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tic happiness occasioned by the seduction, Mr. Erskine meets him here at once.
“In order, therefore, to examine this matter (and I shall support every syllable that I utter, with the most precise and uncontrovertible proofs); I will begin with drawing up the curtains of this blessed marriage-bed, whose joys are supposed to have been nipped in the bud, by the defendant's adulterous seduction. Nothing, certainly, is more delightful to the human fancy, than the possession of a beautiful woman in the prime of health, and youthful passion: It is, beyond all doubt, the highest enjoyment which God in his benevolence, and for the wisest purposes, has bestowed upon his own image: I reverence, as I ought, that mysterious union of mind and body, which, while it continues our species, is the source of all our affections; which builds up and dignifies the condition of human life; which binds the husband to the wife, by ties more indissoluble than laws can possibly create; and which, by the reciprocal endearments arising from a mutual passion, a mutual interest, and a mutual honour, lays the foundation of that parental affection which dies in the brutes with the necessities of nature, but which reflects back again upon the human parents, the unspeakable sympathies of their offspring, and all the sweet, delightful relations of social existence.—While the curtains, therefore, are yet closed upon this bridal scene, your imaginations will naturally represent to you this charming woman, endeavouring to conceal sensations which modesty forbids the sex, however enamoured, too openly to reveal; wishing, beyond adequate expression, what she must not even attempt to express; and seemingly resisting what she burns to enjoy. Alas, Gentlemen! you must now prepare to see in the room of this a scene of horror, and of sorrow; you must prepare to see a noble lady, whose birth surely required no further illustration; who had been courted to marriage before she ever heard even her husband's name; and whose affections were irretrievably bestowed upon, and pledged to my honourable and unfortunate client; you must behold her given up to the plaintiff by the infatuation of parents, and stretched upon this bridal bed as upon a rack;-torn from the arms of a beloved and impassioned youth, himself of noble birth, only to secure the honours of a higher title; a legal victim on the altar of heraldry!” p. 201, 202, 203.
He then goes into the particular facts which are to support this description, and works them up to a purpose bold indeed—but not rash:—he contrives to make the parties change places, and represents the seducer as the injured person.
“To all this it will be said by the plaintiff’s counsel (as it has indeed been hinted already), that disgust and alienation from her husband could not but be expected; but that it arose from her affection for Mr. B-Be it so, gentlemen.—I readily admit, that if Mr. B.'s acquaintance with the lady had commenced subsequent to the marriage, the argument would be irresistible, and the criminal conclusion against him. unanswerable: But has Mr. H. a right to instruct his counsel to charge my honourable client with seduction when he himself was the sedu
cER : My learned friend deprecates the power of what he terms my
pathetic eloquence: Alas, gentlemen l if I possessed it, the occasion forbids its exertion, because, Mr. B. has only to defend himself, and cannot demand damages from Mr. H. for depriving him of what was his by a title superior to any law which man has a moral right to make. Mr. H. was NEv ER MARRIED. God and nature forbid the banns of such a marriage.—If, therefore, Mr. B. this day could have, by me, addressed to you his wrongs in the character of a plaintiff demanding reparation, what damages might I not have asked for him—and, without the aid of this imputed eloquence, what damages might I not have expected : “I would have brought before you a noble youth, who had fixed his affections upon one of the most beautiful of her sex, and who enjoyed hers in return.—I would have shown you their suitable condition;—I would have painted the expectation of an honourable union, and would have concluded by showing her to you in the arms of another, by the legal prostitution of parental choice in the teeth of affection: with child by a rival, and only reclaimed at last, after so cruel and so afflicting a divorce, with her freshest charms despoiled, and her very morals in a manner impeached, by asserting the purity and virtue of her original and spotless choice.—Good God! imagine my client to be plaiNTIFF, and what damages are you not prepared to give him 2 and yet he is here as DEFEND ANT, and damages are demanded against hi M.–Oh, monstrous conclusion l’” p. 204, 205.
After this, he says he considers his client as perfectly safe in the hands of the jury; and may spare a moment to render his cause beneficial to the public. It might be supposed that he is in reality going to lecture upon some general topics arising out of the cause ; not for the sake of really edifying his audience, but for relieving their attention, and displaying Rhetoric.—No such thing—these are arts of lesser rhetoricians.—He enlarges on such Points indeed, and persuades his hearers that he is instructing them, and stepping aside for their improvement; but after thus getting the more complete and unsuspecting possession of them, he speedily, but not abruptly, turns all he has been saying to the account of his cause, by a transition perfectly natural, and indi...; the purpose for which the supposed digression was indulg€01 in.
“It involves in it an awful lesson; and more instructive lessons are taught in courts of justice than the church is able to inculcate.—Morals come in the cold abstract from pulpits; but men smart under them F. when we lawyers are the preachers. Let the aristocracy of 2ngland, which trembles so much for itself, take heed to its own security: let the nobles of England, if they mean to preserve that preeminence which, in some shape or other, must exist in every social
£ommunity, take care to support it by aiming at that which is creative, and alone creative, of real superiority. Instead of matching themselves to supply wealth, to be again idly squandered in debauching excesses, or to round the quarters of a family shield; instead of continuing their names and honours in cold and alienated embraces, amidst the enervating rounds of shallow dissipation, let them live as their fathers of old lived before them;-let them marry as affection and prudence lead the way; and in the ardours of mutual love, and in the simplicities of rural life, let them lay the foundation of a vigorous race of men, firm in their bodies, and moral from early habits; and instead of wasting their fortunes and their strength in the tasteless circles of debauchery, let them light up their magnificent and hospitable halls to the gentry and peasantry of the country, extending the consolations of wealth and influence to the poor.—Let them but do this, and instead of those dangerous and distracted divisions between the different ranks of life, and those jealousies of the multitude so often blindly painted as big with destruction; we should see our country as one large and harmonious family,–which can never be accomplished amidst vice and corruption, by wars or treaties, by informations ex officio for libels, or by any of the tricks and artifices of the state;—would to God this system had been followed in the instance before us!—Surely the noble house of F. needed no further illustration; nor the still nobler house of Ho-with blood enough to have inoculated half the kingdom.” p. 205, 207.
The speech concludes with such a representation of the defender's circumstances as might conduce to the same end—the diminution of damages. Whether he was successful or not, the reader may judge, when he learns, that only 500l. were given;–barely enough to cover an application for a divorce bill.
We shall now close this article, which we trust will not be thought tedious, however extended in length, by such as have read the extracts, which give it the whole value it possesses. It is too late to indulge in general reflexions upon a professional career, about which the world has long since made up its mind. Nothing now remains but to admire its lustre, and to lament that it has been terminated,—not indeed by events which took Mr. Erskine from a new sphere, to which the habits of his previous life were little adapted, and in which he could have experienced no great comfort, however necessary for his fame and for the honour of the profession his elevation to it might have been. Nor yet do we mourn because the prospect of his return to the same sphere has been overcast. But we may be allowed to express a sincere, though unavailing regret, that the strange and humiliating events which have recently inflicted such injuries on the country, should have deprived it of the services which Lord Erskine might still render, in returning to the courts of common law, and filling a high magisterial station in those scenes where his life was spent.
In concluding these reflexions, we cannot avoid recurring to the topic with which our former article on the same subject was wound up. To hold up Lord Erskine's skill and eloquence to the younger members of the profession for their models, might be in most instances unavailing. But every one, however slenderly gifted, may follow him close in the path of pure honour and unsullied integrity;—above all—of high and unbending independence,—incapable of being seduced or awed, either by the political or judicial influence of the times. Had he not been the first in this path—had his powers been exerted in obsequiousness to the government, or in time-serving or timid submission to the courts of justice, we, at least, should not have stept aside to attempt the task of praising his eloquence. He might have spoken with the tongue of an angel, if his cause had not been that of the people—and eonducted with dauntless resistance to power—unceasing enmity to every kind of oppression, by whomsoever attempted. , Covered over with honours (as they are called)—satiated with wealth—bepraised in every court and assembly within the realm—one thing he would still have found beyond the reach either of his talents or his power:—the humble, but honest, and therefore not worthless, tribute of praise which we have given, not to the orator, but to the friend of the people.
A Narrative of a Three Years’ Residence in France, principally in the Southern Departments, from the year 1802 to 1805; including some authentic particulars respecting the early life of the French emperor, and a general inquiry into his character. By Anne Plumptre. In three vols. 8vo. 11. 11s. 6d. Mawman, &c. &c. 1810.
WE have long wished for leisure and opportunity to pay our respects to this our Frenchified countrywoman. We were well aware that the school in which we know she was formerly a disciple, namely, that of the notorious Miss Helen Maria Williams, was of that kind, in which the best principles must incur the danger of contamination, if not of total corruption. But we could jardly suppose, that the most violent prejudices could so far predominate, or perverseness of intellect so far prevail, that an English woman should be found gravely and deliberately sitting down, to see nothing good and amiable, sound or wise, in the manners and institutions of her country, whenever brought into competition with that of revolutionized France. Will any reader believe, that a female native of England, an individual of respec
table connexions, good education, and by no means contemptible abilities should be found, who can not only palliate, but justify the most atrocious proceedings of the French and their tyrant; but who can with a certain degree of subtlety explain away the most reprehensible acts of the #. government, and who volunteers the defence of those acts of Bonaparte, which have excited the astonishment and provoked the indignation of mankind. Mrs. or Miss Plumptre for having been domiciliated in France, she has probably the opportunity of accepting either appellation, can see nothing wrong in the murder of the Duke D'Enghein, whilst the ill-starred expedition to Copenhagen merits every disgusting mark of reprehension. It is hardly worth while to be minutely circumstantial, but after a careful perusal of these volumes we are compelled to observe, with a mixture of indignation and regret, that whereever a comparison is made between the manners, circumstances, and individuals of France and England, the latter is of no consideration in the balance. Even Robespierre is mild; Bonaparte magnanimous, clement, far from irritable, indeed all that is good, wise, great, and amiable. A few atrocious facts and incidents are, indeed, allowed to have taken place in the tumult and confusion unavoidable from a revolution; but how could it be otherwise? For with a few real patriots, “there were many who were actuated only by a desire of seeing every thing thrown into anarchy and confusion.” It is somewhat extraordinary, that this flippant lady could allow even so much as this. It is really, in our opinion, much to be lamented, that Mrs. or Miss Plumptre did not stay in France to enjoy all these transcendent blessings which so elevate that country in the scale of happiness and prosperity beyond her own. Her delights commence immediately on her arrival at Calais. Mengaud forsooth, the Commissary of the Police, notorious for his insolence and ill-treatment of Englishmen and their families, behaved to Mrs. or Miss P. with civility and respect. But she was the companion of a Frenchman and his wife, and was in all probability so effectually Frenchifted, that he never imagined that she could be an English-woman. One of her first impressions with respect to Bonaparte was, that he was a religious man! !!! which she believed, and of course still believes. The lively lady is impatient to begin her comparisons between delightful France and odious England, and, as before observed, the latter sinks perpetually in the comparison. Shakespeare is stupid and dull; Westminster Abbey is nothing compared with the Museum of French monuments; the views from the dome of St. Paul's contemptible with those from a certain part of Paris, &c. &c. Then again, the poor King of France and his Queen were, of course, the one contemptible, the other profligate; every anecdote, vol. v.III. 2 p