Boston Daily Globe

Miss Lizzie Sat Calmly Through It All


NEW BEDFORD, June 5-Before a stern and grim-looking bench of Judges as ever sat in Puritan New England of old. Miss Lizzie Andrew Borden was put on trial for her life the Court House in New Bedford. this morning. She had been occupying the large and rather comfortable room of the matron in the House of Correction. She was taken along the two short blocks to the Court House In a closed carriage at about a quarter to 11 o'clock. A little crowd had gathered to see her. It was a crowd mainly composed of well-dressed women and young girls, a crowd that added picturesqueness to the beautiful neighborhood of grand residences and park like gardens. The prisoner hurried into the Court House, closely attended by Deputy Sheriff Kirby, who is detailed as her escort. Those who saw Miss Borden for the first time were very much astonished. Her newspaper portraits have done her no justice at all. Some have made her out a hard and hideous fright, and others have flattered her. She is, in truth, a very plain-looking old maid. She may be likened to a typical school marm, plain, practical, and with a face that shows the deep lines of either care or habitual low spirits, and the transitory marks of a recent illness.

Beside her on her right sits bar custodian. She was dressed in black. excepting for a blue plume of feathers, two blue velvet rosettes in her hat. and a large enamelled pansy pin at her throat. Her dress was of black brocade, with two rows of narrow velvet ribbon found her curls and around the bottom of her basque, and three rows of the same ribbon above the edge of her skirt.

A common sense, broad-toed, brand new shoe peeped out from under her dress, and she wore black cotton gloves. Her dress fitted her as perfectly as if she had been measured for it in Paris, but it was of a very old fashion. Having the: the front of the basque puffed with great fullness. Excepting her rather loud Din pin she wore no jewelry. Her black straw hat was poke shaped. and of no existing, fashion. Her beautiful, fine nut-
brown hair, soft and glossy to a degree, was pulled back into a lone roll behind her head. 

And now the difficult thing is to describe her face. Like her dress, it was that of a lady. She has large, brown eyes, and a fine high forehead, but her nose is a tilting one, and her cheek bones are so prominent that the lower part of her countenance is greatly overweighed. Her head is broadest at the ears. Her cheeks are very plump. and her jaws are strong and conspicuous. Her thick. protruding lips are pallid from sickness, and ber mouth is drawn down into two very deep creases that denote either a melancholy or an irritable disposition. She is no Medusa or Gorgon. There is nothing wicked, criminal. or hard in her features. Her manner in public has often been described as if she was callous or brazen. It was not so today.

She behaved like a self-possessed girl, with all the grit that comes of American blood, which has flowed pure in her family during centuries. She was modest, calm, and quiet, and it was plain to see that she had complete mastery of herself, and could make her sensations and emotions invisible to an impertinent public. The Massachusetts law makes a prisoner very conspicuous and gives her a trying part to play. 

The spick and span little court room is divided into halves, the rear for the public and the fore part for the actors in its legal dramas and tragedies. This division is made by a rail. One yard in front of that railing is a lighter rail, enclosing a space for the counsel.  Between the two railings sits this wretched prisoner. Next to her is THE SUN correspondent, and the correspondents of the other New York papers sit all along on the same line.

The fifty-year-old court house, like a toy building in its setting of greenery and blossoms is neat and clean with the assertive cleanliness of everything in New Bedford. Its one court room on the second floor is also kept "shipshape and Bristol fashion," as the sailors would say. Its drab-colored walls are framed with white wood work and fluted white columns sustain its arched ceiling, and its ten windows look out upon as much foliage as if it were in the woods.

Through those embrasures comes the mingled perfume of wisteria and magnolia blossoms. Occasionally, too, the lowing of a cow sounds louder in the court room than the proceedings of the lawyers. A picture of a dead District Attorney tries hard to relieve the severe plainness of the room. The floor is all carpeted and yawning spittoons are set about.

When the proceedings began this morning it was seen that the Judges, the lawyers, the Sheriff, and most of the attendants were in the main a white-haired, aged lot of citizens.  On one side of the room sat six rows of reporters, bending over their pads and looking like a writing class in school.  The school-master was well impersonated by the High Sheriff, soldierly looking Andrew Wright, who sat on the other side of the room in a box by himself, and every not and again started everybody by rapping sharply for order with a lead pencil.

The square headed, Cagle-eyes Chief Justice than addressed the lawyers and the 150 talesmens of the Jury panel. These talesmen by the way, practically made up the audience of the court room.  This was what the Chief Justice said should guide the talesmen in taking or rejecting places on the jury: "It will be the duty of the Court to put to each person summoned as a juror questions as to whether he has formed or expressed any opinion in relation to the cause or is sensible of any bias or prejudice.  It is also the duty of the Court to ask each juror, if he has any opinions which will prevent him from finding a verdict of guilty in a cause where the crime is punishable by death.  It has been said by Chief Justice Shaw, and it has never been questioned as law, that, the statute intends to exclude any person who has made up his mind, or formed a judgment in advance, no matter in favor of which side.  Still the opinion or judgment must be something more than a vague impression formed from casual conversation with others or from reading imperfect and abbreviated newspaper reports.  It must be such an opinion upon the merits of the question as would be likely to bias or prevent a candidate's judgment upon a full hearing of the testimony.  I desire to call the attention of all those persons who are summoned as jurors to this statement in reference to the opinions to which the statute refers, and I also wish to answer these questions under oath, that he must answer them truly, and accept what may follow.  Also with reference to the question as to whether opinions which would preclude one from finding defendant guilty of an offence punishable by death.  It is not all what opinions are entertained with reference to capital punishment, but there are some persons so constituted mentally that they could not sustain a law of the land which they deemed wrong.  There are some persons so mentally constituted that they could not declare the simplest axiom of mathematics if it were to follow that death was inflicted in consequence of the declaration.  If any person thinks and is satisfied that he is so mentally constructed that he cannot find upon evidence that the defendant is guilty of an offense punishable with death, then in response to that question he will so answer. But in answering that question as the others each juror will keep in mind that he answering upon oath."

The Chief Justice was narrowly watched and listened to while he delivered this address, for a great many persons were making his acquaintance.  They noted that he spoke carefully, firmly, and distinctly, enunciations each syllable separately, and rolling his r's a little.  Nothing was more apparent than the kindliness of his tones.

It was evident that grim as he looks Miss Borden will find him all the sympathy and gentleness that is compatible with justice.

The old clerk. Simeon Borden called his namesake the prisoner to the bar. He is as neat and sleek as a typical Sunday School Superintendent. This was how he prepared the first cruel ordeal for the imprisoned woman. "Lizzie Andrew Borden," said he, "You will now step to the bar to be tried by twelve good men of the common-wealth. If you object to any you have the right to do so as they are called. You -have the right to challenge twenty-two of them and as many more as you can show good cause for.

At the calling of her name. the pallid. pink-lipped old maid reached the railing in front of her, and thus helped- herself to her feet with very visible effort. In that way she got up most of the many times that she had to stand.

She listened to what the clerk had to say, and when he had finished she bowed very slightly and sat down. Then with a break for dinner the examination of the jurors went on until 101 of them had been called and yet it was an astongishingly rapid progress that was made, for instead of its taking a week to get jury the twelve good men and true filled their box in the first day.

In Massachusetts the Chief Justice puts all the questions, and these are the ones he put over and over again a  hundred times to-day: Are you related to the prisoner at the bar or to Andrew J. Borden or Abbie D. Borden, deceased?" .. Have you any prejudice in this cause: have you formed an opinion with relation to it?" Have you any prejudice or bias in it?" "Such opinions as you have formed or expressed. would they prevent your giving a candid judgment upon a full hearing of the evidence?" "Have you any opinion that will preclude you from finding the defendant guilty of an offence punishable with death?"

Now and then one side or the other would ask Mr. Justice Mason to add this question: Are you at present a client of counsel on either side in this case?" If all the questions were answered satisfactorily the Chief Justice then pronounced  these words: " The juror stands indifferent." At that each little knot of lawyers would get its heads together and a mighty whispering would ensue. If Mr. Knowlton did not want the man  he said: "The Commonwealth challenges!" If Mr. Jennings did not want the man he had to tell Miss Borden to say so .At firs he walked over to where she sat and whispered to her, but that got tedious, because he objected to sixteen men in all.  So, after a little time, he only walked half way to her, and made believe say the word "challenge" with his lips. Even that got tiresome, and after a little more time he merely wriggled round in his seat and made a little mouth at Miss Borden, as if he and she were school girls holding a pantomimic conversation.

At first it seemed that she was to challenge all Irishmen and Catholics, on account of Bridget Sullivan's connection with the case, and certainly the first few of that description that came along were challenged by the defence. But on the other hand one who was said to be Irish and a Catholic WAS chosen. Then, again, it seemed at first as thought only men at or beyond the middle age were satisfactory, but this same Irishman was also exceptional in being young.  Only three or four foreign names were called.  The rest were all Wilburs, Palmers and Folgers, that sort of Americans carrying such given names as Reuben and Eben and Gideon and Ezra and Elihu.  The reason the jury filled up so quickly was that everybody seemed to want to get on it.

District Attorney Knowlton is a veritable Cromwell. a round-headed powerful and bustling big man. built like a bull. with a thick neck. Bristling hair, a red beard heavy jaws and plump cheeks. His Assistant District Attorney. Moody of Essex county is the youngest and handsomest of the lawyers. He is a blue-eyed blond not much above 30, dressed like a New Yorker. and with a quick intelligent face. He is as bright and alert as he is handsome.

These two lawyers for the commonwealth sat at a table in front of Miss Borden and also in front of the jury box almost. Close to the clerk's desk before the bench, was the table for the three lawyers for the defence. Of these the Hon. George D. Robinson. three times Governor of  Massachusetts, is easily the most impressive and distinguished looking: indeed, he is the most notable man in the courtroom.  He is of an old-fashioned type, such as Daniel Webster was familiar with. He is tall and stately, with a fine head and an intelligent face.  His build shows that he loves the good things of life, and his face shows that he thinks and works hard.  His hair is still black but very thin, and he combs it so as to make it cover as much baldness as possible.  Mr. Melvin O. Adams, famous in Boston as an eloquent pleader, is typical of a large class of the young men of the Hub.  He evidently pays attention to his looks, and they are worth it.  He has the generous full mouth of an orator and the strong nose that usually goes with it.  He has great, handsome brown eyes, and the part that is exactly in the middle of his hair, terminates in two pretty little curls.  Yet he is a very masculine and forceful looking man.

But the most interesting of its group is its leader, Mr. Andrew J. Jennings, who serves Miss Borden as a friend as well as a lawyer.  He is very much such a man as Col. Lamont, the Secretary of War.  He is a miniature of Lamont.  He has the same round head, the same aggressive moustache, the same quick eyes and nervous manner, and the same ability to be everywhere and see everything at once.  His eyes got more energy than all the rest of the people in the court room except the reporters.

The court room is so small, and the population so large, that a free ticket to the trial and beard and pay besides, was a thing to be looked after.  The lawyers had their pick of the county till about the eleventh man was reached, and then everybody seemed to dread being the twelfth, who, in case of a the worst, would have to be the final person to say the awful word "Guilty."

The jury when it was chosen was formed of the following men: George Potter of Westport, William F. Dean of Taunton, John Wilbur of Somerset, Fred C. Wilbur of Raynham, Lemuel K. Wilbur of Easton, William Wescott of Seeconk, A. B. Hodge of Taunton, Augustus Swift of New Bedford, Frank G. Cole of Attleboro, John C. Finn of Taunton, and Allen H. Wordell of Dartmouth.  They are very solid lot of citizens.

Richards, the foreman, is a rich land owner; Swift is the manager of iron works, and the rest are farmers and master mechanics and such like.  To get a dozen of them 101 were called.  Fifty-two were excused for scruples or prejudices, sixteen were challenged by Miss Border, and fourteen by the Commonwealth.

After the jury was formed it went off into a little room by itself, and the members sent telegrams to their families saying that they were shut up and might not get home for a month.  In the mean time the Judges were inquiring into their characters and determining which one should be foreman.  The wealthy Richards was chosen, and the court adjourned.

After this proceedings will begin at 9 o'clock in the morning and last till 5 in the evening.  Tomorrow morning Miss Borden will be called upon to stand up and hear the reading of the indictment charging her with the commission of a double crime such as only a fiend could conceive and a monster execute.

After that the talking of the spokesman for each side will open this the greatest of all criminal cases in the history of New England.  Then the taking of testimony will begin, probably with that of Dr. Dolan, whom we would call the Coroner, but who is called here the Medical Examiner of Fall River.

He was in the court room this afternoon.  So was Congressman Randall of this district and ex-Judge Bennett, the dean of the Boston University Law School.  Three particular friends of Miss Borden sat not far from her beyond the high rail behind which she sat.

They were her former pastor, the Rev. Mr. Jubb of Central Congregational Church of Fall River; City Missionary Buck of that town, and the President of the Five Cents' Savings Bank in the same place.  All three were permitted to talk with her very freely without any supervision after the selection of the jury.

But that isn't half as amazing as the fact the streets of New Bedford alone, or in any company she pleases, whenever she likes.  It seems that after the preliminary examination three months ago, when she was to be sent to the House of Detention, Marshal Hilliard and State Detective Seaver went her bail, and got her a job as servant in the House of Correction. Bridget was the grand lady of the Borden household, and she has been in luck ever since the tragedy.  It must be remembered that she is the only one who is known to have been in the house at the time of the murder, and that some of the theories made her a conspirator or an accomplice.  Yet she goes about telling her story to the servant girls of New Bedford before the court or the public is allowed to her it.

Miss Emma, the elder sister called upon the prisoner today and spent some time afterward in one of the rooms under the court room.  The prisoner had a sort of semi-visit from another member of the family in a very peculiar war.

The seventieth or eightieth talesman stood up to be examined, and was asked the first question, "Are you related to the prisoner at the bar?"  "I am," said the man, to the astonishment of everybody, including eh prisoner.  "Then you are excused," said the Chief Justice.

Miss Lizzie Borden leaned over to Deputy Sheriff Kirby and said: "Who on earth is he?"

Mr. Kirby told her he was Mr. Oliver E. Gifford, and her uncle by marriage.  Miss Lizzie put up her fan in front of her face and laughed quite heartily.  Gifford saw her action and he, too, laughed as he sought his seat.

After the noon recess tomorrow, and probably before any evidence is taken the jury and the lawyers will go to Fall Rive, and make a thorough examination of the scene of the murder-the Borden house and its surroundings. In that way they will spend the whole afternoon, so that the probability is that the only court proceedings will be the reading of the indictment and the opening addresses of the counsel.

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