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dered Sir Edward Crosbie; Sir Grey Campbell and his lady, the eldest daughter of Lord Edward Fitzgerald; Thomas Moore, the historian of the rebel lord; and the humble individual who, a little later, was the author of the "Lives and Times of the United Irishmen." There were present also Miss Ellen Tree, Mr. Macready, and Sir Philip Crampton.
If the ghost of the Duke of Richmond, of the good old times of the Orange regime in the castle and the vice-regal lodge, and the unhappy shades of William Saurin and Lord Manners could only have come up and gazed that night on the company by whom the viceroy was surrounded, and among whom there was not one purple marksman or representative of an Orange lodge, how shocked they would have been! Moore that night sang and played several of his own beautiful melodies, in his own most exquisite style-more than one that had reference to persons who had figured in the stormy affairs of 1798 -songs which brought tears into the eyes of the daughter of Lord Edward Fitzgerald.
Since the notice, in the first part of this volume, of Mrs. Maclean's death at Cape Coast Castle, and the circumstances attending it, was written, a publication has appeared, entitled "Recollections of Literary Characters and Celebrated Places," by Mrs. Thomson, author of " Memoirs of the Court of Henry the Eighth," 'Correspondence of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough,” &c. In the second volume of the recent work of Mrs. Thomson,* there is a biographical sketch of L. E. L., the author's reminiscences of her, and (at page 92) an account of her decease, wherein some matters are stated for the immediate causes of Mrs. Maclean's death, for the first time presented to the public, which deserve attention, and the more so on account of Mrs. Thomson's claim to authentic sources of information for many of the alleged facts detailed by her. The author, previously referring to the marriage of Miss Landon with Mr. Maclean, says: "The common surmise is, that L. E. L. married the Governor of Cape Coast to be married, to fly from the slander, to have a home and a sanction. No, these were not her reasons, for she was truly and ardently attached to one who she declared was the only man she ever loved. She confided in him, she pined in his absence, she sacrificed for him the friends, the country, the society to which she had been accustomed. But she made one false step."
The false step spoken of diffusely rather than explained was the fact of the acceptance of a suitor, who, having been ardently loved by poor L. E. L., the only one she had ever loved, all of a sudden, after being so accepted, and having carried on a correspondence with her, without any assigned or assignable cause or explanation, had ceased to hold any intercourse with her, and had
* Recollections of Literary Characters, &c., vol. ii., p. 86.
betaken himself to Scotland, without any intimation of his departure from London, and thus left her in a state bordering on despair.
The mystery of the sudden breaking off of the marriage, however, terminated in Mr. Maclean's return from Scotland, the renewal of his engagement, a joyful wedding with a man who had seemed to Mrs. Thomson, at the time of the marriage, "like one who had buried all joy in Africa, or whose feelings had been frozen up during his last inauspicious visit to Scotland."
The marriage, which was attended by Sir E. B. Lytton, the kind and constant friend of Miss Landon, and which had been made a mystery of, according to Mrs. Thomson's account, for about a month after its celebration, was apparently the false step referred to. Had it been called a fatal one, there would have been something in the account not to be impugned; but that Mrs. Thomson's impressions of this marriage being the result of strong feelings of attachment, the ardent affection of first fond love on the part of the lady, are entirely erroneous, there can not be the slightest doubt. That Mrs. Thomson has stated correctly the words of Miss Landon declaratory of such sentiments, I have no doubt; but I know that pride has its anomalies as well as other passions, and does not bear, in great extremities, to be too literally interpreted; and it is difficult to conceive any greater extremity than the sacrifice which Miss Landon made of her happiness, in abandoning friends, country, and pursuits for the hand and name of Captain Maclean, a dreary home, and, as she anticipated, an early grave on the coast of Africa.
Mrs. Thomson, to a short passage of about a dozen lines in the text of her notice of L. E. L., adds a long note of six pages on the subject of her death. In the former we are told, "All that is known of her death is this: she was found, half an hour after taking from a black boy a cup of coffee brought by her order,' leaning against the door of her chamber, sitting as if she had sunk down in an effort to rush to the door for help. A bruise was on her cheek, a slight bruise on the hand which was pressed on the floor-(these details are not in the inquest, but are true)—an empty phial (so said the maid who found her) in her hand."
If Mrs. Thomson's account is correct, Mrs. Maclean was found by the English servant-woman, Mrs. Bailey, in a sitting posture at the door. But on the inquest, Mrs. Bailey swore she had found the body of her mistress lying on the floor near the entrance; and no evidence was given by any person examined on the inquest of any coffee having been brought to her that morning by a native servant.
Mrs. Thomson further adds, the black boy was about ten years of age who had brought the coffee, and that when Mrs. Bailey returned to the dressingroom, she found the cup standing empty on Mrs. Maclean's table. I never heard one syllable of this at Cape Coast. If such a circumstance took place, it was suppressed at the inquest, and it was withheld from me. But Mrs. Thomson says Mrs. Bailey mentioned this circumstance to the late Mrs. Liddiard, of Streatham.
Mrs. Bailey certainly did not say one word that has been reported, in her evidence on the inquest, about a cup of coffee having been brought to her mistress in the interval between her first entering Mrs. Maclean's room that fatal morning and her second appearance there, when she found Mrs. Maclean lifeless, to all appearance, on the floor. If any other servant previously entered the room that morning, and brought any liquid to the poisoned person, that servant ought surely to have been examined on the inquest. If the circumstance took place that is stated by Mrs. Thomson, the suppression of such evidence would be calculated, no doubt, to excite a suspicion that the inquiry was not intended to ascertain the real facts of the case.
When Mrs. Bailey left the room of Mrs. Maclean, her mistress was apparently well; about half an hour, at the utmost, elapsed before she returned to the room, when her mistress was apparently dead.
Did the boy bring the coffee before Mrs. Bailey's first appearance in Mrs. Maclean's room? Who was that boy? Was he a son of a native woman who had to quit the castle on the arrival in the arsenal of Mrs. Maclean? Are the poisons known to the natives on the west coast of Africa of that deadly virulence and swiftness in destroying life, that death was likely to result from the administration of one of them within a period of half an hour after the time of taking it?
Were there good authority for the statement made to Mrs. Liddiard, these are matters which it might be desirable to have inquired into, if Mrs. Bailey could answer them, could be relied on, and could not be intimidated or tampered with. Some of the questions my own knowledge of the facts enables me to throw some light on. The boy who brought the coffee was not the son of the woman referred to. There was no child of hers by Captain Maclean living at the time I was on the Gold Coast, nor long previously to that period. The poisons known to the natives of Africa are not generally productive of instantaneous death.
Mrs. Thomson states several circumstances relating to her last letters to her friends, which are unquestionably true, as far as they go, showing those communications "were not the letters of a newly-married and happy wife.”
In one of these letters she complained bitterly that, in spite of her entreaties, Mr. Maclean had ordered her attendant, Mrs. Bailey, the only woman in the settlement, to return to England, and Mrs. Thomson truly states, “that decision seemed to give her, Mrs. Maclean, inexpressible vexation, as, indeed, it naturally might." The decision was inexplicable to the friends of Mrs. Maclean, and might reasonably be so.
Mrs. Bailey was the wife of the steward of the vessel in which the Macleans went out to the Gold Coast from England. On arrival, Mrs. Bailey went to live at the castle, and appeared to every one there in the capacity of lady'smaid to Mrs. Maclean. Her husband, at the same time, became a kind of factotum to Mr. Maclean, and eventually was put in charge of Captain Maclean's yacht schooner, and became the master of that vessel.
He was master of that vessel long after his wife's departure from the settlement. I think I heard he had returned to England on Mr. Maclean's business, had come back to the colony, and resumed his command of the yacht.
Not very long before the death of Mr. Maclean, a friend of his at Cape Coast, much in his confidence, recently deceased, a gentleman with whom I was well acquainted, stated that some revelation (in the shape of a letter) had been made to Mr. Maclean of a serious nature, which he, Mr. Maclean, was not prepared for by any previous rumors with which he had been made acquainted in England.
Whether the alleged revelation had any thing to do with the decision come to with regard to the return of Mrs. Bailey to England, no one living, with one exception, now can say. I allude to this statement, because I think it very probable that for Mr. Maclean's decision there may have been some excuse, if not a cause, of which the public are unaware. Mrs. Bailey's discretion may not have been more remarkable at Cape Coast Castle than it proved on her return to this country.
Mrs. Thomson lays great stress on the fact that the medical attendant of L. E. L., while residing in London, Dr. A. T. Thomson, had stated in a letter which he published in the "Times" shortly after the death of Mrs. Maclean, "that he had attended her (Miss Landon) as a friend for a period of fifteen years, and that he had never ordered prussic acid for her in any form." Mrs. Thomson states also that the medicine-chest, which had been fitted up for her by Mr. Squires, of Oxford Street, did not contain that medicine, and that none of the prescriptions for her, for years, which had been compounded by that eminent chemist, by whom all prescriptions for her were usually made up, included prussic acid; and that "Mrs. Sheldon and her daughters, who had watched over Mrs. Maclean during a long illness, and who knew her habitual course of life thoroughly during the two years that she resided under their roof, asserted positively that they had never known her to take it."
The inference that Mrs. Thomson leaves, or rather leads, her readers to draw, is, that Mrs. Maclean, having no prussic acid in her possession ordered by her physician or supplied by her druggist, could not have poisoned herself with that drug, either unintentionally or willfully.
But Mrs. Bailey deposed at the inquest that she had found in the hand of Mrs. Maclean an uncorked bottle, when she discovered the body lying on the floor, and the bottle, when produced, was found labeled "Hydrocyanic Acid." She farther deposed, "She afterward corked the bottle and put it aside." She added, also, that she had seen her mistress take a drop or two of the medicine in the bottle, in water, two or three times, when ill with the spasms, to which she was subject. Mr. Maclean deposed that, when he had been called to Mrs. Maclean's dressing-room on the occasion of her death, he saw a small phial upon the toilet-table, and asked Mrs. Bailey where it came from. "Mrs. Bailey told him that she had found it in Mrs. Maclean's hand; and that phial (she added) had contained Scheele's preparation of prussic acid. His wife
had been in the habit of using it for severe fits of spasms, to which she was subject. She had made use of it on the voyage from England to his knowl edge. He was greatly averse to her having such a dangerous medicine, and wished to throw it overboard. She requested him not to do so, as she would Idie without it."
Dr. Cobbold, the medical officer of the Castle, deposed that, from his examination, he came to the opinion that death was caused by the improper use of the medicine, the bottle of which was found in her hand. He deposed farther to a smell of prussic acid about her person.
In the face of this evidence, it is more difficult to admit Mrs. Thomson's inference than to deny the possibility, nay, the probability, of Mrs. Maclean's having procured a bottle of Scheele's preparation of prussic acid on some one of those numerous occasions of her spasmodic seizures to which she had been subject in England, especially after those severe mental disquietudes to which I have elsewhere referred. Any very intimate friend who visited her on such occasions, and found her suffering from these spasmodic attacks, might have spoken of their experience of the effects of that medicine in such seizures; and if she acted on their suggestion while so suffering, the probability is, she would not have waited to procure the sanction of her ordinary physician, but would have sent to the nearest apothecary's for the medicine, and not to a druggist in Oxford Street, upward of two miles from her place of abode.
But, supposing that the idea of self-destruction had ever entered the head of L. E. L. while residing in England and previously to her marriage, is it not quite clear that it is not from her regular medical attendant she would have sought a prescription for such a drug and it is not at the druggist's where she had her prescriptions made up for many years that she would have sought this dangerous drug. In such a case, it is quite evident that the inference of Mrs. Thomson would be deserving of no consideration.
But there are two difficulties connected with this subject which present themselves to my mind, and I am quite at a loss to solve them. The uncorked phial which Mrs. Bailey deposed she had found in the hand of her dead mistress when produced at the inquest was found labeled “Acid. Hydrocyanicum delatum. Pharm.: Lond., 1836: medium dose, 5 minims." But not one word was mentioned in any of the depositions as to the name and address of the druggist or apothecary, which invariably, I believe, is to be found at the top and bottom of all labels of poisonous drugs of this description.
This bottle was not produced to me by Dr. Cobbold nor by Mr. Maclean when I was at Cape Coast Castle, and Dr. Cobbold had professed to afford me all the information he could give me on the subject of my inquiries touching the death of Mrs. Maclean; and, very unfortunately, the great importance of that circumstance had totally escaped my attention at Cape Coast Castle; it never occurred to me to inquire for that bottle, and to examine the label, with the view of ascertaining the name of the druggist or apothecary from whom it had been obtained.