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on this occasion, enveloped in an ordinary
surtout, sitting at the head of a table, and
surrounded by a knot of good-humoured
faces, who might, if judged from mere
appearances, have rallied round their president
for some social purposeonly that the cigars
and spirits and water had not yet come in.
There was nothing official to be seen but a few
pens, a sheet or two of paper, an inkstand,
and a parish beadle.

When we entered, the Coroner was holding
a friendly conversation with some of the jury,
the beadle, and the gentlemen of the press,
respecting the inferiority of the accommodation;
and, considering the number of persons
present, and the accessions expected from
more jurymen, parochial officers, and
witnesses, the subject was suggested naturally
enough: for the private apartment of the
landlord was of exceedingly moderate dimensions;
and that had been appropriated as the
temporary Court.

Here then, to a back parlour of the Old
Drury Tavern, Vinegar Yard, Drury Lane,
London, the Queen's representative was
consignedby no fault of his own, but from that
of a system of which he is rather a victim
than a promoterto institute one of the
most important inquiries which the law of
England prescribes. A human being had been
prematurely sent into eternity, and the
coroner was called uponamidst several
implements of conviviality, the odour of gin
and the smell of tobacco-smoke'to inquire
in this manner: that is, to wit, if they [the
witnesses] know where the person was slain,
whether it were in any house, field, bed,
tavern, or company, and who were there; who
are culpable, either of the act, or of the
force; and who were present, either men or
women, and of what age soever they be, if
they can speak or have any discretion; and
how many soever be found culpable they shall
be taken and delivered to the sheriff, and
shall be committed to the gaol.' So runs the
clause of the act of parliament, still in force by
which the coroner and jury were now assembled.
It is the second statute of the fourth year
of Edward I., and is the identical law which
is discussed by the grave-diggers in Hamlet.

The pleasant colloquy about the size of the
room ended in a resolution to adjourn the
Court to the ' Two Spies,' in a neighbouring
alley. Time appeared, throughout the
proceedings, to be as valuable as space, and the
rest of the jurors having dropped in, the
coronerwith a bible supplied from the bar,
at once delivered the oath to the foreman.
The other jurors were rapidly sworn in
batches, upon the Old Drury Bible, under an
abridged dispensation administered, if our
memory be correct, by the beadle.

'Now, then, gentlemen,' said the coroner,
' we'll view the body.'

Not without alacrity the entire company
left their confined quarters to breathe such
air as is vouchsafed in Vinegar Yard. The
subject of inquiry lay at a baker's shop, 'a
few doors round the corner,'—to use the
topographical formula of the parish functionary
and thither he ushered us. A few of the
window shutters of the shop were up, but in
all other respects there was as little to indicate
a house of death as there was to show it to be
a house of mourning. If the journeyman had
not been standing at the end of the counter in
his holiday coat, it would have seemed as if
business was going on as usual. There was
the same tempting display of tarts, the same
heaps of biscuits, the same supply of loaves,
the same ranges of flour in paper bags as is
to be observed in ordinary bakers' shops on
ordinary occasions. Yet the mistress of this
particular baker's shop lay dead only a few
paces within, and its master was in gaol on
suspicion of having murdered her.

Through a parlour and a sort of passage
with a bed and a sink in it, the jury were shown
into a confined kitchen. Here, on a mahogany
dining-table, lay the remains covered with a
dirty sheet. To describe the spectacle which
presented itself when the beadle, with
business-like immobility turned down the covering,
does not happily fall within our present
object. It is, however, necessary to say that
it presented evidences of continued ill usage
from blows and kicks, not to be beheld without
strong indignation. Yet this was not all.

' The cause of death,' said the beadlehis
mind was quite made up' is on the back;
it's covered with bruises: but I suppose you
won't want to see that, gentlemen.'

By no means. Everybody had seen enough;
for they were surrounded by whatever could
increase distress and engender disgust. The
apartment was so small, that the table left
only room for the jurors to edge round it one
by one; and it was hardly possible to do this,
without actual contact with the head or feet
of the corpse. A gridiron and other black
utensils were hanging against the wall, and
could only be escaped by the exercise on the
part of the spectators of great ingenuity of
motion. This and the bed-place (bed-room is no
word for it) indicated squalid poverty; but the
scene was changed in the parlour. There,
appearances were at least kept up. It was filled
with decent furnitureeven elegancies;
including a pianoforte and a couple of portraits.

These strange evidences of refinement only
brought out the squalor, smallness, and
unfitness for any part of a judicial inquiry of
the inner apartments, into more glaring relief.
Surely so important a function as that of a
coroner and his jury should not be conducted
amidst such a scene! Besides other obvious
objections, the danger of keeping corpses
in confined apartments, and in close
neighbourhoods, was here strongly exemplified.
The smell was so 'close' and insanitary, that
the first man who entered the den where the
body lay, caused the window to be opened.
Two children, the offspring of the victim and
the accused, lived in these apartments; and