Midnight Guardians of the Peace Of London, Imprisoned for Abuse of Office.


(A Sketch of the Administration of Justice in a Watch-house)

            David Moore, the deputy night-constable, and John Wild, one of the parish patroles, in the neighbourhood of Finsbury-square, were indicted at the Middlesex Sessions for a misdeameanour in the wanton imprisonment of Mr. Leonard Pope on the night of Good Friday 1811.

            It appeared from the evidence of Mr. Pope, who is a very respectable man, that having spent that evening with some friends, he was going soberly home through Bunhill-row between one and two in the morning; and, on turning aside for a necessary occasion, he was immediately accosted by the patrole, Wild, who, without any pretence or colour of a charge, insisted on taking him to the watch-house. Thither he went. The presiding constable simply asked, "What charge?" The patrole simply answered, "disorderly;" upon which Mr. Moore, the deputy Rhadamanthus of this midnight tribunal, without deigning to enquire into the particulars of the charge, or vouchsafing to hear a word from the prosecutor in defence, or explanation, instantly pronounced the stern decree of "Lock him up," Mr. Pope, however, ventured to rap at the door of his dark prison, and to plead through the key-hole his earnest request to be favoured with an hearing at least before the midnight Magistrate, face to face with his accuser. He was allowed to come forth: and, in solemn mockery, was asked, "What have you to say, Mr. Alderman?" He told them he was a respectable citizen, well known to Sir Charles Price, and intimately acquainted with at least seventeen members of the Common Council, any of whom would come forward and bail him, if he was allowed to send them an account of his situation; but in vain, municipal influence had no weight here; no friendly messenger could be obtained, and Justice Moore once more uttered the dread decree, "Lock him up;" when Mr. Pope was immediately recommitted to his dungeon, and confined there until two o'clock next day when he was discharged by the Magistrate; his family in the meanwhile were in the utmost anxiety for his safety. The jury found both defendants guilty, and the Court sentenced them to two months' imprisonment each.

            Note: The late Sir William Addington, when he presided at Bow-street office, went to one of those occult prognosticators, disguised as an old beau; and, having his fortune told in the usual way, begged the old lady to inform him, "whether she had ever read her own fortune?" She cheerfully said she had, and that "she would live an uninterrupted course of life, in her present way, very happily, until the age of 200 years, and that then she should be translated into purgatory for a short time, and afterwards put under the care of Peter."—"Very true," said Sir William, "only you place Peter in the background, who might be in front, and mistake the time, for its fulness is now come; here Peter (to one of the officers) take this Lady under your care, bring her down to the office, and I'll give her a passport to Bridewell, which, I trust, will operate as a purgatory to the old lady’s bad living."


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