; a fatherly-looking old gentleman in the seat next
his own; a pillar protecting Marjory on the other side, and two highly
respectable-looking young men in the row of seats before them, who
appeared to be listening intently and occasionally taking notes;
at least, one of them was, and he submitted his note-book to the
criticism of the other, who smiled approvingly. The seats immediately
in front of his own and Marjory's were vacant.
"Would you mind, Peggy," said John, deprecatingly, "if I left you for
a few minutes? I can't half see what he is drawing, and there is a
vacant front seat. I'll only stay five minutes."
"Certainly, dear," said Marjory with sleepy amiability: "stay up
there till he has finished, and then come back for me. I am not at all
"Oh no: I will not do that," answered John, considerately, "but I do
want to go for a few minutes." So away he went, and, once up there,
he of course "took no note of time," and Marjory was left to her own
devices. These were few and simple, but small causes sometimes produce
great effects. She had on those gloves, of course.
She never could recall that part of the evening very distinctly. A
confused recollection that she found the pillar very comfortable for a
while; that finally the ridges in it hurt her cheek; that she had one
or two lucid intervals between her naps, in one of which she concluded
that it would be better to take those gloves off for fear of marking
her face; and that while she was doing so she caught a sentence or
two of the lecture--something like this: "This one essential point of
difference is in itself convincing proof of the theory which I hold.
The difference in the formation of the hands is a difficulty which
no theory of development can overcome." These few insignificant items
were all which remained in her memory: then the little gentleman's
voice gradually took to her ears the form of a chant: his "theory," as
the simple rustic said about a matter less abstruse, "might be wrong,
but it was awful soothin'," and pleasant dreams of having four hands,
all available, and not of the objectionable sort whose bones the
professor was dangling, beguiled the time for Marjory--how long she
What woke her? Surely somebody laughed? She started up: the lecture
was over at last; John, with a penitent face, was hastening back to
her; the people who had sat nearest her were gone, and so were her
"What, in thunder--" said John forcibly, looking at her face in blank
"Oh, I didn't mind," she answered mildly, thinking he was apologizing.
"I believe I have had a little nap, Jack, but I can't find my gloves:
will you look under the next seat, please?"
"My dear child," said John, shaking with suppressed laughter,
"your face has 'found your gloves' with a vengeance! It's as black
as--anything. Can't you put your veil down till we get out of this?"
Obediently hiding her countenance, Marjory, bewildered and still not
quite awake, followed John after a few minutes' further and fruitless
search for the missing gloves.
The brisk walk home through the frosty air restored her consciousness,
and when John led her up to the looking-glass, kindly removing her
veil at the same time, consciousness took the form of wrath.
"I _never_ could have done all that myself," she exclaimed
indignantly. "Why, I took those hateful gloves off, and put them on
the cushion; and it is just my belief that one of those dreadful boys
in front of us--"
"Boys!" interrupted John. "Those fellows were enough older than
you--or I either, for that matter."
"I don't care," said Marjory, with tears of vexation in her brown
eyes. "They behaved like boys, for when I woke--I mean just before
you came for me--I thought I heard somebody laugh, and then they were
gone, and my gloves were gone too; and I just believe they managed to
blacken my face somehow, and then stole my gloves."
"If I thought that--" exclaimed John savagely; and then added in a
puzzled tone, "But how could they have done it, Peg, unless you were
sleeping like a rock?"
"Well, I believe I was," answered the young woman candidly, "for I was
tired to death, and couldn't understand half the gorilla said."
"It was all my fault for dragging you there, and then leaving you,"
said John, his penitence making him overlook this glaring disrespect
to his hobby and its rider. "But those fellows looked like gentlemen;
and besides, I know who that old man was who sat next me, and I am
sure he would not have let any such trick be played right under his
nose without stopping it."
"You can think what you please," said Marjory, a little crossly, for
her naturally good temper had been severely tried, "but nothing will
ever make me believe it was not those boys."
Some weeks had elapsed since that sorrowful result of praiseworthy
economy. Marjory's feelings had been soothed by a pair of tan-colored
kids, three-buttoned, stitched on the backs, accompanied by a
glove-buttoner and a hug from John. The mention of dyed gloves still
raised a flush on her round cheeks and painful recollections in her
heart, but she was beginning to banish the sore subject from her mind,
and to half smile to herself when she did think of it; for, in spite
of the enormity of the supposed offence, the vision of her remarkable
appearance when John raised her veil before the glass was too much for
her risibles as it grew more and more retrospective. For she was one
of those happy mortals who cannot help seeing a joke, even when it
points their way.
She came down stairs one evening arrayed in her best bib and tucker,
and was speedily joined by John, whose appearance likewise indicated
some approaching festivity--all but his face, which wore a rather
disgusted expression. "What a bore parties are!" said that world-weary
individual from the height of his twenty-third year.
"That depends," answered Marjory with the superior wisdom of eighteen.
"If one meets bright people, they are not a bore. And I'll give you
some advice, Jack: don't always take it for granted that the girls
can only talk gossip and fashions. Take it for granted that they have
at least as much sense as you have, and talk about something worth
"The descent of man, for instance?" suggested John, somewhat
mischievously. "From the interest _you_ take in that, I've no doubt
the rest of the girls would be charmed."
"What is that thing somebody said about the man of one book?" asked
Marjory, looking abstracted.
"Don't know," replied John--"never met him."
The party was about as lively and about as stupid as parties generally
are. There was a little pleasant music, a little innocent "square
dancing," a very well-ordered supper, and a good deal of conversation.
Toward the close of the evening the hostess came to Marjory. "My
dear," she said, "I have a young friend here whom I wish to introduce
to you and your brother: he told me he had heard of John's interest
in scientific matters, and as he has just come to live in the city, he
has not many acquaintances. He is a very nice fellow. I know all about
him, and I want him to have a few pleasant visiting-places: I always
feel so sorry for a young man away from his family in a large city.
May I bring him and introduce him to you?"
"Certainly, if he is not stupid," said Marjory, smiling. "There is
John: I will make him come here before you have captured your young
man, and then we can be introduced together.".
John, however, was talking biology or protoplasm or something else to
an interested listener on the other side of the room, and was blind
to all Marjory's "nods and becks and wreathed smiles." So, when the
amiable old lady returned with her prize, whom she appeared to
have "captured" without either difficulty or delay, Marjory had
the introduction all to herself. She was not one of those wonderful
inventions, a girl who can meet a man's eyes with a steady stare,
and for the first few minutes after their hostess left them she only
noticed that her new acquaintance looked and spoke like a gentleman,
that he had a very pleasant voice, and that, without being pedantic,
he was not talking nonsense. Imagine the sensation which took place
in her head when, at some bright speech from her antagonist--for they
had immediately fallen into an argument--she raised her laughing eyes
to his face, and saw--one of the youths who had fallen under her
righteous indignation on the memorable night of the gorilla lecture!
Marjory had what are called "speaking eyes." It afflicted her greatly
that, no matter what the emergency, her feelings would appear in
her face; so--although she struggled hard to go on as if nothing had
happened, resolving, after a hasty mental review of the situation,
to behave as if she had never seen him before, and upon better
acquaintance demand the truth if she liked him, and let him severely
alone if she did not--anybody could have seen her countenance change,
and to her intense chagrin she felt herself blushing. To make matters
worse, he blushed too, and over his intelligent face flitted just the
shadow of a smile.
This was too much! Marjory fanned herself vigorously, and hazarded an
original observation in a constrained voice. "Don't you think it is
very warm here?" she said.
"Very!" replied the student of nature. "Shall we walk in the hall for
a few minutes?" and he offered her his arm. She rested the tips of
her fingers on his sleeve, and they proceeded to walk up and down the
hall, she being saved only by her escort from collision with various
other couples similarly employed. This interesting exercise lasted for
some minutes, varied by attempts at conversation which were about as
natural as spasms. Marjory took a desperate resolution. This absurd
state of things should not last much longer, if she could help it. "I
never could act as if nothing was the matter when something was," she
began, "and I can't help it if this is not polite; but I think, from
what Mrs. Grove said about you, that you will tell me the truth if I
ask you something. Will you?" and she looked up once more.
"Certainly I will," he answered gravely, meeting her glance with
steady, honest eyes, and somehow, short as their acquaintance had
been, she believed him.
She had meant to ask him deliberately if he or his companion, or both,
had stolen her gloves and decorated her face, but she felt unable to
do that with those eyes on hers; so she changed her tactics, and said,
rather meekly, considering what her former feelings had been: "Will
you please tell me exactly what happened the evening that man lectured
about the gorilla, and you sat nearly in front of my brother and me?"
"That was your brother, then?" he said quickly, and then stopped,
looking a little foolish.
"Yes," she answered, with a surprised glance at his face; "but you
said you would answer."
"I beg your pardon," he replied. "I will, of course, and I know you
will believe me. After your brother left you, you leaned your head
against the pillar, and then, as if the grooving hurt your face, you
put your hand between; and then--I must apologize for my apparent
impoliteness, but I promised to tell the truth;" and he smiled a
little--"then you seemed to fall fast asleep. A mosquito lit on your
nose, and woke you. When you raised your head, your cheek was quite
black from your glove; you rubbed your nose and made that black too;
then you went to sleep again, and directly a curl of your hair fell
over your other cheek, and woke you again, and you gave your cheek
a little slap, thinking, I suppose, that the mosquito had come back:
that left the mark of your fingers, and you rubbed it a little and
made it yet blacker. Then you took your gloves off and fell asleep
again; and then--you will believe now that I am telling you 'the
truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,' for I am risking
your displeasure by telling what came next;" and he flushed up to his
hair--"I made up my mind that it was my duty to secure those gloves,
and prevent thereby the possibility of such an accident in the future.
So I put my arm over the back of the seat carelessly, and when nobody
was looking I picked them up and pocketed them. It was not I who
laughed, but my brother, who did not notice your face--after you
had blackened it, that is--until he rose to go, when he laughed
involuntarily, and I collared him and took him off. Now you know all
about it, and I await my sentence. Can you forgive me for stealing
your gloves? The motive at least was good."
Marjory's face had cleared as this highly circumstantial narrative
progressed, and when it was finished she looked up smiling. "Yes," she
said, "I quite forgive you: the motive is everything. But do please
tell me, were you really so interested in what that little gorilla
said as you seemed to be? You were taking notes, you know--I saw that
before I went to sleep. Now what was there that was worth making a
note of? I am sure I heard nothing."
"Would you like to see my notes?" he asked, drawing a little book from
his waistcoat pocket.
"Yes, if they are not long," she answered doubtfully; "but Jack will
tell you how stupid I am on all such subjects as that."
He placed the book in her hand, open, and she saw a clever sketch
of herself and the pillar: underneath was written, "Mademoiselle
"Did you draw that?" she asked, smiling in spite of herself.
"Yes," he replied, answering her smile. "I am fond of sketching from
nature." Then, as he glanced at the picture, he added hastily, "I
forgot that absurd inscription: George, my brother, did that."
Marjory did not look deeply offended, even at the "absurd
inscription;" and the conversation continued, upon different and
indifferent subjects, until John bethought himself of his duty, and
came to find her. She introduced her squire to him, and after a few
minutes more of pleasant conversation they separated, Mr. Owen--such
was the natural philosopher's name--having received John's assurance
of a speedy call upon him, and given his address with an alacrity
which proved, John thought, that they were kindred spirits.
As they walked home, John suddenly exclaimed, "You know I never
remember faces, Peg, but somehow I feel as if I had seen that fellow
before. He's an uncommonly good fellow, and Mrs. Grove says he is very
fond of my hobby, as you call it, so I shall go to see him soon."
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