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which passes between the hospital and the jail, proceeding at a steady pace,
The outrageous attack upon De Silva had, in the meantime, spread a panic all over Calcutta; people did not think themselves safe in their beds, since the fort was not properly guarded, and a lawless licentious soldiery could escape from their quarters to rob and murder the peaceable inhabitants of the city. A strict search was instituted throughout the barracks for the missing
property; not a trace of it could be discovered in the fort, but the whole was speedily forthcoming, being found scattered over the Meidaun, at very short distances from the place where the assault was made. It was conjectured that the thieves, alarmed by the hue and cry, had contrived to rid themselves of these proofs of their guilt; and, again, the facility with which the soldiers could quit their quarters in Fort William occasioned terror and alarm. By order of the Governor.general, all the men belonging to King's corps were paraded, and a proclamation was read, offering a large reward upon the conviction of the offenders. Suspicion fell upon all whose, characters were not perfectly irreproachable; the seeds of distrust were sown between comrades, and each man, anxious to clear himself from the stain, eagerly endeavoured to discover the real perpetrators. De Silva's life hung upon a thread; every day he was expected to breathe his last; but the skill of medical attendants kept alive the vital spark, and at length there seemed to be a chance of his recovery. He had not as yet spoken a word; the tongue, formerly so glib, was mute and motionless; he seemed, however, to be in full possession of his faculties, and upon all occasions manifested pleasure at the appearance of Fortescue and myself, to whose prompt attentions, it was evident, he was fully aware that he owed the preservation of his life. Gomez, on the contrary, by no means relished our interference; every body could perceive that he was not at all anxious for the recovery of his rival, whose death, he flattered himself, would have made him master of the field. His visage became blacker and more elongated as the hopes of the wounded man's attendants increased; at last, De Silva recovered the use of his speech, and the first words he uttered were truly astounding : Gomez is the murderer ; seize him.”
We could scarcely believe our ears, and thought the poor fellow must be raving; but he persisted in the charge, and a warrant was immediately issued for the apprehension of the accused. Up to this moment, not a shadow of suspicion had fallen upon Gomez; his somewhat base desertion of his friend, and his tardiness in giving the alarm, were attributed solely to cowardice; the story he had related being universally credited, and the whole of the guilt heaped upon the heads of some ruffians in Fort William. The assassin had not secured any preparation for flight; up to the last moment, he had flattered himself that the wound would prove fatal ; he made no admission when taken into custody, and his relatives, who were people of wealth and importance, began to spread about a report of his insanity. The recovery of De Silva, though slow, proceeded steadily; he was soon able to give his evidence, and related his story with more coherence and propriety than we had been taught to expect from our previous acquaintance with the discursive nature of his style.
After Gomez had prevailed upon him to lend his palanquin to a lady, though it afterwards turned out that Miss Luize Mendetto, for whose accommodation it was said to be required, had one of her own in waiting, he dismissed the syce and proposed to take a round-about direction by way of the road leading from Park Street towards the fort. His conduct during the drive was very extraordinary; he stood up in the buggy several times, staring about him, and coming to a lonely spot between the fort and government-house, he suddenly stopped, and pretending that something was the matter with the vehicle, gọt out and seemed to be adjusting the harness. At this time, two buggies passed; Gomez then re-entered the vehicle, driving very slowly. De Silva, having a vague feeling that all was not right, yet, far from guessing the truth, Asiat. Jour.N.S.Vol.14.No.54.
asked his companion why he did not drive faster ; Gomez instantly started up, and drawing a pistol from under his coat, levelled it at his victim's head; and fired. From that moment, De Silva knew nothing of what ensued; whether he fell, or was dragged out of the carriage by his adversary, he could not say, being in a state of insensibility at the time. It was necessary to make it appear that a robbery had been committed, and Gomez, it was supposed, having rifled the person of the wounded man, threw his watch, rings, and chains in different directions on the sward. The English reader will perceive a striking similarity between this attempt at murder, and the one committed at a subsequent period at Elstree. By a reference to the proceedings in the Supreme Court at Calcutta, it will be seen that our friend Gomez had the doubtful honour of being the originator of the design; he was no servile copyist, neither is there any reason to believe that Thurtell was guilty of wilful plagiarism ; both hit upon the same method for the furtherance of their projects. Gomez wisely employed no confederates ; but his work was less effectually performed than that of his European ante-type.
The sensation, which this discovery made in such a place as Calcutta, may be easily imagined; to the military portion of the community, the stigma thrown upon the soldiers seemed to be the most reprehensible feature in the affair. The Governor-general also, it was said, felt highly indignant at having been trepanned into the issue of a proclamation calculated to throw discredit upon the army; and the privates of the suspected regiment, in particular, were exceedingly exasperated. A well-known proverb was exemplified in this case; Fortescue could not exclaim, with the unfortunate notary of Paris, that no wind, from the thirty-nine points of the compass, would blow unto him, as to his fellows, good. Mesdames Costello and De Silva quarrelled in consequence of the late occurrence; the latter was so fully persuaded that some undue encouragement, on the part of Johanna or her mama, had stimulated Gomez to the attempt upon her darling, that she was not to be convinced to the contrary, and all attempts at pacification proved vain : Mrs. Costello being quite as easily incensed and as difficult to calm as her quondam friend. It was Fortescue's interest to fan the flames of discord between these ladies, and his exertions in this way were so successful, that a breach ensued which never could be made up. As the period appointed for the trial approached, the alarm of Mrs. Costello was excited for her daughter's reputation. Fortescue demonstrated so plainly to the anxious mother, that Miss Steele's name could not be kept out of the affair, and this opinion was so strongly confirmed by the general voice, that poor Johanna declared she should die of horror unless shielded by a husband's protection against the vile calumnies which would be uttered against her. De Silva's attachment had been so much cooled by the attack of an irritated rival, that he did not appear at all anxious to dispute the possession of so fatal a beauty; his lukewarmness put weapons into the hands of Johanna's enemies; their power to wound her was purposely exaggerated ; and Mrs. Costello, who was really a good-hearted woman, and had got over her prejudice against Fortescue, suffered herself to be persuaded to give her consent to the marriage.
We all deemed it advisable that the nuptials should be celebrated before the trial came on in the Supreme Court; the ceremony was performed at the cathedral in the presence of a very large assemblage, who afterwards adjourned to Mrs. Costello's mansion, where it was repeated by Father José, confessor to the family. A splendid dinner, furnished by Messrs. Gunter and Hooper, ensued, and at the ball in the evening, I had the pleasure of dancing with Miss Luize Mendetto, instead of gazing at her from the opposite veranda : nor was this all, for the young lady confessed she had thought it very cruel in Mrs. Costello not to have sent me an invitation on former occasions. Simpleton that I was, what an opportunity I lost of enriching myself for ever! I do not know how many lacs of rupees, together with jewels to an enormous amount, courted my acceptance. I might have flourished in Portland Place with the queen of Golconda by my side. Unluckily, I could not get over my prejudice in favour of lilies and roses, and remained a subaltern, and a bachelor, leaving the young lady to console, and be consoled by, Mr. De Silva.
A Calcutta jury have a great objection to bring in a verdict of guilty upon a hanging-matter. Upon this occasion, the evidence against Gomez was too clear to admit of the shadow of a doubt; however, they recommended him to mercy on the score of insanity; the counsel took an objection to the form of indictment, and the case was sent home for final decision. In process of time, the sentence came out; the assassin was condemned to imprisonment for life in the Calcutta gaol, and there he is supposed to be at this day. Fortescue resigned the service and went home; a sojourn of two or three years upon the Continent has, I und done wonders for his bride; and few returning Indians recognize the beauty of the Durrumtollah, in the fashionable leader of a London circle.
MR. HENDERSON'S TRAVELS AND OBSERVATIONS. MR HENDERSON, of the Bengal medical establishment, having visited Van Diemen's Land on account of his health, in the year 1829, with a zeal well deserving of imitation, applied himself, as soon as his strength permitted, to an examination of the physical, moral, and political features of the Australasian colonies, which he continued during a residence of nearly two years. He traversed Van Diemen's Land, coasted along its eastern side, and with a view of giving an impulse and a proper discretion to scientific exertions on the part of the colonists, he endeavoured to organize a society, for the collection and publication of facts, which, after meeting with unforeseen difficulties, was opened in 1830. Jealousy and discord, however, combined with want of motives derived from the prospect of immediate personal interest, soon chilled the energies of its members, and suspended the operations of the society. From this island, he proceeded to New South Wales, where his mineralogical and botanical researches brought to view a variety of curious facts, especially those connected with the discovery of fossil remains of animals in the neighbourhood of Wellington. Mr. Henderson, here, as at Van Diemen's Land, made excursions into the interior; and he proposed to undertake an important journey for the purpose of ascertaining the existence of a supposed inland lake, reported by natives to be the resort of huge animals congregated in herds upon its banks; but his proposals were not adopted. He nevertheless prosecuted a journey of considerable extent from Wellington to Sydney, upon his own resources, which afforded him the means of becoming practically conversant with the natural characters of the country.
The work consists of two parts, one devoted to the Political Economy, the other to the Natural History, of the two colonies.
In the first, Mr. Henderson treats at some length of the policy pursued with respect to the convict part of the colonial population, which he considers injudicious, inasmuch as the convicts are not made sufficiently productive, whilst the expense is a serious drain upon the pecuniary resources of the mother-country: “ an expenditure of capital which cannot be supported upon any principle of policy." The result of his conviction, after a careful examination of facts, he states as follows :
I shall here anticipate the result of my conviction, taken from a careful examination of the facts, so far as I possessed opportunities of investigation. 1st. I conceive that the expense of the convict establishment might be most materially reduced, and at length done away with; not by paltry savings in the salaries of the superintendents, but by a complete change of system. 2d. That the expenditure, in former times, has not only been injurious to the mother-country, but so far from improving the new settlements, it has deci. dedly tended to retard their progress. 3d. That the convict, under the present system, besides being expensive to the government, is likewise expensive
* Observations on the Colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. By John HENDER
SON. Calcutta, 1832.