John Caldigate eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 777 pages of information about John Caldigate.
to protection from the law because she is a conspirator.  Nor, because she is a conspirator, should he be less amenable to the law for the terrible injury he would then have done to that other lady.  But if they be conspirators,—­if it be shown to you that they came to this country,—­not that the woman might claim her husband, not that the others might give honest testimony against a great delinquent,—­but in order that they might frighten him out of money, then I am entitled to tell you that you should not rest on their evidence unless it be supported, and that the fact of their conspiracy gives you a right, nay, makes it your imperative duty, to suspect perjury.’

The remainder of the day was taken up with Sir John’s speech, and with the witnesses which he called for the defence.  He certainly succeeded in strengthening the compassion which was felt for Caldigate and for the unfortunate young mother at Folking.  ‘It was very well,’ he said, ’for my learned friend to tell you of the protection which is due to a married woman when a husband has broken the law, and betrayed his trust by taking another wife to himself, as this man is accused of having done.  But there is another aspect in which you will regard the question.  Think of that second wife and of her child, and of the protection which is due to her.  You well know that she does not suspect her husband, that she fears nothing but a mistaken verdict from you,—­that she will be satisfied, much more than satisfied, if you will leave her in possession of her home, her husband, and the unalloyed domestic happiness she has enjoyed since she joined her lot with his.  Look at the one woman, and then at the other.  Remember their motives, their different lives, their different joys, and what will be the effect of your verdict upon each of them.  If you are satisfied that he did marry that woman, that vile woman, the nature of whose life has been sufficiently exposed to you, of course your verdict must be against him.  The law is the law, and must be vindicated.  In that case it will be your duty, your terrible duty, to create misery, to destroy happiness, to ruin a dear innocent young mother and her child, and to separate a loving couple, every detail of whose life is such as to demand your sympathy.  And this you must do at the bidding of four greedy, foul conspirators.  Innocent, sweet, excellent in all feminine graces as is the one wife,—­unlovely unfeminine, and abhorrent as is the other,—­you must do your duty.  God forbid that I should ask you to break an oath, even for the sake of that young mother.  But in such a case, I do think, I may ask you to be very careful as to what evidence you accept.  I do think that I may again point out to you that those four witnesses, bound as they are together by a bond of avarice, should be regarded but as one,—­and as one to whose sworn evidence no credit is due unless it be amply corroborated.  I say that there is no corroboration.  This envelope would be strong corroboration if it had been itself trustworthy.’  When he sat down the feeling in court was certainly in favour of John Caldigate.

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John Caldigate from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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