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Primary Sources: A Foreign Report

The London Times
Thursday, December 27 [1849]

The Boston Murder
The American Papers are making the most of the recent mysterious case of assassination at Boston (Massachusetts). The New York Herald, now before us, has three columns of details on the subject. One of the local papers professes to discover in the evidence since adduced some "developments" rather favourable to Professor Webster, the supposed murderer; but a minute analysis of all the circumstances hitherto brought to light induces us fully to concur in the remark of the Boston Herald that if Professor Webster be innocent of the crime of murder, the conspiracy of which he is made the victim is one of the most hellish on record. The discoveries made leave the fact of the murder of Dr. Parkman within the walls of the Medical College indisputably fixed. How the counsel of the accused can relieve his client from the imputation of having committed the deed, with the accumulated mass of evidence against him, without some most extraordinary and rebutting testimony, is more than we can conjecture. Mr. Webster was still in gaol, whither he had been remanded by the magistrates after a primary examination, at which the prisoner appeared affable and collected, and even "smiled pleasantly."

A curious incident, characteristic of the manners of the people, occurred in Boston on the night of the 3d of December. At 9 o'clock a crowd of about 100 persons assembled in front of the Medical College and commenced singing the "Old Hundred," and never did the words "Be Thou, O God, exalted high," fall with such a solemn accent upon the evening air, echoed by a choir of voices, such as have seldom been heard in unison. The moon shone brightly upon the motley group of choristers, and a number of policemen and watchmen near by, and rendered it a rare and painfully solemn scene. The spontaneous acknowledgement of the hand of the Deity in bringing to light the foul deed which had been committed in the sombre-looking building, before the doors of which they stood, was a subject worthy of a painter's art or a moralist's reflections. Having finished the "Old Hundred," they struck up with admirable taste, "Old Grimes is dead, that good old man," and followed in the same melancholy strain, with "Poor Uncle Ned has gone where the good niggers go." The general, if not the unanimous feeling of the public is decidedly unfavourable to Mr. Webster, against whom the circumstantial evidence is fearfully weighty.

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