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ness, perhaps to the bed of death. In that distressing situation, my client suffered that wife to be the bearer of consolation to the bosom of her sister-he had not the heart to refuse her-and the softness of his nature is now charged on him as a crime. He is now insolently told, that he connived at his dishonour, and that he ought to have foreseen, that the mansion of sickpess and of sorrow would have been made the scene of assignation and of guilt. On this charge of connivance I will not farther weary you or exhaust myself—I will add nothing more, than that it is as false as it is impudent—that in the evidence it has not a colour of support; and that by your verdict you should mark it with reprobation. The other subject, namely, that he was indiscreet in his confidence, does, I think, call for some discussion --for I trust you see that I affect not any address to your passions, by which you may be led away from the subjectI presume merely to separate the parts of this affecting case, and to lay them item by item before you, with the coldness of detail, and not with any colouring or display of fiction or of fancy. Honourable to himself was his unsuspecting confidence, but fatal must we admit it to have been, when we look to the abuse committed upon it; but where was the guilt of this indiscretion ? He did admit this noble lord to pass his threshold as his guest. Now the charge which this noble lord builds on this indiscretion is—"thou fool-thou hadst confidence in my honour--and that was a guilty indiscretion—thou simpleton, thou thoughtest that an admitted and cherished guest, would have respected the laws of honour and hospitality, and thy indiscretion was guilt-thou thoughtest that he would have shrunk from the meanness and barbarity of requiting kindness with treachery—and thy indiscretion was guilt.”
Gentlemen, what horrid alternative in the treatment of wives would such reasoning recommend? Are they to be
immured by worse than eastern barbarity? Are their principles to be depraved, their passions sublimated, every finer motive of action extinguished by the inevitable consequences of thus treating them like slaves ? Or is a liberal aud generous confidence in them to be the passport of the adulterer, and the justification of his crimes ?
Honourably, but fatally for his own repose, he was neither jealous, suspicious, nor cruel.—He treated the defendant with the confidence of a friend and his wife with the tenderness of a husband.—He did leave, to the noble marquis the physical possibility of committing against himn the greatest crime which can be perpetrated against a being of an amiable heart and refined education. In the middle of the day, at the moment of divine worship, when the niserable husband was on his knees, directing the prayers and thanksgiving of his congregation to their God--that moment did the remorseless adulterer choose to carry off the deluded victim from her husband from her child-from her character—from her happiness, -as if not content to leave his crime confined to its miserable aggravations, unless he gave it a cast and colour of factitious sacrilege and impiety. Oh ! how happy had it been when he arrived at the bank of the river with the ill-fated fugitive, ere yet he had committed her to that boat, of which, like the fabled bark of Styx, the exile was eternal, how happy at that moment, so teeming with misery and with shame, if you, my lord, had met him, and could have accosted him in the character of that good genius which had abandoned him. How impressively might you have pleaded the cause of the father, of the child, of the mother, and even of the worthless defendant himself, You would have said, “is this the requital that you are about to make for respect and kindness, and confidence in your honour? Can you deliberately expose this young man in the bloom of life, with all his hopes before him ?-Can
you expose him, a wretched outcast from society to the scorn of a merciless world? Can you set him adrift upon the tempestuous ocean of his own passions, at this early season when they are most headstrong; and can you cut him out from the moorings of those domestic obligations by whose cable he might ride at safety from their turbulence ? Think of, if you can conceive it, what a powerful influence arises from the sense of home, from the sacred religion of the hearth in quelling the passions, in reclaiming the wanderings, in correcting the discords of the human heart; do not cruelly take from him the protection of these attachments. But if you have no pity for the father, have mercy at least upon his innocent and helpless child ; do not condemn him to an education scandalous or neglected,--do not strike him into that most dreadful of all human conditions, the orphanage that springs not from the grave, that falls not from the hand of Providence, or the stroke of death; but comes before its time, anticipated and inflicted by the remorseless cruelty of parental guilt. For the poor victim herself--not yet immolated—while yet balancing upon the pivot of her destiny, your heart could not be cold, nor your tongue be wordless. You would have said to him, pause,—my lord, while there is yet a moment for reflection. What are your motives, what your views, what your prospects from what you are about to do? You are a married man, the husband of the most amiable and respectable of women, you cannot look to the chance of marrying this wretched fugitive; between you and such an event there are two sepulchres to pass. What are your inducements ? Is it love, think you? No,--do not give that name to any attraction you can find in the faded refuse of a violated bed. Love is a noble and generous passion; it can be founded only on a pure and ardent friendship, on an exalted respect, on an implicit confidence in its object. Search your heart, examine your
judgment, do you find the semblance of any one of these sentiments to bind you to her? what could degrade a mind to which nature or education had given port or stature or character, into a friendship for her ? Could you repose upon her faith? Look in her face, my lord, she is at this moment giving you the violation of the most sacred of human obligations as the pledge of her fidelity.--She is giving you the most irrefragable proof that, as she is deserting her husband for you, so she would, without a scruple, abandon you for another. Do you anticipate any pleasure you might feel in the possible event of your becoming the parents of a common child ? She is at this moment proving to you that she is as dead to the sense of parental as of conjugal obligation; and that she would abandon your offspring to-morrow, with the same facility with which she now deserts her own. Look then at her conduct, as it is, as the world must behold it, blackened by every aggravation that can make it either odious or contemptible, and unrelieved by a single circumstance of mitigation, that could palliate its guilt, or retrieve it from abhorrence.
“ Mean, however, and degraded as this woman must be, she will still (if you take her with you) have strong and heavy claims upon you. The force of such claims does certainly depend upon circumstances; before, therefore, you expose her fate to the dreadful risk of your caprice or ingratitude, in mercy to her weigh well the confidence she can place in your future justice and honour : at that future time, much nearer than you think, by. what topics can her cause be pleaded to a sated appetite, to a heart that repels her, to a just judgment in which she never could have been valued or respected ? Here is not the case of an unmarried woman, with whom a pure and generous friendship may insensibly have ripened into a more serious attachment, until at last her heart became too deeply pledged to be re-assumed: if so circumstanced,
without any husband to betray, or child to desert, or motive to restrain, except what related solely to herself, her anxiety for your happiness made her overlook every other consideration, and commit her history to your honour : in such a case, (the strongest and the highest ibat imagination can suppose); in which you at least could see nothing but the most noble and disinterested sacrifice ; in which you could find nothing but what claimed from you the most kind and exalted sentiment of tenderness, and devotion, and respect; and in which the most fastidious rigour would find so much more subject for sympathy than blame :-Let me ask you, could you even in that case, answer for your own justice and gratitude ? I do not allude to the long and pitiful catalogue of paltry adventures, in which it seems your time has been employed— The coarse and vulgar succession of casual connexions, joyless, loveless and unendeared : but do you not find upon your memory some trace of an engagement of the character I have sketched ?-Has not your sense of what you would owe in such a case, and to such a woman, been at least once put to the test of experiment? Has it not once at least happened that such a woman, with all the resolution of strong faith, Aung her youth, her hope, her beauty, her talent, upon your bosom, weighed you against the world, which she found but a feather in the scale, and took you as an equivalent ? How did you then acquit yourself? Did you prove yourself worthy of the sacred trust reposed in you? Did your spirit so associate with hers, as to leave her no room to regret the splendid and disinterested sacrifice she had made ? Did her soul find a pillow in the tenderness of yours, and support in its firmness ? Did you preserve her high in your own consciousness, proud in your admiration and friendship, and happy in your affection? You might have so acted, and the man that was worthy of her would have perished rather than not so act,