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question, if such a fallible tribunal, where I have just seen one guilty one out of three sent scathless into the world again; if words from man's mouth, and the thought of a passing agony, can have power thus to oppress and cast down the hearts of the boldest, how may we hope to encounter the dread tribunal before whom all created men- past, present, and to come- - must one day appear? how face that perfect, infallible, and omnipotent Judge, “ unto whom all hearts be open,” 66 and from whom no secrets are hid ?” how endure the sentence, “ Depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels ?”
Truly, “ Who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth ?" And yet men live from day to day as if there were no final judgment to be expected ; as if this world would last for ever, or there were no other to come; and I said, with Nicodemus, “How can these things be ?"
“Whither shall I go then from thy spirit; or whither shall I go then from thy presence? ”- Psal. cxxxix. 6.
That “murder will out,” is an opinion which has been so often verified in the most extraordinary manner, that the saying has passed into a proverb. And although I can remember many atrocious crimes which as yet remain shrouded in mystery, it may be that the exception only proves the rule.
After the deepest cunning and foresight have been exhibited in destroying every trace and vestige that might seem by possibility likely to betray the bloody secret, some trifling circumstance, far too insignificant to have attracted the observation of the murderer— his mind occupied in guarding against the more immediate and obvious means of discovery - has led to his detection.
In some cases, after all the efforts of the police have failed to find a clue to the perpetrator of some fell deed, the burden of concealment has proved in the end too heavy for him to bear.
6 Conscience makes cowards of us all ;"
and under its all-powerful influence, and against every effort and wish of the criminal, it has compelled him to make confession of his guilt.
A very singular case of this nature once came under my own observation, whilst resident in one of our North American colonies some years since.
I was strolling carelessly through the woods, a gun over my shoulder, but more intent upon admiring the sylvan beauties of the scene than the pursuit of game, which, scared by the approach of the white man, had become very scarce in the part of the country I then resided in, when I came suddenly upon a little log hut, or shanty.
It was so embosomed amidst the tall trees of the forest, that I might have passed within a few hundred yards of it without it attracting my observation ; nevertheless it gave shelter to a somewhat numerous family. Two or three healthy-looking, but ragged and uncombed urchins, were playing before the door as I approached; but no sooner did they see me than they fled precipitately into the hut, more frightened apparently by my presence than if a bear or wolf had appeared before them.
No sooner had they gained the shelter of their backwood fastness, however, than they came peeping slyly from its entrance at the armed stranger; and, in place of the two or three rosy faces that had at first attracted my observation, some eight or ten of various sizes were to be seen all huddled together, and seemingly half alarmed at my approach.
As I reached the door, a middle-aged and very respectable-looking woman came forth to meet me, and, after a few words of civil greeting, said she was very glad to see me, for a poor sick man was lying in an inner room, dying she feared, and that he seemed to have something on his mind of a terrible nature which he dared not reveal, and yet could scarce conceal.
She told me that, about ten or twelve days before, her husband was chopping in the wood about half a mile from their shanty, when he heard something rustle amongst the branches a few yards from him; and, thinking it was a deer, he seized his gun from where it rested against a log hard by him, and advanced cautiously in the direction of the noise.
Presently he saw something amidst the thick foliage, which, from its appearance, he took to be a bear standing erect on its hind legs, and bringing his gun quickly to his shoulder, was about to fire, when the creature uttered a piercing shriek, and rushed into the heart of the forest.
The voice and motion immediately convinced him that it was no bear he was about to shoot, but a human being ; and rejoicing that he had made this discovery in time to avoid fatal consequences, he pursued the fugitive with all his might, wondering what could induce him thus to shun him.
The pursuit was not a long one. Entangled amongst the brushwood, the stranger shortly fell ; and though he recovered his feet almost immediately, it was but to fall again from exhaustion a few yards further on, and there, groaning and moaning pitifully, the woodman overtook him.
The appearance of the poor creature before him was such as might well excuse the mistake which had well nigh cost him his life. His head was covered with a profusion of tangled and matted hair of raven black, save where a few white hairs intruded, and the bronzed and weather-beaten face was half covered with beard and whiskers of the same ebon hue. His eyes were black and lustrous, but sunken; and his whole countenance greatly emaciated. His dress, if dress it could be called, which was shredded as if it had been subjected to the action of a card