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should be off without delay, and quite clear of town," said Mr. Westwood. "What do you say to one of the meadows opposite Twickenham, by the river side ?"
The captain saw no objection.
"Shall we join company in the avenue of trees which leads from Petersham to Ham House, and settle the exact spot when we arrive there?" said Mr. Westwood.
To this the captain also assented. After a few other preliminaries, equally brief, and having settled the road each party should take to avoid suspicion, they separated.
"We shall just have comfortable time, my lord," said the captain, when he had communicated the arrangements," to call at my rooms for a case of pistols, and then jog coolly down. If you will allow me to dismiss your servant, we'll take my cab, for yours, perhaps, might be recognized."
What a contrast, when they reached the street, to the scene they had just left! It was already daybreak. For the flaring yellow light within, was substituted the clear, bright, glorious morning; for a hot close atmosphere, tainted with the smell of expiring lamps, and reeking with the steams of riot and dissipation, the free, fresh, wholesome air. But to the fevered head on which that cool air blew, it seemed to come laden with remorse for time misspent, and countless opportunities neglected. With throbbing veins and burning skin, eyes wild and heavy, thoughts hurried and disordered, he felt as though the light were a reproach, and shrunk involuntarily from the day, as if he were some foul and hideous thing.
'Shivering?" said the captain. "You are cold." "Rather."
"It does strike cold, coming out of those hot rooms. Wrap that cloak about you. So, so; now we 're off."
They rattled through the quiet streets, made their call at the captain's lodgings, cleared the town, and emerged upon the open road, without hindrance or molestation.
Fields, trees, gardens, hedges, everything looked very beautiful; the young man scarcely seemed to have noticed them before, though he had passed the same objects a thousand times. There was a peace and serenity upon them all strangely at variance with
the bewilderment and confusion of his own half-sobered thoughts, and yet impressive and welcome. He had no fear upon his mind; but as he looked about him he had less anger, and though all old delusions, relative to his worthless late companion, were now cleared away, he rather wished he had never known him, than thought of its having come to this.
The past night, the day before, and many other days and nights besides, all mingled themselves up in one unintelligible and senseless whirl; he could not separate the transactions of one time from those of another. Last night seemed a week ago, and months ago were as last night. Now the noise of the wheels resolved itself into some wild tune, in which he could recognize scraps of airs he knew, and now there was nothing in his ears but a stunning and bewildering sound like rushing water. But his companion rallied him on being so silent, and they talked and laughed boisterously. When they stopped he was a little surprised to find himself in the act of smoking, but on reflection he remembered when and where he had taken the cigar.
They stopped at the avenue gate and alighted, leaving the carriage to the care of the servant, who was a smart fellow, and nearly as well accustomed to such proceedings as his master. Sir Mulberry and his friend were already there, and all four walked in profound silence up the aisle of stately elm trees, which, meeting far above their heads, formed a long green perspective of gothic arches, terminating like some old ruin in the open sky.
After a pause, and a brief conference between the seconds, they at length turned to the right, and taking a track across a little meadow, passed Ham House, and came into some fields beyond. In one of these they stopped. The ground was measured, some usual forms gone through, the two principals were placed front to front at the distance agreed upon, and Sir Mulberry turned his face towards his young adversary for the first time. He was very pale-his eyes were blood-shot, his dress disordered, and his hair dishevelled-all, most probably, the consequences of the previous day and night. For the face, it expressed nothing but violent and evil passions. He shaded his eyes with his hand, gazed at his opponent steadfastly for a few moments, and then, taking the weapon which was tendered to him, bent his eyes upon that,
and looked up no more until the word was given, when he instantly fired.
The two shots were fired as nearly as possible at the same instant. At that instant the young lord turned his head sharply round, fixed upon his adversary a ghastly stare, and, without a groan or stagger, fell down dead.
He's gone," cried Westwood, who, with the other second, had run up to the body, and fallen on one knee beside it. "His blood on his own head," said Sir Mulberry. this upon himself, and forced it
Captain Adams," cried Westwood, hastily, "I call you to witness that this was fairly dnoe. Hawk, we have not a moment to lose. We must leave this place immediately, push for Brighton, and cross to France with all speed. This has been a bad business, and may be worse if we delay a moment. Adams, consult your own safety, and don't remain here; the living before the dead— good bye."
With these words, he seized Sir Mulberry by the arm, and hurried him away. Captain Adams, only pausing to convince himself beyond all question of the fatal result, sped off in the same direction, to concert measures with his servant for removing the body, and securing his own safety likewise.
So died Lord Frederick Verisopht, by the hand which he had loaded with gifts and clasped a thousand times; by the act of him but for whom, and others like him, he might have lived a happy man, and died with children's faces round his bed.
The sun came proudly up in all his majesty, the noble river ran its winding course, the leaves quivered and rustled in the air, the birds poured their cheerful songs from every tree, the short-lived butterfly fluttered its little wings; all the light and life of day came on, and, amidst it all, and pressing down the grass, whose every blade bore twenty tiny lives, lay the dead man, with his stark and rigid face turned upwards to the sky.
[Ir may appear singular that we should turn to 'Reports of Cases argued and determined in the Consistory Court of London,' to select a passage from one of The Best Authors.' Yet, in all the attributes of strong sense, of deep insight into character, and in force and elegance of style, there are few compositions more remarkable than some of the judgments of Sir William Scott, afterwards Lord Stowell. The following extracts are from his judgment in the case of divorce, instituted by Mrs. Evans against her husband, upon an allegation of cruelty. We take only those passages which are of general application.
William Scott was the brother of John Scott, the more celebrated Lord Eldon. He was born near Newcastle in 1745; was educated at the Grammar School of Newcastle, and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford; became a master of the Faculty of Advocates in 1780; was made Judge of the high Court of Admiralty in 1798; and was raised to the Peerage in 1821. He died in 1836.]
This cause has been carefully instructed with evidence by the practisers who have had the conduct of it; and has been very elaborately argued by the counsel on both sides. It now devolves upon me to pronounce the legal result of the evidence which has been thus collected, and of the arguments raised upon that evidence-a duty heavy in itself, from the quantity and the weight of the matter; and extremely painful, from the nature and tendency of a great part of it, and from the inefficacy of this court to give relief adequate to the wishes of both parties. Heavy and painful as it is, it is a duty which must be discharged; and which can only be discharged with satisfaction under a consciousness, that it is discharged with attention and impartiality, and under the reflection, that if, after the endeavors which I have used in cleansing and in instructing my own conscience upon the subject, I should have taken what may be deemed an undue impression of the case, the laws of this country have not been deficient in providing a mode by which the parties may be relieved against the infirmities of my judgment.
The humanity of the court has been loudly and repeatedly in
voked. Humanity is the second virtue of courts, but undoubtedly the first is justice. If it were a question of humanity simply, and of humanity which confined its views merely to the happiness of the present parties, it would be a question easily decided upon first impressions. Everybody must feel wish to seve those who wish to live separate from each other, who cannot live together with any degree of harmony, and consequently with any degree of happiness; but my situation does not allow me to indulge the feelings, much less the first feelings, of an individual. The law has said that married persons shall not be legally separated upon the mere disinclination of one or both to cohabit together. The disinclination must be founded upon reasons which the law approves, and it is my duty to see whether those reasons exist in the present case.
To vindicate the policy of the law is no necessary part of the office of a judge; but if it were, it would not be difficult to show that the law in this respect has acted with its usual wisdom and humanity, with that true wisdom, and that real humanity, that regards the general interests of mankind. For though in particular cases the repugnance of the law to dissolve the obligations of matrimonial cohabitation may operate with great severity upon individuals, yet it must be carefully remembered that the general happiness of the married life is secured by its indissolubility, When people understand that they must live together, except for a very few reasons known to the law, they learn to soften by mutual accommodation that yoke which they know they cannot shake off; they become good husbands, and good wives, from the necessity of remaining husbands and wives; for necessity is a powerful master in teaching the duties which it imposes. If it were once understood that upon mutual disgust married persons might be legally separated, many couples, who now pass through the world with mutual comfort, with attention to their common offspring and to the moral order of civil society, might have been at this moment living in a state of mutual unkindness—in a state of estrangement from their common offspring-and in a state of the most licentious and unreserved immorality. In this case, as in many others, the happiness of some individuals must be sacrificed to the greater and more general good.