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THE MAYBRICK TRIAL., Issue 8015, 18 September 1889
THE MAYBRICK TRIAL.
EXTRAORDINARY SCENES AND INCIDENTS,
CONVICTION AND DEATH SEN TENGE.
(Prom Orp. Special Rkpop.tkp. in Court.]
Liverpool, August 10.
Popular expectation in favor of Mrs Maybrick’s acquittal was so strong in Liverpool on Wednesday afternoon that an immense mob had assembled outside St. George’s Hall in the hope of getting a glimpse of “ the popular heroine of the moment,” and giving her a congratulatory cheer as she drove away. Not that the majority of these estimable persons really believed in the woman’s innocence. Not a bit of it! “She’s guilty, but she’ll get off” was the usual remark one heard, and the talker generally spoke as if to have deceived and poisoned one’s husband and likewise “diddled” justice was to really have achieved rather a clever and praiseworthy performance. You will scarcely believe me, I know, but it is a positive fact that on Wednesday, during the luncheon hour, a smartlydressed lady waited on the Clerk of the Arraigns and inquired whether, in the event of an acquittal, she and several other female sympathisers might be allowed to present Mrs Maybrick with a bouquet in Court,
Even amongst saner, better-balanced minds, the “she’s guilty but she’ll get off” theory was curiously prevalent. The idea seemed to be that though Sir Charles Russell might not have succeeded in convincing the jury of his client’s innocence, he had yet raised such a cloud of doubts and maze of possibilities in their minds as would make it impracticable to convict. The news of the verdict was, indeed, at first received
with complete incredulity. People refused to believe the jury could have made up their minds in twenty minutes on such a case, quite forgetting that the twelve good men and true had been locked up together with nothing else to discuss for more than a week. THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE.
It was lunch time on Saturday before the Grown counsel concluded their terrible array of circumstantial evidence against Mrs Maybrick and Sir Charles Bussell, looking portentously serious, rose to open the defence. The great advocate was far too wise to underrate the strength of the case for the prosecution, All he even pretended he should be able to do was to raise grave doubts, “ But,” said he, “if I achieve this much the jury must acquit my client.” In the very beginning it was clear that the speech was to be a brilliant and magnificent appeal, alternating between acute, close, and cogent reasoning, emphasised with vigorous gestures and decisive and dramatic pauses, and lofty passages of heart-stirring eloquence. He hoped, indicated the great advocate, to suggest grave doubts as to the guilt of the prisoner—doubts not merely suggested by himself, but which arose irresistibly from the circumstances —as would convince the jury that they were pot justified in “ snapping the thread of this ppor woman’s existence.” He poiptod out with the most profound gravity, apd in an emotional voice, that “at the time the black shadow, which could never be dispelled, passed over her life," her husband was in the habit of drugging himself. She was deposed from her position as mistress of her own home, and pointed out as an object of suspicion, "It did not appear that there was any one person manly enough, honest enough, or friendly enough to go to her and make to her in formal words a statement or a charge against her.” At this fine sentence, delivered with immense empressement and scornful indignation, Mrs Maybrick, who bad evidently been making great efforts to control her feelings, lifted her handkerchief to her eyes, and a moment afterwards by an evident force of will resumed her former immobility. Sir Charles Russell then described his line of defence—the two points being for the jury to consider whether death was actually caused by arsenic, and if so was the arsenic administered by Mrs Maybrick. The experts said that the symptoms were consistent with arsenical poisoning, but they could not point out a symptom that would not equally have been caused by other means. There was no evidence to show that Mrs Maybrick had ever bought poison except in the case of the fly -papers, and in that case there was no concealment, as there would be in the case of " a wicked woman doing an ill thing,” as she could easily have gone to shops where she was perfectly unknown, instead of to a chemist who knew her intimately. He held that "while there was mystery and suspicion, which their minds might not be able to dispel, there was not sufficient evidence to justify the jury in a verdict in which the most serious consequences were involved,”
MRS MAYBRICK TO SPEAK HERSELF,
Then Sir Charles Russell startled the Court with the disclosure that Mrs May* brick desired to make a statement herself—a course which was unusual, but he believed that His Lordship had permitted such a course before.
The Judge said that he would permit the statement to be made, but he could not allow it to be written, as she might be assisted in the preparation of it, and she must not be communicated with between that time and Monday by anyone connected with the case. To this Sir Charles Russell agreed. It was, he said, “ a grave statement, an extraordinary statement, and one that would need careful examination.” The “dark cloud” he had alluded to must rest “for all time” upon her character as a woman and a wife, but ho earnestly entreated the jury not to allow any repugnance against a “ sin so abhorrent as that” to lead them to the conclusion that she had committed the greater crime. Mrs Maybrick had been moved more by this than by any other incident in the trial,
THE EVIDENCE FOK THE DEFENCE.
The evidence for the defence from a variety of American witnesses some of whom had volunteered their evidence—was to the effect that Mr Maybrick was in the habit of constantly taking arsenic. An American negro servant of his proved that he had frequently and regularly taken arsenic. This negro servant, Thomas Statson, made an addition to this evidence which startled the Court, and caused a great sensation. He said that when he brought the half-dollar’s worth of arsenic Mr Maybrick told him to go and make some fresh beef tea, and that he (Mr Maybrick) took a small quantity of the arsenic on a spoon and stirred it up in the beef tea. This he did regularly, and he also had a habit of rubbing his hands. The next witness was stronger still in the interests of the defence, so far as showing that Mr Maybrick constantly dosed himself with arsenic. This witness was Mr Edward Heaton, a retired chemist, now living in Anfield. He stated that he had been in business in Exchange Street for seventeen years. Mr Maybrick, whom he knew for ten years, used to come into his shop from two to five times a day for a “ pick-me-up,” a tonic dispensed by witness. The first time he came he brought with him a prescription for arsenicalis, which he mixed with the pick-me-up, and this drug he afterwards constantly took. He gradually increased the quantity of the arsenicalis during the ten years to the extent of 75 per cent., beginning with four drops and ending with seven. This, the witness said, was an aphrodisiac, or nerve exciter (the Judge put this in a blunt way, which left no doubt as to the object of taking this drug). When Mr Addison cross-examined the witness as to liow be came to come to offer his evidence, i or how he knew it was Mr Maybrick. who came into his shop, he replied that be know it was Mr Maybrick “ through seeing a very good likeness of him in the ‘Liverpool Echo.’” ‘f Was it like him?” asked Mr Addison. “0, yes;-1 knew him at onoe." When Mr Maybrick went anywhere he (witness) used to make up for him a bottle of from eight to sixteen doses of this arsenical preparation. The chemist let out the interesting little fact that it was a very common practice for gentlemen on ’Change to come
into his shop in the morning for “ pick-me-ups.” He had often as many as sixteen in the morning, and some of them would come in several times a day.
Dr Drysdale gave evidence as to the habits of the deceased in taking strychnine and other drugs ; and Dr Tidy, another expert in poisoning cases, and professor of chemistry and “forensic medicine” in the London Hospital, was also called for the defence, and gave some extremely powerful evidence. He said the symptoms described as having occurred to Mr Maybrick were “ certainly not ” the symptoms of a typical case of arsenical poisoning. This gentleman distinctly differed from the expert called by the prosecution on the subject of the symptoms, and said that he would call a case of poisoning by arsenic where there was no diarrhcca a “toxicological curiosity.” At this expression there was laughter in Court, and the Judge, with a severe frown, said ; “ There is no occasion for laughter, and, all things considered, it is extremely indecent.” Dr Tidy gave some curious facts as to the symptoms that could be and had been produced by eating bad cheese or lobster or sausage, and in his cross-examination by Mr Addison stood stoutly to his guns—that the case was certainly not one of arsenical poisoning, and that the symptoms and appearances were all consistent with gastro enteritis. He knew of a family who had been brought into the hospital on a doctor’s certificate that they were suffering from arsenical poisoning, and it was found that their sickness was produced by cheese. The witness attended these himself, and scores of other similar cases. His further evidence went to show that the estimate of the quantity of arsenic found in the liver was altogether unreliable—the estimate being made from a portion of the liver only, whereas the poison would be unequally distributed both over the whole liver and the intestines. They could not estimate the quantity by “cutting off a bit,” and he could prove that by other cases. Ho gave a case in which a large quantity of arsenic was found in the liver, and yet the death was from phthisis. He concluded that the death was due to gastro enteritis, and that the symptoms and the post mortem appearances distinctly pointed away from the arsenic theory.
MRS MAYBRICK’fI STATEMENT,
At a few minutes past twelve on Monday the evidence for the defence was finished, and Sir Charles Russell said he thought Mrs Maybrick was now ready to make her statement. He turned to her, asking, “ Are you ready, madam ? ” and the lady slightly nodded. The Judge said she could speak. Mrs Maybrick for a few seconds sat immovable, The attendant handed her a glass of water, which she tremblingly took and placed to her lips. She then advanced a step to the rail, and with her hands clasped before her, and bolding a pocket handkerchief, she spoke in a low tremulous voice, but in perfectly coherent and elegant phraseology. She had to stop several times for a moment or two, and with a great effort controlled her emotion, so as to allow herself to proceed. Only very few of the auditors could hear all she said, and there was a general straining forward to catch the words. She spoke of having “ been crushed beneath the terrible charge of wilfully and deliberately poisoning my husband ’’—and she paused, and added with quivering voice—“the father of my dear children.” It was thought here that she would be unable to proceed further. There was no doubt about the genuineness of the anguish she was undergoing. Her mouth quivered, and the teqrs caipe down her cheeks. The Court sat almost breathless, and there must have been many a palpitating heart. Several of the ladies bowed their heads in tears. Mrs Maybrick went on to describe how she used to make up a facewash with arsenic and a perfume, and all the details of the story had a seeming consistence with the circumstances of her treatment of the fiy-papers and her movements at her house. She gave the date of a ball to which she was going, and before this she made and used the face-wash, as she was anxious to remove some eruptions on her face. She had lost the prescription, but she knew the ingredients, and thought she would try and make it up herself. Then came an extraordinary disclosure with reference to the meat juice. Her husband “implored her to give him some of the white powder which she knew him to be in the habit of taking,” and which ho had asked for earlier in the evening, and which she had declined to give him. ‘‘ I was overwrought—terribly anxious and miserably unhappy,” she said slowly, with suppressed sobs. She had no honest friends—no one to consult. Notwithstanding the evidence of the nurses, her husband missed her every time she wcut out of the room, and yet four days before he died she was not even allowed to give him a piece of ice. She found the powder, took it into the inner room, and put some in the bottle. On returning to the room she found her husband asleep, and then she placed the bottle on another table, where “he could not see it when he woke up ’’—all this tallying with the evidence of the nurse. She then described her total ignorance of the charge hanging over her, and when at last it was made against her she wanted to explain, but she was not allowed to do so. In conclusion she only wished to add that “ for the sake of our children ” a perfect reconciliation had taken place, and that “ the day before he died I made a full and free confession of the fearful wrong I had done him.”
When Mrs Maybrick faltered this out and then sat down there was a real sensation and murmur, apparently of sympathy and compassion.
A GREAT SPEECH.
After the sensationally dramatic episode of Mrs Maybrick’s speech to the Court—an incidentalmost unparalleled in great criminal trials—Sir Charles rose at a quarter past twelve o’clock to commence his great speech for the defence. In this he made point after point of the most cogent argument for the defence, and spoke throughout slowly, deliberately, and often with very long pauses for the choice of words, during which he gazed steadfastly at the jury. Mrs Maybrick to a large extent regained her composure in the afternoon as the speech progressed, and she, too, frequently looked at the jury with a long and earnest gaze. The most touching part of the speech in the early part was the allusion by counsel to his own terrible responsibility, and to the incident in which this “hardened woman,” about to leave her husband’s house for ever, on the very threshold was stopped by a good-natured nurse, who asked her to “ come and see the children.” Upon this she melted into tears and returned. Was this the action of a woman who was wholly bad? Here again the prisoner—as indeed was: everyone ‘else l in Court—was deeply affected by the natural eloquence and pathetic tones of the counsel, who had already said he “ trembled when he thought of the terrible issues involved,” and what might happen through any want of ability or weakness on his part. “Come to your children,” he repeated the words of the girl, and the woman went—the woman who set her husband’s threat, that she should never again enter the door, at defiance, returned at the call of her children. “ She was not wholly^bad.” Then the counsel dealt with the blot upon her character. “The judgments of the world were indeed unequal, ” To a man these faults of infidelity brought him but few penal consequences, but In the case of a woman and a wife it was,with her) sex an “unforgivable sin.” Let those who would “ throw stones,” even if they came from unworthy hands. While there might be nothing to excuse, there might be a good deal to palliate, her offence. Then the learned counsel proceeded to point out how Mrs Maybrick wrote for her husband’s brother to come and interfere when her husband was taking white powders. He laid great stress on the fact that Mrs Maybriok made no attempt to remove from’ the house the evidences of her guilt, if there was guilt. She did not destroy a single trace, though in all these days of suspicion she could have destroyed everything and left not a single trace behind. Then he described with graphic power how, after days and nights of watching, she became exhausted and had to be carried from the room to an adjoining room after the death of her husband. Then she awoke to find herself in custody, with a policeman outside her room door. Was her conduct throughout all this trying time the conduct of a guilty woman ? Then he pointed out the probability of Mrs Maybrick’s statement, in the light of the evidence, of the nurses as to her dealing
with the bottle of meat juice, which the deceased was never allowed to have—her removing it from bis sight even after she ha l put the white powder in it for which he craved; and then her story of the reconciliation the previous day was borne out by the nurse, who overheard the words “ Oh, Bunny, Bunny, how could you do it?” If she had made a contrite statement of her fault, then all her remorse at his death, which this confession may have hastened, was accountable, If she were capable of this shocking and cold-blooded murder, then surely she would have the instinct of selfpreservation strong enough to conceal the evidences against her. Counsel passed lightly over the case of Clay and Abraham’s preparation being found to contain arsenic. They know, he said, that it was a distinct and separate preparation from the other bottle, made up by the same people, and the quantity was not sufficient to enable a quantitative analysis to be made. Then he dealt with “ the most serious and remarkable of all ” of the circumstances—the tampering with the meat juice bottle. They had to consider whether her own statement was not substantially true. She might have rested content with allowing her counsel to have pointed out that this had nothing to do with the man’s death, but she preferred to state the facts. They had all seen her and heard her, and the tone, which carried conviction, especially when the incidents were so consistent with the nurse’s story. This they were bound to accept, unless they had the most unequivocal proof to the contrary. Then came the fine peroration, in which he spoke of the proud position of Englishmen in their respect for the administration of the law “ because they knew it was a just law and an honest law.” In the language of the officer of that Court, the prisoner at the bar - upon her country,” which they (the jury) represented. They were large enough not to allow the individual voice or prejudice of one of them to affect them all, and small enough to preserve to each one of them a sense of individual responsibility. He was making, he said emphatically, “no appeal for mercy” they were administering a law which was merciful, and which forbade them pronouncing a prisoner guilty unless all other hypotheses could be reasonably excluded. He concluded by asking them that, in all the doubts and mystety and perplexities surrounding the case—in view of the (contrariety of the medical evidence—could they, with a satisfied judgment and safe conscience, say that this woman was guilty? “If you can yon will—yon must do it; but you cannot, yon must not, unless the whole burden of the facts and weight of the evidence, fairly and honestly considered, drive you irresistibly to that conclusion.”
THE REPLY OF THE PROSECUTION,
' Mr Addison’sjspeech needs little description. 'lt was closely reasoned, and was exceedingly strong and comprehensive. While the counsel, with rigid fairness, pressed no point unduly, and spoke of the gratification it would be to all concerned if the accused was found to be innocent, he missed no point of the case for the prosecution, and none of the weaknesses of the defence were left untouched. He made—as he was entitled to do on a voluntarily delivered speech of the prisoner upon which she could not be cross-examined—-several important points. One of these was that she had had the opportunity before the police of giving this statement before; and another—and a telling one—was that whereas she had spoken of a reconciliation on the day before the death of her husband, she had actually written a letter to Mr Brierly asking for assistance, in which there was not the remotest indication of sorrow as set out that day. “ The truth was known about their' visit to London, n and she “swore her innocence” as to the murder; but was that the letter of a woman who was full of repentance for her sin ? Her actions were inconsistent with her sentiments. Qn this subject of the letter, it was felt that Mr Addison had made some strong points, and to a large extent swept away the sympathy aroused by her own appearance and speech; for, as he said, “ Guilty or innocent,” there could he no question of sympathy with a woman who was' capable of writing such a letter to her “darling” while her husband was “sick unto death.”
(To be continued.)
THE MAYBRICK TRIAL., Issue 8015, 18 September 1889
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