The actors and the stage
The devil wide awake,
His imps walk with him o'er the field,
And follow in his Wake.
It is a formidable thing to
be an object on which a thousand eyes are intently fixed, all at the same
And yet, pray let us ask, why
should it be thus formidable? Can a thousand eyes do us more injury by being
fixed upon us, than a single pair; or than no eyes at all? Assuredly not. If
we have done no wrong, and if we possess a clear conscience, what signifies
who. looks at us, or how many, or how intently?
The fiction of the evil eye
has been exploded. It was once believed that rays were emitted from the eye,
like rays out of the disc of the sun; and that they fell upon the object
towards which that eye was directed: and then it was thought, furthermore,
that if one person looked at another with hatred, revenge, or other
malignant passion, the rays so emitted were of a deadly nature, and could
work injury to the person on whom they fell. The dread of the evil eye,
therefore, in a superstitious, h id credulous, and ignorant age, was often
very extreme in those who fancied they were the object of its gaze; and he
who was looked upon by a thousand eyes at once, peradventure thinking that
many of them might be the malignant eyes of his enemies, might well cower
under the infliction.
But now we know better. We
know that rays do not proceed from the eye, and therefore we know that eyes
cannot cast any injury upon us merely by being directed towards us: and yet,
in spite of knowing this and feeling this, we cannot place ourselves before
a hundred spedtors without finding our courage shaken when w e become the
object of their fixed look.
Why is this, when our
conscience is clear and unsullied, and pure ? We believe it to be a
sensation of modesty, which is a component of human nature, but which is of
various degrees of intensity in different individuals—some being more-
modest than others. We may just as well ask why a virtuous and innocent girl
blushes when she is looked at, or spoken to—why she should be conscious of
shame when she has done no wrong? It is an inherent modesty which heaven has
implanted in our natures, doubtless for some wise purpose. We are not quite
satisfied that the operations of mesmerism are not referable to • this fact
in a great measure; and that the timid, modest, and shame-faced, will be
much more readily .wrought upon than the fearless, brazen, and bold. "
The feeling of modest shame
is more powerful in youth than it is in the period of more advanced age;
because then our strength of mind to overcome it, our usage in the world,
which makes us familiar with publicity, and our powers of reflexion, to
reason down the rising blush, are by no means so strong as they are when we
are a little older and more experienced. Nature then shows herself in her
true colours—the modest reveal their timidity, and the bold their
effrontery; but afterwards we become -hardened to innocent shame, do not
betray our internal emotions so readily, and more completely acquire what is
termed "a command of countenance."
For one so young, so unused
to appear in public on any occasion, and especially on an occasion so much
concerning herself, and one which called the gaze of hundreds upon her, and
for one of her sex, naturally averse to publicity, her self-possession, her
collectedness, her presence of mind, and her courage, were remarkable to a
degree, and prepossessed every heart favourably towards her the moment she
came forward. Part of her evidence ran as follows :—
Miss Turner sworn. Examined
by Mr. Sergeant Cross.
Miss Turner, I believe you
are the daughter of Mr. Turner of Shrigley?—I am."
[It would occupy too much
space were we to make our extracts copious: we will, therefore, only keep to
the point in hand.]
What was the communication
that William Wakefield made to his brother?—He said he had seen my papa at
And what else?—And that Mr.
Grimsditch was with him.
Go on, if you please?—That'
he was there concealed in a small room at the back of the house. .
Go on, if you please?—That he
had made two attempts that day to cross the Border, and could not.
"What Border was that?—The
Border between England and Scotland.
Did he say anything more had
passed in the room with your father and Mr. Grimsditch?—He said the persons
whom I had seen round the carriage door were sheriffs' officers.
Sheriffs' officers! what
about?—In search of my papa.
Was anything more said about
Mr. Grimsditeh?—That Mr. Grimsditch had entreated Mr. William Wakefield
would not stop in the room, or they should be discovered.
Well, anything else?—And that
he had taken him by the shoulders and turned him out of the room.
Did he bring any message from
your father to you?—He said that my papa requested, if I ever loved him that
I would not hesitate.
By Mr. Baron Hullock.
Hesitate to do what?—To accept Mr. Wakefield as a husband.
What did you say to that?—I
What induced you to
consent?—The fear that if I did not my papa would be ruined."
Surely this course of
proceeding towards a youthful damsel was somewhat novel, in order to obtain
her consent to a marriage. And he, too, who played the principal role, Ťa
widower with a family of children! "The fear that if I did not my papa would
be ruined!" a sweet consentment, in sobet sooth, for a lover to win from his
bride: a disinterested lover of Shrigley Hall, and papa's broad acres. Well
has it indeed been said, that money is the root of all evil.
One short extract more and
there an end.
Cross examined by Mr.
Will you allow me to ask you
two or three questions: I shan't trouble you at any length. You went through
the form of ceremony of marriage in Scotland, did you not?—Yes.
And you had a ring?—Yes.
The ring was too large for
you I believe, was it not?—It was rather.
Another was bought for you at
Calais, afterwards, I believe?— Yes.
When we have to explain the
manner in which the ceremony is performed at Gretna, we shall have to recur
to the minutes of this trial, in the evidence of David Laing, "The
blacksmith," so called (who never was a blacksmith) ; but as far as regards
the present, we desist from transferring to our pages any more, thinking
that we have given enough to serve every purpose of information.
We have already been present
at the precipitate arrival of this party at Gretna Hall, (when we commenced
the history of this particular case of abduction,)—we were pr< rent at the
execution, whereat there was no need of a wedding garment,—we have shewn how
that they sat down to dinner after it was over, and how the aforesaid David,
marrier-general to all comers, relished his champagne; and it only now
remains to shew how the young lady was hurried away thence by these
miscreants all through England, from the extreme north even to the south,
and then across the Channel to France, incessantly travelling for days and
nights, and having no time allowed her for rest, for -sleep, and scarcely
This over, we think the
reader will be satisfied.
It will not appear
astonishing that the party should hastily depart from Gretna Green, and fly
to some sanctuary beyond the reach of English pursuit. This they did without
long tarrying, when they had handsomely fee'd the various functionaries at
the Hall; and directing their course for London, they passed again through
Carlisle, Penrith, Manchester, &c., and arrived in the great metropolis
without accident or hinderance.
All along the road, as they
proceeded through the various towns, the same conduct towards Miss Turner
was sedulously kept up as had been previously maintained, with regard to her
father and his affairs, —the same statements were sent forth, and the same
suspense and uncertainty inflicted upon the poor girl.
In those who trade for lucre,
there is no feeling —no sympathy—no consideration—self is the only thing
cared for. The crosses, poverty, or reverses of others pass unheeded, so
that such mishaps do not retard the progress of self. What if others weep—
what if others hunger—starve—die? the sordid worshiper of self does not feel
it. Why? Even because perchance those others may hunger, starve, or die to
The fugitives immediately
hurried their young female companion out of London to the coast; and there,
taking the packet, they got to Calais.
Here they appear to have been
a little less apprehensive ; either resting on the hope that their retreat
would remain undiscovered, or else fancying that pursuit could not reach
them beyond the straits—but in both these suppositions they were mistaken.
Miss Daulby had not been very
long deprived of her young charge before there arose in her mind certain
suspicions that all was not right; and as she received no account from Miss
Turner of her safe arrival at home, and no news or letter from any other
persons touching her, those suspicions, after they had been once started,
every hour gained ground rapidly upon her.
In this state she continued
for a time, tossed about "upon the troubled sea of uncertitude," as some
gentle poet touchingly saith; one while giving herself up to fear, which, as
John Locke sagaciously tells us "is an uneasiness of the mind upon the
thought of a future evil likely to befal upon us,"—her uneasiness being the
dread of loss of her good name in the care of her establishment, and loss of
pupils in consequence ;—and at another, clutching to her the sweet passion
of hope, which, as the same logician sets forth, "is that pleasure of the
mind which every one finds in himself (or herself) upon the thought' of a
profitable future enjoyment of a thing which is apt to delight,"—to
wit,—that peradventure, she should receive such good news shortly as would
sweep away her former fears, and assure her that all was well, and she might
rest at ease.
When, however, it got bruited
about by the philanthropy of her neighbours, that, forsooth, a young lady
had been stolen away from her protection, most likely through her
carelessness, or lack of caution, or unfitness for her calling ; and when
some said, "I am sure I would never send my daughter to such a school," and
when others (who were too poor to pay the half-year's bill) cried out
vociferously, "Well, I think it is time I take. my daughter away—she shall
stay there,"—then, indeed, this worthy teacher of archery to the young idea,
conceived another passion within her bosom, videlicet—"ail uneasiness of the
mind upon the thought of a good lost, which might have been enjoyed longer,
or the sense of a present evil—which passion, in the vulgar tongue, goes by
the common name of " sorrow."
The "good lost," as mentioned
above, was the young lady herself—or, under correction, the fair round sum
she yearly received with her; or, to do her justice, the reputation of her
school, touching which, she put herself into an infinite fluster:—a good "
which might have been enjoyed longer," that is, if the misfare had not
befall.. So, also, "the sense of the present evil" was neither more nor less
than the reflecting on these sad matters.
Unable to control these
passions any longer, together with one or two others ycleped "suspense" and
"impatience," she resolved to journey forthwith to Shrigley, and ascertain
the real truth; for suspense and incertitude are worse than death ten times
When she had arrived there
and stated her case, there was, indeed, a fine to-do in that house ; the
brooks were augmented with tears, the winds with sighs, and the thunders of
heaven with oaths ten fathom deep. The inquiries were minute, the
lamentations great and loud, the conjectures many, and the resolutions
At last, when they had
sufficiently cooled down into a state of reflection, preparations were made
for instant pursuit. Having, from some hasty investigations, obtained a clue
as to the direction which the abductors had taken, Mr. Turner, Mr.
Grimsditch, and others, started for London, whereunto all rogues repair,
whatever honest men may do; here they traced them to the coast, and fled
onwards in search.
Mr. Turner was so overcome by
the shock, so overwhelmed at the loss of his only hope, his only heir, his
only pride, his only offspring, that he was seized with an ailing so piteous
as to prevent his continuing the journey ; he could go no further— he was
stricken down: wherefore he was left under the care of certain medical men,
whilst the others made the best of their way to France.
The rencontre here was
belligerent to a degree. The young lady was secured in another room of the
hostel to which they had been traced, whilst Wakefield resolutely fought for
the retainment of his bride, face to face with his opponents. He, at first,
obstinately refused to give her up, asserting his superior right to her over
her father or any one else, as being her husband; but they, on the other
hand, assured him that he was not her husband; for since he had used
deception, intimidation, and falsehood in obtaining her, the marriage was
illegal, and, indeed, was no marriage at all. The battle raged long and
fiercely: he, unwilling to be convinced that the marriage was void; and they
" quoting William and Mary upon him until he was tired of their majesties''
names," in proof of the truth of their assertion.
They also demanded to see
Miss.Turner—to have her produced from her place of concealment—that they
might learn from her lips the particulars of a proceeding so strange and so
iniquitous. This he was reluctant for a long time to submit to, seeing that
a host of evils to himself, and the probable annihilation of his whole
scheme, now so nearly perfected, would ensue thereon. But there was no help.
He was constrained to promise
that he would go and fetch her; they would not suffer him to be in the room
during the interview, but granted that he should come in amongst them after
she had told them the truth unrestrained by his presence.
A few words served to
convince her of the peril wherein she had stood, and to open her eyes to the
conduct of the man who had thus stolen her. She was told that the marriage
was deceptive and illegal; and when the real state of the transaction rushed
upon her, she turned from him in horror and disgust, and threw herself into
the arms of her uncle, who was one of those who had come over for her.
She was then taken back to
England, despite his every attempt to retain her, and restored to those who
%vere bewailing her loss.
The following letter from Mr.
Edward Gibbon Wakefield to his brother William, which, by the by, was never
intended to meet the public eye, was written soon after the rumpus at
Calais; and is curious enough to amuse the reader, if the preceding
narrative may have done so.
My dear William.—I write in
haste to save the post, only to give you news, and nothing else. Mr. Robert
Turner, Mr. Critehley, and Grimsditch, arrived by the packet to-day, with
warrants, &e. I soon knew what they were come for, but would not attempt to
avoid the question. Shortly I saw them, and found that, with Ellen's
consent, they could take her away. They insisted on seeing her: I could not
object. She told all, and was anxious to leave me, when she knew all. I
expected as much, and therefore made a merit of necessity, and let her go.
They tried to take me, but for that they were on the wrong side of the
water, as I well knew. However, I offered to go with them, but begged Mr.
Critehley to believe that I would be in England to answer any charge, as
soon as I had seen my children and settled my affairs. Nothing could be more
hostile than the whole spirit of their proceedings. I could readily have
escaped with Ellen, but their account of Mrs. and Mr. Turner's state, made
such a step impossible. I made, and gave in writing, a solemn declaration,
that she and I have been as brother and sister. How this may affect the
validity of the marriage I know not, nor could I raise the question : I was
bound, and it was wise, to give some comfort to Mr. Turner.
I am now in a stew about you,
and wish that you were safe. There can be no doubt the law can punish us.
For myself, I will meet it, come what may ; but if you are able, get away as
soon as possible : I do not eare a straw for myself. The grand question now
is—is the marrjage legal ? They all said no, and quoted William and Mary
upon me till I was tired of their majesties' names. Pray let me know that.
But I write to Nunky. Do not stay—you can do no good. I shall go to England
as soon as possible ; upon this you may depend. I shall not write again till
I hear from you, for fear of accidents. Percy came with the trio, and has
witnessed the row. We start early in the morning. Pray write, but say
nothing to anybody. I am the person to speak. 'Yours ever, E. G. W.
Thus the matter ended on the
other side of the Channel; but the reckoning was not paid—the day of
retribution was to come.
The marriage at Gretna took
place on Wednesday, March the 8th, 1826 ; she was rescued at Calais on the
1.5th of the same month, having been married (so to speak) for the space of
seven days; and the trial at Lancaster came on the 23rd of the same month
also, and in the subsequent year, 1827.
The indictment set
forth:—"That, on the seventh day of March, in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and twenty-six, at Manchester, in the County of
Lancaster, Edward Gibbon Wakefield,* *William Wakefield,* *Edward Thevenot,*
*and Frances, the wife of Edward Wakefield (Miss Davies),* *not having any
right or authority whatever to take and convey the said Ellen Turner out of
or from the possession, and against the will of the said Margaret Daulby,
See., unlawfully, wickedly, and injuriously, and for the sake of lucre and
gain, did conspire, &c., by divers subtle stratagems and contrivances, and
by false representations, unlawfully to take and convey, and to cause and
procure to be taken and conveyed, the said Ellen Turner, then and there
being a maid unmarried, and within the age of sixteen years, to wit, of the
age of fifteen years, from, and out of the possession of, and against the
will of, the said Margaret Daulby, &c., and unlawfully to cause the said
Ellen Turner, &c., to contract matrimony with the said Edward Gibbon
Wakefield f—and so on.
Throughout the whole of the
proceedings, the learned lawyer was not very reserved in the severity of his
epithets and nouns, as applied to one and all of these conspirators.
Certainly, he spoke very freely, to say the least of it; and appeared
nothing fearful of action for libel by so doing.
By the statute of 3rd of
Henry VII. cap. 2., it is enacted, "That whereas women having substances, or
being heirs apparent, &c., for the lucre of such substances, have been
oftentimes taken by misdoers, contrary to their will, and after married to
such misdoers, or to other, by their assent, or defiled:— what person or
persons, from henceforth, that taketh any woman, so against her will
unlawfully, such taking, procuring, or abetting to the same, and also
receiving, wittingly, the same woman so taken against her will, knowing the
same, shall be felony,' &c.
And the crime of felony in
those times was punished with a severity which not only showed how carefully
the law lent its aid to the protection of youthful heiresses, but also
proves in how great abhorrence that wretch was held who would abduct one
away from her home.
In subsequent reigns the
statute underwent certain modifications, but the offence was still
punishable according to its heinousness.
The existing state of the law
was thus explained to the Court by Mr. Sergeant Cross:—"By the statute law
of England, carrying away a young female under the age of sixteen, whether
with her own consent or not, from the custody of her parents or instructors,
and afterwards marrying her, whether with her own consent or not, is a high
misdemeanour, that subjects the offender to five years imprisonment, and a
fine at the discretion of the Court; and subjects the female herself if she
consents to such a marriage, to the forfeiture of her inheritance as long as
the husband whom she has chosen shall live."
The words in italics we have
laid particular stress on, that the attention of our youthful ladies
patronesses may be more especially attracted thereto; wherefore, we pray ye
to lay up the above well in your memories, as a wholesome check against the
temptations of some agreeable villain, who would whisper elopement and
Gretna Green in your ears.
Whatever befalls, don't say
we didn't warn you.
Alas ! how much more easy it
is to give advice than to receive it.
Who was that humble and
excellent divine that used to exclaim from his pulpit to his congregation,
"Do as I say, but not as I do;" well knowing his own weakness as being a
morsel of human nature, yet wherewithal passing humble in confessing that it
was difficult indeed to act up to the good advice which he could give.
Shall we gravely advise you
never to fall in love at all, by way of being on the safe side of the
question ? Nay, that we will not do : fall in love by all means, only do it
discreetly and wisely. But it is hard to be wise in this matter, since
passion ever sways us more than sober reason; and some one demands, "Who
ever loved and was wise?" as we have heretofore said.
It is below, and up to the
age of sixteen, that the statute as above propounded refers; that is, sets
forth how you may be persuaded to wed as with your own consent; yet, to run
upon destruction, to ruin your husband, and to forfeit your inheritance ;
after that age this law does not affect you, but leaves you to the guidance
of your own discretion, a stable guidance assuredly, and one of which you
all are possessed long before you attain to those years.
Some two months after the
trial, the prisoners were transferred from Lancaster Castle to London ; and
the final sentence was passed upon them in the Court of' King's Bench, in
May 1827. "An affidavit," we are further told, "on the part of Edward Gibbon
Wakefield was read, alleging the imprisonment he had already suffered, and
the expense entailed upon him by the prosecution, (3,000/.) in mitigation of
Whether this affidavit
effected anything in his behalf or not, certain it is, he was sentenced to
three years durance in Newgate prison; and his brother William suffered
incarceration within the walls of Lancaster Castle for an equal period of
time; a lenient punishment, indeed, for the injury they had done.
By way of diverting his mind,
and drowning the dismalness of his gloomy cell, in Newgate, he amused
himself by covering the walls with maps of various parts of the world; and
here he speculated on such plans of colonization as lie has been more deeply
engaged in since his liberation.
In commenting with due
severity on Edward Gibbon Wakefield's case, the Edinburgh Review makes some
sound remarks on the Scottish marriage of English parties.
"It seems a most
extraordinary posture of things,"' says the Northern Writer, "that while our
neighbours have guarded, by extreme precaution, against an improvident
contract on so important a matter, all those precautions should be evaded or
frustrated by so easy an expedient as a journey to Scotland—no difficult
thing to undertake from the Land's-End, but easier than going to the county
town, in the provinces bordering on Scotland. - "By the Marriage Act, ever
since the reign of George the Second, a person under the age of one and
twenty can only marry after public proclamation in church for three
successive Sundays, and consequently a fortnight is given for notice to
parents or guardians, unless their consent is formally interposed, in which
case the marriage may be immediately celebrated by licence. Moreover, the
solemnity must be performed by a regular clergyman in orders. To the English
it has appeared that this is by no means too complicated a machinery for
effecting so important a purpose ^ or that greater facility could safely be
given for entering into so weighty and so indissoluble an engagement. The
more delay, they say, the more time for reflection, the better at a time of
life when the passions are so much stronger than the judgment; and the
interposition of parental authority and advice is the mildest and most
appropriate check that could be devised upon the imprudence of youth.
"With us, in Scotland,
however, the law is wholly different. The civil law doctrinc prevails here
in its full force. Mere consent of parties, deliberately given, is alone
sufficient to constitute a marriage, without a moment's delay, without any
consent of parents or guardians, or any notice to them; add to which, that a
mere promise of marriage, followed by consummation, or a living together as
man and wife, without either formal consent or promise, amount also to a
marriage, being deemed by operation of law to involve presumptions of
"We speak with all reverence
of our country's institutions ; and we know that in point of fact less evil
has practically resulted from them than might have been apprehended ; but we
must admit that it is not unnatural for our neighbours to wonder how such a
law can prevail in a civilized state of society, where marriage is, as it
were, the very corner stone of all the social edifice. A person under
twenty-one years of age cannot sell or pledge, or in any way burden an acre
of his land; but a boy of fourteen, and a girl of twelve, may unite
themselves, on an acquaintance of half an hour, indissolubly for life. Nay,
the heir to vast possessions and high honours may be, at that tender age,
inveigled by a strumpet of thirty, into a match, which, by its consequences,
shall carry to the issue of her bed all his castles and dignities. This
seems strange; and it is impossible to deny that it does expose our youth
occasionally to most tremendous hazards. We have already said, however, that
the practical evils are far less than might be expected, owing, perhaps, to
the characteristic caution of our race ; and we might say, that there are
hazards and evils in the opposite system, which we, in our turn, wonder a
little that the English should overlook. We do not propose, however, on this
occasion, to enter into any comparison of the two laws; but merely to
consider the consequences that have arisen from their conflict, and from
what we cannot but think the inconsistent principles upon which their
respective pretensions have on different occasions been adjusted. ,
"The law of England, by
allowing the validity of Scotch marriages between its own domesticated
subjects, plainly renders that law quite nugatory, wherever there is a
temptation to evade its enactments, that is, wherever the mischief exists,
to punish which they were devised. The tradesman and his wife, and their
children, are married regularly by banns ; the person of maturer age and
easy circumstances weds by licence ; the consent of parents or guardians is
given as a matter of course where the match is prudent. But wherever the
parties ought not to marry—where there is disparity of years, or of station,
or of fortune, then the law becomes a dead letter : these being the very
cases for which its aid was wanted, and to regulate which its provisions
were contrived—provisions, in every other case, rather incumbrances than
advantages. The journey to Scotland is plainly a mere fraud upon the law of
England—an escape from its penalties—an occasion of its authority. The
residence in Scotland, which allows the Scottish law to regulate the
contract as lex loci, is hardly colourable, or rather, it is no residence at
all. The parties may remain within our territory during the half minute
necessary to utter the words of mutual consent, and then recross the "line
and re-enter England. Straightway they are married to all intents and
purposes ! and all English rights, from the succession to a dukedom down to
the inheritance of a cabbage-garden, become irrevocably affected by the
solemnity, or rather the mockery, enacted in Scotland. No matter how illegal
the whole affair may have been—for it is illegal even in Scotland, and the
parties are liable to censure, and strictly speaking, even to punishment;
but this is never inflictcd, unless a clergyman most needlessly lend his aid
; and whether inflicted or not, the marriage stands good. "Fieri non debuit,
factum valet," says the law of Scotland! "Contractus habent v'igorem
secundum legem loci" echoes the English law ! with a view to frustrating its
own most specific and positive enactments, upon the most important of all
"Now, that such a state of
things is eminently pregnant with inconvcnience and misehief, needs hardly
be stated ; it obviously must be so. That it is peculiar to the Law of
Marriage, is equally certain. In no other matter do our municipal laws
suffer themselves to be evaded. A man cannot get into a boat at Dover, for
the purpose of escaping the stamp laws, by drawing a receipt, which may be
afterwards available in an English Court of Justice. He cannot go to
Scotland and execute a will of lands in England, without three subscribing
witnesses. If he could, whatever fraudulent devices any one had to set up,
would he alleged to have been made at Gretna Green, and the check afforded
by examining attesting witnesses, would no longer exist; and we should hear
of Gretna Green wills to defraud the heir-at-law just as we now do of Gretna
Green marriages, to defeat the marriage act immediately, and in their
consequences to affect heirs-at-law likewise. Is, then, the subject of
marriage to be the only one where the Law of England permits the most gross
and barefaced evasion of its provisions, merely because this is of all
contracts the most momentous in itself, and the most grave in its
This comment system requires
you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an
account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or
Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these
companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All
comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator
has approved your comment.