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Clarkson, Reynolds the philanthro- Cowper and Sarah Stout were left pist, and Dalton the philosopher, together in the parlour—from that deserves a treatment far different moment she was never seen alive. from that which it has received They left the house together at from Lord Macaulay. To assert, half-past ten at night, and in the without one particle of evidence morning her corpse was discovered to support the statement, that the in the mill-dam. It would perhaps Quakers deliberately planned a ju- be going too far to say that Cowper dicial murder to conceal the fact was certainly her murderer, but the that one of their body had com- case was one of the darkest suspicion. mitted suicide, is just as monstrous He was placed upon his trial for as to impute to the Tories that murder, but to anticipate a convicthey were accomplices in the crime. tion would have been absurd. The This unscrupulous treatment of law closed the mouth of the princifacts, and equally unscrupulous pal witness, the mother of the girl, suggestion of motives, is one of for she was a Quaker, and could the most dangerous weapons a not take an oath. The judge, a combatant can wield. No instru- friend of the Cowpers, indulged ment of attack is so easily turned the prisoner in a degree of license against the party making use of in his defence which in the present it. If a historian could be found day would not be tolerated. The equally unscrupulous as Lord Mac- Cowpers were powerful in Hertanlay, and as deeply imbued with ford, which was represented in opposite prejudices, nothing would Parliament by the father and the be easier than to paraphrase his brother of the prisoner. Every account of Spencer Cowper's trial artifice that could influence the almost in his own words, and with minds of the jury against Quakers even less departure from the facts. and Tories was resorted to. Every The narrative would then assume prejudice of religious or political something of the following form : fanaticism against an unpopular sect * At Hertford resided a respect and an obnoxious party was apable Quaker family named Stout. pealed to. The consequence was One daughter, a beautiful girl of that Cowper was acquitted. An strong sensibility and lively ima- attempt was made to place him on gination, formed a deep attach- his trial a second time by means of ment to Spencer Cowper. He an 'appeal of murder,' a proceedtrified with her affections, took ing which Lord Holt, in this very every advantage of her unhappy case, designated as ' a noble badge state of mind, and then cast her of the liberties of an Englishman.' off and married another woman. But here again the influence of Her almost frantic attachment still the powerful family of the Cowcontinued. She wrote letters to pers paralysed the arm of justice. him breathing the deepest passion. The sheriff was tampered with and He paraded them before his bro- the writ destroyed. The sheriff paid ther (who was a man of notoriously the penalty of his misconduct by loose habits), and his other profligate imprisonment and fine, and was associates. When he came to the subjected to a severe rebuke from Hertford spring assizes in 1699, Lord Holt. The Cowpers triumphhe went direct to her mother's ed, but their exultation was short. house. He dined and supped there; Outraged humanity vindicated its he spent the evening in affectionate rights. The press teemed with inconversation with the girl he had dignant pamphlets, and at the next betrayed. His bed was prepared election both the Cowpers were in the house, and the servant-girl ignominiously ejected from the rewas sent up to warm it. Spencer presentation of their native town."*
• "It is hardly necessary to remind any student of English history that Spencer
Such is the mode in which this father was hanged for murdering subject may be treated, when, as in his uncle.” Polite and pious biograthe old fable, the lion turns sculp- phers such as Hayley and Southey tor. It is a mode of treatment generally avoid all allusion to such nearly as remote from truth as disagreeable subjects. Lord MaLord Macaulay's own. To gratify caulay is puzzled by what appears his political and family aversions, to him unnecessary delicacy, and Lord Macaulay has raked up the has made the whole scandalous ashes of poor Sarah Stout, and has story (for scandalous it must rerevived a not very creditable inci- main, even taking the most favourdent in the history of a very. emi. able view) as notorious as possible. nent family. He expresses surprise Where one reader dives into the that none of the biographers of the State Trials, a thousand will read poet Cowper should have alluded Lord Macaulay's fifth volume ; and to this adventure of his grand all the world now has the advanfather. An old proverb might have tage of knowing that the grandtold him that there are certain fami- father of “that excellent man, excellies amongst whom it is a breach of lent poet,” as Lord Macaulay justly good manners to make any mention calls William Cowper, behaved of “ hemp.” We think it was Quin extremely ill to a pretty Quaker who once introduced Foote to a girl, and had a narrow escape of company as “a gentleman whose being hanged for murdering her.
THE FAREWELL OF THE SEAL.
[THERE is, or there was, a tradition in Shetland that seals come sometimes on shore, and, divesting themselves of their skins, dance upon the sands, after which they resume their covering and return to their natural element. It is said that on one occasion a female seal, who may be considered as a sort of mermaid, having mislaid her skin upon the land, and being thus unable to return to the sea, came into the possession of a Shetlander, with whom she lived for some years as his wife, and bore him several children. One of the children having accidentally found on the beach an old hide, brought it to his mother, when it proved to be the long-lost skin. With many tears and marks of agitation the mother put it on, and, taking an affectionate leave of her children, plunged into the sea, and swam off in company with a large male seal, who had often before been seen hovering on the coast.]
Husband, farewell! for many a year
I've proved a true obedient wife:
Has been my aim for half a life.
I cannot now but feel and say ;
And bore my fancy far away.
Cowper and Sarah Stout are the Mosco and Zara of The New Atalantis. See vol. i. pp. 166, 174, for a very full account of this unhappy transaction. Lord Macaulay, who has drawn largely upon the stores of this very valuable work in other instances, appears to have overlooked the fact that this narrative was to be found in the pages of a contemporary historian, whose character for accuracy is second only to his own."
CHAPTER LV.-IN WHICH SOME OF THE CHARACTERS ARE WITHDRAWN.
As I had anticipated, I did not ing of life so beautiful, and comfind Mr Osborne inexorable. Al- pensates for the loss of the more though he had deemed it his duty fervid glories and dazzling glare of to administer a severe rebuke to his its meridian. In regard to their nephew, and was really provoked by domestic arrangements, old men the liberty which had been taken are intensely conservative. Though with his paper, he was by no means aware that changes are inevitable, insensible to the merits of the joke. they are invariably desirous to postIn fact, as we walked through the pone them to the last possible gardens, he chuckled over the nar moment; and they never seem to rative which I gave him, as nearly as suspect that, in doing so, they are possible in the language of Faunce, far more influenced by selfish mowith a zest which convinced me tives than by regard for the happithat, in his younger days, he would ness of their children. have thought it anything but a sin I had, however, an important adto aid in mystifying the public. vantage in pleading Attie's cause. Drawing from the resources of his Mr Osborne had admitted that he memory, he instanced many cases now looked upon the marriage as in which the press, though deviat a settled thing, having ascertained ing from the truth, had aided the that the affections of his daughter national cause; and as those re- were very deeply engaged ; and velations were not spiced by any that even had he been inclined persprinkling of censure, it was evident sonally to discourage Faunce's preto me that my old friend and em- tensions, he did not consider himployer saw no great harm in stretch- self entitled to interpose a negative. ing a point when party considera- The way being thus far cleared, I tions rendered such elasticity ad- was able to insist with more effect visable.
upon the argument, that it really But though willing enough to was injudicious, to say the least of receive Faunce once more into it, to keep Faunce in a state of susfavour, I could see that he was still pense which, considering his want reluctant to give his consent to an of occupation, might draw him into immediate marriage. That was not, further irregularities. I apprehend, a feeling peculiar to “It is a maxim of your own, himself, but one which influences sir," I said, “ that when a man more or less the conduct of all who has once made up his mind to do find themselves in the like position. anything, the sooner he goes through The marriage of a sole daughter, with it the better. I am sure you even though the match may be alto- cannot approve of long engagegether unexceptionable, is a great ments, such as are often made by trial to a fond father, partaking young people whose circumstances almost of the nature of a sacrifice. render immediate matrimony out of It involves the withdrawal from his the question. I have known many care and presence of the one object instances of the kind, and I am upon whom his dearest affections sorry to say that, in most of them, are centred—the abstraction of the the consequence has been that the roseate light that makes the even- men have continued to live as if no engagement had taken place, deny- to know, is now entertained by his ing themselves no indulgence, and constituents; and at the next genesubmitting to no restraint. Such ral election he will be bowled down conduct deserves execration, but it like a nine-pin, and vanish from the is so common that we cannot over- political world. Mark my wordslook it as a fact; and society, judg- the reign of plausibility is wellnigh ing in such matters according to the over! Hypocritical government is fantastic rule of its own code of abhorrent to the downright Engmorals, tolerates in men so situated lish instinct that loathes and rea degree of licence which it does not pudiates imposture." accord to the husband. Nay, it “At least, sir, you deserve my even recognises a distinction be thanks for having opened my eyes tween an engagement proper and an to the true character of the man.” engagement indefinite, regarding the “Oh, you would have made that latter as more or less partaking of discovery fast enough without any the character of a contingency." assistance from me! But I am
“ Nay, that's true enough," re- really sorry to lose you, Sinclair. plied Mr Osborne. “I am quite as I feel very much as a Roman lanista much opposed to long engagements might have done in parting with a as you can be, Sinclair ; and I see pet gladiator." the drift of your argument perfectly. “I trust that I bear my sword You may be sure that I have thought from the arena without dishonour.” over the subject in all its bearings; “Unquestionably; though you and if I have not been able to make have no scars to display as the toup my mind, it is because the future kens of your prowess. But you will welfare of my own dear child is pardon me for making one observamore precious to me than anything tion. When we last met, I underunder heaven. Now don't say anys stood you to say that, notwithstandthing more about it. Tell Attie ing your accession of fortune, you that he may come here as usual; on had no thoughts of relinquishing the condition, however, that he is your engagement. That seemed to to bridle his inventive faculties, me a very wise resolution ; but it avoid the company of exalted per- appears that you have since altered sonages, and abstain from pilgrim- your mind. Now, I don't want to ages to Thames Ditton.”
press you for your reasons—in fact, "I think I can answer for his have no right to do so—but it would abstinence," said I. “And now, Mr be a satisfaction to me to feel assured Osborne, in relation to my own that in making the change you have affairs I have but to thank you maturely considered whether it is most cordially for the uniform likely to prove conducive to your kindness you have shown to me happiness. I say this, because if throughout our brief connection.” you entertain literary aspirations of
“ You are under no obligation to a more ambitious kind, it may be me, my dear lad !” replied Osborne. in my power to offer you some as“I was on the look out for a man sistance.”' to do a certain kind of work when “Many thanks, Mr Osborne. But, accident threw you in my way. I without pledging myself to perpebelieved you were capable of doing tual abstinence, I have done with it, and that it would be a much practical literature for the present. better occupation for you— more The truth is, that for some time creditable and more lucrative- past I have been so much engrossed than a desk in some public office, by matters of a personal nature, which is all you could have aspired that I cannot give that undivided to, had Sir George Smoothly really attention to journalism which you felt for you the interest he pro- have a right to require. It is my fessed. But he is an arrant hum- intention soon to return to Scotbug! That conviction, I am glad land; but more than this, under