AT the KING's Commission of the Peace, and Oyer and Terminer, and Goal Delivery, &c. Opened, before the Right Honourable Sir Peter Delme, Knt . then Lord Mayor , the Honourable Mr. Justice Tracy, Mr. Baron Price, Mr. Serjeant Raby, and several of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace, for the City of London and County of Middlesex, at Justice-Hall in the Old-Baily, on Wednesday the 4th of October last, seven Men and one Woman were by the Jury found guilty of Capital Crimes.
Among them was Lovi Houssart, who being, a considerable time ago, apprehended and tryed for the Murder of Anne his Wife , by giving her one Mortal Wound in the Throat with a Razor, or some other shurp Instrument, was, thro' want of sufficient Evidence, acquitted. He was afwards try'd and convicted of Bigamy. An Appeal was then lodg'd against him, by Solomon Rondeau, Brother and Heir to Anne Houssart, but found Defective, and therefore cancel'd. When he was brought upon his Tryal, on a new Appeal, the Counsel of the Appellant and Appellee agreed to join Issue upon the Plea of the Prisoner, which contain'd six Matters, in Bar and in Abatement (as that another Appeal was yet depending: That there was a Misnomer: That he was not Labourer, but Barber Chirurgeon : That the Appeal mention'd Persons not existing, as John Doe and Richard
Roe, &c.) He was plainly answer'd to these Objections; and on his Tryal, was found guilty of the Murder, upon Circumstances the most strong and convincive that for many Years have been known or heard at the abovenam'd Court of Justice. Upon his Conviction, Sentence was not pronounc'd upon him, till the 30th of Nov. last.
Before he suffer'd Death, I endeavour'd to Instruct him from the following Words of David,
Deliver me from Blood-guiltiness, O God Psalm 51. ver. 14.
From whence we First consider'd the nature of Blood guiltiness; According to (1.) The Law of Nature; to which Murder is contrary; and altho' so weak was this Law, that even in the most refin'd Times of the Greeks and Romans, Murders were allow'd in publick Sports and the Solemnizing Funerals, Sacrifices, &c. yet Seneca, in his 7th Epist. condemns such barbarous Spectacles; and Cicero in his Tuse. Quest. calls 'em cruel and inhuman Showes. And tho' the Spartans had a Law, that no maimed Child should be bred up, but exposed to wild Beasts; which was allow'd among the Romans, when a Child was Maim'd, or Spurious, or Infirm, or when the Parents could not provide for it (both the Greeks and Romans following the Law of Plato therein, and the Advice of Aristotle;) yet, a few Centuries before our Saviour, many learn'd Heathens began to complain of the Barbarity of thus exposing their own Off-spring to Birds and Beasts. &c.
(2.) According to the Jewish Law. For altho' the Jews enervated the sixth Command by Blood shed thro' Zeal; and tho' nothing was so much wanting among them as the Love of Mercy, toward all other Nations, as Josephus says; which Spirit discovers it self even in the excellent Son of Syrach, Ecclus. 50. 25. which led the Apostle to say, they were contrary to all Men, 1 Thess. 2. 16: Yet the Law of Moses was most express that whosoe sheds Mans Blood, by Man should his Blood be shed. Thus, tho' David was led into the Crime of Murder, by his extravagant Love of Bathsheba; yet when his Reason was cool, he was so regardful of the Life of a Man, that when he long'd in the heat of War, and cry'd and said, Oh! that one would give me to drink of the Water of the Well of Bethlem, and three mighty Men broke thro' the Host of the Philstines and drew Water, and brought it to David, we read that neversheless he would not drink it, but poured it out to the Lord, and said, Be it far from me that I should do this; Is not this the Blood of the Men that went in jeopardy of their Lives? 2 Sam. 23.
(3.) According to the Christian Law; which saith, he who hateth his Brother is a Murderer; which forbids us to grudge one against another; commands us not to e angry without a Cause; not to render evil for evil; but to have such Charity as envyeth not; In Imitation of Christ; All we like Sheep have gone a stray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the Iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his Mouth, he is brought as a Lamb to the Slaughter,
and as a Sheep before her Sheers is dumb, so he openeth not his Mouth. He is despised and rejected of Men, a Man of Sorrow, and acquainted with Grief; and we hid as it were our Faces from him, he was despised and we esteemed him not. Isa. 53.
SECONDLY, We consider'd the particular Murder of Kindred and Relations. And that the Sin of Parricide might be illustrated by the Crime of Incest. If Incest is so great and heinous a Sin, Parricide must be greater; One may be supposed to be with the Party's Consent, the other is by Violence; One defiles and pollutes, the other destroys the Body, One is giving a bestial Delight to a Relation, the other a painful Death. As the Scripture aith, That Man and Wife are no more twain but one Flesh; and that nothing but God should seperate them; and that a Man should love his Wife as himself, for who ever yet hated his own Flesh; 'Tis wonderful that if any Person his, without Provocation, with cou deliberate Thought, hurried so near a Relative unprepared into the other World, without allowing her that Space for Repentance which the Law allows the greatest Malefactor, he should not be always overwhelm'd with Tears; And still more wonderful, that he should sometimes laugh, and peremptorily affirm, That he has done no ll; Wonderful, that the Sight of that Body, which he once lov'd, cover'd in a Moment with Blood, should not at that Instant strike him with Confusion and Amazement, and afterwards leave an Impression of Horror upon all his Words and Actions.
THIRDLY, We took Notice of the Crime of Suicide; which is contrary to the Law of Nature; tho' Epictetus, Zeno, Cato, and even Sene, nay, almost all the Stoicks, held it lawful for a Wise-man to destroy himself; The Epicureans and Platonists held the same Opinion: But Pythagoras was an Enemy to such a Doctrine; and Aristotle says, To Die, to shun Grief, is not the Part of a Brave, but a Cowardly Man. We advised the Prisoner, as he had threatened to lay violent Hands on Himself, to Repent of that Rashness. Impatience, and want of Submission to God and Justice; to Repent, of having accused God of Cruelty in laying upon him more than was fit for Man to bear; and of intending to usurp upon the Right of God, who, as he alone can give, can only take away Life For who, to avoid Temporal would run upon Eternal Misery? &c.
LASTLY, We advised him no longer obstinately to deny his Guilt; since a free Confession before all Men, would be so far from loading him with more Shame and Disgrace, that, by shewing him Candid and Ingenuous, and sorry for his Crime, it would be the Way to make all Men think of him with some Pity and Concern. Wherefore we are commanded by St. James to confess our Sins one to another. We advised him to reflect on what had been offer'd to prove a Resurrection, and no longer to maintain his absurd Opinion of a perishable Soul. That by this means he might be an Object qualified to receive the Holy Sacrament, and a Candidate for the Manns prepared by Christ for Believers. &c.
The Account of this Malefactor under the Conviction of the Law.
THIS Malefactor's continued Perseverance in denying his Guilt, has induced several Persons to believe him Innocent. When first he was under Confinement, he was much Dejected was continually employ'd in perusing the Books of Devotion he was furnished with, and desired and had the Assistance also of a French Minister, as he had been most accustomed to hear Divine Service in his own Language. But after he was brought upon his Tryal the first time and acquitted, his Deportment and Discourse alter'd, he assumed the Appearance and the Talk of a Man easy and innocent in his Thoughts; and when his Brother, from Holland, went into the Prison to see him in his Troubles, he made so light of the Condition he was in, as occasion'd great Uneasiness to his Brother, so that he left him very abruptly, and returned into Holland with great Surprize and Astonishment.
BEFORE he was Convicted of Bigamy, he said he should not trouble himself to make any Defence, for 2 Reasons; because he knew it was resolved to Convict him; and because his Conviction could be no Scandal, for where was no Fault there was no Disgrace, and to Wed a second Wife, when the first was justly turn'd off, could be no Fault. He afterwards added, That his first Wife was a Socinian, an Irrational-Creature, no Christian, nor could be entitled to the Advantages of any Nation or People; and accordingly the Scripture says, with such an one we may have Conversation, nor so much as eat with them. But as to the Killing her, he denied it.
AFTER he was Convicted of the Murther, and was carried to the Chappel with A. Deval, J. Blake, and the other Convicts, his every Word and Look were full of Bitterness and Venom against the Court and his Accusers, and he told several who desired him to be more compos'd. That he was not sorry that he had Arraigned the Justice of the English Nation, in the Face of the Court that Tried him, but sorry he had not done it more largely; he would still find an Opportunity to speak, tho' he could not act, his Mind. A. Devall said that this Prisoner would sometimes divert him from Reading, by puzling him with Difficulties and Objections; and puting Queries to him relating to the Reallity of a Resurrection and future Existance. But the Person with whom he seem'd the most pleas'd was John Sheppard; and while they were in the Condemn'd-Hold, they were sometimes very Merry and Jocose together. It appear'd plainly that he was not then making any preparation for Death, from several Expressions which I heard proceed from him; for Instance, when a great Number of Sparks from their Charcoal Fire issued swiftly forth, he wish'd (to Sheppard) they were all of them Bullets, that the Prison might be beaten about his Ears, he might dye like Sampson.
After Sentence of Death was past upon him, and he had no Hopes of Favour from his Superiours as appeared from his insulting the Court, in so audacious a Manner, he made no scruple of declaring, he would not be hang'd, as they had found him guilty of Throat-cutting, he would verify their Judg
ment, by cutting his own Throat; since he could prove it to be no Crime. These false Notions were so rooted in his Mind, that the Day after his Condemnation, he strenously argued, that the Soul and the Life was one and the same thing, quoting the Beginning of Genesis, where (said he) 'tis recorded, God breathed into Man a Living Soul; therefore (continu'd he) when that Breath of God prishes from us the Living Soul we find dies and perishes too; &c. He proceeded afterwards to say, dy thus you would have me believe all the strange Notions of Ministers, That the Devil is a real Thing; That our kind God punishes poor Souls for ever and ever; That Hell is full of Fire &c. I wish I could believe ye 'tis so with me that I cannot. &c.
As his nature appear'd so obdurate, and so relentless with Regard to himself and his best Wife, it was remarkable, that he should have such a Concern and Tenderness for his Second Wife and his Child, as to shed Tears (which he did the Tuesday before he dy'd) at the Consideration of their being left without a Sufficiency to support them. In the Afternoon he also shed Tears, when he observ'd that the News of his Condemnation would reach the Years of his Father (Ninety Years old) and of his other Friends in Holland and France. He said, after this, That tho', as to himself, he was as willing to Dye as Live; yet it cut his Heart to think he should be hang'd between Heaven and the Earth, as unworthy of either, and his Body be pointed at and shewn to his Wife and Child; and they reflected upon for Murder.
But this Tenderness, as it made no part of his Nature, soon disappear'd, and the next Day, when a French Minister charitably went to visit him, and told him he must confess his Offence or expect to be damn'd; he reply'd in a Rage, You must look for Damntion to your self, for uncharitably supposing I am guilty, without knowing any thing of the matter. And being by me desir'd not to think of this Life, but to place his Thoughts upon Eternity altho' he promis'd he would regard chiefly his Soul, he afterwards made it his principal Business to enquire, Who was to be apply'd to for a Reprieve, since the Appeal had cut him off from his Majesty's Cognizance. &c.
At the Chappel the Day preceeding his Death, he appear'd to be attentive; but 'tis to be doubted whether it was occasion'd by a real Regard to Futurity; Because after the Sermon, when I talked with him, all his Efforts were turn'd toward casting an Odium upon certain Persons who had mention'd to him the Blackness and Heinousness of his Crime, and had urg'd him to confess it for the satisfaction of all; frequently smiling and laughing and asserting his Innocence. &c. As he desir'd me to go to him, that same Evening: I hoped to find him different from what he continu'd. For he appeared much discompos'd at a French Minister's bidding him Confess his Crime. It was our Design to carry on our Argument against his Heterodox Notions; but he had much alter'd his Sentiments, or pretended to have done so; for altho' in the Morning he argued that the Soul would sleep with the Body, &c. i Night, he refus'd all Argument; and when asked, said he believed God and a Resurrection; and afterwards added thus, Pray say nothing more of my Guilt, if ye will only pray with me I will joyn with ye as long as ye please.
After Minister appointed by me, had preach'd to him on Sunday Afternoon, The Prisoner told him, he had cruelly charg'd him in his Sermon; and that such a Discourse he should have preach'd before the Court, and those who were guilty of the Murder of him; Then spoke to the Congregation, boldly proclaiming and avering his Innocence. The Morning of his Death, he was very angry when he found the Sacrament could not (by the Cannons of the Church) be administr'd to him, without his Confession.
At the Place of EXECUTION, &c.
WHen he arriv'd at the Place appointed for his Death, he turn'd pale, and was very Sick. When we told him we would not pray by him unless he would confess the Fact, but he must suffer Death immediately: He answer'd, he wish'd we would give him the Prayers: But tho' we should refuse, he would not charge himself with what he was ignorant of: Afterwards, when in the Cart we earnestly conjured him to redeem his Soul from Ruin, by uttering the Truth, and not regarding this World. He continu'd to reply, Pray do not tempt me; pray do not trouble me; I am glad of the Prayers ye give me, but this Advice is unprofitable; I will not make my self worse than I am, &c. It was observ'd by the Spectators, that after we left him, he did not offer up to God any private Prayer; Nor at the Moment of his Suffering, did he, as is usual and requisite, call upon God and Christ, to rescue and save his Soul; which was somewhat strange, Because when I repeated the Prayers he always repeated them with me.
Before I left him, he gave me a large Paper, which I was in hopes contain'd his acknowledgement of the Fact; But (besides several bitter Expressions against the Court of Justice) it was as follows;
I Lovi Houssart am 40 Years old; and was born in Sedan a Town in Champagne near Boulloneis ; I have left France above 14 Years. I was Apprentice to a Surgeon at Amsterdam, and after Examination, was allow'd by the College to be qualify'd for that Business; So that I intended to go on board a Ship as a Surgeon; But I could never have my health at Sea. I dwelt some time at Maestricht in the Dutch Brabant where my aged Father and my Brother now dwell. I travel'd thro' Holland, and was in almost every Town: My two Sisters are in France; and also many of my Relations; for the Earth has scarce any Family more numerous than Ours. Seven or eight Years I have been in London; And here I met with Anne Roudeau who was born at the same Village with me; and therefore I lov'd her: After I had left her she writ to me, and said she would reveal a Secret; I promised to be Secret; and she told me, she had not been Chast, the Consequence of it was upon her; upon which, I gave her my best Help and Assistance: Since she is dead, I hope her Soul is happy. &c.
This is the Account that is given by me,
T. PURNEY Ordinary and Chaplain.