BLTC Press Titles

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The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Vanity Fair

William Thackery

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

Classics of the bar

by Alvin Victor Sellers


The charges made were not denied and the only purpose of this trial was to take an inquisition of damages—to ascertain the amount to be awarded.

The complainant asked for £20,000. His cause was presented to the jury by the famous Thomas Erskine—known to be the winner of larger verdicts in actions of this character than any other advocate in all England.

Speech of Lord Erskine

MR. SHERIFF, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE JURY: In representing the unfortunate gentleman who has sustained the injury which has been stated to you by my learned friend who opened the pleadings, I feel one great satisfaction, a satisfaction founded, as I conceive, on a sentiment perfectly constitutional. I am about to address myself to men whom I personally know; to men honorable in their lives—moral, judicious, and capable of correctly estimating the injuries they are called upon to condemn in their character of jurors. This, gentlemen, is the only country in the world where there is such a tribunal as the one before which I am now to speak; for, however in other countries such institutions as our own may have been set up of late, it is only by that maturity which it requires ages to give to governments, by that progressive wisdom which has slowly ripened the constitution of our country, that it is possible there can exist such a body of men as you are.

It is the great privilege of the subjects of England that they judge one another. It is to be recollected that, although we are in this private room, all the sanctions of justice are present. It makes no manner of difference whether I address you in the presence of the under-sheriff, your respectable chairman, or with the assistance of the highest magistrate of the State.

The defendant has on this occasion suffered judgment by default. Other adulterers have done so before him. Some have done so under the idea that by suffering judgment against them they had retired from the public eye—from the awful presence of the judge; and that they came into a corner where there was not such an assembly of persons to witness their misconduct, and where it was to be canvassed before persons who might be less qualified to judge the case to be addressed to them.

It is not long, however, since such persons have had an opportunity of judging how much they were mistaken in this respect, for the largest damages, in cases of adultery, have been given in this place. By this place, I do not mean the particular room in which we are now assembled, but under inquisitions ordered by the sheriff; and the instances to which I allude are of modern and, indeed, recent date.

Gentlemen, after all the experience I have had, I feel myself, I confess, considerably embarrassed in what manner to address you. There are some subjects that harass and overwhelm the mind of man. There are some kinds of distresses one knows not how to deal with. It is impossible to contemplate the situation of the plaintiff without being disqualified, in some degree, to represent it to others with effect. It is no less impossible for you, gentlemen, to receive on a sudden the impressions which have long been in my mind, without feeling overpowered with sensations which, after all, had better be absent when men are called upon, in the exercise of duty, to pronounce a legal judgment.

The plaintiff is the third son of His Grace the Archbishop of York, a clergyman of the Church of England, presented in the year 1791 to the living of Stokeley, in Yorkshire, and now, by His Majesty's favor, dean of the cathedral of York. He married, in the year 1789, Miss Sutton, the daughter of Sir Richard Sutton, Bart, of Norwood, in Yorkshire, a lady of great beauty and accomplishments, most virtuously educated, and who, but for the crime of the defendant which assembles you here, would, as she has expressed it herself, have been the happiest of womankind.

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