Imatges de pÓgina
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the depraved and abominable accomplices of his base

ness.

4. There are witnesses who depose in favour of du Jonquay and la Perron. Let us consider who those witnesses are and what they depose.

In the first place, there is a woman of the name of Tourtera, a broker, who supported la Perron in her peddling insignificant concern of pawnbroking, and who has been five times in the hospital in consequence of the scandalous impurities of her life; which can be proved with the utmost ease.

There is a coachman called Gilbert, who, sometimes firm, at other times trembling in his wickedness, declared to a lady of the name of Petit, in the presence of six persons, that he had been suborned by du Jonquay. He subsequently enquired of many other persons, whether he should yet be in time to retract, and reiterated expressions of this nature before witnesses.*

Setting aside however what has been stated of Gilbert's disposition to retract, it is very possible that he might be deceived, and may not be chargeable with falsehood and perjury. It is possible, that he might see money at the pawnbroker's, and that he might be told, and might believe, that three hundred thousand livres were there. Nothing is more dangerous in many persons than a quick and heated imagination, which actually makes men think that they have seen what it was absolutely impossible they could see.

Then comes a man of the name of Aubriot, a godson of the procuress Tourtera, and completely under her guidance. He deposes, that he saw, in one of the streets of Paris, on the twenty-third of September, 1771, doctor du Jonquay in his great coat, carrying bags.

Surely there is here no very decisive proof, that the doctor on that day made twenty-six journeys on foot, and travelled over five leagues of ground, to deliver secretly' twelve thousand four hundred and twenty

This is contained in the declaration of Count de Morangies. If he meant to deceive by such a statement, he could not be too severely censured. If he stated the truth, the cause was decided.

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five louis-d'or, even admitting all that this evidence states to be true. It appears clear, that du Jonquay went this journey to the general, and that he spoke to him; and it appears probable, that he deceived him; but it is not clear, that Aubriot saw him go and return thirteen times in one morning. It is still less clear, that this witness could at that time see so many circumstances occurring in the street, as he was actually labouring under a disorder which there is no necessity to name, and on that very day underwent for it the severe operation of medicine, with his legs tottering, his head swelled, and his tongue hanging half out of his mouth. This was not precisely the moment for running into the street to see sights. Would his friend du Jonquay have said to him--Come and risk your life, to see me traverse a distance of five -leagues loaded with gold: I am going to deliver the whole fortune of my family, secretly, to a man overwhelmed with debts; I wish to have, privately, as a witness, a person

of
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character ? This is not exceedingly probable. The surgeon who applied the medicine to the witness Aubriot on this occasion, states that he was by no means in a situation to go out; and the son of the surgeon, in his interrogatory, refers the case to the academy of surgery.

But even admitting that a man of a particularly robust constitution could have gone out and taken some turns in the street in this disgraceful and dreadful situation, what could it have signified to the point in question ? Did he see du Jonquay make twenty-six journeys between his garret and the general's hotel? Did he see twelve thousand four hundred and twentyfive louis-d'or carried by him? Was any individual whatever a witness to this prodigy well worthy the Thousand and One Nights ? Most certainly not ; no person whatever.

What is the amount then of all his evidence on the subject?

5. That the daughter of la Perron, in her garret, may

have sometimes borrowed small sums on pledges; that la Perron may have lent them, in order to obtain

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and save a profit, to make her grandson a counsellor of parliament, has nothing at all to do with the substance of the case in question. In defiance of all this, it will ever be evident, that this magistrate by anticipation did not traverse the five leagues to carry to the general the hundred thousand crowns, and that the general never received them.

6. A person named Aubourg comes forward, not merely as a witness, but as a protector and benefactor of oppressed innocence. The advocates of the Perron family extol this man as a citizen of rare and intrepid virtue. He became feelingly alive to the misfortunes of doctor du Jonqaay, his mother, and grandmother, although he had no acquaintance with them; and offered them his credit and his

purse, without any

other object than that of assisting persecuted merit.

Upon examination it is found, that this hero of disinterested benevolence is a contemptible wretch who began the world as a lacquey, was then successively an upholsterer, a broker, and a bankrupt, and is now, like la Perron and Tourtera, by profession a pawnbroker. He flies to the assistance of persons of his own profession. The woman Tourtera in the first place gave him twenty-five louis-d'or, to interest his probity and kindness in assisting a desolate family. The generous Aubourg had the greatness of soul to make an agreement with the old grandmother, almost when she was dying, by which she gives him fifteen thousand crowns, on condition of his undertaking to defray the expences of the cause. He even takes the precaution to have this bargain noticed and confirmed in the will, dictated or pretended to be dictated by this old widow of the jobber on her death-bed. This respectable and venerable man then hopes one day to divide with some of the witnesses the spoils that are to be obtained from the general. It is the magnanimous heart of Aubourg that has formed this disinterested scheme; it is he who has conducted the cause which he seems

have taken up as a patrimony. He believed the bills payable to order would infallibly be paid. He is

in fact a receiver who participates in the plunder effected by robbers, and who appropriates the better part to himself.

Such are the replies of the general : I neither subtract from them nor add to them-I simply state them.

I have thus explained to you, sir, the whole substance of the cause, and stated all the strongest arguments on both sides.

I request your opinion of the sentence which ought to be pronounced, if matters should remain in the same state, if the truth cannot be irrevocably obtained from one or other of the parties, and made to appear perfectly without a cloud.

The reasons of the general officer are thus far convincing. Natural equity is on his side. This natural equity, which God has established in the hearts of all men, is the basis of all law. Ought we to destroy this foundation of all justice, by sentencing a man to pay a hundred thousand crowns which he does not appear to

He drew bills for a hundred thousand crowns, in the vain hope that he should receive the money;

he ciated with a young man whom he did not know, just as he would have done with the banker of the king or of the empress-queen. Should his bills have more validity than his reasons? A man certainly cannot owe what he has not received. Bills, policies, bonds, always imply, that the corresponding sums have been delivered and had ; but if there is evidence that no money has been had and delivered, there can be no obligation to return or pay any. If there is writing against writing, document against document, the last dated cancels the former ones. But in the present case the last writing is that of du Jonquay and his mother, and it states that the opposite party in the cause never received from them a hundred thousand crowns, and that they are cheats and impostors.

What! because they have disavowed the truth of their confession, which they state to have been made in consequence of their having received a blow or an

Owe?

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assault, shall another man's property be adjudged to them?

I will suppose for a moment (what is by no means probable) that the judges, bound down by forms, will sentence the general to pay what in fact he does not owe;—will they not in this case destroy his reputation as well as his fortune? Will not all who have sided against him in this most singular adventure, charge him with calumniously accusing his adversaries of a crime of which he is himself guilty? He will lose his honour, in their estimation, in losing his property. He will never be acquitted but in the judgments of those who examine profoundly. The number of these is always small. Where are the men to be found who have leisure, attention, capacity, impartiality, to consider anxiously every aspect and bearing of a cause in which they are not themselves interested ?.. They judge in the same way as our ancient parliament judged of books,-that is, without reading them.

You, sir, are fully acquainted with this, and know that men generally judge of everything by prejudice, hearsay, and chance. No one reflects, that the cause of a citizen ought to interest the whole body of citizens, and that we may ourselves have to endure in despair the same fate which we perceive, with eyes

and feelings of indifference, falling heavily upon him. We write and comment every day upon the judgments passed by the senate of Rome and the Areopagus of Athens; but we think not for a moment of what passes before our own tribunals.

You, sir, who comprehend all Europe in your researches and decisions, will, I sincerely hope, deign to communicate to me a portion of your light. It is possible, certainly, that the formalities and chicanery connected with law proceedings, and with which I am little conversant, may occasion to the general the loss of the cause in court; but it appears to me, that he must gain it at the tribunal of an enlightened public, that awful and accurate judge who pronounces after

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