of papers, etc., numbered two hundred
and fourteen—inclusive of letters. On the morning of the seventh day of
the trial, the Lord Advocate (Moncreiff—afterwards Lord Justice-Clerk)
entered upon his pleading of the case for the Crown, and after some
preliminary remarks, he said:
"My story is short. This young lady
returned from a London boarding-school in 1853. She met L’Angelier
somewhere about the end of the year following in the city of Glasgow.
L’Angelier’s history has not been very clearly brought out. It is plain,
unquestionably, that in 1851 he was in very poor and destitute
circumstances in Edinburgh. By his energy he had worked his way up to a
position which was at least respectable. It is no part of my case to
maintain the character of the unhappy deceased. The facts of this case
make it impossible to speak of him in any terms but those of very strong
condemnation. Nor am I inclined to say that from first to last his conduct
was that of a man of honour.
"These two persons met; they were
introduced, I assume, clandestinely. After a time, it seems an attachment
commenced which was forbidden by her parents. It is only right to say that
the earlier letters of the prisoner at that time show good feeling, proper
affection, and a proper sense of duty. Time went on; the intercourse was
again renewed, and in the course of 1856, as found from the letters, it
assumed a criminal aspect.
"But her affection began to cool.
Another suitor appeared, He was more attractive. She promised to marry him
in the month of June. She endeavoured to break off her connection with
L’Angelier by coldness, and asked him to return her letters. He refused,
and threatened to put them into the hands of her father. It was then she
saw the position she was in—she knew what letters she had written to
L’Angelier—she knew what he could reveal—she knew that, if the letters
were sent to her father, not only would her marriage with Mr. Minnoch be
broken off but that she could not hold up her head again. She writes in
despair to him to give her back her letters; he refuses."
The Lord Advocate went on to relate
how one interview, then another, and again a third followed, and that then
her letters, instead of being cold—instead of demands for the recovery of
her letters being contained in them—again assume all the warmth of
affection of the year before. On the 12th of March she has been with Mr.
Minnoch making arrangements for her marriage in June—on the 21st she
invites L’Angelier, with all the ardour of passion, to come to see her—she
buys arsenic on the 18th—and L’Angelier dies of poison on the morning of
the 23rd. A strange story gentlemen (of the jury)! such as the imagination
of novelist or dramatist never painted—so strange in its horror as almost
to be incredible, if it were not proved to be true. No one can wonder that
such a story has carried a thrill of horror into every family in the land.
His lordship then entered upon the evidence in detail with the view of
proving the accused guilty as charged in the indictment. At the close of
the Lord Advocate’s address to the jury, the Lord Justice-Clerk suggested
to the Dean of Faculty (Inglis) that he should delay his address to the
jury for the defence until the following day, and this being agreed to,
the Lord Justice-Clerk warned the jury that they should avoid drawing any
conclusion in the present state of the case, seeing that they had heard
counsel only on one side.
The Court then adjourned.