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single deviation from sobriety, should plunge into the very depth of profligacy precipitately and at once, is altogether improbable and unprecedented, and absolutely inconsistent with the course of things. Mankind is never corrupted at once; villainy is always progressive, and declines from right, step by step, till every regard of probity is lost, and every sense of all moral obligation totally perishes.
• Again, my lord, a suspicion of this kind, which nothing but malevolence could entertain, and ignorance propagate, is violently opposed by my very situation at that time with respect to health; for, but a little space before, I had been confined to my bed, and suffered under a very long and severe disorder, and was not able, for half a year together, so much as to walk. The distemper left me indeed, yet slowly and in part; but so macerated, so enfeebled, that I was reduced to crutches, and was so far from being well about the time I am charged with this fact, that I never till this day perfectly recovered. Could, then, a person in this condition take anything into his head so unlikely, so extravagant? I, past the vigour of my age, feeble and valetudinary, with no inducement to engage, no ability to accomplish, no weapon wherewith to perpetrate such a fact; without interest, without power, without motive, without means.
* Besides, it must needs occur to every one that an action of this atrocious nature is never heard of, but, when its springs are laid open it appears that it was to support some indolence, or supply some luxury; to satisfy some avarice, or oblige some malice; to prevent some real or some imaginary want; yet I lay not under the influence of any one of these. Surely, my lord, I may, consistent with both truth and modesty, affirm thus much; and none who have any veracity, and knew me, will ever question this.
[He then endeavours, by instances, to shew that the disappearance of a man is but an imperfect argument for the supposition of his being dead.]
• Permit me next, my lord, to observe a little upon the
bones which have been discovered. It is said, which perhaps is saying very far, that these are the skeleton of a man. It is possible, indeed, they may; but is there any certain known criterion which incontestably distinguishes the sex in human bones? Let it be considered, my lord, whether the ascertaining of this point ought not to precede any attempt to identify them.
"The place of their depositum, too, claims much more attention than is commonly bestowed upon it; for of all places in the world, none could have mentioned any one, wherein there was greater certainty of finding human bones, than a hermitage, except he should point out a church-yard: hermitages, in time past, being not only places of religious retirement, but of burial too. And it has scarcely ever been heard of, but that every cell now known contains, or contained, these relics of humanity; some mutilated, and some entire. I do not inform, but give me leave to remind your lordship, that here sat solitary sanctity, and here the hermit, or the anchoress, hoped that repose for their bones, when dead, they here enjoyed when living.
'1. The bones, as was supposed, of the Saxon St Dubritius, were discovered buried in his cell at Guy's Cliff, near Warwick, as appears from the authority of Sir William Dugdale.
"2. The bones thought to be those of the anchoress of Rosia, were but lately discovered in a cell at Royston, entire, fair, and undecayed, though they must have lain interred for several centuries, as is proved by Dr Stukeley.
'3. But our own county—nay, almost this neighbourhood-supplies another instance; for in January 1747, were found by Mr Stovin, accompanied by a reverend gentleman, the bones in part of some recluse, in the cell at Lindholm, near Hatfield. They were believed to be those of William of Lindholm, a hermit, who had long made this cave his habitation.
54. In February 1744, part of Woburn Abbey being pulled down, a large portion of a corpse appeared, even with the flesh on, and which bore cutting with a knife;
though it is certain this had lain above two hundred years, and how much longer is doubtful; for this abbey was founded in 1145, and dissolved in 1538 or 1539.
“What would have been said, what believed, if this had been an accident to the bones in question?
• Further, my lord, it is not yet out of living memory, that a little distance from Knaresborough, in a field, part of the manor of the worthy and patriotic baronet who does that borough the honour to represent it in parliament, were found, in digging for gravel, not one human skeleton only, but five or six, deposited side by side, with each an urn placed on its head, as your lordship knows was usual in ancient interments.
• About the same time, and in another field almost close to this borough, was discovered, also in searching for gravel, another human skeleton; but the piety of the same worthy gentleman ordered both pits to be filled up again, commendably unwilling to disturb the dead.
Is the invention of these bones forgotten, then, or industriously concealed, that the discovery of those in question may appear the more singular and extraordinary? whereas, in fact, there is nothing extraordinary in it. My lord, almost every place conceals such remains. In fields, in hills, in highway-sides, in commons, lie frequent and unsuspected bones; and our present allotment of rest for the departed is but of some centuries.
*Another particular seems not to claim a little of your lordship’s notice, and that of the gentlemen of the jury; which is, that perhaps no example occurs of more than one skeleton being found in one cell; and in the cell in question was found but one ; agreeable in this to the peculiarity of every other known cell in Britain. Not the invention of one skeleton, then, but of two, would have appeared suspicious and uncommon.
But it seems another skeleton has been discovered by some labourer, which was full as confidently averred to be Clarke's as this. My lord, must some of the living, if it promotes some interest, be made answerable for all the bones that earth has conceale!, or chance exposed ? And might not a place where bones lay be mentioned by a person by chance, as well as found by a labourer by chance? Or, is it more criminal accidentally to name where bones lie, than accidentally to find where they lie?'
(He then adverts to the damage found to have been inflicted upon the skull, which he shews might have been occasioned in the course of the ravages committed at the Reformation.]
. Moreover, what gentleman here is ignorant that Knaresborough had a castle, which, though now run to ruin, was once considerable both for its strength and garrison? All know it was vigorously besieged by the arms of the Parliament; at which siege, in sallies, conflicts, flights, pursuits, many fell in all the places round it, and where they fell, were buried; for every place, my lord, is burial-earth in war; and many, questionless, of these rest yet unknown, whose bones futurity shall discover.
'I hope, with all imaginable submission, that what has been said will not be thought impertinent to this indictment; and that it will be far from the wisdom, the learning, and the integrity of this place, to impute to the living what zeal in its fury may have done; what nature may have taken off, and piety interred; or what war alone may have destroyed, alone deposited.
* As to the circumstances that have been raked together, I have nothing to observe; but that all circumstances whatsoever are precarious, and have been but too frequently found lamentably fallible: even the strongest have failed. They may rise to the utmost degree of probability, yet are they but probability still. Why need I name to your lordship the two Harrisons recorded in Dr Howel, who both suffered upon circumstances, because of the sudden disappearance of their lodger, who was in credit, had contracted debts, borrowed money, and went off unseen, and returned again a great many years after their execution ? Why name the intricate affairs of Jacques de Moulin, under King Charles II., related by a gentleman who was counsel for the crown? And why the
unhappy Coleman, who suffered innocent, though convicted upon positive evidence; and whose children perished for want, because the world uncharitably believed the father guilty? Why mention the perjury of Smith, incautiously admitted king's evidence; who, to screen himself, equally accused Faircloth and Loveday of the murder of Dun; the first of whom, in 1749, was executed at Winchester; and Loveday was about to suffer at Reading, had not Smith been proved perjured, to the satisfaction of the court, by the surgeon of the Gosport Hospital ?
Now, my lord, having endeavoured to shew that the whole of this process is altogether repugnant to every part of my life; that it is inconsistent with my condition of health about that time; that no rational inference can be drawn that a person is dead who suddenly disappears ; that hermitages were the constant repositories of the bones of the recluse; that the proofs of this are well authenticated; that the revolutions in religion, or the fortune of war, have mangled, or the dead; the conclusion remains, perhaps, no less reasonably than impatiently wished for. I, last, after a year's confinement, equal to either fortune, put myself upon the candour, the justice, and the humanity of your lordship, and upon yours, my countrymen, gentlemen of the jury.'
Notwithstanding this elaborate but specious defence, the guilt of Aram was too clear to admit of doubt, and he accordingly received sentence of death. He afterwards confessed the crime to the clergyman appointed to attend him, but ascribed it to the passion of jealousy. On the morning of his execution, he was found almost dead in bed, in consequence of a wound which he had inflicted upon his arm with a razor; a paper in which he attempted a justification of suicide, being found upon the table by his side. His body, after execution, was exposed in chains at the scene of his guilt.