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latter came to mention "the Deed of Confirmation by the father of Harry Dreddlington," an acute observer might have observed a slight change of colour in Mr Subtle. Mr Quicksilver went on writing-for he was entirely out of his depth, and therefore occupied himself with thinking over an article he was writing for some political review. Mr Lynx looked at the Attorney-General as if he expected every instant to receive a musket-ball in his breast.
"What, confirm' a nullity, Mr Attorney-General ?" interrupted Mr Subtle, laying down his pen with a smile of derision; but a moment or two afterwards," Mr Mortmain," said he, in a hasty whisper, "what do you think of this? Tell me-in four words" Mortmain, his eye glued to the face of the Attorney-General the while, muttered hastily something about-operating as a new grant-as
a new conveyance.
"Pshaw! I mean what's the answer to it?" muttered Mr Subtle, impatiently; but his countenance preserved its expression of smiling nonchalance. "You'll oblige me, Mr Mortmain," he by and by whispered, in a quiet but peremptory tone," by giving your utmost attention to the question as to the effect of this deed-so that I may shape my objection to it properly when it is tendered in evidence. If it really have the legal effect attributed to it, and which I suspect is the case, we may as well shut up our briefs. I thought there must be something or other in the background."
Gammon saw the real state of Mr Subtle's mind, and his cheek turned pale, but he preserved a smile on his countenance, as he sat with his arms folded. Quirk eyed him with undisguised agitation, scarce daring to look up at Mr Subtle. Titmouse, seeing a little dismay in his camp, turned very white and cold, and sat still, scarce daring to breathe. Snap looked like a terrier going to have its teeth pulled out. At length the Attorney-General, after stating that, in addition to the case which he had intimated, as resting mainly on the deed of confirmation, he should proceed to prove the pedigree of Mr Aubrey, sat down, having spoken about two hours and a half, expressing his conviction that when the defendant's evidence should have been closed, the jury, under his
"James Parkinson!" exclaimed Mr Sterling, quietly but distinctly, as the Attorney-General sat down. "Do you produce," enquired Mr Sterling, as soon as the witness had been sworn, "a conveyance, specifying that by Harry Dreddlington to Moses Aaron,' &c. It was proved and put in, without much opposition. So also was an other the assignment from Moses Aaron to Geoffry Dreddlington.
"Do you also produce a deed be tween Harry Dreddlington the elder and Geoffry Dreddlington?" and he mentioned the date and names of all the parties. Mr Parkinson handed in the important document.
"Stay, stay; where did you get that deed, Mr Parkinson?" enquired Mr Subtle.
"From my office at Grilston, where I keep many of Mr Aubrey's titledeeds."
"When did you bring it hither ?" "About ten o'clock last night, for the purpose of this trial."
"How long has it been at your office?"
"Ever since I fetched it, a year or two ago, with other deeds, from the muniment-room of Yatton Hall." "How long have you been solicitor to Mr Aubrey?"
"For this ten years; and my father was solicitor to his father for twentyfive years."
"Will you swear that this deed was at your office before the proceedings in this action were brought to your notice?"
"I have not the slightest doubt in the world. It never attracted any more notice from me than any other of Mr Aubrey's deeds, till my attention was drawn to it in consequence of these proceedings."
"Has any one access to Mr Aubrey's deeds at your office but yourself?"
"None that I know of; I keep all the deeds of my clients that are at my office in their respective boxes, and allow no one access to them, except under my immediate notice, and in my presence."
Then Mr Subtle sat down. "My lord, we now propose to put in this deed," said the AttorneyGeneral, unfolding it.
"Allow me to look at it, Mr Attorney," said Mr Subtle. It was handed to him; and his juniors and Mr Mortmain, rising up, were engaged most anxiously in scrutinizing it for some minutes. Mortmain having looked at the stamp, sate down, and opening his bag, hastily drew out an old well-worn volume, which contained all the stamp acts that had ever been passed from the time of William the Third, when, I believe, the first of those blessings was conferred upon this, country. First he looked at the deed -then at his book-then at the deed again; and at length might be seen, with earnest gestures, putting Mr Subtle in possession of his opinion on the subject. "My lord," said Subtle, at length, "I object to this instrument being received in evidence, on account of the insufficiency of the stamp." He then mentioned the character of the stamp affixed to the deed, and read the act which was in force at the time that the deed bore date; and, after a few additional observations, sate down, and was followed by Mr Quicksilver and Mr Lynx. Then arose the Attorney-General, having in the meantime carefully looked at the Act of Parliament, and submitted to his lordship that the stamp was sufficient; being followed by his juniors. Mr Subtle replied at some length.
"I entertain some difficulty on the point," said his lordship, "and will consult with my brother Grayley." Taking with him the deed, and Mr Mortmain's Stamp Acts, his lordship left the court, and was absent a quarter of an hour-half an hour-three quarters of an hour; and at length returned.
"I have consulted," said he, as soon as he had taken his seat, amidst the profoundest silence," my brother Grayley, and we have very fully considered the point. My brother happens, fortunately, to have by him a manuscript note of a case in which he was counsel, about eighteen years ago, and in which the exact point arose which exists in the present case." He then read out of a thick manuscript book, which he had brought with him from Mr Justice Grayley, the particulars of
the case alluded to, and which were certainly precisely similar to those then before him. In the case referred to, the stamp had been held sufficient ; and so he and his brother, Grayley, were of opinion was the stamp in the deed then before him. The cloud which had settled upon the countenances of the Attorney-General and his party, here flitted over to those of his opponents. "Your lordship will perhaps take a note of the objection," said Mr Subtle, somewhat chagrined. The judge did so.
"Now, then, we propose to put in and read this deed," said the AttorneyGeneral, with a smile, holding out his hand towards Mr Lynx, who was spelling over it very eagerly-" I presume my learned friend will require only the operative parts"-here Lynx, with some excitement, called his leader's attention to something which had occurred to him in the deed :-up got Quicksilver and Mortmain; and presently
"Not quite so fast, Mr Attorney, if you please," said Mr Subtle, with a little elation of manner "I have another, and I apprehend a clearly fatal objection to the admissibility of this deed, till my learned friend shall have accounted for an erasure
"Erasure!" echoed the AttorneyGeneral, with much surprise—"Allow me to see the deed;" and he took it with an incredulous smile, which, however, disappeared as he looked more and more closely at the instrument; Mr Sterling and Mr Crystal also looking extremely serious.
"I've hit them now," said Mr Subtle, to those behind him, as he leaned back, and looked with no little triumph at his opponents. From what apparently inadequate and trifling causes often flow great results! The plain fact of the case was merely this. The attorney's clerk, in copying out the deed, which was one of considerable length, had written four or five words by mistake; and fearing to exasperate his master, by rendering necessary a new deed and stamp, and occasioning trouble and delay, neatly scratched out the erroneous words, and over the erasure wrote the correct ones. As he was the party who was entrusted with seeing to and witnessing the execution of the instrument, he of course took no notice of the alteration, and-see the result! The
ownership of an estate of ten thousand a-year about to turn upon the effect of this erasure!
"Hand me up the deed," said the Judge; and inspected it minutely for a minute or two.
"Has any one a magnifying glass in court?" enquired the AttorneyGeneral, with a look of increasing anxiety. No one happened to have
"Is it necessary, Mr Attorney?" said Lord Widdrington, handing down the instrument to him with an ominous look.
"Well-you object, of course, Mr Subtle as I understand you- that this deed is void, on account of an erasure in a material part of it?" enquired Lord Widdrington.
"That is my objection, my lord," said Mr Subtle, sitting down.
"Now, Mr Attorney," continued the Judge, turning to the AttorneyGeneral, prepared to take a note of any observations he might offer. The spectators the whole court-were aware that the great crisis of the case had arrived; and there was a sickening silence. The Attorney-General, with perfect calmness and self-possession, immediately addressed the court in answer to the objection. That there was an erasure, which, owing to the hurry with which the instrument had been looked at, had been overlooked, was indisputable; of course the Attorney-General's argument was, that it was an erasure in a part not material; but it was easy to see that he spoke with the air of a man who argues contra spem. What he said, however, was pertinent and forcible; the same might be said of Mr Sterling and Mr Crystal; but they were all plainly gravelled. Mr Subtle replied with cruel cogency: Mr Quicksilver seized the opportunity-not choosing to see that the Judge was with them-to make a most dangerous but showy speech; Mr Subtle sitting beside him in the utmost distress, looking as if he could have withered him with a word. In consequence of some very unguarded admissions of Quicksilver, down came upon him Lord Widdrington; and Mr Subtle the only time during the whole cause in which he lost his self-command-uttered a half-stifled curse at the folly of Quicksilver, that could be heard by half the bar, perhaps even by the judge, who greatly
relished the exposure he was making of Quicksilver's indiscretion. At length he sate down, with a somewhat foolish air, Mr Subtle turning his back full upon him before the whole court; but when Lynx rose, and in a business-like way, with only a word or two, put the point again fully before Lord Widdrington, the scowl gradually disappeared from the brow of Mr Subtle.
"Well," said Lord Widdrington, when Mr Lynx had done," I own I feel no doubt at all upon the matter; but as it is certainly of the greatest possible importance, I will just see how it strikes my brother Grayley." With this he took the deed in his hand, and quitted the court. touched Mr Aubrey, in passing to his private room, holding the deed before him. After an absence of about ten minutes, Lord Widdrington returned.
"Silence! silence there!" bawled the crier; and the bustle had soon subsided into profound silence.
"I entertain no doubt, nor does my brother Grayley," said Lord Widdrington, "that I ought not to receive this deed in evidence, without accounting for an erasure occurring in a main< ly essential part of it. Unless, therefore, you are prepared, Mr Attorney, with any evidence as to this point, I shall not receive the deed."
There was a faint buzz all over the court-a buzz of excitement, anxiety, and disappointment. The AttorneyGeneral consulted for a moment or two with his friends.
"Undoubtedly, my Lord, we are not prepared with any evidence to explain an appearance which has taken us entirely by surprise. After this length of time, my Lord, of course❞— Certainly-it is a great misfortune for the parties-a great misfortune. Of course you tender the deed in evidence?" he continued, taking a note.
"We do, my Lord, certainly."
You should have seen the faces of Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, as they looked at Mr Parkinson, with an agitated air, returning the rejected deed to the bag from which it had been lately taken with so confident and triumphant an air!-The remainder of the case, which had been opened by the Attorney-General on behalf of Mr Aubrey, was then proceeded with ; but in spite of all their assumed calmness,
the disappointment and distress of his counsel were perceptible to all. They were now dejected-they felt that the cause was lost, unless some extraordinary good fortune should yet befall them. They were not long in establishing the descent of Mr Aubrey from Geoffry Dreddlington. It was necessary to do so; for grievously as they had been disappointed in failing to establish the title paramount, founded upon the deed of confirmation of Mr Aubrey, it was yet an important question for the jury, whether they believed the evidence adduced by the plaintiff to show title in himself.
"That, my Lord, is the defendant's case," said the Attorney-General, as his last witness left the box; and Mr Subtle then rose to reply. He felt how unpopular was his cause; that almost every countenance around him bore a hostile expression. Privately, he loathed his case when he saw the sort of person for whom he was struggling. All his sympathies-for he was a very proud, haughty man-were on behalf of Mr Aubrey, whom by name and reputation he well knew; with whom he had often sate in the House of Commons. Now, conspicuous before him, sate his little monkey-client, Titmouse-a ridiculous object; and calculated, if there were any scope for the influence of prejudice, to ruin his own cause by the exhibition of himself before the jury. That was the vulgar idiot who was to turn the admirable Aubreys out of Yatton, and send them beggared into the world! But Mr Subtle was a high-minded English advocate; and if he had seen Miss Aubrey in all her loveliness, and knew how all depended upon his exertions, he could hardly have exerted himself more successfully than he did on the present occasion. And such, at length, was the effect which that exquisitely skilful advocate produced, in his address to the jury, that he began to bring about a change in the feelings of most around him: even the eye of scornful beauty began to direct fewer glances of indignation and disgust upon Titmouse, as Mr Subtle's irresistible rhetoric drew upon their sympathies in his behalf. "My learned friend, the Attorney-General, gentlemen, dropped one or two expressions of a somewhat disparaging tendency, in alluding to my client, Mr Titmouse; and shadowed forth
NO. CCXCVI. VOL. XLVII.
a disadvantageous contrast between the obscure and ignorant plaintiff, and the gifted defendant. Good God, gentlemen! and is my humble client's misfortune to become his fault? If he be obscure and ignorant, unacquainted with the usages of society, deprived of the blessings of a superior education-if he have contracted vulgarity, whose fault is it? Who has occasioned it? Who plunged him and his parents before him into an unjust poverty and obscurity, from which Providence is about this day to rescue him, and put him in possession of his own? Gentlemen, if topics like these must be introduced into this case, I ask you who is accountable for the present condition of my unfortunate client? Is he, or are those who have been, perhaps unconsciously, but still unjustly, so long revelling in the wealth that is his? Gentlemen, in the name of every thing that is manly and generous, I challenge your sympathy, your commiseration for my client." Here Titmouse, who had been staring up open-mouthed for some time at his eloquent advocate, and could be kept quiet no longer by the most vehement efforts of Messrs Quirk, Gammon, and Snap, rose up in an excited manner, exclaiming, "Bravo! bravo! bravo sir! 'Pon my life, capital! It's quite true-bravo! bravo!" His astounded advocate paused at this unprecedented interruption. "Take the puppy out of court, sir, or I will not utter one word more," said he, in a fierce whisper to Mr Gammon.
"Who is that? Leave the court,
Your conduct is most indecent, I have a great mind to commit you, sir!" said Lord Widdrington, directing an awful look down to the offender, who had turned of a ghastly white.
"Have mercy upon me, my Lord! I'll never do it again," he groaned, clasping his hands, and verily believing that Lord Widdrington was going to take the estate away from him.
Snap at length succeeded in getting him out of court, and after the excitement occasioned by this irregular interruption had subsided, Mr Subtle resumed:
"Gentlemen," said he, in a low tone, "I perceive that you are moved by this little incident; and it is characteristic of your superior feelings. Inferior persons, destitute of sensibi
lity or refinement, might have smiled at eccentricities which occasion you only feelings of greater commiseration. I protest, gentlemen" his voice trembled for a moment, but he soon resumed his self-possession; and, after a long and admirable address, sat down confident of the verdict.
"If we lose the verdict, sir," said he, bending down and whispering into the ear of Gammon, "we may thank that execrable little puppy for it." Gammon changed colour, but made no reply.
Lord Widdrington then commenced summing up the case to the jury, with his usual care and perspicacity. Nothing could be more beautiful than the ease with which he extricated the facts of the case from the meshes in which they had been involved by Mr Subtle and the Attorney-General. As soon as he had explained to them the genral principles of law applicable to the case, he placed before them the facts proved by the plaintiff, and the answer of the defendant: every one in court trembling for the result, if the jury took the same view which they felt compelled themselves to take. He suggested that they should retire to consider the case, taking with them the pedigrees which had been handed in to them; and added that, if they should require his assistance, he should remain in his private room for an hour or two. Both judge and jury then retired, it being about eight o'clock. Candles were lit in the court, which continued crowded to suffocation. Few doubted which way the verdict would go. Fatigued as must have been most of the spectators with a two days' confinement and excitement-ladies as well as gentlemen-scarce a person thought of quitting till the verdict had been pronounced. After an hour and
a half's absence, a cry was heard"Clear the way for the jury;" and one or two officers, with their wands, obeyed the directions. As the jury were re-entering their box, struggling with a little difficulty through the crowd, Lord Widdrington resumed his seat upon the bench.
"Gentlemen of the jury, have the goodness," said the associate, "to answer to your names. Sir Godolphin Fitzherbert ;" and, while their names were thus called over, all the counsel took their pens, and, turning over their briefs with an air of anxiety, prepared to indorse on them the verdict. As soon as all the jurymen had answered, a profound silence ensued.
"Gentlemen of the jury," enquired the associate, "are you agreed upon your verdict? Do you find verdict for the plaintiff, or for the defendant?"
"For the plaintiff," replied the foreman; on which the officer, amidst a kind of blank dismayed silence, making at the same time some hieroglyphics upon the record, muttered-"Verdict for plaintiff. Damages one shilling. Costs, forty shillings;" while another functionary bawled out, amidst the increasing buzz in the court, "Have the goodness to wait, gentlemen of the jury. You will be paid immediately." Whereupon, to the disgust and indignation of the unlearned spectators, and the astonishment of some of the gentlemen of the jury themselves -many of the very first men of the county-Snap jumped up on the form, pulled out his purse with an air of exultation, and proceeded to remunerate Sir Godolphin Fitzherbert and the rest of his companions with the sum of one guinea. Proclamation was then made, and the court adjourned till the next morning.