LETTER FROM VICTOR HUGO.
What has been the character of his trial ? Let us sum it
up in a few words : —
John Brown, upon a wretched pallet, with six half gaping
wounds, a gun-shot wound in his arm, another in his loins,
and two in his head, scarcely conscious of surrounding sounds,
bathing his mattress in blood, and with the ghastly presence
of his two dead sons ever beside him ; his four fellow-suffer¬
ers wounded, dragging themselves along by his side; Stephens
bleeding from four sabre wounds; justice in a hurry, and over¬
leaping all obstacles; an attorney, Hunter, who wishes to
proceed hastily, and a judge, Parker, who suffers him to have
his way; the hearing cut short, almost every application for
delay refused, forged and mutilated documents produced, the
witnesses for the defence kidnaj>ped, every obstacle thUbwn in
the way of the prisoner's counsel, two cannon loaded with
canister stationed in the Court, orders given to the jailers to
shoot the prisoners if they sought to escape, forty minutes of
deliberation, and three men sentenced to die! I declare on
my honor that all this took place, not in Turkey, but in
Such things cannot be done with impunity in the face of the
civilized world. The universal conscience of humanity is an
ever-watchful eye. Let the judges of Charlestown, and Hun¬
ter and Parker, and the slaveholding jurors, and the whole
population of Virginia, ponder it well: they are watched!
They are not alone in the world. At this moment, America
attracts the eyes of the whole of Europe.
John Brown, condemned to die, was to have been hanged
on the 2d of December — this very day.
But news has just reached us. A respite has been granted
to him. It is not until the 16th that he is to die. The in¬
terval is a brief one. Before it has ended, will a cry of
mercy have had time to make itself effectually heard ?
No matter ! It is our duty to speak out.
Perhaps a second respite may be granted. America is a
noble nation. The impulse of humanity springs quickly into
life among a free people. We may yet hope that Brown will
If it were otherwise, if Brown should die on the scaffold
on the 16th of December, what a terrible calamity ! The
executioner of Brown, let us avow it openly (for the day of