« PreviousContinue »
important as bearing on the question of the alleged seduction. This was sworn to have occurred at the end of July or beginning of August. But from the close of the visit in June, to November, 1852, the letters are all dated from Canterbury, where the regiment was then quartered. Nor does one of them contain any trace of a visit to Tichborne. On the contrary, after the breaking of the engagement, early in July, Roger's correspondence contains the reiterated expression of his fixed resolve not to visit the Park again under any circumstances. Indeed, the Chief Justice was at no pains to disguise his own opinion as to the whole story of the sealed packet and the seduction ; and if any one shall hereafter entertain any doubt concerning the utter falsehood of the whole narrative, it will be in spite of the most vigorous efforts of Sir Alexander Cockburn to put that falsehood beyond the possibility of question.
The same letters show that defendant was at Canterbury at the time fixed by him for the occurrence of the much bruited " Brighton card case."
In South America, for the first time, the lines of the two lives draw near together. Roger was at Valparaiso; Orton was at Valparaiso. It is an important question whether or not Roger ever went to Melipilla. For it is admitted by defendant that he himself was there, and it may be regarded as proved that Arthur Orton was there. It does not necessarily follow, even if Roger was not there, that the defendant is Orton; though it would be evidence tending to show that identity. But if Roger was not there, then this defendant was not Roger. With the purpose of aiding the jury in coming to a conclusion on this point, the judge reviewed carefully Roger's diary and letters. From these, Roger's movements were so fully and accurately traced, that it finally appeared that his time was completely accounted for, with the sole exception of a period of seventeen days. It was a possibility that he had gone to Melipilla in this space. The journey to and fro would have occupied much of the time; and it was to be remembered and weighed by the jury that the defendant had stayed in Melipilla long enough to pick up some knowledge of Spanish, to form a wide acquaintance with the people there, and to establish a quite warm and intimate friendship with the Castro family. It was further to be remarked that neither in any sentence of Roger's diary, nor in any of his numerous letters, was there the slightest vol.. Viii. 29
trace of any such visit. Yet there was no reason for concealing it; and Roger's correspondence was uniformly very full and frank, mentioning all his wanderings and doings.
Then came the story of the shipwreck, an utterly incredible tale, as narrated by the defendant, and, indeed, finally abandoned by his counsel as incorrect. The theory that this absurd and incredible narrative was to be accounted for on the score of mental affliction or aberration was possible, if not probable. The jury were to consider, however, whether it was further possible that this disaster should have so utterly and so permanently changed the whole intent, mind, and character, personal habits and tastes of the man as it must have done if this defendant was in good truth the rescued Roger Tichborne. In this connection it was appropriate to recall Roger's disposition. With all the faults of his nature and of his education, he had never shown any weakness or irresolution, any want of persistency or stability. Certainly there was nothing in his previous career to indicate that such a cause could produce so astonishing and enduring an effect.
The silence of this young man, who had been theretofote so frequent a correspondent, and who had shown to the last moment, when he was surely known to be still living, an eager desire for ample news from home, was most surprising. His counsel had accounted for this by divers absurd and some impossible theories. He had said that Roger, knowing his own unworthiness, would not come forward to claim his position so long as his brother Alfred was alive, deeming that brother a fitter head of the Tichborne family than he himself could presume to be. This suggestion found stronger confutation than its feebleness required, in the fact that when the defendant did actually proclaim himself, he had not heard of the decease of Alfred.
Defendant said that he was at first anxious to make his way home from Australia, but could obtain no passage. It was shown that at the very time named by him a large ship, homeward bound, was lying at Melbourne, seeking a complement of passengers; also that another large ship sailed for England a fortnight later, and that upon either of these he could have taken passage.
As for the question, whether an " Osprey" was ever at Melbourne at all, the Chief Justice said the evidence was very insufficient and conflicting; and as to the important point of the time when she was there, it was totally impossible to reach any satisfactory conclusion.
In this connection his Lordship remarked that if Luie was an impostor, it was impossible that his imposition should not have been known to the defendant. The fact of such knowledge upon his part, though proving nothing against the defendant, nevertheless had a material bearing upon the degree of credibility to be accorded to him.
Defendant said he was engaged to serve Mr. Foster at Boisdale in July, 1854, and traced his service at two or three other subsequent places. He was engaged, he said, under the name of Castro. It was abundantly proved that Mr. Foster did not own Boisdale till 1856, and that at the end of that year Orton was engaged in Mr. Foster's service by his own name. The periods assigned for his services at the various places named by the defendant corresponded in length with the periods of Orton's services at the same places. But the point of beginning was placed earlier by between one and two years. If the dates given by the defendant, all of them being calculated from this earliest one, were false, then, said the Chief Justice, his whole Australian narrative falls to the ground unsupported.
His Lordship then dwelt upon the singular fact that Roger Tichborne, if the defendant were indeed he, should have married a domestic servant, an ignorant woman, who was known to him to have been previously unchaste; for she had borne a child before the nuptials.
Advancing then to the time when defendant, being still in Australia, began to assert his claim, the Chief Justice said that his statements then made to his attorney, Gibbes, were very important. The evidence showed that he had, at that time, no knowledge of a great number of matters with which Roger should have been familiar. In proof and illustration of this, many instances of his inaccuracy and obliviousness were adduced. Among these were enumerated the following: He said he was born in Dorsetshire, whereas Roger was born in Paris; he said the estates were "tied up " and would "go to his cousin ;" whereas the estates, though subject to certain incumbrances, with which Roger had once at least been familiar, were not " tied up;" neither would they "go to his cousin," but to his brother Alfred, of whose existence defendant at this time (on the supposition that he was an impostor) had never heard. He once even said that " Tichborne Hall,"' as he called it, was in Surrey; whereas the place was called Tichborne Park, and was in Hampshire. He said that he had had St. Vitus's dance, and frequently repeated the statement; of Roger this was false, nor would every one readily accept the Dowager's explanation, that he had confused the rheumatism with this disease. He said that his mother was large and stout; whereas, in fact, as was ungallantly shown in evidence, she was "leanness itself." He said he left Paris at the age of eleven years; Roger did not leave till he was sixteen. He said the Tichborne " dole " was three shillings in the pound of income; it was in fact only sundry loaves of bread. He said the name was sometimes spelled with a "u" before the "r," which was not the case. The name of Gosford, even the name of his mother was unknown; the place of his education was unknown; the number and name of his regiment was unknown; his rank, the manner of his joining, and the length of his stay in the regiment were unknown. If defendant was Roger he had utterly forgotten all these things.
The will was then mentioned, with all its absurdities and falsehoods, and the naming of two executors unknown, upon any possible supposition, to Roger Tichborne.
In his statutory declaration made at Sydney, defendant said that he left England November 28, 1852, in the " Jessie Miller." This was the date of Arthur Orton's departure for Hobart Town, and the " Jessie Miller" was the name of the vessel in which Arthur had come home from South America. But in November, 1852, Roger was hunting in Dorsetshire; he left England in March, 1853, for France, and sailed from Havre for Valparaiso three weeks later. There was no reasonable way in which he could be supposed even to have heard of the name of the vessel "Jessie Miller."
Knowledge, as his Lordship remarked, is far from being of equal weight with forgetfulness. The one cannot be set off against the other; for the forgetfulness must be genuine and the knowledge may be acquired. Such knowledge as this defendant really did at first show he had some few means of acquiring, and perhaps the extent of the means was even greater than the extent of the knowledge, e.g., as to his mother's name. For example, he was furnished with some obituaries in the "Illus
trated News;" the advertisements and letters of Lady Tichborne yielded more information; at Sydney he encountered a Hampshire man who could tell him something; and there also he got hold of Bogle. After he got to England the opportunities for coaching were immense.
As for Bogle, he was the old family servant. From the Dowager's letters it was learned that he was a black man, and that he was at Sydney, and on the lookout for her supposed son. The defendant, thus forewarned and forearmed, came to Sydney, and there found a black man at the hotel who had been inquiring for him and was awaiting his arrival. He had the shrewdness to recognize and address him as Bogle, and at once took captive the negro's convictions and sympathy. From him the defendant got much assistance, probably not fraudulently communicated, but naturally elicited under the circumstances. Bogle, for example, is known to have furnished the defendant with a view of Tichborne, with a likeness of Sir Edward Doughty, and with the Tichborne and Doughty crests. Bogle erroneously thought that Upton had been bought by the family, and the defendant adopted the error; though the Upton estate had been the foundation of a favorite and long-cherished scheme entertained by Roger. At the first trial, Bogle said that he first mentioned the name of Gosford to the defendant, but at this trial he had sworn that the defendant first mentioned that gentleman's name to him.
After the defendant's arrival at London, his expedition to Wapping, together with the sham letters, false stories, and other deceits which followed, were mentioned as utterly incomprehensible on the supposition of the defendant's honesty. There was no reason why Roger Tichborne should be found floundering in such a labyrinth of complications utterly alien to himself and foreign to all his interests. If, indeed, a friendship with Orton was at the bottom of his anxiety, there was at least no conceivable need of such haste, neither the slightest provocation for the practice of any kind of concealment or deception. But the theory of the learned counsel for the defendant, that the personality of Orton had altogether overlaid, absorbed, and destroyed in Roger his own independent personality, must be rejected as monstrous, incomprehensible, and absurd. If possible with some men, it was wholly incompatible with Roger's nature, as the same had been clearly developed in his known life and letters.