At a Court of Common Council, on Thursday, Lord Dudley Stuart, Mr. Thomas Campbell, and other gentlemen connected with the Lite-
rary Association of the Friends of Poland, attended to present a petition
setting forth the distressed condition of the Polish refugees, and praying- that the use of Guildhall might be granted, after the 9th of November, in order to a ball for their benefit. On the motion of Mr. Peacock, seconded by Mr. Norris, the prayer was accorded. The preparations are to be on a grand scale, and they begin forthwith.
A public meeting was held on Wednesday, at the London Coffeehouse, for the purpose of taking preliminary steps for presenting a testimonial
to Mr. Harmer, on his retiring from the Magistracy of the City of London. The Chairman, Sir James Duke, said that the idea originated in Farringdon Ward, of which Mr. Harmer had been Aldermen ; but
it was deemed better that his friends at large should have an opportn- nity of testifying their sense of his merits as a Magistrate and of his worth as a man. Resolutions expressing the highly-favourable opinion which the meeting entertained of Mr. Harmer's character, and the in- tention to present him with a piece of plate, were carried unanimously. A subscription was opened at once, and 486/. was subscribed before the meeting separated. Several of Mr. Harmer's political opponents were among the most active promoters of the project.
The Committee for conducting the City Improvements and the Ap- proaches to London Bridge have directed the immediate sale of several houses in Lad Lane, to widen the place, and join it with Cateaton Street, which has been within the last few days again thrown open from King Street. At the Bank and the Mansionhouse, the coach-way only ad- mitted one carriage ; it now admits four abreast.
A public meeting was held on Saturday, at the London Tavern, Bishops- gate Street, "for the purpose of taking into consideration the alarming distress at present existing among the operatives of Paisley and other manufacturing districts in Renfrewshire." We were enabled to make a brief mention of this meeting in our second edition ; we now supply a more complete account. The meeting was not numerously attended. In taking the chair, Sheriff Rogers said, that several other civic Magistrates had been asked to preside, but their avo- cations took them elsewhere. He reminded the meeting, that there were no poor-laws in Scotland like those in England, and that con- sequently the poor sufferers of Scotland had no legal claim for relief. Dr. Burns, one of the deputation from Paisley, also alluded to the state of the poor-law in Scotland ; and observed, that if legislative remedies might be recommended, they could not be had recourse to in a day, but the instant necessity of the people of Paisley demanded an immediate appeal to the benevolence of the public in England. The people of the town itself, he ought to show, had not neglected their own duty to their poor fellow-townsmen : in 1832 they had raised nearly 20,0001.; but the resources of the town had been greatly crippled ; of 80 m4 nufacturing firms existing in Paisley in 1837, 50 had since failed, and the number of those who had the best means of affording relief was reduced more than one-half. Dr. Burns said that of the 6,000 destitute persons in Paisley, 4,200 were receiving relief from the Committee when he left Paisley, and he understood that that number had been increased by 1,400. To these 5,600 poor persons the Com-
mittee were giving what little was in their power ; but that little was scarcely sufficient to keep body and soul together. The Reverend Mr. Baird, another of the deputation, averred that no accounts of the dis- tress in Paisley had gone beyond the facts— He would not deny that it was 9ifite possible that where statements of great local and general distress were given, some element might be introduced into them which any individual disposed to criticize them might find to exist in a smaller degree than appeared to be intimated. But this he would state most confidently, and from the most careful personal observation, as well as from the fullest conviction—and he should be able, either there or elsewhere, to go into the proof if it were requisite—that no statement had yet been furnished, either there or elsewhere, which could give the public mind any thing like a tolerable idea of the amount and intensity of distress existing in the locality from which he had come.
Mr. Baird gave an instance— He could speak of as intelligent and of as noble-minded men as any there, or in any circle in the kingdom, who, with their families around them, had been destitute of food for twenty or even thirty hours before their sad state of want could be wrung from them. He had known of the wife of a virtuous and intel- ligent and active and economical husband, who at the time of her confinement was in a state of actual destitution—whose child was born literally without a rag in the family to cover it—without so much of oatmeal as could serve to make a cup of gruel ; and yet such was the proud independence of her heart, that not even the females living in the same house were made acquainted by her with her situation. All who were acquainted with the long-formed independent habits of the people of Scotland knew the practice which formerly existed of families laying in, before the commencement of winter, their stock of meal and- potatoes, and of animal food. He recollected well that that state of things had
formerly existed. But what was now the condition of the operatives of Paisley ? For many months back, and at the present time, they were to be seen passing
in crowds to the grocers' shops, and the grocers standing there for hours to serve them with the smallest portions of meal which could be sold—a half- penny-worth even—to support the lives of their famishing families. Their distress then, he might say, was not only most urgent, but more so than it had ever been before.
Although great efforts had been made to assist the destitute, the actual amount of assistance rendered had not exceeded Id. or lid. per day for each person ; a sum which would be totally inadequate even to preserve life during the winter ; and the result would be, in all pro- bability, that they would witness renewed scenes of misery, rendered more painful by the presence of disease.
Captain Acheson wished to ask whether any allotments were ever Made of the poor lands in the town and neighbourhood of Paisley ?—
There were poor lands in the neighbourhood of almost all ancient places, which, when allotted to the poor, was found to give a great relief to the in- habitants. This was the case with respect to the town of Nottingham; all around which were to be seen gardens belonging to poor men. The system, however, had not been adopted at Paisley. He owned he was shocked to observe, at a meeting of this description, called for the purpose of affording relief to destitute Scotchmen, that none of the great landed proprietors of that country were either present themselves or by their agents. Where was Lord Abercom's agent ? where was the agent of the Duke of Argyle, who held all the Abbey lands in that neighbourhood, which by right ought to be allotted to the poor? Who came next ?—Mr. Houlston. He held very large property there; was a great coal-owner and a great cotton-spinner besides. Then there was the Elders' land ; the Lord-Lieutenant of the county held that estate which the Abbey formerly held: he was not here, nor his agent for him. The fact was, there was plenty of property in the neighbourhood of Paisley avail- able for the poor if properly applied, without the necessity of coming to Lon- don for relief'.
Lord Kinnaird said that the question raised by Captain Acheson was far too extensive to be taken into consideration then • especially while the question before them was so urgent a one as that of devising the means to prefserve the lives of thousands of their fellow-creatures. Lord Kinnaird himself, however, took a glance at causes ; seeking them in a still more extended field than Captain Acheson— Having been connected with Scotland in the way of business—a peculiarity, he believed, with a person in his station of life—he could say that the depres- sion of trade now existing was not of a temporary nature. It had gradually gone on increasing since the year 1837. It was not owing either to over specu- lation or to joint stock banks. He admitted that in 1836 and 1837 there were over-speculations, which to a certain extent did affect the trade of the country; but when he saw the most respectable and the oldest-established houses, con- ducted by gentlemen possessing the soundest knowledge of business, obliged, owing to the loss of capital, to close their concerns, and throw hundreds of in- dustrious and well-behaved men, willing by their labour to support themselves and their families, on the charity of the country, he was warranted in saying that it was not over-speculation, but the law of the land, which would not allow men to take the produce of their labour to whatsoever market they might wish, to which this great calamity ought to be attributed. Being a large landed proprietor himself, and holding both rich and poor land, still even if he were to lose by it, (and he should probably do so for a year or two,) he for one would in no degree halt or abate in his efforts to abrogate that law. Looking around him, he could scarcely see a single farmer; but if any were there, he would declare to them his firm conviction that none of them would be losers were that law to be changed tomorrow.
Dr. Sleigh, objecting to Lord Kinnaird's ha-ring wandered from the subject before the meeting, proceeded to combat his remarks; and was himself called to order for breaking his own rule. Resolutions were passed, predicating the existence of increasing distress in Paisley, and appointing a committee to promote the subscription in London. Con- tributions were announced—from Sir Robert Peel 50/., Sir James Gra- ham 25/., Lord Kinnaird 10/., Miss Kinnaird 5/., Mr. Hastie the Mem- ber for Paisley 50/., (in addition to the 100/. already given,) Mr. Rogers the Chairman 251., Mr. P. M. Stewart, M.P., 25/., (in addition to 25/. previously given,) with others. A subscription of 1001. from the Queen has since been announced.
At the Central Criminal Court, on Thursday, Robert Blakesley was tried before Lord Abinger and. Mr. Baron Gurney, for the murder of James Burden, the landlord of the King's Head public-house, in East- cheap. Sir George:Carrot, Sir Chapman Marshall, and Alderman Hooper, were on the bench. Mr. Payne was counsel for the prosecution ; Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Charles Phillips for the defence. Blakesley, in a sub- dued tone -of voice, pleaded "Not Guilty." He looked pale and thoughtful, and for the most part kept his eyes fixed upon the ground. Mr. Payne narrated how Blakesley murdered Mr. Burdon on the night of the 21st of September. The first witness was Edward Bristow, a City Policeman ; who stated a conversation which had passed between the prisoner and himself on the morning of the 21st- " I remember the prisoner making application to me early on the morning of Tuesday the 21st of September. He said his wife was detained at the King's Head, and asked me if I could not procure an interview with her. I said I thought 1 could ; and I referred him to the Sergeant of our corps. The prisoner afterwards went with me to the King's Head. We went in together. Deceased was behind the bar. Prisoner said, Now, James, I am come to de- mand my wife.' Bard= said, You had better go about your business.' Blakesley said, 'You hear this, Bristow.' I said, Blakesley intends to go be- fore the Lord Mayor to claim his wife.' Burden said, 'He had better go from here,' and repeatedly added, I know nothing of him.' I at length said, Blakesley, we had better go ; now we have done.' We then went away. Blakesley had previously told me that he had been unfortunate in business, and that his wife's friends had taken her away from him." Bristow added, on cross-examination, that Blakesley appeared to have been up all night ; and he showed a letter which he had received from his wife respecting her detention. George Harrold, a hairdresser, who shaved Blakesley on the 21st, said that he told him all about the inter- view with Mr. Burdon ; he exclaimed that it was enough to make a man mad, and that if he had had any thing in his hand he should have shot Burdon. William Braddon' a Policeman, was passing a butcher's- shop with Blakesley, whom he knew, when the latter, talking of the affair, and seeing a knife, cried "If I had had that in my hand I should have used it." Braddon said, " Nonsense " ; and then Blakesley added, "By God, I think I should." Charles Davis, a cutler's son, sold a butcher's knife to Blakesley, at his father's shop in Aldgate High Street, at one o'clock on the 21st: it was sharpened at the back, at his request. Mrs. Burdon related how the murder was committed. When asked if she saw Blakesley, she exclaimed—" I did see him—I see him
now—the murderer ! " Lord Abinger—" You must endeavour to palm your passions." Blakesley covered his face with his hands, and sobbed aloud. Mrs. Burdon proceeded-
" My husband was, at the time the prisoner came in, sitting asleep on a chair near the table in the bar, and I was sitting there with my sister. I heard some-
thing, and looking up saw Blakesley. Be sprang to my sister, and stabbed her
in the left side, saying, 'Your life, your life !' He then stabbed my husband, who was sitting in the chair. I then sitiV that he had a knife in his hand. He
next attempted to stab me, but was prevented by my sister. He then rushed out of the bar with the knife in his hand streaming with blood. My sister and my husband followed him as far as the bar-door, when my husband reeled against
the bar-counter and fell. The prisoner then turned round, with the knife in his hand, and looked at us. He came back half-way across the passage, when he threw the knife down and went out of the house. When he had the door in his hand to go out, he looked round a second time. I have never seen him again until now.'
Some people who came to the assistance of the murdered man and the women, Mr. Cornelius Smith, the medical man who was called to the
spot and found Burden dying, and Dunn, the constable who arrested Blakesley at Hitchin on the 27th September, were the other witnesses examined for the prosecution. Blakesley told Dunn that he did mean to kill his wife' but not Burdon if he had not interfered.
Mr. Charles Phillips addressed the Jury. He attempted to exculpate the prisoner, on the ground of insanity : his wandering about on the night before the murder showed that the separation from his wife had deranged a mind naturally weak. His whole life had been marked by visionary projects- " He would quit home, be absent for a time, and then return apparently lost in thought, and unable to give any account of the manner in which he had
spent has time. Sent into the country. on business, he would return without having attended to it, and be utterly incapable of giving an account of him- self. He would spend his time in wandering about and lying in the fields at night, instead of returning to the paternal roof, where all was comfort and happiness. If these acts did not prove insanity, they were proofs of such a state of weakness of intellect as would be very likely to be driven to madness by cruelty."
Mr. James Blakesley, the father, a Blackwell-hall factor (clothier), deposed, that when his son was four or five years old he was attacked by an illness which paralyzed his limbs, so that he would sometimes fall, and remain in that state for hours. That illness was considered to render his mind weak. He often remained silent, and refused to play with other boys ; and after he grew up and he was employed in the warehouse, he would sit at times with fixed eyes and quivering lips, as if he did not know what he was about. He had, however, said Mr.
Blakesley, on cross-examination, never been submitted to personal re- straint, nor had he had medical attendance ; and the witness had never scrupled to trust his books to him to keep. His conversation was gene- rally rational. Mr. Robert Bell Williams, a wine-merchant in Suffolk Street, deposed to a project which Robert Blakesley once engaged in : he took a house, which he chose because it was "pretty," at Foot's Cray, in Kent, in order to convert it into a bakery ; and he proposed to hire a cart and horses at a livery-stable to carry the bread to town for sale as bread baked in the country. Once, when his father refused to set him up in business in the country, he became violently
convulsed, his face grew livid, and he said he would go and sell dog's-meat in the street, or hang himself upon a lamp-post. In his reply, Mr. Payne explained that Mrs. Blakesley was only detained by. her brother-in-law in order to provide for her while her husband was
unable to do so. Lord Abinger, when he summed up, expressed an opinion that no proof had been given that Blakesley's mind was affected to that degree that he did not know what he was about. The Jury re- turned a verdict of "Guilty." When Blakesley was called on to say why sentence should not be passed upon him, he raised his right hand., struck it with violence upon his breast, and in a loud voice cried, "So help me God, I am innocent of the intent to murder James Burdon." Lord Abinger then put on the black cap, and sentenced him to death, amid deathlike silence. During the sentence, he did not manifest any greater degree of emotion than at any other part of the trial; but he kept his eyes steadfastly fixed upon the floor, and in that state he was removed from the dock.
At Hatton Garden Police-office, on Wednesday, Charles Wilcox, a young man who described himself to have been a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, was charged by Mr. Antonio Panizzi, Keeper of the Printed Books at the British Museum, with having stolen several books from the reading-room. Mr. Wilcox had been for some time in the habit of frequenting the reading-room, and it was observed that books had been missed since he had attended there : he had conse- quently been watched ; and on Saturday, as he was leaving the room, he was taxed with having purloined one of the books belonging to the Museum. Mr. Wilcox denied the charge at first, but admitted it after- wards ; and gave up a volume of Lionel Lincoln, which he had in his pocket. A volume of Carlisle's Miscellany was found at his lodgings ; and one of the volumes of The Hunchback of Notre Dame had been traced to a bookseller's in Holborn, to whom he had disposed of it. Mr. Wilcox was again placed at the bar, charged with having stolen two books from the reading-rooms of the Cigar Divan, opposite Exeter Hall. He was fully committed for trial on all the charges, and was con- veyed to Newgate.