Page images

consisted of two of the most extraordinary letters that ever were written. They were as follow:

My Dear Amy,-It appears to me that you feel yourself aukwardly situated when in company with Mr. Kitson. Pray, Amy, what reason can you give your husband for so extraordioary a kind of conduct towards your brother-in-law? I have observed a something of the same description in iis conduct towards you; all of which bespeaks a reserve at present unaccounted for: this being the case, and my sole object that of laying a foundation for our welfare and future happiness, I conjure you in the most solemn manner not to hesitate one moment in making me acquainted with the original cause for such conduct, it being impossible for me to feel happy while so situated. Amy, nothing is further from my thoughts, than that of treating you with unkindness, or a want of attention, and sorry am I to say, that I suspect from my own feelings for some days past, that it has made my conduct appear to you as bordering on both. This letter will now explain to my dear Amy the cause thereof, and I sincerely hope will not only draw such a candid explanation from you as to reconcile my feelings, but also that forgiveness for my past conduct which your generous breast may consider requisite. Be therefore aware that what you write me in reply to this is founded on truth; I am not to be trifled with, nor is it my wish to know more than the facts: on these alone depends the point of view in which I am to look on this dubious affair, let what you write be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God, and renounce the devil and all his works; for, in the event of its proving hereafter to the contrary, I am determined never to see you more. Let me there. fore again conjure yon to be candid with me on this occasion, and you know how dearly I love you : put your confidence in the Almighty's forgiveness for all your sins, and rely on my generosity towards you.

Amy, my dear, you have it in your power, perhaps for the last time, to make ns both continue happy, by a fair acknowledgment of the original cause of your reserved conduct towards Mr. Kitson; do not therefore make a sacrifice, in your power to avoid it by telling the truth; I want to hear nothing from you but what is right, and what you can swear to, and let nothing tempt you to the contrary. Put your hopes in God; I have promised to forgive and pardon your past misconduct; you have therefore nothing to fear from me, but you cannot expect the Almighty's forgiveness if you tell a lie. God be with you: may he grant you his aid and assistance on all occasions, is the sincere wish of

Your most affectionate husband, Dec. 5th, 1809.

John STIRLING. MY DEAR STIRLING --In answer to your harsh letter of this day, I have to inform you, that the reason I felt so aukward when in company with Mr. R. S, Kitson, originates with his having taken very improper liberties, and behaved in a very rude manner to me in the front veranda of my brother's house at Byculla, which was as follows:-Mr. Kitson, who was under promise of marriage to my sister Mary, came to Byculla one evening, between four and six months ago, as ncariy as I can recollect. Finding that my sister was gone to town on a visit, he requested me to go and sit with him in the front veranda, adding, that he had some good news to communicate to me. After being seated a short time, he commenced, telling me that Captain Stirling, whom I had once before seen at his garden, intended to pay his addresses to me. Capt. Stirling being a person for whom I had formed a great regard from the first moment I was in his company, and not conceiving that my intended brother-in-law would think of behaving rude to me, I listened to his story with great attention, and was so overjoyed to find, that the very person for whom I unknowingly bore a great attachment, intended to pay his addresses to me, that I was quite overjoyed. This being observed by Mr. Kitson, and no person or light being in the veranda, he seized me round the waist . . * * * * *

*** to prevent me from calling out, and pulled me on his knee, when he * * * in spite of all my efforts to the contrary. When I Was able to rescue myself from him, I went to the workshop and called my brother William to come out; that Mr. Kitson was here; which he did, and Mr. Kitson

stopt stopt but a short time after. When Mr. K. was gone, I told my brother that he had bebaved very rude to me, but refrained saying further from a dread that they would fight a duel, and, that by disclosing the circunstance my sister's marriage would not only be prevented, but it would also prevent Captain Stirling paying his addresses to me. This, my dear Stirling, is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God; pardon and forgive me for not letting you know of it sooner.-I remain your sincere and affectionate wife, 5th December, 1809.

- AMY STIRLING. Mr. W. contended, that the style and manner of this correspondence furnished intrinsic evidence of its being nothing more than a contrivance: and that the description itself which Mrs. S. had given of the transaction between her and Mr. K. contained indubitable marks of the falsehood of it.

This correspondence is dated the 5th December ; and yet on the 6th, the next day, Captain Stirling and his wife spent the evening at the house of the complainant; that the parties were all on terms of cordial familiarity, and that there was not the slightest appearance of any alteration in the behaviour of either Captain or Mrs. Stirling towards the complainant.

Mr. W. made some further observations, tending to show the Salsehood of the defendant's answer in other respects, and concluded by stating, that he relied mainly on being able to prove to the satisfaction of the Court, that the charge of criminal conduct, as stated in the answer, was untrue; that the Defendant knew it to be untrue; and that the correspondence between him and Mrs. S. was a wicked contrivance to further his purposes of extorting money from the complainant.

William West, jun. sworn and examined by Mr. Woodhouse, says, be is brother to Mrs. Kitson and Mrs. Stirling. On the evening of the 6th December last, the defendant, Captain Stirling, and his wife called at my house, at Byculla; after conversing a few minutes, I accompanied them to the house of Mr. Kitson, a short distance, where we drank tea, and spent the evening. They appeared particularly cheerful; did not observe any distance or reserve on the part of Mr. Kitson: I remarked nothing particular in Capt. Stirling's conduct, except, when my two sisters retired together, I have since recollected that Capt. Stirling appeared then rather more thoughtful than during the other part of the evening; all parties separated in apparent cordiality. I have reason to know it to have been the 6th, because the next day, the 7th, was Mr. Kitson's birth-day. I received two notes, one from Capt. Stirling on the 10th, and one from Mrs. Stirling on the 11th, requesting me to give him a call at C- (notes produced and read). I went over on the morning of the 11th; soon after my arrival, Capt, Stirling showed me a pistol case and a medicine-chest; while we were looking at then, Mrs. Stirling asked me if I remembered, that one evening Mr. Kitson had called at Byculla, with an intention to see my eldest sister who was absent, and to whom he is now married; and that soon after he came, she had called me from the adjoining room, and told me that Mr. Kitson had behaved rudely to her: I replied, that I remembered the circumstance of Mr. Kitson's having called, and that my eldest sister, now Mrs.


Kitson, was absent, and that she, Mrs. Stirling, had called me from the adjoining room, but that I do not remember that she had said that Mr. Kitson had behaved rudely to her, for I do not think I should have forgot it, had she said so.-Mrs. Stirling and Mr. Kitson sate in the front veranda, which has a large door and two windows into the hall, and I was in the back veranda; the windows were open: there is a large door from the hall into the back veranda, which was also open: the front veranda has only shutters, which are shut at night, and open in the day, neither glass windows or venetians : part of the shutters might have been shut: the house is situate close to two roads, not more than thirty yards distance; there are two closets taken off the back angles of the hall : I was in the back veranda : perhaps it might be seven o'clock. It was dark. I was in the house the whole time. Mrs. Kitson was there, I heard her come in; in about ten minutes after my sister called me out, and Mr. Kitson did not remain more than a quarter of an hour after, there was not any appearance of agitation in my sister, nor did her dress appear to be disturbed. From the situation I was in, I thiuk it was inipossible for any resistance to have been made, but that I must have heard it, the distance not being more than twenty-four feet; there was only one lamp lighted in the hall, and I saw a candle lighted on my going to the front veranda: there was also a light in the back veranda. There was only one chair and a desk, and a palankeen in the front veranda: my eldest sister lived with me, and my youngest had come a few days on a visit. My eldest sister had gone to town that evening: knows Mrs. Stirling's hand-writing—the exhibit, No. 3. is her handwriting. . This witness underwent a long cross-examination, and several other witnesses were examined.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Lewis, sworn and examined by Mr. Woodhouse, says, he is Judge Advocate General of the Bombay army; there were objections made by Captain Stirling to Lieutenant-Colonel William Atkins, of the Hon. Company's Engineers, Major Robert Vincent, of bis Majesty's 84th regiment, and Captain H. Stackpole, of his Majesty's 47th regiment, for having had criminal intercourse with his wife, Amy West, and which she was ready to depose to on oath.

Cross-examined by Mr. Advocate-General. Nothing happened to induce me to think that any of the gentlemen objected to were guilty.

Edward Hyde Gramlick, assistant-surgeon of the 84th regiment, swom and examined by Mr. Woodhouse. The Defendant charged me with having criminal conversation with Mrs. Stirling, and that she would prove it, but that if I would confess it and give a bond to keep it a secret, he would forgive. I said there was no foundation for such a charge. Capt. Stirling went away, as i supposed to bring Mrs. Stirling: I waited about ten minutes, and shortly after Captain Stirling came in and brought Mrs. Stirling with him, who said that I was not the person.

Cross-examined by Mr. Advocate-General.- I never was more than three minutes in Mrs. Stirling's company, and Mrs. Gramlick was present.

The The recorder, Sir James Mackintosh, then observed, that he now conceived it to be his duty to ascertain whether certain horrible suspicions, which had haunted his mind during the whole day, were or were not well founded. He called upon Mrs. Stirling to leave the side of her husband, and come up to the bench; on which Mr. Advocate General (counsel for the defendant) observed, that he hoped his Lordship was now about to do what he had long wished, though from his situation he felt a difficulty in suggesting it to ascertain whether Mrs. Stirling acted under the influence of terror and violence, and to apprise her, if she did, that by swearing the peace against her husband, she would acquire the protection of the law.

The recorder then put several questions to this poor young woman; but she was in a state of such indescribable weakness and agitation, as to be unable to give any coherent answers. He then inquired, whether her mother was near, and being informed that she was in one of the adjoining apartnients, he desired Mrs. Stirling to go to her mother for a short time, that, under her soothing care, she might recover presence of mind enough to give an intelligible account of her real condition. At the mention of the word 'mother,' she started, and said “My mother! I dare not see my mother!' She was asked, why? She answered, My husband forbade me to see my mother. The recorder said to her, • What sort of liusband can he be, who forbids you to see your mother? can his purpose be good ? can you be bound to obey such a proliibition?' She faintly repeated • I dare not go!'

The recorder turned to the defendant's counsel and said, that if the defendant did not wish that the court should think him capable of any atrocity, he must withdraw this unnatural prohibition. The defendant muttered a hurried and reluctant consent. His poor wife leaped from the bench with all the eagerriess of joy. The recorder led her to the apartment where her mother was, into whose arms she rushed, and crying out, 'Oh! my mother,' she fainted. The recorder returned in a few minutes, and said, that though the unfortunate young woman had not yet recovered her ser nity of mind; though she was still influenced either by dread or by the remains of affection for her unworthy husband, she had already disclosed enough; for she had confessed, that the present, and all the other charges of a similar nature, some of which she had sanctioned by oath, were false. The recorder then desired to know, whether the defendant had any defence to make ?

Mr. Advocate General, evidently much affected, in common with the whole of a most crowded court, by these circumstances, said, that, unless the court should think it unsafe to act under the influence of feel. ings so strongly excited as those of every person present were, and should ou that ground postpone the further consideration of the case, he felt himself bound to say, that he had nothing to offer, which he could oppose, with any hope of success, to what had appeared against his cliept.

The agitation and tumult of feeling were so great and so general, that we cannot pretend to give any report of the judgment of Sir James


Mackintosh; but the following is believed to be nearly its general purport: He said, that he should despise frimself, if his mind were at leisure to enter into a minute discussion of all the smaller circumstances which, taken together, made such a mass of proof against the defendant. One or two of the larger features would be sufficient to characterize the whole. It was in evidence, that the defendant and bis unhappy wife had made similar cbarges against several other gentlemen. lie had been told, that he might substantiate these charges, or even show that it was possible for him to have believed them; and he was asked to particularize the times and places of these other criminal acts. Ou this proposal the defendant was silent, and his silence, where it was so material for him to have spoken, demonstrated, that he was unable to state the particulars required. Time might be necessary, and time was offered to collect his proof; but no time could be necessary to make a statement, which, it it had been true or even believed by himself, he must have been long prepared to make. By his silence, therefore, he stood convicted of being a person, who, for purposes of intimidation or extortion, scattered talse charges of criminal connection with his wife over the community: a man who makes a trade of such charges is undoubtedly one of the most malignant and mischievous villains who can infest society. It was in evidence, that he had given two different and contradictory accounts of his object in obtaining this bond from the plaintiff. He told Mr. West that it was to provide for his wife in case his own displeasure at her should be so great as to lead to a separation, He told Mr. Ashburner, that it was to secure Mr. Kitson's secrecy with respect to the criminal connection. Both accounts were probably false, but both could not be true. It was in evidence, that he offered to Mr. Kitson, and to Mr. Grainlick, to forgive their supposed adultery, on cojidition of confession and apology. For aught that appeared, no number of acts of adultery were too great to be expiated by apology. What could be thought of a man, who deemed such an injury the subject of apology! Admitting for a moment the truth of his story, he was, by his own account, a husband ready to be satisfied by apology for the almost indiscriminate prostitution of his wife. He was an acquiescing and conniving husband, the most contemptible and degraded creature that disgraces a civilized community. Even the most virtuous and affectionate husband incurs some ridicule by the infidelity of his wife, and though that, and every other outward circumstance, must be nothing, compared to his pangs, it does in some measure embitter them. The sentiment from which this ridicule flows is in itself not ratioval; but it is the offspring of rational and generous feelings. It proceeds from those chivalrous feelings, which considered the affection of a woman as an honour, and the loss of it, in any way, as some degree of dishonour; and it acts as an additional inducement to the husband to desire the contiouance of his wife's affection. But, if this be the fate even sometimes of the best men, what could be thought of him, who traffics in the infamy of her whose honour is entrusted to his protection, by humanity, by law, and by religion? Thus stood the case upon the defendant's own showing. On


« PreviousContinue »