He holds up finger and thumb in the form of a circle, drops his
hand, and sits dozen.
The jury stir, and consult each other's faces; then they turn towards
the counsel for the Crown, who rises, and, fixing his eyes on a spot
that seems to give him satisfaction, slides them every now and then
towards the jury.
CLEAVER. May it please your lordship--[Rising on his toes] Gentlemen
of the Jury,--The facts in this case are not disputed, and the
defence, if my friend will allow me to say so, is so thin that I
don't propose to waste the time of the Court by taking you over the
evidence. The plea is one of temporary insanity. Well, gentlemen, I
daresay it is clearer to me than it is to you why this rather--what
shall we call it?--bizarre defence has been set up. The alternative
would have been to plead guilty. Now, gentlemen, if the prisoner had
pleaded guilty my friend would have had to rely on a simple appeal to
his lordship. Instead of that, he has gone into the byways and
hedges and found this--er--peculiar plea, which has enabled him to
show you the proverbial woman, to put her in the box--to give, in
fact, a romantic glow to this affair. I compliment my friend; I
think it highly ingenious of him. By these means, he has--to a
certain extent--got round the Law. He has brought the whole story of
motive and stress out in court, at first hand, in a way that he would
not otherwise have been able to do. But when you have once grasped
that fact, gentlemen, you have grasped everything. [With
good-humoured contempt] For look at this plea of insanity; we can't
put it lower than that. You have heard the woman. She has every
reason to favour the prisoner, but what did she say? She said that
the prisoner was not insane when she left him in the morning. If he
were going out of his mind through distress, that was obviously the
moment when insanity would have shown itself. You have heard the
managing clerk, another witness for the defence. With some
difficulty I elicited from him the admission that the prisoner,
though jumpy [a word that he seemed to think you would understand,
gentlemen, and I'm sure I hope you do], was not mad when the cheque
was handed to Davis. I agree with my friend that it's unfortunate
that we have not got Davis here, but the prisoner has told you the
words with which Davis in turn handed him the cheque; he obviously,
therefore, was not mad when he received it, or he would not have
remembered those words. The cashier has told you that he was
certainly in his senses when he cashed it. We have therefore the
plea that a man who is sane at ten minutes past one, and sane at
fifteen minutes past, may, for the purposes of avoiding the
consequences of a crime, call himself insane between those points of
time. Really, gentlemen, this is so peculiar a proposition that I am
not disposed to weary you with further argument. You will form your
own opinion of its value. My friend has adopted this way of saying a
great deal to you--and very eloquently--on the score of youth,
temptation, and the like. I might point out, however, that the
offence with which the prisoner is charged is one of the most serious
known to our law; and there are certain features in this case, such
as the suspicion which he allowed to rest on his innocent fellow-
clerk, and his relations with this married woman, which will render
it difficult for you to attach too much importance to such pleading.
I ask you, in short, gentlemen, for that verdict of guilty which, in
the circumstances, I regard you as, unfortunately, bound to record.
Letting his eyes travel from the JUDGE and the jury to FROME, he
THE JUDGE. [Bending a little towards the jury, and speaking in a
business-like voice] Gentlemen, you have heard the evidence, and the
comments on it. My only business is to make clear to you the issues
you have to try. The facts are admitted, so far as the alteration of
this cheque and counterfoil by the prisoner. The defence set up is
that he was not in a responsible condition when he committed the
crime. Well, you have heard the prisoner's story, and the evidence
of the other witnesses--so far as it bears on the point of insanity.
If you think that what you have heard establishes the fact that the
prisoner was insane at the time of the forgery, you will find him
guilty, but insane. If, on the other hand, you conclude from what
you have seen and heard that the prisoner was sane--and nothing short
of insanity will count--you will find him guilty. In reviewing the
testimony as to his mental condition you must bear in mind very
carefully the evidence as to his demeanour and conduct both before
and after the act of forgery--the evidence of the prisoner himself,
of the woman, of the witness--er--COKESON, and--er--of the cashier.
And in regard to that I especially direct your attention to the
prisoner's admission that the idea of adding the 'ty' and the nought
did come into his mind at the moment when the cheque was handed to
him; and also to the alteration of the counterfoil, and to his
subsequent conduct generally. The bearing of all this on the
question of premeditation [and premeditation will imply sanity] is
very obvious. You must not allow any considerations of age or
temptation to weigh with you in the finding of your verdict. Before
you can come to a verdict of guilty but insane you must be well and
thoroughly convinced that the condition of his mind was such as would
have qualified him at the moment for a lunatic asylum. [He pauses,
then, seeing that the jury are doubtful whether to retire or no,
adds:] You may retire, gentlemen, if you wish to do so.
The jury retire by a door behind the JUDGE. The JUDGE bends
over his notes. FALDER, leaning from the dock, speaks excitedly
to his solicitor, pointing dawn at RUTH. The solicitor in turn
speaks to FROME.
FROME. [Rising] My lord. The prisoner is very anxious that I should
ask you if your lordship would kindly request the reporters not to
disclose the name of the woman witness in the Press reports of these
proceedings. Your lordship will understand that the consequences
might be extremely serious to her.
THE JUDGE. [Pointedly--with the suspicion of a smile] well, Mr.
Frome, you deliberately took this course which involved bringing her
FROME. [With an ironic bow] If your lordship thinks I could have
brought out the full facts in any other way?
THE JUDGE. H'm! Well.
FROME. There is very real danger to her, your lordship.
THE JUDGE. You see, I have to take your word for all that.
FROME. If your lordship would be so kind. I can assure your
lordship that I am not exaggerating.
THE JUDGE. It goes very much against the grain with me that the name
of a witness should ever be suppressed. [With a glance at FALDER,
who is gripping and clasping his hands before him, and then at RUTH,
who is sitting perfectly rigid with her eyes fixed on FALDER] I'll
consider your application. It must depend. I have to remember that
she may have come here to commit perjury on the prisoner's behalf.
FROME. Your lordship, I really----
THE JUDGE. Yes, yes--I don't suggest anything of the sort, Mr.
Frome. Leave it at that for the moment.
As he finishes speaking, the jury return, and file back into the
CLERK of ASSIZE. Gentlemen, are you agreed on your verdict?
FOREMAN. We are.
CLERK of ASSIZE. Is it Guilty, or Guilty but insane?
The JUDGE nods; then, gathering up his notes, sits looking at
FALDER, who stands motionless.
FROME. [Rising] If your lordship would allow me to address you in
mitigation of sentence. I don't know if your lordship thinks I can
add anything to what I have said to the jury on the score of the
prisoner's youth, and the great stress under which he acted.
THE JUDGE. I don't think you can, Mr. Frome.
FROME. If your lordship says so--I do most earnestly beg your
lordship to give the utmost weight to my plea. [He sits down.]
THE JUDGE. [To the CLERK] Call upon him.
THE CLERK. Prisoner at the bar, you stand convicted of felony. Have
you anything to say for yourself, why the Court should not give you
judgment according to law? [FALDER shakes his head]
THE JUDGE. William Falder, you have been given fair trial and found
guilty, in my opinion rightly found guilty, of forgery. [He pauses;
then, consulting his notes, goes on] The defence was set up that you
were not responsible for your actions at the moment of committing
this crime. There is no, doubt, I think, that this was a device to
bring out at first hand the nature of the temptation to which you
succumbed. For throughout the trial your counsel was in reality
making an appeal for mercy. The setting up of this defence of course
enabled him to put in some evidence that might weigh in that
direction. Whether he was well advised to so is another matter. He
claimed that you should be treated rather as a patient than as a
criminal. And this plea of his, which in the end amounted to a
passionate appeal, he based in effect on an indictment of the march
of Justice, which he practically accused of confirming and completing
the process of criminality. Now, in considering how far I should
allow weight to his appeal; I have a number of factors to take into
account. I have to consider on the one hand the grave nature of your
offence, the deliberate way in which you subsequently altered the
counterfoil, the danger you caused to an innocent man--and that, to
my mind, is a very grave point--and finally I have to consider the
necessity of deterring others from following your example. On the
other hand, I have to bear in mind that you are young, that you have
hitherto borne a good character, that you were, if I am to believe
your evidence and that of your witnesses, in a state of some
emotional excitement when you committed this crime. I have every
wish, consistently with my duty--not only to you, but to the
community--to treat you with leniency. And this brings me to what
are the determining factors in my mind in my consideration of your
case. You are a clerk in a lawyer's office--that is a very serious
element in this case; there can be no possible excuse made for you on
the ground that you were not fully conversant with the nature of the
crime you were committing, and the penalties that attach to it. It
is said, however, that you were carried away by your emotions. The
story has been told here to-day of your relations with this--er--Mrs.
Honeywill; on that story both the defence and the plea for mercy were
in effect based. Now what is that story? It is that you, a young
man, and she, a young woman, unhappily married, had formed an
attachment, which you both say--with what truth I am unable to gauge-
-had not yet resulted in immoral relations, but which you both admit
was about to result in such relationship. Your counsel has made an
attempt to palliate this, on the ground that the woman is in what he
describes, I think, as "a hopeless position." As to that I can
express no opinion. She is a married woman, and the fact is patent
that you committed this crime with the view of furthering an immoral
design. Now, however I might wish, I am not able to justify to my
conscience a plea for mercy which has a basis inimical to morality.
It is vitiated 'ab initio', and would, if successful, free you for
the completion of this immoral project. Your counsel has made an
attempt to trace your offence back to what he seems to suggest is a
defect in the marriage law; he has made an attempt also to show that
to punish you with further imprisonment would be unjust. I do not
follow him in these flights. The Law is what it is--a majestic
edifice, sheltering all of us, each stone of which rests on another.
I am concerned only with its administration. The crime you have
committed is a very serious one. I cannot feel it in accordance with
my duty to Society to exercise the powers I have in your favour. You
will go to penal servitude for three years.
FALDER, who throughout the JUDGE'S speech has looked at him
steadily, lets his head fall forward on his breast. RUTH starts
up from her seat as he is taken out by the warders. There is a
bustle in court.
THE JUDGE. [Speaking to the reporters] Gentlemen of the Press, I
think that the name of the female witness should not be reported.
The reporters bow their acquiescence. THE JUDGE. [To RUTH, who
is staring in the direction in which FALDER has disappeared] Do
you understand, your name will not be mentioned?
COKESON. [Pulling her sleeve] The judge is speaking to you.
RUTH turns, stares at the JUDGE, and turns away.
THE JUDGE. I shall sit rather late to-day. Call the next case.
CLERK of ASSIZE. [To a warder] Put up John Booley.
To cries of "Witnesses in the case of Booley":
The curtain falls.