Monday 14 February 2011

A tale for Valentines Day

Rummaging through the archives of the Belfast Newsletter, I came across this delightful story from 1828 and thought it was the kind of tale to bring out the romantic in even the hardest nut on Valentines Day.

(The journalistic standards of the piece are not high, but I've deliberately not amended the storytelling except for a few points of punctuation that were confusing.)

County of Waterford Assizes

Declan Baron was put to the bar on a charge of abduction and forcibly carrying away, in last August, Mary Hogan, with intent to marry her: again, with intent to disgrace her; and again, with a burglarious intent.

Mary Hogan, a young country-looking girl, about 17, sworn, and examined by Mr Driscoll, remembered last August that the prisoner came at night and took her away. For a long time witness could not identify prisoner but at last said: 'Oh, now I see him', (looked at) the prisoner and she smiled, and the Court joined.

Witness was not alarmed on the night she was taken away; there was no door where she was, and prisoner got in easily; there were five or six entered; prisoner was with them; does not know which of them took her; she was asleep when he entered; saw prisoner afterwards, at a good distance from the house; she was carried off six miles to one Foley's; did not go willingly; prisoner said he intended to marry her; thinks there was no harm in him saying that; she had no objection to marry if her father liked; she had no objection (smiling) to prisoner if her father liked.

Mr Driscoll – I confess, my Lord, our case looks drooping.
Counsellor Hassard – My Lord, it is a regular courtship.
Judge – She is actually courting him this moment. (Roars of laughter.)
Counsellor Hassard – Prisoner was three or four months in her father's house, and was a well-conducted young man.
Judge – The law will not allow the violation of the privacy of a family with impunity; therefore, they should proceed strictly. At the same time, if the witness would compromise her security, to show her affections, that course remained for her.
Counsellor Hassard – Would you like to marry him still?
(Witness smiled.)
Counsellor Hassard – She would, my Lord, upon the prisoner being acquitted.

His Lordship addressed the prisoner, and hoped that, as he saw the kind conduct of his prosecutor, he would behave honourably to her.

The prisoner said he would, and was accordingly discharged.

(Loud cheers.)