« ForrigeFortsett »
ownership of an estate of ten thousand relished the exposure he was making a-year about to turn upon the effect of Quicksilver's indiscretion. At of this erasure !
length he sate down, with a somewhat “ Hand me up the deed," said the foolish air, Mr Subtle turning his back Judge ; and inspected it minytely for full upon him before the whole court; a minute or two.
but when Lynx rose, and in a busi“ Has any one a magnifying-glass ness-like way, with only a word or in court?" enquired the Attorney. two, put the point again fully before General, with a look of increasing Lord Widdrington, the scowl gradualanxiety. No one happened to have ly disappeared from the brow of Mr one.
Subtle. “ Is it necessary, Mr Attorney ?" “ Well," said Lord Widdrington, said Lord Widdrington, handing down when Mr Lynx had done, “ I own I the instrument to him with an ominous feel no doubt at all upon the matter; look.
but as is certainly of the greatest « Well-you object, of course, Mr possible importance, I will just see Subtle-as I understand you— that how it strikes my brother Grayley." this deed is void, on account of an With this he took the deed in his erasure in a material part of it?" en- hand, and quitted the court.
He quired Lord Widdrington.
touched' Mr Aubrey, in passing to “ That is my objection, my lord," his private room, holding the deed said Mr Subtle, sitting down.
before him. After an absence of “Now, Mr Attorney," continued about ten minutes, Lord Widdringthe Judge, turning to the Attorney. ton returned. General, prepared to take a note of " Silence ! silence there!" bawled any observations he might offer. The the crier ; and the bustle had soon spectators -- the whole court--were subsided into profound silence. aware that the great crisis of the case " I entertain no doubt, nor does my had arrived; and there was a sickening brother Grayley," said Lord Wide silence. The Attorney-General, with drington, “that I ought not to receive perfect calmness and self-possession, this deed in evidence, without accountimmediately addressed the court in ing for an erasure occurring in a mains answer to the objection. That there ly essential part of it. Unless, therewas an erasure, which, owing to the fore, you are prepared, Mr Attorney, hurry with which the instrument had with any evidence as to this point, i been looked at, had been overlooked, shall not receive the deed." was indisputable ; of course the At- There was a faint buzz all over the torney-General's argument was, that court--a buzz of excitement, anxiety, it was an erasure in a part not mate- and disappointment. The Attorneyrial; but it was easy to see that he General consulted for a moment or spoke with the air of a man who argues two with his friends. contra spem. What he said, however, “ Undoubtedly, my Lord, we are was pertinent and forcible ; the same not prepared with any evidence to might be said of Mr Sterling and Mr explain an appearance which has taken Crystal ; but they were all plainly us entirely by surprise. After this gravelled. Mr Subtle replied with length of time, my Lord, of course"cruel cogency : Mr Quicksilver seized “ Certainly-it is a great misfortune the opportunity-not choosing to see for the parties a great misfortune. that the Judge was with them- to Of course you tender the deed in evimake a most dangerous but showy dence ?" he continued, taking a note. speech; Mr Subtle sitting beside him “ We do, my Lord, certainly." in the utmost distress, looking as if he You should have seen the faces of could have withered him with a word. Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, In consequence of some very unguard- as they looked at Mr Parkinson, with od admissions of Quicksilver, down an agitated air, returning the rejected came upon him Lord Widdrington ; deed to the bag from which it had been and Mr Subtle--the only time during lately taken with so confident and trithe whole cause in which he lost his umphant an air !- The remainder of self-command-uttered a half. stifled the case, which had been opened by curse at the folly of Quicksilver, that the Attorney-General on behalf of Mr could be heard by half the bar, per. Aubrey, was then proceeded with ; but haps even by the judge, who greatly in spite of all their assumed calmness,
the disappointment and distress of his a disadvantageous contrast between counsel were perceptible to all. They the obscure and ignorant plaintiff, were now dejected--they felt that the and the gifted defendant.
Good God, cause was lost, unless some extraordi- gentlemen! and is
humble nary good fortune should yet befall client's misfortune to become his them. They were not long in estab- fault? If he be obscure and ignorant, lishing the descent of Mr Aubrey from unacquainted with the usages of soGeoffry Dreddlington. It was neces- ciety, deprived of the blessings of a sary to do so ; for grievously as they superior education if he have conhad been disappointed in failing to es- tracted vulgarity, whose fault is it? tablish the title paramount, founded Who has occasioned it? Who plunged upon the deed of confirmation of Mr him and his parents before him into Aubrey, it was yet an important ques- an unjust poverty and obscurity, from tion for the jury, whether they believ- which Providence is about this day to ed the evidence adduced by the plain rescue him, and put him in possession tiff to show title in himself.
of his own ? Gentlemen, if topics like “ That, my Lord, is the defendant's these must be introduced into this case, case," said the Attorney-General, as I ask you who is accountable for the his last witness left the box ; and Mr present condition of my unfortunate Subtle then rose to reply. He felt client? Is he, or are those who have how unpopular was his cause; that been, perhaps unconsciously, but still almost every countenance around him unjustly, so long revelling in the wealth bore a hostile expression. Privately, that is his ? Gentlemen, in the name he loathed his case when he saw the of every thing that is manly and genesort of person for whom he was strug- rous, I challenge your sympathy, your gling. All his sympathies—for he was commiseration for my client.”
Here a very proud, haughty man-were on Titmouse, who had been staring up behalf of Mr Aubrey, whom by name open-mouthed for some time at his and reputation he well knew ; with eloquent advocate, and could be kept whom he had often sate in the House quiet no longer by the most vehement of Commons. Now, conspicuous be- efforts of Messrs Quirk, Gammon, fore him, sate his little monkey-client, and Snap, rose up in an excited manTitmouse-a ridiculous object; and ner, exclaiming, “ Bravo! bravo ! calculated, if there were any scope bravo sir! 'Pon my life, capital! It's for the influence of prejudice, to ruin quite true-bravol bravo !” His ashis own cause by the exhibition of founded advocate paused at this unhimself before the jury. That was the precedented interruption. “ Take the vulgar idiot who was to turn the ad. puppy out of court, sir, or I will not mirable Aubreys out of Yatton, and utter one word more," said he, in a send them beggared into the world !- fierce whisper to Mr Gammon. But Mr Subtle was a high-minded or Who is that? Leave the court, English advocate ; and if he had seen Your conduct is most indecent, Miss Aubrey in all her loveliness, and sir! I have a great mind to commit knew how all depended upon his ex- you, sir!" said Lord Widdrington, ertions, he could hardly have exerted directing an awful look down to the himself more successfully than he did offender, who had turned of a ghastly on the present occasion. And such, white. at length, was the effect which that “ Have mercy upon me, my Lord! exquisitely skilful advocate produced, I'll never do it again," he groaned, in his address to the jury, that he began clasping his hands, and verily believto bring about a change in the feelings ing that Lord Widdrington was going of most around him: even the eye of to take the estate away from him. scornful beauty began to direct fewer Snap at length succeeded in getting glances of indignation and disgust him out of court, and after the exciteupon Titmouse, as Mr Subtle's irre- ment occasioned by this irregular insistible rhetoric drew upon their sym- terruption had subsided, Mr Subtle pathies in his behalf. 6. My learned resumed:friend, the Attorney-General, gentle- “ Gentlemen,” said he, in a low men, dropped one or two expres. tone, “ I perceive that you are moved sions of a somewhat disparaging by this little incident; and it is chatendency, in alluding to my client, racteristic of your superior feelings. Mr Titmouse ; and shadowed forth Inferior persons, destitute of sensibility or refinement, might have smiled a half's absence, a cry was heardat eccentricities which occasion you « Clear the way for the jury;" and only feelings of greater commiseraone or two officers, with their wands, tion. I protest, gentlemen"-- hisobeyed the directions. As the jury voice trembled for a moment, but he were re-entering their box, struggling soon resumed his self.possession; and, with a little difficulty through the after a long and admirable address, crowd, Lord Widdrington resumed sat down confident of the verdict. his seat upon the bench.
NO. CCXCVI. VOL. XLVII,
“ If we lose the verdict, sir," said “ Gentlemen of the jury, have the he, bending down and whispering into goodness,” said the associate, “ to the ear of Gammon,“ we may thank answer to your names. Sir Godolphin that execrable little puppy for it.” Fitzherbert ;” and, while their names Gammon changed colour, but made were thus called over, all the counsel no reply.
took their pens, and, turning over Lord Widdrington then commenced their briefs with an air of anxiety, summing up the case to the jury, with prepared to indorse on them the verhis usual care and perspicacity. No- dict. As soon as all the jurymen had thing could be more beautiful than the answered, a profound silence ensued. ease with which he extricated the facts « Gentlemen of the jury,” enquired of the case from the meshes in which the associate, “ are you agreed upon they had been involved by Mr Subtle your verdict? Do you find verdict for and the Attorney-General. As soon the plaintiff, or for the defendant?" as he had explained to them the gen. " For the plaintiff," replied the foreral principles of law applicable to the man; on which the officer, amidst a case, he placed before them the facts kind of blank dismayed silence, making proved by the plaintiff, and the answer at the same time some hieroglyphics of the defendant: every one in court upon the record, muttered—“ Verdict trembling for the result, if the jury for plaintiff. Damages one shilling. took the same view which they felt Costs, forty shillings;" while another compelled themselves to take. He functionary bawled out, amidst the suggested that they should retire to increasing buzz in the court, “ Have consider the case, taking with them the goodness to wait, gentlemen of the pedigrees which had been handed the jury. You will be paid immediatein to them; and added that, if they ly.” Whereupon, to the disgust and should require his assistance, he should indignation of the unlearned spectaremain in his private room for an hour tors, and the astonishment of some of or two. Both judge and jury then re- the gentlemen of the jury themselves tired, it being about eight o'clock. –many of the very first men of the Candles were lit in the court, which county-Snap jumped up on the form, continued crowded to suffocation. Few pulled out his purse with an air of doubted which way the verdict would exultation, and proceeded to remunego. Fatigued as must have been most rate Sir Godolphin Fitzherbert and the of the spectators with a two days' con- rest of his companions with the sum of finement and excitement- ladies as one guinea. Proclamation was then well as gentlemen-scarce a person made, and the court adjourned till the thought of quitting till the verdict had next morning. been pronounced. After an hour and
ON THE CHINA AND THE OPIUM QUESTION.
On the 11th of May this article went to press. And on the 15th day of May the Lords' debate being then circulated through Edinburgh, it firs became known to us, that between our views on this remarkable question, and those of the Duke of Wellington, as now brought forward by party collision, there were some pointed coincidences. Any man in the world may be proud of a coincidence, in a matter so complex, with the illustrious Duke. And the business of this Postscript is accordingly
First of all, to establish and claim the benefit of that coincidence: to show that it was such ; and that our agreements with the Duke are not consequent upon any communication that we could have had with the noble Duke's opinions. The statement of dates, as given above, shows satisfactorily that our speculations upon this great Oriental crisis-however closely approaching to the Duke's-must have had a separate and independent origin. Indirectly, also, we are proud to establish our claims in this way, as having fairly appreciated the probable course of Tory doctrines upon so elaborate a question, and of Tory policy, at a time when neither one nor the other had been circumstantially developed ; when it was not yet fully known where the Tory blame and praise would settle as to the past; norin what precise channel the Tory policy would travel as to the future.
Secondly, To explain any case, however subordinate, in which we appear to have differed from the Duke; and in which, according to the extent of our differences, the presumption is that we must be wrong.
Thirdly, Without reference to any claim or any explanation on our own account, it is a purpose of this Postscript to tell the general reader who cares not for the person saying, but simply for the thing said-How far we have found reason to modify any opinion previously delivered after the benefit we acknowledge to have received from this discussion, before so enlightened a senate as the House of Lords; and more particularly, whether we have any fresh views to offer after the affair has been brought under the review of the most sagacious and the most experienced amongst modern statesmen.
Amidst the sharp musketry of a Parliamentary debate, it is the general feeling, that the Duke of Wellington's opinions or suggestions tell like cannonshot. Whatsoever falls from him is received by the country as having an oracular value. And in this present instance of the China debate, his authority has told so effectually as to have crushed, by anticipation, a second debate pending contingently in the House of Commons. Notice of a motion on this subject has been expressly withdrawn upon the ground of the powerful impression made by the Duke of Wellington. It becomes, therefore, the more important that we should throw a glance over the points established by His Grace, as they accord so entirely with our own previous view, and strengthen so greatly the opinions, and the grounds of those opinions, which we had already expressed in print.
The whole field of the questions concerned divides into two great sections -the past, and the future: the past, in relation to the criminality which has brought on the crisis—how that criminality is to be distributed amongst the several parties to the transaction; the future, in relation to the policy which must now be applied to the successful unraveling of this crisis. What is past, undoubtedly cannot be recalled: but it is not the less important to understand it thoroughly, both for the purpose of framing measures to prevent its recurrence, and because our whole policy, even where it is and must be of a warlike character, will, undoubtedly, need to be shaped very differently, accordingly as it contemplates a case of mixed aggressions, partly British, partly Chinese, or a case of horrible outrage (in the way we have maintained, and in the way it now appears the Duke of Wellington maintains) exclusively Chinese, and utterly unprovoked.
The parties liable to inculpation, as having participated in the proceedings
at some stage or other, are three :- The Chinese Government, the British opium-dealers, and our own domestic Administration. Let us pass them in rapid review, and weigh the distribution of blame among these three parties as awarded by the illustrious Duke.
1. The Chinese Government. Here the Duke's statements are not only, as we described them to be generally, like cannon-shot in their effect, but are like such shot, in its course and mode of progress, as described in Schiller's Wal. lenstein—"shattering what it reaches, and shattering that it may reach.” Not only does he shatter the object of his attack-the immoral government of China-but, in his road to that object, he goes right through the centre of all who have in this country undertaken the apology of that government. Had the Chinese even stood upon any fair ground of right in the first stages of the case, they would have forfeited that advantage in the last: “for," says the Duke, “in all the fifty years of my own experience as a servant of my country-no, nor in any part of my reading-have I met with such another case of outrage as that authorized by the rulers of China to our accredited agent." And if some people object-Oh! but the Chinese would not recognise Captain Elliot as an accredited agent-they would not receive a British official representative-in that case so much the worse : because then Captain Elliot had the rights of a private individual ; and there was no more plea open to the Chinese Government for making him responsible than any obscure sailor taken at random.
So much for the last stages of the Chinese conduct: and here the Duke does but strengthen an impression which is open to us all. But as to the first stages, by a reference to sources of information more special and personal, he cuts the ground from below the feet of the Chinese Government in a way pecu. liar to himself. We could but suspect : for we had no documents. The Duke proves : he had ample documents. In papers furnished to the Lords he had seen, in a Committee of the Lords he had heard, direct evidence-proof not to be gainsaid or shaken-that the acting administration of China, those persons, one and all, whom we aliens are required to consider and to treat as the responsible government of the land, had through a series of years encouraged the impor. tation of opium. There flutters to the winds a whole library of polemic pamphlets. After this, is it any thing to us, whether in such a case, and many another case, the Emperor is, or is not, kept in the dark by the mandarins ? We are bound to know the Emperor's pleasure through those whom he deputes to us as his representatives. We can know it in no other way. The internal abuses of their Government are for their own consciences. To us they are nothing. And there, at one blow from the mace of the iron Duke, lies in splinters upon the floor almost every pro-Chinese pleading which has taken up the ground of morality.
II.- The British Opium-Dealers. Upon this head the Duke is overwhelming. Their acquittal, indeed, is involved in the fact which has been just stated on the Duke's authority with regard to the Chinese administration. If that body encouraged importation, in respect of them the importers cannot be wrongdoers. There might be room for some wrong in relation to our British Government: because, if they had happened to forbid the opium traffic wisely or foolishly, then it might have been a fair plea at home Look for no British aid if China should injure you in respect to an interest which we have discountenanced.” So much room and no more, there might have been for wrong on the side of the opium merchants. There might have been—but was there? Hear the all-shattering Duke :
First he declares—that, so far from even looking gloomily upon this opium commerce, Parliament had cherished it, suggested its extension, and delibe. rately examined the means at their disposal for promoting its success, as a favoured resource both of finance and of trade. The Duke reminds the House -that he himself, with other patriotic peers, had been parties to a committee, of which one main business was to recommend and introduce (by way of substitution for the privileges lost to the East India Company on throwing open their trade) some modified form of a monopoly with regard to opium,
Secondly,-if this should be thought to shift the blame from the mer. chants to the British Parliament-in order to make it any duty of our legisla