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talent in maintaining them. Mr. Molleson was then heard in behalf of the State, after which Judge Elmer delivered his charge, and the jury retired. In about thirty minutes the jury returned, and rendered a verdict not guilty. This verdict was received with loud ap plause, and Mercer left the courthouse amid the huzzas of the multitude. On the following morning his counsel returned to Philadelphia, where they were met on the wharf by an immense concourse of citizens who escorted them with acclamations to the United States Hotel. The verdict seemed to give general satisfaction throughout the city; Mercer was every where regarded as a hero; and we even heard, on a recent visit to Philadel phia, that the ladies intended to present him with a gold medal as the defender of female virtue.
Surveying from a distance these demonstrations of popular feeling, we confess that they fill us with alarm. From a careful study of the case, it seems to us that Mercer was acquitted solely in obedience to popular clamor, and on the ground that the provocation justified the offense; we see the community among whom the tragedy occurred, hailing his acquittal with applause; we see some of the first men of the land in point of character and talent, giving their sanction to this expression of popular feeling; and seeing these things we tremble. Let us examine this plea of provocation a little more closely. In the first place we do not believe that the provocation given by Heberton was as great as it has commonly been represented. The evidence that he committed an outrage on the person of Miss Mercer, rests solely upon her own testimony. But that very testimony shows us that she herself acted with great impropriety. She first accosted Heberton in the street, under the impression (as she says) that he was a Spanish gentleman
whom she had seen at the house of her sister. But she had never been introduced to that gentleman, and therefore was guilty of gross misconduct in noticing Heberton even as Mr. Bastido. Then she suffered him to walk with her for several squares, and to learn the place of her residence. Her interview with him on the following evening, according to her own account, was accidental; but this we can scarcely credit. Be that as it may, however, she often met him subsequently by appointment, and went with him wherever he proposed to take her. After the alledged outrage, instead of making her parents or her brother acquainted with the wrong which she had received, she studiously concealed it from them, and made arrangements to elope with Heberton; and even when her friends had become acquainted with the fact of her intimacy with him, instead of accusing Heberton of violence, and calling for redress, she put herself under his protection, and fled from her father's house. Unprincipled as Heberton was, we fear that in this instance the temptation and the guilt did not rest wholly with him. And if Mercer had carried out his first intention, and killed his sister instead of his actual victim, he might have been acquitted with equal propriety.
In the second place, if the outrage was such as it is represented to have been, there was a mode of redress by law. The homicide has been vindicated on the ground, that it was impossible to punish Heberton in any other manner. But if Sarah Mercer's statement is true, Heberton was guilty of rape, an offense which is severely punishable by the laws of Pennsylvania; and if Mercer was "sufficiently cool" to have Heberton arrested on the charge of abducting his sister, (which he did,) he had sufficient cooling time" to have had him arrested
and bound over to trial on a charge of rape. But Mercer sought revenge. In the third place, if the provoca tion was as great as it has been represented, and if there was no other means of redress, or even if Mercer felt the provocation to be much greater than it really was, can we give up to the individual the right of avenging his own wrongs, and allow him to take the life of another in a place of public concourse, and in the open day? The court of Gloucester County has decided that we can; it has sanctioned an act of private revenge; and multitudes have applauded its decision. This decision will henceforth be appealed to as the standard of right and wrong; but let it be remembered, that there is a higher standard by which the conduct of men must be determined, and a higher tribunal at which men must be judged. We own that the provocation which led Mercer to take the life of Heberton, was great. It was a species of provocation, (whether viewed as seduction or rape,) than which there can be none greater. The moral sense of mankind must acquiesce in the fate of Heberton as just. When the infamous Ap. pius Claudius attempted to dishonor the daughter of Virginius, and her noble father, reduced to the extremity of witnessing her dishonor or of covering himself with her blood, preferred the latter, and plunged a knife into her heart-the common heart of Rome responded to the call of the outraged father, and Appius was driven from power and crushed to the earth. So when the chaste Lucretia fell a victim to the lust of Tarquin and destroyed herself from shame, the common heart of Rome rose up to vindicate the outraged husband, and expelled the house of Tarquin from the city. It was the rape of Paris upon Helen, which united the scattered isles of Greece in a war of ten years against Troy; nor was the common heart of Greece Vol. I.
appeased, until the ravisher and the city that gave him shelter, had been destroyed. When Absalom caused Amnon to be put to death for his rape upon Tamar, David acquitted him. It is the natural sentiment of mankind, that death is not too severe a punishment for such deeds of lust. But while there is no doubt that Heberton merited his punishment, we affirm that Mercer had no right to inflict that punishment upon him. Shall an individual redress his own wrongs in a civilized community, under the very eye of law, and then receive the sanction of the law for his own breach of the public peace ? Shall one crime be punished by another? Let it be remembered, that the killing of Heberton was not an act of self-defense; nor was it an act performed suddenly, upon provocation, (as it would have been had Mercer entered the room while Heberton was ravishing his sister, and killed him in the very act.) It was not till several days after the outrage, that Mercer was informed. of it, nor was it till the close of the second day, after it was told him, that he took the life of the seducer. He could prevent no injury, avert no dishonor by such an act of violence-he sought only revenge. If the provocation is a sufficient vindication of his conduct, we know not upon what ground we should convict one murderer in ten; for the same plea can be urged in vindication of numerous acts of homicide. Judge Elmer, indeed, affirmed in his charge to the jury, that "if a brother of Heberton had pursued Mercer, after the latter shot Heberton, and had killed him, it would have been murder, for the law will not permit mere passion or revenge, to form a justification in this case." But why would not the plea of provocation be as valid in the one case as in the other? Does the difference between the two cases lie in the degree of the provocation? But who is to judge of this? One man
may be as highly incensed at the public butchery of a brother, as another would be at the public dishonor of a sister. If a brother of Heberton, absent at sea and ignorant of what has transpired, should return to-day, and becoming exasperated at the intelligence of his brother's death, should dog Mercer for thirty six hours and kill him tomorrow, would not the same jury which acquitted Mercer, be bound to acquit him also? Where could we draw the line between the two cases? Has not this verdict annihila ted the distinction between right and wrong, given loose reins to human passions, and rendered law a nullity? The citizens of Philadelphia, by applauding the conduct of Mercer, have proclaimed to the world that false sentiments of honor and justice are still prevalent north of Mason and Dixon's line. So far, however, as their approbation of Mercer's conduct is to be construed as a testimony against Heberton's, we heartily rejoice in it. We are glad to see the public mind aroused even to indignation against the sin for which he suffered so severely. We are painfully convinced, that scenes of vice and pollution similar to those disclosed by this tragedy, are of frequent occurrence in such a city as Philadelphia. It is time that the community was awakened to this fact, and that some efficient barrier was erected against the inroads of vice. The New England states are in advance of many of their sisters of the Union, in endeavors to suppress and punish fornication, seduction, and similar offenses against public morals by law. The legisla ture of New York has been fre
quently petitioned to take some action in reference to these vices; · but such petitions have hitherto excited little else than indecent ridicule, whilst even in licentious France, exciting a female to sexual intercourse is a crime. The legislature of Pennsylvania, being
in session at the time of Heberton's exposure and death, passed an act, punishing by fine and imprisonment, the seduction, with illicit intercourse, of any female of good repute within the age of twenty one years, under promise of marriage-which promise must be proved by other testimony than her own. This act would hardly have covered the case of Heberton; yet it is plain, that if there had been a law against for nication, under which he could have been arrested as a criminal, (as he might have been if he was really guilty of rape,) he would have been duly punished for his offense, and Mercer would have been saved from the commission of crime. We trust that every state will soon possess enough of the contemned spirit of the Puritans, to guard the public morals with a jealous eye.
But it is not upon legal enactments that we place our chief reliance for the suppression of licentiousness. We must elevate the tone of moral feeling, especially among the youth of our country, by inculcating lessons of purity in opposition to the libertine principles which abound in the novels of the day. Parents and the guardians of youth must be watchful against the the influences of the theater and the ball-room. The seal of reprobation must be stamped broadly and legibly on the least deviation from the path of virtue, either in thought or in deed.
There is a strange tendency in society to heap opprobrium upon the licentious female, more largely than upon him whose lust she feeds.* A woman who is not strictly virtuous, is an outcast from society; whilst not unfrequently the man who is known to be licentious, is permitted to retain his station in society, and to marry
* In the trial of Robinson, for the mur der of Helen Jewett, the testimony of libertines was received, while that of har lots was rejected!
into a respectable and virtuous family. This ought not so to be. Every young man should be made to feel that, if he forsakes the path of virtue, he cannot be permitted to associate with the virtuous; much less to be united to the innocent and pure, in the most intimate relation of life. Till parents shut their doors against every one whose character is stained in the least degree with vice, they must expect to see their daughters ruined and degraded; till daughters heed parental counsel, and shun the society of those who are known to be immoral, till they learn to value a character for purity so highly, as to repel the advances of those who associate with libertines and harlots, they must expect to bring disgrace upon themselves and misery upon their friends. The price of admission to virtuous society should be an unblemished character, and she dishonors her sex who receives one who is tainted with vice, as the part ner of her bosom. Until a higher tone of moral sentiment exists in the community, we must expect the repetition of these painful and disgusting scenes.
In conclusion, we cannot fail to mark in this event the awful providence of God. What a fearful comment have we on the declaration of inspired writ: "The way of transgressors is hard." Heberton was a young man of respectable parentage, of good education, of fine personal appearance, of wealth and
standing in society. Possessing these combined advantages, he might have occupied a position of peculiar honor, influence and usefulness. But he chose to sacrifice them all to the indulgence of his lust. His talents and education served only to make him skillful in the arts of the seducer; his wealth and beauty served only to allure his victims. He went on from step to step in sensual indulgence, till he became alike reckless of his own character, and of the hopes and wishes of a widowed mother, and sought the reputation of a successful libertine. Already he could number his victims by the score, and boast that but one more was needed to place him at the head of his associates in guilt. He secured that one-but the cup of his iniquity was full. God loathed him, and could not suffer the earth to be polluted any longer by his presence. A brother's arm was nerved for vengeance-and he fell, covered with guilt and shame. What an admonition to the young! Let them heed the counsel of the wise man in the 7th of Proverbs, and shun the ways of her whose "feet go down to death," and whose "steps take hold on hell."
"The sacred lowe o' weel-placed love, Luxuriantly indulge it;
But never tempt th'illicit rove,
Though naething should divulge it.
I waive the quantum o' the sin,
ENGLAND AND CHINA.
The most important event of the year 1842, is the conclusion of the war between Great Britain and China, and the ratification by both parties of a treaty of peace, highly
advantageous to our mother country, and full of promise to the commerce of the world, and to the evangelization of the benighted millions of China. After the arrival of the reinforcements, about the middle of June, 1842, the British fleet
entered the Yang-tze-Kiang, the most magnificent river of China, on the banks of which the Chinese had erected strong fortifications. The cannonade on both sides was extremely heavy and unceasing for two hours, when a landing was effected by the British, and the Chinese driven from their batteries. The total amount of ordnance captured is reported to be three hundred and sixty-three pieces, seventy six of which were brass, most of them of heavy caliber, and upwards of eleven feet long. This splendid victory was followed up by a successful attack on the city of Chinkiang-foo, and an immediate march upon Nankin. This brought the emperor to terms. Three high imperial commissioners appeared with a flag of truce and a treaty of peace. On the 26th of August, Sir Henry Pottinger negotiated with them a treaty, subsequently ratified both by the queen and emperor, of which the following are the most important provisions:
1. Lasting peace and friendship between the two empires.
2. China to pay twenty one millions of dollars in the course of the present and three succeeding years.
3. The ports of Canton, Amoy, Foo-chow-foo, Ningpoo, and Shanghai, to be thrown open to British merchants; consular officers to be appointed to reside at them; and regular and just tariffs of import and export (as well as inland transit) duties to be established and pub lished.
4. The island of Hong Kong to be ceded in perpetuity to her Britannic Majesty, her heirs and succes
5. All subjects of her Britannic Majesty (whether natives of Europe or India) who may be confined in any part of the Chinese empire, to be unconditionally released.
6. An act of full and entire amnesty to be published by the emperor, under the imperial sign manual
and seal, to all Chinese subjects, on account of their having held service or intercourse with, or resided under, the British government or its officers.
7. Correspondence to be conducted on terms of perfect equality among the officers of both govern
8. On the emperor's assent being received to this treaty, and the payment of the first instalment of six millions of dollars, her Britannic Majesty's forces to retire from Nankin and the grand canal, and the military posts at Chinhai to be also withdrawn, but the islands of Chusan and Kolangsoo are to be held until the money payments and arrangements for opening the ports are completed.
More recently, Dec. 7th, Canton became the scene of popular violence, in which some British property was destroyed; but the act was disowned by the Chinese government, and indemnity pledged for the losses of the English. The prospect now is one of prolonged peace.
BRITISH POWER IN INDIA.
The past few months have furnished us with some interesting intelligence from British India. The governor general, Lord Ellenborough, in obedience to instructions from home, ordered the evacuation of Affghanistan, after the British generals had retaken Cabul, recovered the English captives, and destroyed the fortifications of the place. The governor has been se verely censured in England, for the turgid, oriental style of his procla mations, and still more for attempting to conciliate the favor of his Hindoo subjects, by ordering the gates of the temple of Somnauth to be transported back from the tomb of Mahmoud of Ghusnee, in Affghanistan, to the place from whence they had been taken; an act which it was thought would be regarded