Page images

its affection, and confides the task of practised wisdom to the uncertain guidance of youth and inexperience. He has thought, perhaps, that truth needed no set phrase of speech; that misfortune should not veil the furrows which its tears had burned; or hide, under the decorations of an artful drapery, the heart-rent heavings with which its bosom throbbed. He has surely thought that, by contrasting mine with the powerful talents selected by his antagonist, he was giving you a proof that the appeal he made was to your reason, not to your feelings—to the integrity of your hearts, not the exasperation of your passions. Happily, however, for him, happily for

you, happily for the country, happily for the profession, on subjects such as this, the experience of the oldest amongst us is but slender; deeds such as this are not indigenous to an Irish soil, or naturalized beneath an Irish climate. We hear of them, indeed, as we do of the earthquakes that convulse, or the pestilence that infects, less favoured regions; but the record of the calamity is only read with the generous scepticism of innocence, or an involuntary thanksgiving to the Providence that has

preserved us. No matter how we may have graduated in the scale of nations; no matter with what wreath we may have been adorned, or what blessings we may have been denied; no matter what may have been our feuds, our follies, or our misfortunes; it has at least been universally conceded, that our hearths were the home of the domestic virtues, and that love, honour, and conjugal fidelity, were the dearand

indisputable deities of our household: around the fire-side of the Irish hovel hospitality circumscribed its sacred circle; and a provision to punish created a suspicion of the possibility of its violation. But of all the ties that bound-of all the bounties that blessed her–Ireland most obeyed, most loved, most reverenced the nuptial contract. She saw it the gift of Heaven, the charm of earth, the joy of the present, the promise of the future, the innocence of enjoyment, the chastity of passion, the sacrament of love : the slender curtain that shades the sanctuary of her marriage-bed, has in its purity the splendour of the mountain-snow, and for its protection the texture of the mountain-adamant, Gentlemen, that national sanctuary has been invaded; that venerable divinity has been violated; and its tenderest pledges torn from their shrine, by the polluted rapine of a kindless, heartless, prayerless, remorseless adulterer! To you-religion defiled, morals insulted, law despised, public order foully violated, and individual happiness wantonly wounded, make their melancholy appeal. You will hear the facts with as much patience as indignation will allow—I will, myself, ask of you to adjudge them with as much mercy as justice will admit.

The Plaintiff in this case is John GUTHRIE ; by birth, by education, by profession, by better than all, by practice and by principles, a gentlema?. Believe me, it is not from the common-place of advocacy, or from the blind partiality of friendship, that I say of liim, that whether considering


the virtues that adorn life, or the blandishments that endear it, he has few superiors. Surely, if a spirit that disdained dishonour, if a heart that knew not guile, if a life above reproach, and a character beyond suspicion, could have been a security against misfortunes, his lot must have been happiness. I speak in the presence of that profession to which he was an ornament, and with whose members his manhood has been familiar; and I say of him, with a confidence that defies refutation, that, whether we consider him in his private or his public station, as a man or as a lawyer, there never breathed that being less capable of exciting enmity towards himself, or of offering, even by implication, an offence to others. If he had a fault, it was, that, above crime, he was above suspicion ; and to that noblest error of a noble nature he has fallen a victim. Having spent his youth in the cultivation of a mind which must have one day led him to eminence, he became a member of the profession by which I am surroundcd. Possessing, as he did, a moderate independence, and looking forward to the most flattering prospects, it was natural for him to select amongst the other sex, some friend who should adorn his fortunes, and deceive bis toils. He found such a friend, or thought he found her, in the person of Miss Warren, the only daughter of an eminent solicitor. Young, beautiful, and accomplished, she was 6 adorned with all that earth or heaven could bestow to make her amiable." Virtue never found a fairer temple ; beauty never veiled a purer sonc

tuary: the graces of her mind retained the admiration which her beauty had attracted, and the eye, which her charms fired, became subdued and chastened in the modesty of their association. She was in the dawn of life, with all its fragrance round her, and yet so pure, that even the blush, which sought to hide her lustre, but disclosed the vestal deity that burned beneath it. No wonder an adoring husband anticipated all the joys this world could give him; no wonder the parental eye, which beamed upon their union, saw, in the perspective, an old age of happiness, and a posterity of honour. Methinks I see them at the sacred altar, joining those hands which Heaven commanded none should separate, repaid for many a pang of anxious nurture by the sweet smile of filial piety; and in the holy rapture of the rite, worshipping the power that blessed their children, and gave them hope their names should live hereafter. It was yirtue's vision ! None but fiends could envy it. Year after year confirmed the anticipation ; four lovely children blessed their union. Nor was their love the summer-passion of prosperity; misfortune proved, afflictions chastened it: before the mandate of that mysterious Power which will at times despoil the paths of innocence, to decorate the chariot of triumphant villany, my client had to bow in silent resignation. He owed his adversity to the benevolence of his spirit; he “ went security for friends ;” those friends deceived him, and he was obliged to seek in other lands, that safe asylum which his own denied him.

He was glad to accept an offer of professional business in Scotland during his temporary embar. rassment. With a conjugal devotion, Mrs. Guthrie accompanied him; and in her smile the soil of a stranger was a home,' the sorrows of adversity were dear to him. During their residence in Scotland, a period of about a year, you will find they lived as they had done in Ireland, and as they continued to do until this calamitous occur. rence, in a state of uninterrupted happiness. You shall hear, most satisfactorily, that their domestic life was unsullied and undisturbed. Happy at home, happy in a husband's love, happy in her parents' fondness, happy in the children she had nursed, Mrs. Guthrie carried into every circleand there was no circle in which her society was not courted-that cheerfulness which never was a companion of guilt, or a stranger to innocence. My client saw her the pride of his family, the favourite of his friends--at once the organ and ornament of his happiness. His ambition awoke, his industry redoubled; and that fortune, which though for a season it may frown, never totally abandons probity and virtue, had begun to smile on him. He was beginning to rise in the ranks of his competitors, and rising with such a character, that emulation itself rather rejoiced than envied. It was at this crisis, in this, the noon of his happiness, and day-spring of his fortune, that, to the ruin of both, the Defendant became acquainted with his family. With the serpent's wile, and the serpent's wickedness, he stole into

« PreviousContinue »