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United States v. Nine Packages of Linen.

ing the city with pillage, he sent her word to pack up all the goods in his store with as much haste as possible and send them immediately to Havre, to be shipped for the United States. The claimant remained in Paris. John Louis Vintroux, the father of the claimant, who lived at Paris, had consigned at one time a box containing six clocks, and at another time a box containing twelve clocks, to the claimant at Caen for safety; the troops at that time occupying Paris, but not Caen. He also learning the state of things at Caen, wrote Madame Vintroux, directing her to send the eighteen clocks to Havre, to be shipped for the United States. He at the same time sent her an invoice of the clocks, footing the amount of each consignment separately. The claimant disclosed his proceedings to several persons then in Paris, and who afterwards came over with him to this country.

At Caen there were twenty thousand Prussians and Cossacks, and from six to fifty Prussian soldiers were quartered on each citizen. Their presence is described to have been troublesome, alarming, and dangerous in the highest degree. They threatened to pillage the place, and it was once published in the Paris Gazettes that it had been pillaged. Affrays continue ally oecurred between the troops and citizens. The inhabitants hid their goods in the cellars and buried their valuables, Many secretly built partitions in their cellars, behind which they packed up their goods and sent them away. Six soldiers were billetted on Madame Vintroux when she received the direction to pack up her husband's goods. His clerk, who was used to packing goods, with the assistance of a servant or porter, packed them up in the cellar in the best way they could, and made out the accompanying papers in great agitation, hurry, and confusion. This was done in the night while the Prussians were asleep. The clerk made out the invoices after the packing was all finished, from the memorandums made at the time. The seryant called off the ticket attached to each piece, and the clerk took it down. The goods were sent

United States v. Nine Packages of Linen.

from Caen in the day time in the diligence and a private wagon. Madame Vintrous and the clerk went with the goods to Havre, and shipped the greater part of them before the arrival of the claimant.

The claimant's clerk in making the invoice of the twelve cases of clocks, which stood in the cellar, supposed that each case contained a clock, and made the invoice out accordingly. This invoice corresponded with the invoices of the consignment of the twelve clocks sent to Madame Vintroux by John Louis Vintroux. A large box containing shawls, which the clerk had already packed, but had forgotten it, was standing among them, and he supposed it contained the other six clocks. This he put in the invoice as containing six clocks, and charged the prices the same as in the invoice (of the other six) sent from Paris.

The linens were purchased in August by the claimant at the fair of Guybray, of M. Despierre of Alençon the manufacturer. He testified that in consequence of the precipitation with which the linens were put up at Alençon, owing to their fear that the place wouid be pillaged, all the mistakes made in the entry at New-York were made in invoicing the goods before they were sent from Alençon to Caen. On discovering the errors, he claimed the difference of Madame Vintroux, who desired him to wait until she could hear from her husband in New York, as she had not ascertained the contents of the packages of linen before they were shipped. This testimony corroborated, and was corroborated by a letter written by Madame Vintroux to her husband, informing him of this mistake, and produced on the trial.

Twenty-five merchants of Caen, and the Chamber of Commerce of that city, as well as numerous other witnesses, examined in the cause, bore testimony to the high character of the claimant as a merchant. Each of the most material facts above stated was proved by several witnesses who were uncontradicted.

United States v. Nine Packages of Linen.

Claimant went from Paris to Havre where he met his wife, and found part of his goods already shipped. The rest were shipped with difficulty and in confusion, owing to the great press to ship goods in the vessel. While at Havre, claimant suddenly resolved to come out with his goods.

After his arrival in New-York, where he was examining some of the packages at his room, assisted by two clerks, and in the presence sometimes of other persons, he first discovered the errors in the quantities. He at first complained of these, and then declared that he would go and inform the officers of the customs. His clerk told him to wait and see if there was any excess. The box of shawls which was invoiced as containing six clocks, was opened in the presence of several persons, and claimant expressed his surprise at the mistake. They had only opened six packages when the seizure was made.

The dry goods, including the linens, were found packed in some instances, two pieces in one bundle, and this was the way in which they overrun the invoice. The ticket on one or the other piece in the bundle generally corresponded with the invoice, as did the number of bundles in the packages. Two of the examiners testified that it was not unusual to find silks, crapes, &c. packed two pieces in a bundle, but they had never known the same thing occur in opening linens. They said that a bundle of the goods which they examined, composed of two pieces, might be easily mistaken by a porter for one piece. Two other of the examiners testified that the packages were so large that any one accustomed to the kind of goods could tell by looking at the outside, that they contained more than the invoice quantity of pieces. They also stated that the goods were very well packed.

J. Fisk, D. A. and C. Baldwin for the libellants.
T.A. EMMET and C. GRAHAM for the claimant,

United States v. Nine Packages of Linen.

LIVINGSTON, J. The goods, mentioned in this libel, were proceeded against in the District Court for the Southern District of New-York, as forfeited under the 67th section of the collection law, because, as was alleged, the packages containing them differed in their contents from the entry which had been made of them at the custom-house.

The property was claimed by William Vintroux Hersan, for himself, and John Louis Vintroux, of Paris ; that is to say, all the merchandise libelled, was stated to belong to the former, except the twelve cases of clocks, which were said to belong bona fide to the latter. The claim, without in terms denying that the contents of the packages differed from the entry of them, insists, that if such difference existed, it proceeded from accident or mistake, and not from an intention to defraud the revenue—and alleges, that the cases were packed up at Caen, in France, while that place was in possession of the Prussian troops, and after it had been threatened to be pillaged by them, which circumstance occasioned the goods to be packed in great haste and confusion, and may have caused a difference between the invoice and the actual contents of the packages.

After a hearing in the District Court, the clocks and linens mentioned in the libel were condemned, and all the other articles acquitted. The United States and the claimants have both appealed.

This is a case not without its difficulties, and has been argued with an ability due to its importance and intricacy. There is no doubt that the allegations in the libel are substantially made out, and that there were many, and in some instances considerable variations between the actual contents of the packages, and their contents as exhibited by the entry at.

a 3 Laws United States, 199.

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United States v. Nine Packages of Linen.

the custom-house. If the Court, therefore, were not permitted to look beyond that fact, it would be difficult for any of the articles libelled to escape confiscation. But the law, under which these proceedings have been instituted, supposes that such differences will sometimes intervene by accident or mistake; and if that can be made out to the satisfaction of the Court, in which the prosecution is depending, a forfeiture shall not attach.

The Court will now proceed to examine how far the claimant has established his innocence. If he has designedly attempted to impose on the officers of the customs, he must submit to the consequences, penal and calamitous as they may be; but if he has succeeded in establishing any facts, which may reasonably account for the differences complained of, it will be the duty of the Court, and must always be a pleasant one, to restore to him his property.

That part of the case which relates to the linens will be first disposed of.

It has been said in argument, that probable cause having been shown for the seizure, a very clear case must be made out by the claimant, to entitle him to a restoration of the property ; and the Court has been cautioned not to place too much reliance on positive and direct testimony, if it shall appear to be in conflict with the many and strong presumptive circumstances which appear in the case. Notwithstanding the fact is made out on which the seizure proceeded, and which unexplained would have been followed by forfeiture, all the claimant has to do, is to prove the mistake on which he relies, in the ordinary way, and the Court is not authorized to call upon him to present a clearer case, than it would have a right to require in the investigation of any other matter of fact. .

It is no less melancholy than true, that a Court is sometimes compelled, however reluctantly, to reject the most positive de

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