MISS FAITLIFITLL AND MRS. CODRINGTON.
popular imagination, should be banished by law from office, from the army, from diplomacy, from every department of life which the ambitious seek and the able feel to be theirs of right. That is the position of the Puujab at this moment. Of all those what part of her narration was truth and what part fiction, nor six hundred men in that great tent there was not one who had not his perhaps did she much heed. She applied the magic of her saran- share of social power, not one who could use that power. politically, tion to getting her stories believed, and she cared for little b t within the constitutional limit. Each on his own land was a small getting them believed.
demigod, but in the Punjab power had passed to the circle of Such a household was no suitable home for a young lady, b un- civilians who, sitting outside the nobles, threw up with their plain happily Miss Faithfull was led to make it her home. Dun g the THE Divorce Court is a necessary evil, but it is not the less a necessary evil to speak of it. In the present state of society it is inevitable that a certain number of ccinples should be divorced, that a certain number should be separated, that a certain number should try to be separated and should not be able. But for the most part the less said in society or in public journals by way of comment on such affairs the better. Without a grave public object no man who values his self-respect will touch this filth ; the judge and the jury should dispose of it, and then no one should think about it any more ; such discussion may do many people much harm, and can do almost no one the least good. But peculiar cases sometimes com- pel a deviation from this ordinary principle. Large public questions may be involved, or the characters of persons who have attained notoriety, and about whom the public must have an opinion, may be inseparably implicated, and in such cases the usual organs of public opinion are bound to speak, or the public will be left without guidance. In the recent case of "Codrington v. Anderson" the name of Miss Emily Faithfull has been largely mentioned, and as that lady's philanthropic usefulness and services have made her name public property, she must bear whatever comment is necessary to explain the real bearing of the remarkable transactions in which she has been concerned.
Miss Faithfull, some time in 1854 became acquainted with Mrs. Codrington, the divorcee in the late case, and, as far as appears, no greater misfortune could have happened to her. She was but nineteen, had always lived in a country parsonage, been educated in very strict principles, and was altogether ignorant of the world. On Mrs. Codrington the jury have passed their opinion. She was not, it is true, in 1854 that which she has become in 1864. The strange imaginations and the stranger senti- ments which have now ripened into evident criminality were then only in their latent germs and secret beginnings. But the strange fascination which she has to this day in part preserved she then possessed in full intensity. There are some people who have off the stage the power which great actors have on the stage. They carry your sympathies here rind there and where they will by a hidden,irre- sistible compulsion, and in real life they are peculiarly dangerous, for they may alter grave actions, and so influence a character and. a life. Unless under the guidance of a high moral principle, these people of magical influence are social perils. When they come into a room that room is different from any other room,—the great actress has appeared, and carries away all the more impres- sible, all the more inexperienced part of society. Such an actress, as the Court records show, is Mrs. Codrington. A French novelist would delight in nothing better than in delineating how imme-
diately she attracted, how inevitably she injured, how surely she deserted those who came near her. A cautious person once
described a similar person. "Well," he said, "she is a per-
son whom no one likes, but whom every one has liked." This sort of momentary fascination goes but a little way in middle age ; there is in it a theatrical excitement which jades
sober tastes and serious minds, but it goes a long way in early youth. At nineteen the world is certainly pleasant, and to a gird from a country parsonage a clever, acting, brilliant woman would seem the very embodiment of the world.
Admiral Codrington, too, as the same legal transactions show, is just the sort of person a mischievous French novelist would ally to a fascinating, brilliant woman. He is a grave, respectable man, but he has the little, poking, stupid ways which make respecta- bility odious. If there is anything an excitable, quick woman hates it is the decorous pottering of a grave man, and Admiral Codrington, it is quite plain, gave his wife plenty of that annoyance.
Their whole minds went contrary ways ; he was veracious but literal, and she was imaginative and " romancing " to an extent hardly compatible with a sound mind. In later days she had a wild idea that the Prince Consort was attached to her, she was overpowered by his death, and though at an earlier time her inventions were more credible, they had always a certain bold- ness. She lived a sort of novel within her life, and hardly knew Admiral's absence in the Crimea she made a long visit to Mrs. Codrington, which was continued after his return, and this visit has involvei her in many troubles. Last summer the Admiral's counsel said that she had set Mrs. Codrington against her husband, and so had fomented quarrels in the household, but those who consider what that household was will believe that before it contained elements of dissension far more powerful than the influence of a girl of twenty over a woman much older than her- self. Secondly, it was said that she was at last dismissed, but it is now admitted that she was there on a visit quite as a friend, and, that the visit terminated in the usual manner. Thirdly, it was said that lately, and since she has directed the Victoria Press, she had allowed Mrs. Codrington to meet the " co-respondent," Colonel Anderson, at her house, but this monstrous accusation was entirely abandoned. Not a tittle of evidence was advanced to bear it out, and Mr. Bevill withdrew it altogether, and with apologies.
A far more complex matter requires a longer explanation : indeed it reads rather like the story of a bad dream than anything belonging to healthy waking existence. Mrs. Codrington was se ill-advised as to put forward as a defence that Admiral Codrington had on a certain occasion attempted to commit violence on Miss Faithful!. This would have prevented his obtaining a divorce even though her own misconduct had been proved, as it would have been so bad an act on his part as to conduce and tempt to vice on hers. Such evidence of recrimination, however, is very dangerous; a woman who can succeed in disproving her guilt generally relies on doing so. She does not wish to assail the husband from whom she is unwilling to be divorced, and therefore when a jury sees such accusations put forward against a husband they are apt to infer that the wife is guilty. Perhaps Mrs. Codrington lost the case in no inconsiderable degree by this monstrous counter-charge.
She summoned Miss Faithfnll to prove it, and the facts proved to be these :—Mrs. Codrington and Miss Faithful! were sleeping together, when on a sudden the latter awakes, and sees "a white figure," which she is sure to be Admiral Codrington, rapidly leaving the room. Mrs. Codrington then told Miss Faithful' that he had been trying to behave improperly to her, but of this Miss Faith- full has sworn, "I know nothing but what she told me." Every- body now believes that the story was one of Mrs. Codrington's monstrous fictions, but it was very natural that a girl of twenty wholly under her influence should believe it. Coolly written down on paper it looks incredible, but in the dyad of night and on a sudden it might easily be believed. Mrs. Codrington was con- stantly propounding monstrous legends, which Miss Faithfull then believed, and in an atmosphere of wonders and outrages this did not seam so strange. At any rate she did believe it up to quite a late period.
Independently of her high character for veracity, we have no doubt that Miss Faithfull's account of the fact is the true one. It is monstrous to suppose that a man of Admiral Codrington's re- spectable character would perpetrate so execrable an outrage in the presence of his own wife, and it is equally monstrous to suppose that Miss Faithfull could invent or join in inventing a story so sure to be injurious to herself. Whether such a legend is or is not injurious to the man, it is certain to be injurious to the woman. There was indeed an episode with Mr. Few, the plaintiff's attorney, which drew down strong remarks from the presiding judge. Miss Faithfull bad told that gentleman what Mrs. Codrington had told her, but she had not properly distinguished, or he had not properly cross-examined her, as to what she knew of her own knowledge and what she knew on the report of others. "Inasmuch," said Mr. Justice Wilde, "as I was aware from certain affidavits in the cause on an application which had been made to this Court, that it was supposed that Miss Faithfull had told one story at one time and a different story at another time, I without hesitation allowed the learned counsel who called her as a witness to take this course, —I allowed him to cross-examine her. It is not usual in general for a counsel to cross-examine his own witness, but I allowed him to cross-examine her. The object of that was this, not that you should be invited to take the statement which she is supposed to have made at another time as the truth in place of the statement that she maim; to-day in Court, but that by means of calling her attention to what she has said on a former occasion she should be invited to reconsider what she is now saying in the box, and say whether she is still prepared to swear to the account she now gives. Gentlemen, she went through that test, and said, • Yes, I am pre- pared to stand to the account I now give.' The consequence is that ' there is no evidence before you of that assault." It was very tural that a lady not closely pressed should give an obscure \ ount of a circumstance by no means pleasant to detail.
Let- telling Miss Faithfull that this occurrencehad happened, Mrs. Codrington conjured Miss Faithfull not to mention it, and to go on as if nothing had occurred, and to this we grieve to say she agreed. She remained on her visit, and was obliged, or nearly obliged, by remaining to write to Admiral Codrington on their usual terms. There were but two counts before her—to have an explanation and leave the house, or to go on in all respects as usual, and she chose the wrong alternative. She treated Admiral Codrington both in letters and by word of mouth as though she thought him as much entitled as ever to her respect and affection. Of course great palliation may be suggested for her conduct. She was young, she was in the hands and under the influence of an artful and mischievous woman, she natu- rally shunned a discussion on a subject abhorrent to female delicacyand disagreeable to female timidity, and by doing anything, or by making any change, she would have insured a discussion. Not being conscious of any violence, having seen only a distant white figure, she did not realize it as if she bad been so conscious. It was one wild story in a whole life of wild stories, and did and could not produce its full effect.
But all these excuses are but excuses, and by no means justifica- tions. 'rho atmosphere in which she was living must have for a time at least blunted her moral pen vtion. No girl could live in such a house and amid such legends without grave moral injury. A certain delicacy must inevitably be lost in the contact with a life so unnatural, where so much falsehood was floating in the air, and where there was nothing to counteract it. Many girls would have wholly succumbed to such influences,—their entire moral bearing would have been incurably tainted. A robust nature saved Miss Faithful' from destruction, but it could not save her from grave moral harm then, or, even after the lapse of years and a complete change of circumstances and life, from severe mental suffering now.
Perhaps of all sorts of men and women there is scarcely one which does so much of harm with so little good as that to which Mrs. Codrington belongs. With a kind of magical though momentary influence, a subtle beauty, a vast power of obtaining un- deserved trust, they are just fit to attract the young and susceptible, and just fit to destroy them. Of sound intellect, of consistent character, of permanent attraction, such people are destitute. They are wonderfully able to hurt and injure, but very little able to improve and aid. Their course is marked by suffering wherever they go, and serious observers watch them with grave wonder, as one of the strangest mysteries which Providence permits even in this mysterious and strange world.