Remembering “The Hard Coinage of Punishment”: Forgery and the Legacy of Capital Legislation
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Appearing in J.S. Le Fanu’s 1872 collection, Through a Glass Darkly, the tale of “Mr. Justice Harbottle” recounts the ghastly fate of an eighteenth-century “hanging judge” (254). According to the narrator, the pimple-faced Harbottle was a “sarcastic and ferocious administrator of justice” (254). But Harbottle ultimately gets his due, haunted in perpetuity by the ghost of a man he had sent to the gallows for forging a bill of exchange. Following an untimely end, Harbottle spends his nights as a spirit walking the halls of his former abode, trailing behind the ghost of the executed forger, who precedes him, noose in hand.
KeywordsCapital Punishment Social Standing Romantic Period Legislative Power Forgery Detection
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