Imatges de pÓgina

his shop till eleven, but on the night of and nine florins and twenty-one kreutzers, the murder, a chandler named Rossel, who the other one hundred and fifty-two lived opposite, looking out about a quarter florins and seventeen kreutzers. As the to ten, saw, to his surprise, that Bäumler's gendarmes were conveying Forster through door was closed.

The murderer had Fürth, a waiter of the inn came forward done this on the girl's departure ; he and identified the prisoner as a man who must have killed the chandler, shifted the had come to the inn early on the mornglass door off its hinges, closed the street ing after the murder, dressed in a dark entrance, and waited himself to open the grey cloth great-coat. He went away for door for the poor girl. The bell at the an hour, then returned in a dark blue door was found stuffed with paper, no coat with a brown one rolled up under his doubt to muffle the sound if any neigh- arm. The latter coat he had requested the bours should be passing. The murderer, waiter to take care of for him for a week. it was proved, had stayed, ransacking the The waiter was to be sure and show it to no house and changing his clothes, till half- one. The brown great-coat when examined past ten, as a shoemaker named Pühlez, who was found in some places stained, in others passed Bäumler's house at that hour, saw no soaked with blood. light in the shop, but a light burning in the The next step in Bavarian procedure first floor. The most remarkable thing was the terrible “ Augenschein," or bringwas, that no one in the adjoining houses ing together the murdered persons and the had heard a scream, cry, or groan issue supposed criminal. Lady Duff Gordon has from Bäumler's house. Neither had two rendered this scene very ably from the Gerwatchmen who were guarding some loaded man of the Remarkable Criminal Trials, waggons in the street close by. The written by that great psychological lawyer, wounds on the two bodies the surgeons Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, the framer, pronounced to have been produced by in 1803, of the present criminal code of blows from a hatchet, and the ribs of the Bavaria, and who himself presided as judge man and his servant appeared to have at the trial of the wretch Forster. Forster been broken by the murderer stamping on stood between the two open coffins, with a his victims.

hand on each corpse, but he betrayed no The persons of the town who had drank fear and no emotion. that night at Bäumler's were then ex- From the very beginning nothing could amined; they all agreed in remember- be extorted from Forster. ing a silent, black-bearded, dark man, fessed himself ignorant of why he was who had smoked and drank clove brandy arrested, although from the shouts of the from six o'clock, and had remained mob he said he had feared he was susthere alone when they left about ninc. pected of murder. He had been at NüremThey all recollected that the man was berg seeking employment on the 18th, about thirty, and that he wore a dark- 19th, and 20th of September, and on the coloured coat and high beaver hat. He day the murder was committed left by the bad talked in agreeable, sensible Frauen Thor for the suburb of St. John, way, to one of them, but for the greater where his father lived. He had slept in a part of the time he kept silent, his hat gardener's hay-loft that night, and when pressed over his eyes, his eyes fixed on the people got up at one o'clock in the the ground. He called himself a hop- morning to begin threshing, he had gone merchant, and said he was waiting for a to Diesbeck, reaching there by about four companion who had gone to the play. P.M. the next day, the 21st. As for the

Suspicion soon led to the door of a bags of money, he had a tale ready devised. certain Paul Forster, a man recently dis- They were part of a treasure hidden at charged from the Schwabach bridewell, a spot between Fürth and Farnbach, by and who for several days before the Xavier Beck, a jeweller, convicted of murder had been observed suspiciously bigamy, who had been confined with him lurking round Bäumler's house. Forster's in the Schwabach bridewell. father was a miserably poor day-labourer, Nevertheless, through the midst of these who lived with two daughters of bad cha- black lies truth was already darting keen racter in the suburb of St. John. Forster rays. Two of the men drinking at Bäumler's himself resided with a woman named Mar- on the night of the murder identified Forster garet Preiss, at Diesbeck. On searching as the silent guest, although he had since her house there were found two bags of shaved off his thick black beard, and had money; the one containing two hundred had his long hair cut close. Margaret Preiss

He even pro


-Forster's mistress—also gave evidence ness that “if things went well, she would enough to hang a dozen men in any less soon have a new petticoat as well as new dreamy and disputative country than Ger- boots." On first searching Forster's house, many. He had, she said, returned to Dies- the police had noticed an axe wrapped in beck about four P.M. on the 21st. Even a a wet rag lying behind the stove; they aftermurderer prides himself no doubt on being wards found this weapon behind a stack minutely truthful as to certain immaterial of wood. There was a stain of blood on trifles—that consoles him. Instead of his the handle, and Margaret Wölflin, by a usual old brown coat he had on a new certain flaw, recognised this axe as the blue one, he wore over his old trousers a one she had

seen Walburga hand to new pair of large nankeen trousers, and her brother in the churchyard. On her he had a pair of new boots. He brought first examination Walburga confessed that some money in a handkerchief which her brother had borrowed the axe for a he said was not his, and which he handed burglary he had planned, and which be her to keep, and he gave her daughter afterwards told her had been unsuccessful. (a girl of fourteen) a Nüremberg thaler On a second examination, however, being and a ducat. His feet were blistered, closely pressed and admonished by the he seemed tired and moody, and out of judge, she confessed that her brother had spirits, and when she asked him the said to her on the night of the murder : reason, he answered dryly, that nobody “I have committed a crime. I have could be always cheerful. The next day done a great thing. I have murdered a he ate nothing, and still remained silent and man! Fetch my father quickly, I am thoughtful. The day after that, Saturday, going hop-picking. You wash the axe he was arrested. When the men entered and the boots, and take care of them for the room to apprehend him, he turned red me, so that no one may think anything of as scarlet; but when she said, “You have the matter." been about some mischief,” he merely re- On the boots she had observed large spots, plied, “Nay, I have done nothing." which disappeared on washing, and which

A poor lead-pencil maker named Dörr, she supposed must have been blood. She who lodged with old Forster and his added, in a subsequent examination, that disreputable daughters, deposed that at the silk tassels of both boots were quite two A.m. on the Thursday, Paul Forster glued together with blood. A grey greatcame under the cottage window at St. coat which Forster had changed at a Jew John, and called for his father, who was clothes woman's at Fürth was found to be in the barn threshing. Forster's sister, Bäumler's, and the white lining was stained Walburga, instantly jumped out of bed with blood. and fetched her father; the three then At this crisis Forster, after ruminating talked together at the back of the house, in the prison over the state of things, in a low voice, for half an hour. Walburga suddenly changed his tactics. He became afterwards said her brother had gone hop- violently truthful, requested an audience picking, and had given her a pair of boots. of Feuerbach, and made a confession He had also paid his father an old debt of which he said must lead to the instant two or three florins. Thaler, the gardener, detection of the murderer. The story of swore that his hay-loft was locked all night, the suspected man ran thus: and that Forster had not slept there the On Monday, the 18th of September, he night in question.

went from Diesbeck to Langenzenn, deterDarker and darker grew every hour the mined, in consequence of his misfortunes, clouds over Forster. A girl

named to leave his native country, and to enlist as Margaret Wölflin deposed she saw Wal- a soldier in Bohemia. While sitting in a burga Forster bring an axe surreptitiously melancholy mood by the roadside, near to Paul Forster, who was waiting for her Langenzenn, two men, followed by a couple in St. John's churchyard. On seeing of dogs, came up to him, asked what was the Margaret notice the axe, Walburga desired matter, and, hearing his distress, expressed her brother to take the axe to Nüremberg great interest in his fate. They told him and get it ground. Forster cast an angry that they were hop-merchants, of the name glance at witness as he left. The follow- of Schlemmer, from Hersbruck; that they ing morning Walburga met Margaret an were brothers, and had rich relations in told her of Bäumler's murder. She was Bohemia, whither they were going with a carrying her brother's wet boots in a basket. cargo of hops, and offered to take him with The same day Walburga told another wit- them to Bohemia, where he would be sure



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to find employment. They added that on time returned the axe to him. He then the morrow of the next day (Wednesday, went back to the suburb of St. John, and the day of the murder) they should be on opening the parcel found in it a greatgoing with a hop cart'into Nüremberg, coat, a pair of boots, a pair of trousers, and where they had a cousin, a com-chandler, three bags of money. of the

of Bäumler, who lived Towards the close of the trial Forster must near the church of St. Laurence. On the have seen, and indeed he acknowledged as following day, the 19th of September, he much, that, in spite of his courage, obstinacy, went to Nüremberg, walked up and down and cunning, truth could not be overpowered

, the street near the church of St. Lau- by fables and evasions. His obstinate perrence, inquired of a barber for Bäumler, severance in denial must, therefore, be attriand asked who the woman in the house buted, not merely to a hope of thus avoiding might be. He was told that it was the capital punishment, but also to pride. Immaid. He waited in vain till six in the pressed with a conviction of his own mental evening for the Schlemmers; then re- superiority, and ambitious of a character turned to the suburb of St. John, and for dauntless courage and immovable slept in the shed. On the following strength of will, he was resolved not to morning, the 20th of September, he again allow the judge to gain the slightest adwent into the town, and after wandering vantage over his feelings or his underabout till four in the afternoon, the thought standing. If he must fall, at least he struck him that he would go and take would fall like a hero. If he could not leave of his sisters before starting for avoid the fate of a criminal, he would avoid Bohemia. On this occasion his sister, the disgrace of a confession wrung from Walburga, gave him an axe, with the re- weakness or cowardice. Men might shudder quest that he would take it to the grinder at him, but his fearful crimes should excite at Nüremberg, whence she would fetch it wonder, not contempt. The murder of herself. At about five o'clock, as he was Bäumler and his maid was a crime which going with the axe to the grinder, he met any common villain might commit; but the Schlemmers, who asked him to carry a to stand unmoved by all the dangers which letter to the post for them as quickly as followed the deed ; to bid defiance to truth, possible, offering to take care of the axe in and to the skill of the judge; to behold the the mean time. After putting the letter most terrible sights with a steady gaze, and into the post he returned to the spot, but without one feeling of pity; to turn a deaf did not find the Schlemmers, and passed ear to the admonitions of conscience; to the time in walking up and down the street, remain firm in the dreadful solitude of the until about six o'clock, when he went into cell, as well as in the presence of the court; Bäumler's house, and drank some red clove this it was which raised him, in his own brandy. At a quarter before ten, when all estimation, far above the common herd of the other guests were gone, the Schlemmers criminals. arrived, and Bäumler greeted them as During the whole of this six hours' excousins. Soon after they sent Forster to wait amination, this extraordinary man stood, in the Caroline-Strasse for their cart, which without ever resting. He only once hesiwas coming from Fürth, drawn by two tated when he was cross-examined about white horses. This he did; and soon after the dress and appearance of the two a quarter to ten, the two Schlemmers came fabulous hop-merchants of Hersbruck. The to him, carrying a trunk between them, police, who seldom keep their minds entirely and one of them with a white parcel under unbiassed, now began to hunt on an entirely his arm. At this moment the cart drove wrong trail. They suspected that Forster up with two men in it, to whom the Schlem- had had accomplices, and searched high and mers said that they had had great luck; low for the imaginary companions for whom they had won the great prize. They then Forster, in the, had said he was made him get into the cart with them. At waiting. Two men had been seen under the gate of the town they told him that as a tree on the bank of the river under the they had had such luck they should not go fortress at Nüremberg, where Forster was into Bohemia, but that, in order to show chained, and, on their pelting the soldier, him how kindly they felt towards him, they he had fired at them. Forster's sister dewould give him something which might posed to seeing some one waiting for him assist him in his own country. They then when he returned the axe. Moreover, it gave him the white parcel, which one of was reported by his friends that poor them had under his arm, and at the same | Bäumler had had nearly two thousand


florins stored in his house, whereas only to seem more embarrassed than a guilty three hundred and sixty florins were found one; the latter knows exactly what he has in Forster's possession.

Bavaria was done, the former feels that he cannot prove dragged from north to south-even as far his innocence.' He concealed his obsti.

Frankfort-on-the-Maine arrests were nacy under an assumption of calmness, made; all friends of the murderer and his gentleness, and piety, as if humbly subsuspicious sister were examined, so were mitting to a fate he did not deserve. 'I many convicts who had been his special see plainly,' said he in his last examina. intimates, but all this led to nothing. tion, that I cannot escape unless the

It is difficult to see what more evidence Schlemmers are taken. I have therefore could be wanted than was already in nothing to do but to pray to God that he possession of the judges. Forster had will enlighten my judges, and enable them been observed reconnoitring Bäumler's to distinguish between guilt and innocence, house before the murder; he had been between the possible and the impossible. identified as the man who remained in In this case guilt and innocence touch, and moody silence in the shop the very night I have no means of proving my innocence.” of the crime; Bäumler's clothes, smeared The following circumstance will give some with blood, had been found in his posses- idea of his cunning, hypocrisy, and dission; his own sister had declared that he had simulation. During the trial, a certain confessed to her his committal of the act. John Wagner, who had formerly been in The very axe (and the murderer had with- prison with him at Schwabach, was conout doubt used an axe) that he had used fronted with him to give evidence touching had been found at his house; he had failed expressions which Forster had dropped in proving any alibi; his boots had been concerning some scheme for future crimes. seen stained with blood. Yet the Ger- Wagner, on this occasion, accused him of man lawyers plodded on, till thirteen long stealing a pair of silk braces. Forster examinations had given time for one thou- denied the charge, and even when the sand three hundred questions being put braces were produced in court and identito the unwavering, inflexible, iron-hearted fied by Wagner, he persisted in his denial. wretch. Obdurate as a Hindoo fakir, stub- But in the solitude of his prison, he reborn as an Indian chief, he stood for five or flected that he could turn this incident to six hours together, without flinching or good account, in giving an air of truth to wavering. His deportment is graphically his falsehoods respecting the murder. Acdescribed by Feuerbach :

cordingly, after an interval of two days, he “ All means of attack recoiled from his requested an audience, appeared before the iron soul; neither the bloody clothes, nor judge, with downcast looks and trembling the axe, nor confrontation with his sister hands, like one bowed down by shame and and other witnesses could shake him. If remorse, and confessed in a circumstantial a passing flush or paleness, or a downcast manner that he had given way to the eye, occasionally betrayed surprise and temptations of Satan, and that he had embarrassment, it was but for a moment, stolen Wagner's silk braces.' This confesand he quickly recovered his self-posses- sion was doubtless intended to convince the sion. When the axe was produced, his judge that one whose tender conscience changing colour and rolling eye betrayed could not bear even the burden of a stolen the fearful torture within; but his voice pair of braces, would be still less able to and his answers remained unshaken. Upon endure the remorse which must follow a being confronted with his sister, Walburga, double murder." he seemed confused, his colour fled, and At last, on the 22nd of July, 1821, senhis hands trembled; but he still preserved tence was passed. Convicted of the murder so complete a command over himself as of Bäumler and his maid-servant, Forster to look her full in the face whilst he de- was condemned to imprisonment for life nied the most manifest truths. During the in chains. His sister, Walbarga, for aiding wholespecial inquisition, the emotions he ex- and abetting in the murder, received twelve hibited were those of a wild beast suddenly months in the House of Correction, and caught in a net, vainly seeking an outlet Margaret Preiss was acquitted. by which to escape from the hunters who In prison Forster was like a bronze statue. surround him. When the judge animad- He said to some of his fellow-prisoners, " If verted upon his changing colour or em- ever I get into trouble again I will persist in barrassed air, he replied with perfect truth, denial till my tongue turns black, and ruls 'It is quite possible for an innocent man in my mouth, and my body is bent double."



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The rascal had known perfectly well that inflated style of the worst romances. In unless he made a voluntary confession many places he has introduced songs and (for torture had been abolished in Bavaria poems, borrowed from the best German in 1806) the Bavarian law did not allow authors, which, according to his own him to be put to death. The being exposed account, he sang or recited, on various in a pillory in chains, with a placard on his occasions, and which he pretends to have breast before Bäumler's shop, in the König- composed himself! His head seems to have strasse, did not shake for a moment his been crammed with sentimental phrases nerves of steel.

and romantic images, which excite disgust In 1817, during his imprisonment at and horror in the mouth of such a being. Schwabach, this murderer had written a This tiger, who, with a hand reeking with sentimental autobiography, which he en- the blood of an old man, could murder an titled, The Romance of my Life and Loves. innocent and beautiful girl, can talk of It seems that, as a boy, he had hung departed souls that hold constant comabout public-houses, running errands for munion with him;' of the 'soft murmur the citizens who came there to play loto. of the evening breezes,' and of the melting He had then become a foot-boy to a Prus- harmony of the senses, which, after his sian baron, with whose children he used death, would inform his beloved Margaretha, to play. Refusing to become a shoemaker, that he was near her.”. Of his “name, he had turned gardener, till in 1807 he which would die away in the shadow of was drawn in the conscription, and en- the grave, like the echo of the songs of rolled in a regiment of the line. He made love;" of the “ glancing of the moonbeams the campaign against Austria in 1809, upon the silver stream of the Pegnitz ;" was taken prisoner, and ransomed himself. and of himself in his seventeenth year, as Dismissed on furlough, he became a tavern a half-blown rose on a beautiful morning keeper, and was punished for theft upon in spring.” Who could have recognised his guests. Twice deserting his regiment, the murderer Forster in the following pasthe incorrigible man was sentenced to run sages ? “Ah! for one thing I praise God,” the gauntlet three times backwards and says he in his preface, apostrophising Marforwards past one hundred and fifty men, garetha ; “for this, that our child, the first and to return to military service for six fruit of our love, sleeps the sleep of peace ! additional years. On the very day of his When he was torn from me I accused punishment he again deserted, and again Heaven, and could not understand the received the same sentence. In 1815 he inscrutable ways of God, but murmured was found guilty of desertion, fraud, and against him. But now I shed tears of joy conspiracy, and drummed out of the regi- that he is safe, and I pluck the flowers of ment. He then turned day-labourer and the valley to weave fresh garlands for his thief alternately, and in 1816 was tried at grave. Oh! do you remember how I Nüremberg for theft and house-breaking, planted the forget-me-nots upon his little and sentenced to three years and six green grave? Then my heart knew not months imprisonment in the House of God, and my tears flowed in the violence Correction. In consequence of his good of my sorrow. I thought myself the most conduct in prison, however, Forster was miserable of men. I now understand things released at the expiration of three-fourths better.” Passages like these—and there of his time, exactly four weeks before the are many such—merely prove the utter murder. The hypocritical and sentimental corruption of one who, cold and hardened autobiography of Forster, in spite of some as he was, could use the language of the faults of spelling, displayed considerable most devout piety and ape the most tender cleverness, and was stuffed with texts of sensibility. The high principle and love of Scripture.

virtue, of which he boasts, were as false as "Several anecdotes,” says Feuerbach, his sentiment. He could not have for“ for instance, the account of his childish gotten, while writing, that he was then in amour with a girl of eleven, of the name of prison for theft; and yet he has the shameWilhelmina, and of his stealing out of the less effrontery to write these words in his camp at Fürth, to visit his mistress, Babette, preface : "Oh! Margaretha! tell at Nüremberg, are told with a clearness, daughter what present help in trouble is simplicity, and truth that would do credit the innocence of the heart; how it inspires to many a practised pen. But by far the us with heroic strength to support the greater part, and especially the long dif- heaviest affliction.” And who would not atfuse preface, is written in the pompous tribute the following phrase to a philosopher


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