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Ulrfrojiolitiw gossip.



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BREACH OF PROMISE. At the assizes held at Liverpool, the cause of Speight v. Hewitt" has been tried, and in which the plaintiff Jane Speiaht, thirty-feur years of age, the daughter of Mr Peter Speight, a brush manufacturer at Lancaster, sought to re- cover damaell for breach of promise of marriage frem Mr. Laurence Hewitt, who holds the position of postmaster in that town. The case, with the consent of both parties, was tried by five jurymen, there being only that number in court when the case was called on. Another pecu- liarity of the trial was that, under the new Act, the plaintiff herself gave evidence. From the statement of Mr. Torr, who appeared for the plaintiff, it appeared that about three years ago the defendant was left a widower with three children. He and the plaintiff's family were next door neighbours and the intimacy which naturally existed between them, in time induced the defendant to declare himself as the plaintiff's lover. In the year 1866, when the defendant became very marked in his attentions to plaintiff, she went on a visit to some of her friends who resided near Windermere Lake. While she was there Mr. Hewett went to see her, and he also wrote her a number of love letter8. In one of these letters be addressed her as My dear Miss Speight;" he said also that he had been looking forward with very great l'leasure to his next visit tu her, but he was afraid he would not be able to stay all night. He should not, however, have hesitated for a moment, and he would pray for a fine day. Another of the defendant's let- ters was couched in the following laconic terms MiR, Jane Speight, All's right.—L.H." In a longer communication Mr. Hewitt said :— Yesterday I went .to church, and had the turtle doves before me. (Laughter.) In the afternoon I had tea with Nancy and her father (the sister and father of the plaintiff)." Subsequently the defendant wrote to the plaintiff, expressing the hope that when he called to see her he would find her quite well, and prepared for a good ramble. The jury would, no doubt, know, said the learned counsel, what a good ramble would mean in the Lake district.. During that ramble, or at all events, immediately afterwards, the defendant pro- posed to the plaintiff, and on being subsequently asked by her what he really meant, he wrpte to her as follows :— My dearest Jane,—I was indeed glad to hear that you had arrived all s*fe among 10 many friends. It wonld, 1 am sure, he a great pleasure to you tomeet thosllwhich you did not ex- pect. Well, I do hope and pray that you will thoroughly enjoy yourself. And now for the revelation I made to you on ThursdAY I wa really in earne8t, and what I meant was this-Can you give me any hope of being my wife ? Oh, could you have looked in my face when at the boat-house, you onld then, I am sure, have no longer doubted my SID- cerity and I now beg your acceptance of the accompanying ring IJ.!I a token of that fincerity, for your el gaged finger. (Laughter.) Your answer to this is impatiently expected." -Subsequently the defendant addressed her as his own dear .Jan" and signed himself, "your very, very own and affec- tionate, LAURENCE." In that epistle, he asked her to accept a little pre- sent, which was one he prized very much, and, with God's blessing, may yeu be spared very many years to wear it." A short time afterwards the defendant was confined to his house with a cold, and acknowledged in one of his letters having taken a mixture which the plaintiff had sent him. The learned counsel was afraid he had not taken sufficient to make him thoroughly well. In the next letter the defendant wrote as fol- lows :— Here I am, still behind the door, as usual, though some- what better, and as it appears a fine sort of a day, I hud a consultation with the table and lofa-(laughter)-whether I should go out for a time or not. However, we could not agree upon the subject, so it ended in a toss-up for it: heads," I went to the garden; "tails," I walked up the groves. Heads" won, so I walked to the garden and round by the station. I was feaifully done up when I got back." The defendant, it appears, had taken offence at the plaintiff's father, partly on account of his taking too much beer and partly on account of his (defendant's) having been turned out of the houie. It was alleged that he had also taken some dislike to the plaintiff's sister, whom he was in the habit of calling" Miss Fidgetts." It was stated that these two causes had greatly influenced the defendant in breaking off the marriage. At one period of the courtship, however, the breach between the defendant and the plaintiff's father had been temporarily healed, for he wrote on one occasion to his then lady-love, "Peter ha, turned over a freak lwf." As a proof of the anxiety with which the defendant guarded the interests of the plaintiff, a letter which he wrote to her contemplating leaving Liver- pool on a visit to her home was read by the learned counsel, from which we take the following sentence :— I have not seen them next door. I told Lane to put a hot bottle in your bed but I think Peters was going to have it down under his bed." This, said the learned counsel, showed how fearful he was lest his sweetheart should sleep in a damp bed. Subsequently the defendant's ardour cooled, and he drooped from those high sentimental and romantic pas- sages, and loving and endearing passages, to a more prosaic and matter of fact style of addressing his lady- love. He had not visited her while in Liver-pool, and as he had not called to see her, after a week had elapsed after her return to Lancaster, she wrote to him, saying that he did not know how very much hurt she lelt at his conduct in not coming to see her. She was quite sure it was not in his heart to act thus without some cause or other and as she was ignorant of what it could be, she asked him as a man of honour and a gentleman to tell her, for she could not bear to go on from day to day as she was. She added, "You must in some measure know what a woman's feelings are, and to be treated in this unac- countable way, and by one who has caused me to love him, is more than I can bear." She signed herself Ever your affectionate Jane." No reply was sent to this letter and the plaintiff's father, having taken the matter into his own hands, consulted an attorney, who subsequently issued a writ. The plaintiff, a plain-looking, well-dressed woman, was then called into the witness box, and told her story, which substantially corroborated the facts above related. She added that while living with her father she received £10 per annum for acting as his assistant; but when the match was broken off she was compelled to leave her native town on account of the gossip. She was now employed in a Liverpool shop, in which situation she got £20 a year. On account of disap- pointment and anxiety her health had suffered a good deal. On being cross-examined, she stated she was not aware of the defondant having at times to be propped up in bed. She had never seen him under such cir- cumstances. Defendant's counsel, Ir. Pope, Q.C., admitted the breach of promise, but addressed the court in mitigation of the damages, remarking that though aspiring to be the wife of the Lancaster postmaster, ahe would have had to become his nurse. The defendant was not called, though he was in court. The jury awarded the plaintiff £200 damages.

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