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DEAN STANLEY on CHARLES DICKENS.

PROFESSOR JOWETT, M A., ON…

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A HUSBAND'S LIABILITIES.

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A HUSBAND'S LIABILITIES. In the Court of Queen's Bench, the cause of Nightingale v Mercer" has been heard, and was an action to recover about L7501 for hoard. lodging, and necessaries supplied to the defendant's wife. The defendant pleaded never indebted. Mr. Serjeant Parry and Mr. Hodgson were counsel for the plaintiff; Mr. Denman, Q.C., and Mr. E. H. Lewis represented the defendant. The learned counsel for the plaintiff, in opening the case, said he wished the plaintiff could have been spared the pain of laying the details of the case before them, but from the peculiar position in which his learned friend was placed, the defendant being in I ndia, he WM afraid there was no alternative but to proceed with it. The plaintiff, Sir Charles Nightingale, Bart., was a gentleman of extremely moderate means, and the defendant was a Major in the Indian Army, who had married the plaintiS a only daughter. At the time of the marriagf', which took place at Tenby, in the latter part d 1857, Mrs. Mercer was 22 v<-ara of ag-, and the defendant was between 40 and 50 years of age, a widower, with three or four children, and at the time of the marriage he was home on leave. It appeared that previous to the mar- riage Miss Nightingale was living with her mother at Tenby, who was living voluntarily apart, from htr husband, on the moderate allowance of JE80 per annum, but where she was frequently visited by him. At first a difficulty presented itself as to toe wife gAing to India wi'h her husbaud, and there was an iwplitd understanding that she should be allowed to remain, at least for some time, with her mother, to whom she was much attached. Some short time after the marriage, the defendant was summoned to Ireland to join bis regiment. She went with him. and stewed a;out a. month in Dublin, ana thenco she wens with him to Cork. He was then ordered to India, and aM the mutiny was going on, an order had been issued that the wives and female friends of officers should not accompany them to India, and she returned to he* mother. It was then arranged that he was to allow his wife E120 per annum, which was to be increased to B250. That continued for about two years, when the defendantcommenced remonstrating withher for having overdrawn her allowance, which led to a very angry cor- respondence. She had, it appeared, drawn to the extent of 9330in eighteen months. Her allowance was then reduced from J3120 per annum tok5 per month. In 1860 the defendant returned from India, and went to reside at Bristol with his mother, taking no means to find out his wife, or to seek her society. When, how- ever, she found out where he was she wrote to him, and he replied to her letter, but without any address. After this, acting under advice, nhe went with her maid to the Great Western Hotel, acquainting her husband where she had gone. A person named Wink- worth, a relative of the defendant's took her from the hotel to a lodging in Argyle-square, King's. cross, which he said would do for her. The defendant came there with hi* carpet-bag, and remained with her for some t'me. They frequently quarrelled, and he struck her several times. He took her from there to a low lodg- ing in Northumberland-street, Strand, and a few weeks afterwards her mother took her to reside with her at Burton-crescent. Eventually, the present proceedings were taken to compel the defendant to maintain his wife. Mrs. Mercer was called and examined. After corro- borating the above outline, she said On one occasion when my husband struck me, Mr. Winkworth said, that's right, Ned, break every bone in her body." I had a candlestick in my hand at the time, and from the excitement and suffering of the moment I threw it at him. It had been a wet day, and I had gone out against my husband's directions to con- sult a solicitor about his cruelty. When I returned I found that my husband and Mr. Winkworth had locked up the rooms and had gone out, taking the keys with them. I had to accept the landlady's kindness, and sit in her kitchen all day in very wet clothes. When my husband came back he refused to allow me to enter the apartment to change my clothes, and then it was that he struck me. They took from me all my clothes, letters, and capers, not even leaving me a change of linen and on the the previous day they carried away my dog and cat in a bag. Mr Denman Emblematical of the life they were living. WitnessâWinkworth was always with my hu band. He appeared to be af aid to tiust my husba' d with me. My l usiand af erwards said be would take me to a pla e where I cou'd do no harm to myself nr him. He forced me i ito a can, and took me to a he use in Noithumbtirlf.nd c u-t, Strand, an extremely (lit-fy place the bed "Ã¥3 in a cupboard in the room, and when I Ofen-d the door the bed f,ll into the room. H", pai 1 12s a week for the ren-, fnd all>wtd n e 10s. a week for necessaries, and be informed the landlady th 1* he wt.uld n.'t be answea'Ie for any de';ts I co< tracked. Wins worth told me if I wanted morel could etrn half a GroMn in the streets. I did not get a change of inen until s me d*v s a-ter I was in Northumbtr'and-Ot urt. I 'hen rtcem d one change of Lnfn, and had noiliing more sent to me f r gime montt s. My b!liib.nd carre there ones or twice, and he was always Vtry violent and threatened me, and uuder his threats I B g< ed a paper-" 1. K'salind A. Aicctr, finding my.-elf unequal to the fulfilment (f the marrage contract, an: wishing to release my busbund ^i.m bis ob i.;at:ns hereby certify my with for a divorce. My lu bind toui me I mgtt. g > to the union, fo! he wou d nIt supp rt me- and on one occasion I received anonym -usly a brass ring, with a t eket for the union. My husband said it I went to India he would do for me. Af¡¡er I went to Burton- crescent with my mother my allowance of lOti. per week was only continued for a short time, and eventually, and before I left Burton-crescent, my husband brought me my clothes. I think Winkworth kept us apart. He always made it a point that I should go to India. I don't think my husband wished me to go there with him. I wrote him several letters saying I would come out to him if he would provide the money. He never provided me with a home after he stopped my allowance. I have not seen him since. (A number of letters from the defendant were put in and read. Tney were written in a conciliatory spirit, and spoke of his want of means. A tone of disappointment pervaded them all, as if he had some cause of complaint against his wife. (Witness added that she was advertised for twelve months not to be trusted, and Winkworth followed her from place to place informiug the persans she lodged with that she was not to be trusted. I am now living at Hounslow with my mother, previous to that I lived for five years with my mother at lioulogn6. Cross-examined: My father resides sometimes in London and sometimes in France. My husband was fenior captain in the 91th when I married him. I did not know until the night before my marriage that he had thrte children. I called him a "snob" in one of my letters, not because he wished me to keep an account of my expenditure, but because he thought I was extravagant. I don't ttunk it strong language under the circumstances to use towarcs a husband. I am no*, aware that I have apologised for it. 1 would have gone on several occasions to India to my hu'liand if he had pro- vided the funds. I did not tell Winkworth, at the Great Western Hotel that I would never go out to Jndi" Winkworth always made a point of it, because he knew my husband did not wish me to go out. I did cot per- sistently object to go out in 1861. I have retused to 110 out from budily fear. I never kicked my husband's hat about the room and smashed it. I did not break the cand lestick about my husband's head. He struck me three limes, I mm think the candlestick was broken- His head was very hard, but I don't think it was hard enough to break it. It "as a china candlestick I don't know if it was broken Wink- worth was present, and he will swear anything. In May, 1861, I wrote to Winkworth, saying I will never 2gain live witn my husband, and that notbii g will cause me to change my determination. I afterward" agreed to go to Indit. I had made charges to my husband personally, but I dec'ine to state them publicly. Why is he not here? He has had time to appear. He made my not retracting them an fxcuse for not giving up my wardrobe. My father has sufficient means to live on. He frequently sends my mother money besides her allowance. Lady Xightingale, mother of Mrs. Mercer, deposed that she knew the defendant about two or three months before her daughter's marriage. Sae was not at all acquainted with him or his family before he proposed to hAr daughter. Be f..re the marriage he promised he would not request her to go to India. He said he had £ 3,000, amd rpceivtid the pay of a senior captam. She proved the roaintenance of her daughter for the time claimed in the action. She went to her daughter in Northumberland-court. It was a dirty, Rhabh., and miserablo locking She remained with her »!' the time sho W-115 there. Winkworth came every Mnnda; marring aud put a half si.vere'gn on the table, sa>ii.g, â¢'There, madam, there's your week's pay." She asked if that was all Major Mercer allowed his wife. He replied, If she doe3 not flad it enough let her go out to needlework Her daughter had no more clothes than she stood upright in. Winkworth said her clothes were in his possession, but that he would not give them up without an order from Captain Mercer. Her huabind visited her there two or three time?, but only to insult her and witness. He was ex- ceedingly violent. One evening herself, Sir Charles, and her daughter were supping together in Northumberland-street when the defendant rushed in and went up to his wife with his clenched fist and called her an opprobrious name. Sir Charles threatened, unless he desisted, to knock him down. In the court he used violent language, and said she and her (aughter were the same vile characters. The defendant used to bring an article of every kind of clothing a ladj wears at a time, and leave it at the door. Winkworth was also insulting in language and gesture. He called her daughter by the same name, and once shook his stick at her. The de- fendant acknowledged in her presence that he had told hei daughter if she wauted more money she was to get it on the streeis, as she would have no more from him. Wherever she and her daughter went to live papers were addressed in Witkworth's handwriting to the owner of the house not to trust them. She had supported her daughter since July, 1861. She was on very friendly terms with her husband though they lived apart. In addition to her husband's allow ance his friends were exceedingly kind and generous towards her. Cross-examined: She could only account for Winkworth'?. hostility from his being the defendant'd friend. He charged her in his letters with keeping him and his wife apart. The defendant did not complain that his wife would not go to India, but Winkworth did it once. The defence was that the defendant wished to be reconciled to his wif< but that be found it was im. possible to do so. That he wanted her to go with him to India, but that she positively refused. Mr. Wink- worth was a relative of the defendant's, and he acted in the matter as afriend between the two parties. The c othes about which so much had been made were taken from her for the purpose of ensuring her return to him and going with him to India, M r William Winkworth w .s called. He said he was living on his means. He gave a positive denial to the charges made against him by MrR, Mercer and her mother. He never usetT any improper language to them, bus he stated in a letter to Mrs Mercer's uncle that the charges she had made against her husband were couched in terms which only a pros- titute would use. He once told Major Mercer, in the presence of his wife and mother, that if had such a wife he would flog her, upon which Ltdy Nightingale gave him sujh a box on the ear that he hoped never to receive such another. He did not hetp to put Mrs Mercer's clothes In the cab he did not think they were taken to his house, but if they were, it was only for a short time, and they were taken to the house of a relative, who was a dissenting minister. He was to tell Mrs. Mercer the things ware taken, to induce her to return to her husband. The Lord Chief Justice When was she to return? Major Mercer wa3 living with her at that time. Witness: He did not know. He never followed any occu- pation. He once had a mission on a railway, and that was to take the references as a clerk. (Laughter ) He was no party to depriving her of her clothes. He could not remember minute details. The Lord Chief Justice said the matter required explana- tion. There could be nothing so unworthy of a gentleman as to deprive a lady for weeks or her clothes. Witness: He must have kept the clothes from her by her husband's request. He thought he might swear he told her once she should not have her things without she consented to go to India It was more than probable he asked her to sign a document to that effect, but he could not say. On comideration, he thought it wan improvable. M-j ir Mercer stayed with him in 1860 and 1861, and remunerated him for it. He received no remuneration from him for this job. MsjJr Mercer took the lodging in Northumberland-street. Rf-f-ximined He left Argyle-f quare in consequence of the landlady giving them notice to quit. The de'en'iant'8 evidence, token in India, was put in and read, and the various letters that had passed between them were also read. From them it would appear there was a w sh on both sides for a reconciliation and a return to cohabita- tion, but certain insinuations were thrown out that pre- vented it, and on which the defendant based his reasons for not maintaining his wife. The wife positively denied them. There also appeared to be a great want of means on the part of the defendant. After the speeches of counsel had been made on both sides, the Lord (Jhief Justice summed up carefully the whole of the evidenee. He told the jury to find a. verdict according as they believed that there was or was not a. persistent refusal on the wife't\ part to live with her husband. If they believed that Mrs. Mercer was at one time unwilling to go out to India, as the de- fendant desired, but that she so refused merely in con- sequence of the temporary state of her mind, and that she afterwards altered her intention and was upon con- sideration ready to perform her conjugal duties, the liability of her husband for necessaries revived. This action was brought by the father, who had certainly not found the funds for the specific purpose of hia daughter's maintenance; but Lady Nightingale could not sue in her own Dame, and the action was rightly brought if they came to the conclusion that by the husband's fault his wife's mother was put to these ex- penses. The jury almost immediately found a verdict for jE750, the whole of the amount claimed by the plain- tiff.

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