« НазадПродовжити »
accounted for by the very large estates “ We're safe !” whispered the in this county which are sought this Attorney-General to Mr Sterling and day to be transferred to a comparative Mr Crystal ; and the witness having stranger, from the family who have been sworn they resumed their seats long enjoyed them, and of whom I am and their writing. He and the subanxious to say every thing respectful: sequent one established one or two for you will very soon find that the preliminary and formal points_the name on the record is that of only the Attorney-Generalscarcely rising to put nominal defendant; and although all a question to them.
The third witthat is professed to be this day sought ness was examined by Mr Subtle with for, a very trifling portion of the apparent unconcern, but really with property, your verdict will undoubt- exquisite anxiety, From the earnestedly decide the question as to the true ness and attention with which the ownership and enjoyment of the large words of the witness were watched and estates now held by the gentleman who taken down by both the judge and the is the substantial defendant-I mean counsel, who knew much better than Mr Aubrey, the member of Parlia- the audience where the strain of the ment for the borough of Yatton.” case commenced, it must have appearAware of the watchful and formidable ed to the latter, that either Mr Subtle opponent who would in due time an- under-estimated, or his opponents swer him, and also of being himself over-estimated, the value of the evientitled to the general reply to the dence now in process of being exlast word-Mr Subtle proceeded to tracted by Mr Subtle, in short, easy, state the nature of the plaintiff's case pointed questions, and with a smiling with the utmost brevity and clear. countenance.
Scarcely any sound was heard “ Not so fast, sir,” gruffly interpo. but that of the pens of the short-hand sed Lord Widdrington, addressing the writers, and of the counsel taking their witness. notes. Mr Subtle, having handed up 6. Take time, Mr Jones," said Mr two or three copies of the pedigree Subtle, blandly, fearful of ruffling or which he held in his hand to the judge discomposing an important witness, and jury, pointed out with distinctness The Attorney-General rose to crossand precision every link in the chain examine ; he pressed him quietly but of evidence which he intended to lay closely ; varied the shape of his quesbefore the jury; and having done this tions; now he soothed, then he flat
having presented as few salient tered; but sat down, evidently hapoints of attack to his opponent as he ving produced no impression. Thus possibly could-he sat down, profess- it was with one or two succeeding ing his entire ignorance of what case witnesses; the Attorney-General, on could be set up in answer to that each occasion, resuming his seat after which he had opened. He had not his abortive efforts with perfect com. been on his legs quite half an hour; posure. At length, however, by a and when he ceased how he had dis- very admirable and well-sustained fire appointed every one present, except of cross-questioning, he completely the judge and the bar! Instead of a demolished a material witness; and speech befitting so great an occasion the hopes of all interested in behalf of -impressive and eloquent—here had his clients rose high. Mr Subtle, been a brief dry statement of a few who had been all the while paring his uninteresting facts - dates, births, nails, and from time to time smiling deaths, marriages-without a single with a careless air, (though you might touch of feeling or ray of eloquence. as safely have touched a tigress suckThe momentary feeling of disappoint- ling her cubs, as attempted at that ment in the audience, however-al- moment to disturb Mr Subtle, so abmost all of whom, it may easily be sorbed was he with intense anxiety,) believed, were in the interest of the knowing that he could establish the Aubreys-quickly yielded to one of sa- same facts by another and, as he betisfaction and relief; as they thought lieved, a better witness, did not re-exthey might regard so meagre a speech amine; but calling that other, with an as heralding in as meagre a case. air of nonchalance, succeeded in ex. As soon as he had sat down, Mr Quick- tracting from him all that the other silver rose and called the first wita had failed in, and in baffling all the attempts of the Attorney-General to all was manifest by a mere glimpse affect his credit, or disturb his equani. round the court, yet any momentary mity. At length, another witness display of eccentricity on the part of being in the box,–
a witness, or petulance or repartee on “ My Lord, I object to that ques. the part of counsel, would occasion a tion," said Mr Attorney-General, as momentary merriment that really Mr Subtle, amidst many indifferent served only as a sort of relief to the and apparently, irrelevant questions, strained feelings, and instantly disapquietly slipped in one of the greatest peared. The tomb-stone part of the possible importance, had it been an. case was got through easily; scarce swered as he desired. 'Twas quite any attempt being made on the part of delightful to see the Attorney General Mr Aubrey's counsel, to resist or inand his experienced and watchful ju. terfere with it. But the great_the niors, all rise at one and the same in. hottest part of the fight-occurred at stant; showing how vain were the that point of the case, where Tita tricks and ingenuity of their sly op- mouse's descent from Stephen Dredponent. Mr Attorney. General stated dlington was sought to be established. his objection, briefly and pointedly; This gentleman, who had been a very Mr Subtle answered him, followed by wild person, whose movements were Quicksilver and Lynx; and then Mr very difficult to be traced or accountAttorney-General replied, with greated for, had entered the navy, and ulforce and clearness. This keen en- timately died at sea, as had always counter of their wits over
been imagined, single and childless. “Ishall allow the question to be put,” It was proved, however, that so far said Lord Widdrington, after a pause from such being the case, he had mar" But I have great doubts as to its ried a person at Portsmouth, of infepropriety. I will therefore take a note rior station; and that by her he had of Mr Attorney-General's objection.” a daughter, only two years before his
Four or five similar conflicts arose death, which happened at sea, as has during the course of the plaintiff's been stated. Both mother and daughcase ;- now concerning the compe- ter, after undergoing great privation, tency of a witness-then as to the ad. and no notice being taken of the mo. missibility of a document, or the pro. ther by any of her late husband's fapriety of a particular question. On mily, removed to the house of a humeach of these occasions there were dise ble and distant relative, in Cumberplayed on both sides consummate lo- land, and afterwards died, leaving her gical skill and acuteness, especially daughter only fifteen years old. When by the two leaders. Distinctions the she grew up, she lived in some menial most delicate were suggested with capacity at Cumberland, and ultisuddenness, and as promptly en mately married one Gabriel Tittlebat countered; the most artful man- Titmouse ; who, after living for some æuvres to secure dangerous admise years a cordwainer at Whitehaven, sions resorted to, and baffled; the found his way to Grilston, in Yorkshire, more recondite principles of evidence in the neighbourhood of which town brought to bear with admirable readi- he had lived for some years, in very ness on both side To deal with humble circumstances. Th he had them, required indeed the practised, married ; and about two years after
l penetrating, and powerful intellect of wards his wife died, leaving a sonLord Widdrington. Some points he our friend Tittlebat Titmouse. Both disposed of promptly, to the satisface of them afterwards came to London ; tion of both parties ; on others he where, in four or five years' time, the hesitated, and at length reserved them. father died, leaving the little Titmouse Though none but the more experien- to flutter and hop about in the wide ced and able members of the bar could world as best he could. The little in the least degree enter into and ap- documentary evidence of which Gampreciate the nature of these conflicts, mon, at his first interview with Titthey were watched with untiring at, mouse, found him possessed, proved, tention and eagerness by all present, at the trial, as Gammon had foreseen, both ladies and gentlemen by the of essential importance. The evidence lowly and the distinguished. And in support of this part of the case, and though the intensity of the feelings of which it took till two o'clock on the
ensuing afternoon to get through, was up on the part of the plaintiff, and the subjected to a most determined and sort of evidence by which it has been skilful opposition by the Attorney attempted to be supported ; and I am General, but in vain. The case had very sanguine of success, in showing been got up with the utmost care, you that the plaintiff's witnesses are under the excellent management of not entitled to the credit to which they Lynx; and Mr Subtle's consummate lay claim ; and, consequently, that tact and ability brought it, at length, there is no case made out for the defully and distinctly out before the fendant to answer.” He then entered jury.
into a rigorous analysis of the plainSi That, my lord," said he, as he sat tiff's evidence, contrasting each condown after re-examining his last wit- flicting portion with the other, with ness, " is the case on the part of the singular force and cogency; and complaintiff.” On this the judge and jury menting with powerful severity upon withdrew, for a short time, to obtain the demeanour and character of many refreshments. During their absence, of the witnesses. On proceeding, at the Attorney-General, Mr Sterling, length, to open the case of the deMr Crystal, and Mr Mansfield, might fendant—" And here, gentlemen," have been seen, with their heads all said he, “ I am reminded of the oblaid close together, engaged in anxious servation with which my learned friend consultation--a group gazed at by the concluded that he was entirely ignoeager eyes of many a spectator whose rant of the case which I meant to set beating heart wished their cause god- up in answer to that which he had speed. The Attorney-General then opened on the part of the plaintiff. withdrew for a few moments, also to Gentlemen, it would have been curious, seek refreshments; and returning at indeed, had it had been otherwise-had the same time with the judge, after my friend's penetrating eye been able a moment's pause, rose and opened to inspect the contents of our strongthe defendant's case. His manner box-and so become acquainted with was calm and impressive; his person the evidence on which my client rests was dignified; and his clear, distinct his title to the property. He has, voice fell on the listening ear like the however, succeeded in entitling him. sound of silver. After an exceedingly self to information on that point; and graceful and simple allusion to the he shall have it—and to his heart's distinguished character of his friend content.” Here Mr Subtle cast a and client, Mr Aubrey, to whose emi- glance of smiling incredulity towards nent position in the House of Commons the jury, and defiance towards the Athe bore his personal testimony, and the torney-General : he took his pen into magnitude of the interests now at stake, his hand, however, and his juniors he proceeded—“ On every account, looked very anxious. “ Gentlemen, therefore, I feel sensible, gentlemen, to I will now concede to him every inch an unusual and most painful extent, of of the case which he has been endeathe very great responsibility now resting vouring to make out; that he has comupon my learned friends and myself; pletely established his pedigree.lest any miscarriage of mine should Mind, gentlemen, I concede this only prejudice in any degree the important for the purpose of the case which I am interests committed to us, or impair about to lay before you. He then the strength of the case which I am mentioned the conveyance by Harry about to submit to you on the part of Dreddlington of all his interests": Mr Aubrey : a case which, I assure • You forget that he died in his father's you, unless some extraordinary mis- lifetime, Mr Attorney-General," inchance should befall us, will I believe terposed Mr Subtle, with a placid annihilate that which, with so much smile, and the air of a man who is pains and ability, has just been laid be- suddenly relieved from a vast pressure fore you by my learned friend Mr of anxiety. Subtle, and establish the defendant in “ Not a bit of it, gentlemen, not a the safe possession of that large pro- bit of it-'tis a part of my case. My perty which is the subject of the pre- learned friend is quite right; Harry sent most unexpected litigation. But, Dreddlington did die in his father's gentlemen, before proceeding so far as lifetime :-but-" Here Mr Subtle that, it is fitting that I should call your gazed at the Attorney-General with attention to the nature of the case set unaffected curiosity; and, when the
latter came to mention “ the Deed of Lordship's direction, would return & Confirmation by the father of Harry verdict for the defendant, and without Dreddlington," an acute observer leaving the jury-box, where, by their might have observed a slight change long and patient attention, they had of colour in Mr Subtle. Mr Quick- so honourably acquitted themselves silver went on writing—for he was en. of the important duty imposed upon tirely out of his depth, and therefore them by the constitution.' occupied himself with thinking over « James Parkinson !” exclaimed an article he was writing for some po- Mr Sterling, quietly but distinctly, as litical review. Mr Lynx looked at the Attorney-General sat down. “ Do the Attorney-General as if he expected you produce,” enquired Mr Sterling, every instant to receive a musket-ball as soon as the witness had been sworn, in bis breast.
“ a conveyance, specifying that by “ What, « confirm' a nullity, Mr Harry Dreddlington to Moses Aaron," Attorney-General ?" interrupted Mr &c. It was proved and put in, without Subtle, laying down his pen with a much opposition. So also was ansmile of derision ; but a moment or other-the assignment from Moses two afterwards, “Mr Mortmain," Aaron to Geoffry Dreddlington. said he, in a hasty whisper, “what do “ Do you also produce a deed beyou think of this? Tell me in four tween Harry Dreddlington the elder words"- Mortmain, his eye glued and Geoffry Dreddlington ?" and he to the face of the Attorney-General mentioned the date and names of all the while, muttered hastily something the parties. Mr Parkinson handed in about-operating as a new grant-as the important document. a new conveyance.
“ Stay, stay; where did you get “ Pshaw! I mean what's the answer that deed, Mr Parkinson ?” enquired to it?" muttered Mr Subtle, impa. Mr Subtle. tiently; but his countenance preserved “ From my office at Grilston, where its expression of smiling nonchalance. I keep many of Mr Aubrey's title“ You'll oblige me, Mr Mortmain," deeds.” he by and by whispered, in a quiet but • When did you bring it hither?" peremptory tone, " by giving your “ About ten o'clock last night, for utmost attention to the question as to the purpose of this trial.” the effect of this deed—so that I may “ How long has it been at your ofshape my objection to it properly when fice?” it is tendered in evidence. If it « Ever since I fetched it, a year or really have the legal effect attributed two ago, with other deeds, from the to it, and which I suspect is the case, muniment-room of Yatton Hall." we may as well shut up our briefs. I “ How long have you been solicitor thought there must be something or to Mr Aubrey ?" other in the background."
“For this ten years; and my father Gammon saw the real state of Mr was solicitor to his father for twentySubtle's mind, and his cheek turned five years." pale, but he preserved a smile on his “ Will you swear that this deed was countenance, as he sat with his arms at your office before the proceedings folded. Quirk eyed him with undis. in this action were brought to your guised agitation, scarce daring to look notice ?” up at Mr Subtle. Titmouse, seeing “ I have not the slightest doubt in a little dismay in his camp, turned very the world. It never attracted any white and cold, and sat still, scarce more notice from me than any other daring to breathe. Snap looked like of Mr Aubrey's deeds, till my attena terrier going to have its teeth pulled tion was drawn to it in consequence out. At length the Attorney-General, of these proceedings." after stating that, in addition to the “ Has any one access to Mr Aucase which he had intimated, as rest- brey's deeds at your office but youring mainly on the deed of confirma- self?” tion, he should proceed to prove the “ None that I know of; I keep all pedigree of Mr Aubrey, sat down, the deeds of my clients that are at my having spoken about two hours and a office in their respective boxes, and half, expressing his conviction that allow no one access to them, except when the defendant's evidence should under my immediate notice, and in my have been closed, the jury, under his presence."
Then Mr Subtle sat down.
the case alluded to, and which were “ My lord, we now propose to put certainly precisely similar to those in this deed,” said the Attorney- then before him. In the case referred General, unfolding it.
to, the stamp had been held sufficient; " Allow me to look at it, Mr. At- and so he and his brother, Grayley, torney,” said Mr Subtle.
were of opinion was the stamp in the handed to him; and his juniors and deed then before him. The cloud Mr Mortmain, rising up, were engaged which had settled upon the countemost anxiously in scrutinizing it for nances of the Attorney-General and
minutes. Mortmain having his party, here flitted over to those of looked at the amp, sate down, and his opponents. • Your lordship will opening his bag, hastily drew out an perhaps take a note of the objection," old well-worn volume, which contained said Mr Subtle, somewhat chagrined. all the stamp acts that had ever been The judge did so. passed from the time of William the “ Now, then, we propose to put in Third, when, I believe, the first of and read this deed,” said the Attorneythose blessings was conferred upon this, General, with a smile, holding out his country. First he looked at the deed hand towards Mr Lynx, who was then at his bookthen at the deed spelling over it very eagerly—“I preagain ; and at length might be seen, sume my learned friend will require with earnest gestures, putting Mr only the operative parts">here Lynx, Subtle in possession of his opinion on with some excitement, called his the subject. My lord,” said Subtle, leader's attention to something which at length, “ I object to this instru- had occurred to him in the deed :
1:-up ment being received in evidence, on got Quicksilver and Mortmain ; and account of the insufficiency of the presentlystamp." He then mentioned the “ Not quite so fast, Mr Attorney, character of the stamp affixed to the if you please,” said Mr Subtle, with a deed, and read the act which was in little elation of manner_“I have force at the time that the deed bore another, and I apprehend a clearly date ; and, after a few additional ob- fatal objection to the admissibility of servations, sate down, and was follow this deed, till my learned friend shall ed by Mr Quicksilver and Mr Lynx. have accounted for an erasure Then arose the Attorney-General, 6. Erasure!" echoed the Attorneyhaving in the meantime carefully General, with much surprise—“Allow looked at the Act of Parliament, and me to see the deed ;" and he took it submitted to his lordship that the with an incredulous smile, which, stamp was sufficient; being followed however, disappeared as he looked by his juniors. Mr Subtle replied at more and more closely at the instru. some length.
ment; Mr Sterling and Mr Crystal “ I entertain some difficulty on the also looking extremely serious. point, said his lordship, “and will “ I've hit them now," said Mr consult with my brother Grayley.” Subtle, to those behind him, as he Taking with him the deed, and Mr leaned back, and looked with no little Mortmain's Stamp Acts, his lordship triumph at his opponents. From what left the court, and was absent a quarter apparently inadequate and trilling of an hour-half an hour three causes often flow great results! The quarters of an hour; and at length plain fact of the case was merely this. returned.
The attorney's clerk, in copying out “ I have consulted,” said he, as the deed, which was one of consider. soon as he had taken his seat, amidst able length, had written four or five the profoundest silence,“ my brother words by mistake; and fearing to exGrayley, and we have very fully con- asperate his master, by rendering nesidered the point. My brother happens, cessary a new deed and stamp, and fortunately, to have by him a manu- occasioning trouble and delay, neatly script note of a case in which he was scratched out the erroneous words, counsel, about eighteen years ago, and and over the erasure wrote the correct in which the exact point arose which
As he was the party who was exists in the present case. He then entrusted with seeing to and witnessread out of a thick manuscript book, ing the execution of the instrument, whieh he had brought with him from he of course took no notice of the al. Mr Justice Grayley, the particulars of teration, and see the result! The