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In Scotland the pheasant is beginning to spread over all lowground shooting. This year the great increase north of the Tweed was the subject of a special article. When the price of pheasants' eggs--the great initial expense of breeders--drops from 103. to 58. per dozen, as it must before long, in consequence of competition, the number reared will probably be raised by thirty or forty per cent.
Home-bred partridges are probably a fixed quantity, unless the introduction of Hungarian stock makes a difference. On some estates where they have been introduced, the stock has doubled. But the amount of good partridge soil is limited, and they cannot be increased on bad ground. English hares suffer from the Ground Game Act; so do rabbits; but Russian and German partridges, German and Norwegian hares, and the socalled ptarmigan will probably increase. The rabbit supply is now reinforced by hundreds of thousands of frozen rabbits from Australia, and the price of home-bred rabbits has fallen in consequence. In spite of the murderous destruction of sub-arctic game the regions from which it comes are so huge, and the facilities for catching it, for freezing it, and transporting it by sledge, so great, that we may expect the supply to be larger each year rather than less. It seems incredible, but it is true, that Russian game can be brought from St. Petersburg to Leadenhall Market at a cheaper rate per ton than Surrey fowls can be brought from Horsham to London. The Trans-Siberian railway will tap another enormous game area, and the supply from the two extremes—the tame pheasantries of England and the uninhabited forests of the sub-arctic continent-will continue to stock our market. But there is no corresponding increase in the quantity of wild-fowl at present available. Their wariness and nocturnal habits make it always difficult to kill them, the decoys have mainly disappeared, and so far no great source of supply has been discovered abroad. It is matter for surprise that the price of wild-duck is as low as it is at present; and unless the great continental nobles, such as the Duke of Sermoneta, owner of the great duck swamps in the Pontine Marshes, or the proprietors of South Russian or Hungarian lakes, amuse themselves by constructing decoys, the number of wild-fowl available for the use of London will probably fall below the quantity normally consumed.
C. J. CORNISH. 'Frozen pheasants and other game are regularly brought into the market of
THE KING AGAINST BURKE AND MCDOUGAL.
PREVIOUSLY to Warburton's Act, passed in 1832, the progress of surgery was greatly hampered by the obstacles placed in the way of the study of anatomy. Bodies from the gallows formed the only recognised legal supply of subjects for dissection, and Draconian as our law was, the gaol deliveries were utterly insufficient to keep pace with the demands of the medical schools. Voluntary enthusiasts like Bentham were rare; the very poorest classes shrank from surrendering the bodies of their relatives to the scalpel, and the hideous custom of ransacking the graves and disinterring the newly buried dead was resorted to by gangs of ruffians. On such agents as these surgeons and lecturers had to depend, prices ruled high, and few questions were asked. Wherever there was a school of medicine the need arose, and more especially in Edinburgh, where criminals were fewer and anatomical students more numerous than in the southern capital.
On the morning of Friday, October 31st, 1828, there came into a grocer's shop in the Westport a little, undersized, middle-aged woman to beg a meal. She had come, she said, from Glasgow to join her son, but he had left their lodging in the Pleasance, and she did not know how to gain tidings of him, and was without a friend in the city. Her story, as she poured it out to the shopboy behind the counter, attracted the attention of a customer, William Burke, and he asked her name. She was a widow,
and though her husband was a Campbell, she herself came from Inishowen, in Donegal, and her maiden name had been Docherty. Burke was Irish too, and his mother, by a strange coincidence, was a Docherty, so in the fulness of his heart he offered to give breakfast to the poor woman, and he completed his purchase and went away
with her. His home was near at band, in that picturesque but squalid Old Town of Edinburgh which to-day leaves much to be desired in respect of sanitation and the decencies of life, but was then almost indescribable with its filth and overcrowding, and was packed full of the most destitute and abandoned characters.
Burke's 'house' consisted of a single room in an old tene
top of which was stuffed with straw. The next morning it was
sunk flat accompanied by a porter carrying a packing-case, the
ment, situated on the lowest floor, sunk below the level of the street. There were two other rooms in this basement, tenanted by families of the name of Law and Connoway; Burke was living with a woman, Helen McDougal, who passed as his wife, and though their room was by no means a large one, they shared it with lodgers, a married couple called Gray. All the inhabitants of the sunk flat were Irish of the poorest class. The stranger was given some porridge and milk and set down to rest; it was Hallow E’en ; whisky was produced, and the neighbours came in and took their drams. Burke questioned the guest about her old home and family, and grew more and more friendly, till finally he offered her a lodging for the night. There were limits, however, eren to Westport hospitality, and to accommodate her it was necessary to evict the lodgers, so Burke arranged for them to sleep at the house of his friend Hare in Tanner's Close hard by. This was settled, and the old woman was only too glad to sit down by the fire and feel that for that day, at any rate, she had
About nine the next morning Burke sent up for Gray and his wise to come and have breakfast, and on their arrival they found that Mrs. Campbell, or Docherty, was no longer there, and they beard McDougal say that she had been so troublesome in the night they had turned her out. After breakfast there was more whisky and plenty of merriment, but there was something about Burke and his anxiety lest any one should go near a heap of straw and litter at the foot of the bed which aroused Mrs. Gray's curiosity. This, however, she found no means of satisfying till late in the afternoon when it had grown dark and she was left in the room with her husband; then she went straight to the straw, and, groping in it, felt a human arm, and there, half under the bed, lay the naked and lifeless body of the beggar woman. Horrorstruck at what they had seen, the Grays hastened from the room, spurning the entreaties of Helen McDougal, whom they met in the doorway, that they would say nothing. They, at once informed the police, who were on the spot by eight o'clock, and arrested Burke and his female companion as they were coming up the stair
. The corpse was not to be found, but it was ascertained that shortly after six o'clock Burke and McDougal with Mr. and Mrs. Hare had all been seen coming up from the
no further cares.
resolved to search the dissecting-rooms, and the first place visited was the museum of Dr. Knox, the foremost anatomical teacher of the day, in Surgeon Square. The police learnt from Paterson, the porter, that a 'subject' had been brought in the night before, and on entering a cellar they found in an old tea-chest the body of a woman which Gray and his wife identified as that of Docherty. From what Paterson told them with regard to how he had become possessed of it, the police immediately arrested the two Hares.
On the following day the prisoners' declarations were taken. Burke's was to the effect that a strange man whom he had never seen before had left a box, which proved to contain a dead body, in his room on the Friday, and had returned the following day with a porter and taken it to the surgeon's. The body found in the cellar bore no resemblance to Docherty, whom he said he had met on the Saturday morning and had taken home to breakfast, keeping her till three in the afternoon, when she went away. A week later, however, he made a totally different statement; he admitted that it was on the Friday morning that he made acquaintance with Docherty. She was in his house all that day, and late in the evening he and Hare had a drunken quarrel, in which McDougal and Mrs. Hare interposed. When peace was restored they missed the old woman, and at last found her lying doubled up in the straw, quite dead. They stripped her, hid her under the bed, and next day, by agreement with Paterson, took her body to Surgeon Square. No violence of any kind had been offered to the woman.
The other prisoners were examined on the same occasions, but they insisted that Docherty had received no hurt in their presence; while McDougal not only denied that she knew of any dead body being in the house, but she declared that she did not see the woman at all after two o'clock on the Friday afternoon. The authorities were now in a position of grave difficulty. Of the guilt of the parties there could be little doubt, but the proof was very deficient, and the medical opinions were far from conclusive as to the manner in which the deceased had met with her death. Scotch jurors have always the loophole of Not Proven, and it seemed hopeless to expect a conviction where the fact of a murder having been committed was not put beyond the possibility of doubt. The only method of procuring the requisite information was to admit some of the accused as king's evidence. It was a distasteful
alternative, but the scandal, and the danger to the public, if the entire gang were let loose to resume their horrible work, was even more serious. There were rumours that this was no isolated transaction; there had been mysterious disappearances to which this crime seemed to afford a clue, and finally overtures were made to Hare which he accepted, on receiving an assurance that, if he would disclose the facts relative to this case and
similar crimes, he would not be brought to trial on account of his accession to any of them. Out of the tale of horror unfolded by him two other murders were selected in which it was found possible to obtain corroboration from witnesses of credit. Hare's wife was included in the assurance of safety, as his evidence would have been inadmissible against her.
The trial took place on Christmas eve. The Court was composed of the Lord Justice Clerk (Lord Boyle), and Lords Pitmilly, Meadowbank, and Mackenzie. The Crown was represented by the Lord Advocate, Sir William Rae, and three other counsel, including Archibald Alison, the historian. Though the prisoners were utterly destitute, the merciful custom of Scotland ensured their being defended by the ablest members of the Bar. The Dean of Faculty, Sir James Moncrieff, led for Burke, and Henry Cockburn for Helen McDougal. Had they been tried in England, not all the wealth of the Indies could at that date have rendered it possible for counsel to do more than cross-examine witnesses on their behalf.
The Court sat at a quarter past ten. The indictment contained three counts, each charging a separate murder. That of Docherty, in which alone McDougal was concerned, came last; the other two related to a young woman of great beauty, named Mary Paterson, and to · Daft Jamie,' a half-witted boy well known on the streets of Edinburgh, both of whom bad met with their deaths in Hare's house. To this the prisoners' counsel objected, on the ground of the prejudice which must be caused by joining three several offences, and of the hardship on McDougal, who was only charged with one of them. The Court upheld the objection, and the Lord Advocate elected to proceed with the case of Docherty.
A plan of the houses in the Westport was first put in. It has been stated that Burke occupied a room in a sunken flat. To obtain access to it from the street you passed through the passage to the back and descended the common stair into an area,