Basil Champneys.

Memoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) online

. (page 32 of 36)
Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 36)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

one whom you think was unworthy of such a sacrifice ; but I have
told you over and over again that the poor fellow's mind was not
in a state to judge of what he said to anyone — supposing he
did actually utter the words that he is reported to have used. I
am bewildered when I think of this circumstance — and vain regrets
agitate me for neglecting to have had the whole affair properly
explained at the time. From what my husband said to me, when
first I reached him on that fatal night, — from the unsatisfactory
answers he gave to my questions, I soon perceived that he had not
the power to recollect correctly what had taken place on the field,
and I forbore to press him on the subject in consequence. My
sanguine hopes of his recovery made me think all recurrence to
the subject unnecessary for the first week : but when the last days
of hopelessness came, he was unable, and had lost all power of
thought, from fatigue and anxiety, to do that which ought to have
been done — and which would have been done had I supposed he
had made any statement of the transaction to anyone save myself.
It is a melancholy circumstance for us both that there should have


arisen anything of this kind to disturb the sacred devotion to his
memory on your part. I should have had a melancholy satisfac-
tion in recounting to you under different circumstances what he
had said and what he had written in the cause of truth and justice —
in proving to you that he had never written a word that " dying
he would have wished to efface." But this will be denied to me
now — for you think him tcntriie and unjust — and you would hear
anything in his favour with suspicion. This is one of the bitterest
drops in my cup of wretchedness.

The " Memoir " will be done carefully — at least with as much
care as I have power to bestow upon it — and not hastily. I pro-
pose printing it with what letters I have of my poor John's which
may be thought worthy of publication. From what I feel at
present, I fear it will be some time before I shall be able to do it.
I feel so incapable of writing even a private letter, that the thought
of doing any thing for the public terrifies me beyond measure — yet
they say / must do it. I do not contemplate doing anything for
the Magazine.

If I understand your metaphysical reasoning rightly, I should
be disposed to say that I disagree with you — at least as far as I
can judge from myself and my own feelings. I think many per-
sons are not happy — who would be so if they possibly could — desert
out of the question. Happiness or misery depend so much upon
the temperament of the individuals — I am almost a believer in the
doctrine of necessity: this may account to you for what I have just

I have many things still to say to you, but I have no room left
for more than one or two of them. — I would wish to know more
of the Lady whom it gives me pleasure to think you love, in spite
of what you say to the contrary — yet how am I to know more of
her if I may not go to see your Mother ? But I shall not go
to her again till you bid me — for I would not for the world give
her any pain. But why should you think it will give her pain
to see me ? It could only be the first interview that would agitate ;
after that I should conceive my company would rather soothe than
hurt her : — you however know her best — and I will be guided by
you in what regards her, most readily. If you wish me to write to
you again I fancy I must begin upon a large sheet of foolscap, in
order that I may have " ample room and verge enough " to answer
your letter as it ought to be, for you have the art of saying much
in little — which I have not — but if you are contented to let me
scribble to you in my own way it will be no " trouble " to me to
write as often as you choose to call upon me for a reply to a letter
from yourself. If I wrote as well as you do I should be too proud
to think my letter a "trouble " to anyone, therefore do not repeat
that word again to me. I hope soon to hear that you are well and


happy notwithstanding what I said to you in my last. Farewell for
the present and

believe me My dear Sir

yours very sincerely,

Caroline Scott.

You never put the right day of the month to your letters — pray
put the day of the week — any one will tell you that. You shall
have the books — the book only if you think it worth your ac-

I shall be in Cockspur Street next week if you should feel in-
clined to write to me.

You did not tell me before that Mr. Rice and Mr. Chester were
friends — let me hear what they say — if they should meet to talk of
your situation, I shall be anxious to hear what Chester says for

Monday morn.

June nth, 1821.
My dear Sir,

The first thing I did on my return here was to write
to Mr. Watkins^ — but before I sent off my letter, I thought it
proper to show it to my father ; at the same time explaining to
him my dissatisfaction at the manner in which the business had
been conducted by Mr. Watkins, and the consequent necessity
that he should hear of that dissatisfaction from ourselves. To
this my Father agreed ; but we differed as to the manner in which
it should be expressed, — and I am sorry to say that some rather
high words passed between us on the occasion. He will not
allow me to send my letter to Mr. Watkins ; he insists that I shall
wait till I see him — and then he, as well as myself, he says, can
tell Mr. Watkins what we think of the line of conduct he chose
to adopt in contradiction to the instructions he received from
me. I must tell you his reasons for this opposition to my wishes,
which when you have heard, you will be able to judge whether, or
not, I ought to follow his opinion, or rather commands, or my
own ; and by so doing bring his displeasure upon me, which I
have but little need of just now, to add to the discomforts of my
situation. You may remember that Mr. Watkins speaks of my
" character in the prosecution": this sentence has naturally alarmed
my father and he seems to think that by writing or making any
particular bustle as to what has been done, now that you are free,
will only give reason to doubt the propriety of my motives in pro-
tecting you. He says that if you are a reasonable man you will
be satisfied, and that you will not wish me to expose myself— when

^ The solicitor who acted for Mrs. Scott.


there is no necessity for it — in short he said many things on the
subject which I did not like to hear, nor would you, therefore I
need not repeat them, — they have but little weight with me, and I
persevered in my design of sending my letter in defiance of what
I then considered were his sole motives for the command he laid
upon me. But there are other reasons, which have more weight
with me, which he afterwards stated — and which oblige me to do
only that which he permits me to do in this business. He seems
to think that if we find fault with Mr. Watkins before he has paid
the expenses attendant on the prosecution, that he will have no
mercy in his charges — and situated as my father is at present a
sum of money, more or less, is of the greatest consequence to
him. He has paid an immense sum yesterday for me already,
and I shrink from doing anything very unnecessary in this way.
I therefore find myself under the necessity of waiting till I see
Mr. Watkins in my father's presence, to express my displeasure at
the measures he pursued for us in the Court, which, the more I
think of them, the more I feel reason to be displeased with. The
pleasure I felt at seeing you relieved from your painful situation
gave me no time when with you for reflection : till I came here I
could not bring myself to form any distinct ideas on the subject —
but every day, now, I shall feel more and more annoyed by the
ill-advised and badly conducted business altogether; — but you
must not forget that your own people have some share in all that
has taken place. Mr. Reynolds led me to believe that he took up
the unfortunate affair more with a view of protecting my husband's
character at first than of doing you service. I believed what he
said — and expected therefore that he would advise me, and act in
concert with me — as to the best measures to be followed to estab-
lish that point : — but he failed to do this on the first occasion
altogether — and, in the last, Mr. Rice left it till it was too late to
allow his advice to be of the least avail, and thus are we all morti-
fied and vexed and dissatisfied when it is too late to mend the
matter — and all my anxieties and tormentings of myself have
come to this — that you have found that mercy and justice at the
hands of a Stranger — which, had your own people known how to
advise me properly, you would have received from me. They
ought to have known, from the turn which the first trial took, how
little they had to expect unless they laboured for it ; — but this they
neglected to do till it was too late — and now I daresay they blame
me — who could not possibly know how such matters ought to be
conducted ; or of the policy, the industry, the time to be bestowed
in order to accomplish the desired end. You are not one to be
satisfied that you are merely free I know — it requires something
more to give ease to your mind — and I am much distressed that
you have not had justice done to you in the way that it ought to


have been done — but I shall have it in my power to speak that
which is true of you in the Memoir — and it will be necessary that
you shall give me, for that purpose, an account in writing of
each circumstance that belongs to the sad event, in order that I
may make no mistakes ; for my memory, I find is sadly defective
as to many particulars. Write to me as soon as you can for I wish
to hear from you — and to write to you — if I may understand that
my letters are to escape the surveillance which they are not fitted
for : I shall not be able to write you long letters if I think any
one is to see them save yourself — not even our sweet Eliza — and
yet if the denial gave her a moment's uneasiness I would rather
give up the satisfaction of corresponding with you altogether than
add to her sickness or sick thoughts which have so preyed upon
her loneliness. But I do not Hke what I write to be seen by any
one but the person I write to. The idea of comments or criticism
makes me feel quite uncomfortable — and I think and think of
what I may have written, till my face and ears glow like fire, and
I become quite wretched : this is a feeling which I cannot over-
come — and therefore I suppose I must leave off writing to you —
for I think Eliza is like myself, very much inclined, against her
better judgment, to be jealous of those she loves. Remember
now that this is only between you and me. I have many things I
would like to talk to you about — and shall expect soon to see you
here for that purpose — but first of all I must see Eliza. Can you
not bring her down here on Thursday next to dine at two o'clock ?
I will see her to town again or to Battersea that evening or the next
morning — and you can take away Molly — Fanny sends her re-
membrance with the same wish — send me word however and soon
— for you know how impatient I am. Remember me very kindly
to Eliza and your Mother — and if Mr. Leach be still in town,
tell him his benevolent face will never pass from my remem-
brance ; and at the same time make my best respects acceptable
to him.

I promised to tell you my dream — but it would look foolish on
paper — and it is sad and it forebodes evil — and have we not enough
of that dark commodity on hand without dwelling on Chimeras of
the distempered imagination ! I begin to grow superstitious.
BeUeve me ever Your sincere friend

Caroline Scott.



50, Poland Street,

6 March, 1821.
My Dear Sir,

I take a large sheet of paper that I may give you as full
an account of what has come to my knowledge since your absence
as I am sure you will be desirous of receiving. And first you will
receive with this a very full copy of the evidence at the second
meeting of the Jury at Chalk Farm, as taken by Mr. Rice, which
it appears to him was considerably more in your favour than that
of the preceding day : though as you will perceive nothing tran-
spired before the former to soften the evidence of Dr. Darling.
The verdict you will perhaps have heard, is such as we expected
— "Wilful murder against yourself Mr. Christie and Mr. Traill."
And the Warrant was issued on the night of the Inquest at about
half past 12. The feeling of the Jury and of the public, is cer-
tainly strong against you, being so excited by Darling's evidence ;
to temper this as much as possible, Mr. Rice has caused the
following paragraph to be inserted in the " Chronicle " and it
shall appear in the "Times." "The Report of the proceedings
upon the Inquisition conveying an erroneous impression of the
circumstances which attended the late fatal meeting between Mr.
Scott and Mr. Christie, the public, and particularly the friends of
Mr. Patmore are requested to suspend their opinion till the proper
investigation takes place, to which Mr. Patmore will submit him-
self." This is quite as much as need be said to the public. The
Friends of C[hristie] and T[raill] have determined to print nothing
before the Trial, and therefore the short statement above was
obliged to come as from yourself or your Friends. I am in-
formed that a meeting of C's party took place on Saturday,
at which Sir W. Scott attended — and it was determined that he
should surrender himself at the proper time. On Saturday Even-
ing I saw Mr. Minshull, the then sitting Magistrate at Bow Street,
and I stated to him that you would appear to take your trial at the
fitting period, requesting to be informed whether on such an un-
derstanding, all further search would be withheld ; Mr. Minshull


however observed that he could not receive any such communica-
tion, that the Warrant was in the Officer's hands, and that it was
his and their duty to cause you to be apprehended. We have
every reason therefore to be convinced of the propriety of the
step which we advised you to take. Yesterday I had an interview
with Mr. Baldwin, who the Evening before had seen Mrs. Scott
and conversed with her for a considerable time. She had written
a letter to you, going towards affording you some consolation for
the dreadful loss of Mr. Scott, and quoting a few words from the
letter written by him to her (which I had delivered to Mr. Dom.
Colnaghi,^ together with his own, previous to the arrival of your
letter, — and which has safely reached Mrs. Scott's hands) stating
that " you had done all you could to prevent a meeting." This
letter of Mrs. Scott threw the blame on Traill, whose name occurred
twice in it, on reading which Mr. Baldwin hinted at the propriety
of forwarding a written Document of this nature, which you might
be compelled to produce as evidence. To this observation, Mrs.
Scott made the following important reply — " As to producing any
letter of mine — there will not be occasion for such a measure, as
I shall hold myself quite ready to come forward, if necessary, to
give evidence of what I know. And I shall then speak of Mr.
Traill as I now write." These were her words I think : they
certainly however convey the purport of her communication. Mr.
B. says that she is quite able to see Mr. Rice or myself on the
subject, and Mr. Rice will therefore after Friday (the day of poor
Scott's funeral) write a note requesting an appointment. Yester-
day I dined with Horace Smith at Fulham, and heard from him a
minute Relation of the affair, as far as he had any connection with
or knowledge of it. He only saw Scott twice on the subject : at
the first interview S. communicated the message he had received
from Mr. Lockhart stating that he had so received it in your pre-
sence, and that you offered your services in the affair, which he
could not but accept : — that he came to Smith because he con-
sidered you were too forward and inconsiderative in the business ;
and that he was desirous Smith would take upon himself the
arrangement of the dispute. At the second meeting nothing
particular occurred, and Smith declares that he has no knowledge
of any circumstance which could at all favourably affect the
question as far as regards yourself. It is highly probable that
Scott has given this account of your conduct to Smith in order
to secure an application made to him at second hand. And in-
deed this is strengthened by one observation of Smith, that, when
he called and saw you, Mr. Scott came to him in the passage
and requested him to acknowledge that he had called you in

^ Mrs. Scott's maiden name was Colnaghi.


before, or written (as I understood) a letter. However this
evidence does not seem material to your cause, though it shall be
well considered — and, if upon getting your statement Mr. Rice
sees that Smith can communicate or corroborate any material fact,
I will see him again ; and he is very clear and ready in the busi-
ness. I have written to Mr. CuUock as poor Scott directed, and
have also sent circulars to the Magazine Contributors.

Thus, I have given you all the information you will require.
And now, as Mr. Rice wishes to add a few words, I shall close
this letter.

I am. Dear Sir,

Yours very truly

J. H. Reynolds.

My dear Sir,

I am here at Raggetts where I expected to find the Pass-
port ready to be sent along with the other documents — but, owing
to some misconception as to its importance, he has not yet pro-
cured it. I trust he may be correct in supposing it not to be very
material to the comfort or safety of your residence in Calais. I
will take care that by the next Post it shall be forwarded without
fail. In the mean-time, if you should be under any local embarrass-
ment or difficulty of any sort for want of it, I am sure that on
using my name to my friend Mr. Laurent he will render you any
service or assistance in his power, and, as he is a merchant of
some consequence and influence I believe in the Town, I doubt
not but that his good word would under such circumstances be
advantageous. At present, it must not be concealed from you
that the public opinion is at its worst — but even if you were more
under the influence of it than I believe you to be, I should in this
case bid you to be of good cheer, for I am satisfied that your con-
duct is much misrepresented and capable of being fully proved to
be so. Wait patiently therefore the appointed time until the
change come. I have not time to add more than that I am

Dr. Sir

Yours very truly
J. Rice Junr.

50, Poland Street,

23 March, 1881.
My dear Patmore

I have a great deal to say to you, and have very little time
left to say it in ; for I have been engaged all this morning in seeing,
first Mrs. Scott (who by the sensible reasoning of my good friend
Mrs. Montague has recognized the propriety of allowing the con-
versation I requested), then Dr. Darling, and then Mrs. Scott again.


She is perfectly willing and anxious to do you all the justice in
her power, and feels very deeply for the distressing and fearful
situation in which you are cast. I stated to her the apprehension
that I had of a vindictive feeUng on the part of the prosecution,
and expressed myself anxious to learn the disposition with which
the trial would be conducted on the part of her Family. She dis-
tinctly and positively assured me that the utmost anxiety existed
in the breasts of all parties to proceed with the most lenient feel-
ing. They would do anything, regard being had to the honour
and memory of Scott, to shield the involved parties from danger.
She is clear in her opinion that Scott did not make the statements,
which Dr. Darling has given, under the impression that he was a
dying man, for she recollects that hope was held out to him both
by Darling and Guthrie that he might recover, and the latter gentle-
man stated to him that the wound was not necessarily mortal, —
that there was a chance of recovery — that he had known others re-
cover in the same state. This of course (as far as can be foreseen)
will annul Darling's evidence. Mrs. Scott had heard what Horace
Smith stated, and now assured me that it arose entirely from Scott's
wish to render his second-hand application to Smith proper and
delicate towards the latter. She declares that he was satisfied as
to your conduct fully, and was averse to applying to Smith, but
that her fears operated upon him, and at her request only was the
application made. I do not see that any evidence she could offer
would at all be serviceable to your case, for Scott never spoke to
her upon the business, except when she applied to him at Elder's
request, or to say that he felt for you. On the night of the Duel
he certainly told his wife that there had been mismanagement, and
that he ought not to have been in the state she saw him in. She
is confident that he had no idea oi your being in danger — that he
thought Christie was, and therefore he expressed himself as he
did. We shall ascertain now pretty correctly as to whether Darl-
ing's evidence will or will not be received, and that will guide us
as to Mrs. Scott ; though assuredly the cruelty of our producing
her would be looked upon with dangerous feelings by a jury — and
that " craves wary walking." She however is ready to do all that
is right, and will now see me whenever it is required. She says if
I, instead of Rice, had gone, she would have seen me before, and
even now she will not see him or any stranger. My friend Mrs.
Montague has behaved very kindly to her, and certainly has done
us all the good by her representations of the duty Mrs. Scott owed
to all parties to shield you with the truth. I saw Darling, as I be-
fore stated, this morning, and had a long conversation with him,
in which I represented the dangerous effects of his evidence as far
as your life even was concerned. He confessed that Scott was
not destitute of hope when the statement was made, and he is not


aware of it having been Scott's impression that the words were
uttered as words to be used against the parties. I shall see
Guthrie to confirm what I hear of his Evidence.

I have given you this account of my interview with Mrs. Scott
before I relate the particulars of the conference I have had with
Mr. Cresswood and Mr. Adolphus (though that took place at
Maidstone on Wednesday evening) because I am sure you will be
most anxious to know her feelings respecting you. I now proceed
to inform you of the opinions of Counsel on your case, as far as
they can at present give them. They consider it of the highest
importance that you should assign over your property before trial,
as a verdict of Manslaughter would cause a forfeiture ; and we
must not deceive ourselves with the expectation of any decision
more favourable. Mr. Rice is now in the City and will see Mr.
Mount on the subject. I shall therefore leave it to him to inform
you of the best means of effecting this assignment. Mr. Cress-
wood will arrange as to your surrender, so that you will only have
to appear on the morning of trial — and thus avoid the confinement
in Newgate for any previous time. They are very fearful of calling
Mrs. Scott as an evidence, and, now that the feeling of the prose-
cutors is known to be so favourable, and the evidence of Darling
is so questionable, I am pretty sure that they will not risk the
odium of a measure which at the best would be considered cruel
and selfish. They advise a simple, sincere, feeling and humble
defence, and this we are immediately about to write for you. As
to your surrender at all, they cannot risk it. It can only be for
our decision. They state that you should be possessed of every
danger that awaits your situation, and that then you must resolve
for yourself. You are quite aware of the possible danger, and will
decide accordingly.

I also to-day saw Mr. Brown, the keeper of Newgate, who,
having seen your Father on the subject, and knowing Mr. Rice
intimately, called to say that what he could do he would. He
will, in case of your after confinement, do what he can to make it
as light as possible. He will see me again and arrange as to the
surrender on the Friday morning.

Online LibraryBasil ChampneysMemoirs and correspondence of Coventry Patmore (Volume 2) → online text (page 32 of 36)