Sunday, April 25, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
A Tale of Criminal Conversation from the Rambler's Magazine of 1823*
FLIGHT V. WILLET.
The plaintiff is landlord of the Gun Tavern, or Wine Vaults, Tottenham Court Road. The defendant was an officer of the Excise, he visited at the Gun as a friend, until he had primed the landlady to his purpose ; various reports about the Gun came to the plaintiff’s ears, and he watched his wife, who decked and plumed in her best feathers, took a flight on the wings of love to a certain rookery in Carlisle-street, where she nestled along with Mr. Willet as her husband, pro tempore. This accommodating place is kept by a Miss Henson ; we have seen the exterior of it. There are two dwellings communicating with each other, to show that the object of double dealing may be carried on in security, on the door is a plate marked, child-bed linen warehouse; on the windows, apartments for single gentlemen, and wanted two parlour boarders: a board betwixt the first floor windows, displays in gilt letters, seminary for young ladies.
Mr. Flight, upon perusing these delectable invitations to the viciously inclined, felt assured it was not for his honour that his wife went thither; he had given her no cause lately to want child-bed linen ; he had parlour boarders at the Gun who wanted her attention; a seminary for young ladies was not required, as his children were all at a school; ergo, she must be looking after the apartments for single gentlemen, instead of making his lodgers' beds at home ; he made an excuse for entering this suspicious temple of love where Hymen never dare shew his nose, and the appearance of the parties satisfied him of his dishonour, and to satisfy his vengeance, he floored the Exciseman on the very steps approaching to Love's altar ; the lady screamed—the watch came—and the hopeful trio were all clap'd in durance. Mr. Flight had to give bail, and now brought his action; an attempt was made to prove that Mr. Flight was also flighty, inconstant, and cruel, neglecting his Gun at home, and sporting abroad on dangerous grounds—the proof failed, for the defendant it was urged in mitigation ; first, that he was a young man—a bad plea before an old jury ; secondly, he had been bedfast a month from the beating he had received ; thirdly, that he had lost his situation in the Excise ; and fourthly, that he was unable to pay a shilling. In consideration of these set offs, the jury only mulcted him in £500 damages.
*The Rambler's magazine: or, Fashionable emporium of polite literature, well supplied with crim. con. stories, gross puns, and ribald poetry, was apparently popular with women as well as men.
Illustration, Cross examination of a witness in a case of crim con, courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540.