Page images
PDF
EPUB

execution of this article for its predetermined infringement; that knowing, as he must, any stipulation for the purchase of vice to be invalid by our law; that having in the body of this article inserted a provision against that previous pollution which his prudent caprice might invent hereafter, but which his own conscience, her universal character, and even his own desire for her possession, all assured him did not exist at the time, I need not tell you that he now urges the invalidity of that instrument ; that he now presses that previous pollution; that he refuses from his splendid income the pittance of ten pounds to the wretch he has ruined, and spurns her from him to pine beneath the reproaches of a parent's mercy, or linger out a living death in the charnel houses of prostitution! You see, Gentlemen, to what designs like these may lead a man. I have no doubt, if Mr. Dillon had given his heart fair play, had let his own nature gain a moment's ascendancy, he would not have acted so; but there is something in guilt which infatuates its votaries forward; it may begin with a promise broken, it will end with the home depopulated. But there is something in a seducer of peculiar turpitude. I know of no character so vile, so detestable. He is the vilest of robbers, for he plunders happiness; the worst of murderers, for he murders innocence; his appetites are of the brute, his arts of the demon; the heart of the child and the corse of the parent are the foundations of the altar which he rears to a lust whose fires are the fires of hell, and whose incense is the agony of virtue! I hope Mr. Dillon's advocate may prove that he does not deserve to rank in such a class as this ; but if he does, I hope the infatuation inseparably connected with such proceedings may tempt him to deceive you through the same plea by which he has defrauded his miserable dupe.

I dare him to attempt the defamation of a character, which, before his cruelties, never was even suspected. Happily, Gentlemen, happily for herself, this wretched creature, thus cast upon the world, appealed to the parental refuge she had forfeited. I need not describe to you the parent's anguish at the heart-rending discovery. God help the poor man when misfortune comes upon him! How few are his resources ! how distant his consolation! You must not forget, Gentlemen, that it is not the unfortunate victim herself who appeals to you for compensation. Iler crimos, poor wretch, have outlawed her from retri.

a

bution, and, however the temptations by which her erring nature was seduced, may procure an audience from the ear of mercy the stern morality of earthly law refuses their interference. No, no; it is the wretched parent who comes this day before youhis aged locks withered by misfortune, and his heart broken by crimes of which he was unconscious. He resorts to this tribunal, in the language of the law, claiming the value of his daughter's servitude; but let it not be thought that it is for her mere manual labours he solicits compensation. No, you are to compensate him for all he has suffered, for all he has to suffer,for feelings outraged, for gratifications plundered, for honest pride put to the blush, for the exiled endearments of his once happy home, for all those innumerable and instinctive ecstacies with which a virtuous daughter fills her father's heart, for which language is too poor to have a name, but of which nature is abundantly and richly eloquent ! Do not suppose I am endeavouring to influence you by the power of declamation. I am laying down to you the British law, as liberally expounded and solemnly adjudged. I speak the language of the English Lord Eldon, a judge of great experience and greater learning.—(Mr. Phillips here cited several cases as decided by Lord Eldon.)—Such, Gentlemen, is the language of Lord Eldon. I speak, also, on the authority of our own Lord Avonmore, a judge who illuminated the bench by his genius, endeared it by his suavity, and dignified it by his bold uncompromising probity; one of those rare men, who hid the thorns of law beneath the brightest flowers of literature, and, as it were, with the wand of an enchanter, changed a wilderness into a garden! I speak upon that high authority—but I speak on other authority, paramount to all!on the authority of nature rising up within the heart of man, and calling for vengeance upon such an outrage. God forbid, that, in a case of this kind, we were to grope our way through the ruins of antiquity, and blunder over statutes, and burrow through black letter in search of an interpretation which Providence has engraved in living letters on every human heart. Yes; if there be one amongst you blessed with a daughter, the smile of whose infancy still cheers your memory, and the promise of whose youth illuminates your hope, who has endeared the toils of your manhood, whom you look up to as the solace of your declining years, whose embrace alleviated the pang of separation, whose growing welcome hailed your oft anticipated return-oh, if there be one amongst you, to whom those recollections are dear, to whom those hopes are precious let him only fancy that daughter torn from his caresses by a seducer's arts, and cast upon the world, robbed of her innocence, and then let him ask his heart, “what money could reprise him .!"

The defendant, Gentleman, cannot complain that I put it thus to you. If, in place of seducing, he had assaulted this poor girl—if he had attempted by force what he has achieved by fraud, his life would have been the forfeit; and yet how trifling in comparison would have been the parent's agony! He has no right, then, to complain, if you should estimate this outrage at the price of his very existence! I am told, indeed, this gentleman entertains an opinion, prevalent enough in the age of a feudalism, as arrogant as it was barbarous, that the poor are only a species of property, to be treated according to interest or caprice; and that wealth is at once a patent for crime, and an exemption from its consequences. Happily for this land, the day of such opinions has passed over it—the eye of a purer feeling and more profound philosophy now beholds riches but as one of the aids to virtue, and sees in oppressed poverty only an additional stimulus to increased protection. A generous heart cannot help feeling, that in cases of this kind the poverty of the injured is a dreadful aggravation. If the rich suffer, they have much to console them; but when a poor man loses the darling of his heart—the sole pleasure with which nature blessed him—how abject, how cureless is the despair of his destitution! Believe me, Gentlemen, you have not only a solemn duty to perform, but you have an awful responsibility imposed upon you. You are this day, in some degree, trustees for the morality of the people-perhaps of the whole nation ; for, depend upon it, if the sluices of immorality are once opened among the lower orders, the frightful tide, drifting upon its surface all that is dignified or dear, will soon rise even to the habitations of the highest. I feel, Gentlemen, I have discharged my duty-I am sure you will do your's. I repose my client with confidence in your hands; and most fervently do I hope, that when evening shall find you at your happy fire-side, surrounded by the sacred circle of your children, you may not feel the heavy curse gnawing at your heart, of having let loose, unpunished, the prowler that may devour them.

SPEECH OF MR. PHILLIPS

.

IN THE CASE OF

CREIGHTON 0. TOWNSEND,

DELIVERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS, DUBLIN.

My Lord and Gentlemen,

I am with my learned brethren counsel for the plaintiff. My friend Mr. Curran has told you the nature of the action. It has fallen to my lot to state more at large to you the aggression by which it has been occasioned. Believe me it is with no paltry affectation of undervaluing my very humble powers that I wish he had selected some more experienced, or at least less credulous advocate. I feel I cannot do my duty; I am not fit to address you; I have incapacitated myself; I know not whether any of the calumnies which have so industriously anticipated this trial, have reached your ears; but I do confess they did so wound and poison mine, that to satisfy my doubts I visited the house of misery and mourning, and the scene which set scepticism at rest, has set description at defiance. Had I not yielded to those interested misrepresentations, I might from my brief have sketched the fact, and from my fancy drawn the consequences; but as it is, reality rushes before my frighted memory, and silences the tongue and mocks the imagination. Believe me, Gentlemen, you are impannelled there upon no ordinary occasion ; nominally, indeed, you are to repair a private wrong, and it is a wrong as deadly as human wickedness can inflict-as human weakness can endure; a wrong which annihilates the hope of the parent and the happiness of the child ; which in one moment blights the fondest anticipations of the heart, and darkens the social hearth, and worse than depopulates the habitations of the happy! But, Gentlemen, high as it is, this is far from your exclusive duty. You are to do much more. You are to say whether an ex

ample of such transcendant turpitude is to stalk forth for public imitation—whether national morals are to have the law for their protection, or imported crime is to feed upon impunity-whether chastity and religion are still to be permitted to linger in this province, or it is to become one loathsome den of legalized prostitution—whether the sacred volume of the Gospel, and the venerable statutes of the law are still to be respected, or converted into a pedestal on which the mob and the military are to erect the idol of a drunken adoration. Gentlemen, these are the questions you are to try; hear the facts on which your decision must be founded.

It is now about five-and-twenty years since the plaintiff, Mr. Creighton, commenced business as a slate merchant in the city of Dublin. His vocation was humble, it is true, but it was nevertheless honest; and though, unlike his opponent, the heights of ambition lay not before him, the path of respectability did-he approved himself a good man and a respectable citizen. Arrived at the age of manhood, he sought not the gratification of its natural desires by adultery or seduction. For him the home of honesty was sacred; for him the poor man's child was unassailed; no domestic desolation mourned his enjoyment; no anniversary of wo commemorated his achievements; from his own sphere of life naturally and honourably he selected a companion, whose beauty blessed his bed, and whose virtues consecrated his dwelling. Eleven lovely children blessed their union, the darlings of their heart, the delight of their evenings, and as they blindly anticipated, the prop and solace of their approaching age. Oh ! SACRED WEDDED LOVE ! how dear! how delightful ! how divine are thy enjoyments! Contentment crowns thy board, affection glads thy fireside; passion, chaste but ardent, modest but intense, sighs o'er thy couch, the atmosphere of paradise ! Surely, surely, if this consecrated rite can acquire from circumstances a factitious interest, 'tis when we see it cheering the poor man's home, or shedding over the dwelling of misfortune the light of its warm and lovely consolation. Unhappily, Gentlemen, it has that interest here. That capricious power which often dignifies the worthless hypocrite, as often wounds the industrious and the honest. The late ruinous contest, having in its career confounded all the proportions of society, and with its last gasp sighed famine and misfortune on the world, has cast my industrious client, with

« PreviousContinue »