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hastily over its contents: it told her that her Diego had ceased to exist! He died in the arms of Victory! The poor Isabel shrieked aloud, and fell senseless into the arms of her distressed father. 'My child! my child!' cried the good old man, 'live! live! to make thy dear father happy! Oh!' exclaimed the bewildered Mendez, that these cruel wars should rob the innocent of peace, and convert their happiness into the bitterest woe! My dearest Isabel, 'tis your old father that calls upon you. Open those eyes of thine that were wont to gladden his fond heart. Speak to me, my girl! Oh! speak to me, my dearest child! For the love of God, speak !'
Isabel opened her bright eyes: she cast a wild glance at her agonised parent, but again swooned away. A little time elapsed, and the poor girl once more recovered, but she knew not those around her the dire catastrophe had deprived her of reason. 'Where is my Diego? my love?' she cried, in accents that would have softened the most obdurate heart. Give him to me, ye barbarians! Restore him to my arms, ye cruel wretches! Oh! gracious Heaven, why persecute me thus? but I will see my love! my life! My Diego, where art thou?' The raving Isabel sank upon the ground in a state of insensibility. Her matchless eyes lost their bright lustre; and the roseate colour of her once rounded cheek was usurped by the ghastly hue of the faded lily. The beautiful Isabel de Mendez was only known by name.
Often has she trodden the burning sands of inhospitable Colombia, unpitied and forlorn, beseeching Heaven to hearken to her lamentations. I saw her, for the last time, ere she bade an eternal adieu to this world of strife: she was musing, as was her wonted custom, in the public street, but with an air, methought, of peculiar serenity and apparent rationality. Perceiving that I noticed her, she approached towards me with a hurried step, and, looking earnestly in my face, she faintly said, 'Have you seen my beloved?' 'Ah, Isabel,' I replied, he is happy, he is in heaven!' Diego happy, and me miserable! no, no, it cannot be! Didst thou know my love, then? Oh, he was the idol of my soul, my heart's core ! But I know he is dead; he is gone, gone for ever! I tell thee what, stranger,' said the bewildered maiden, as her countenance assumed a look of the most dignified composure, and placing the fore-finger of her right hand upon my lips, as she directed the other towards the skies, 'I tell thee, stranger, thou must not breathe his name! There, there, I see him, he beckons to me! Look, look, there, there, how his lips move! he chides me for my tardiness! I come, dearest Diego, I come!' She uttered these unmeaning words in a tone of deep despair, that made me shudder. 'Come, Isabel,' said I, 'let me take you home, your mother has been seeking you.' Seeking for me, ha, ha, ha! My mother seeking Isabel, ha, ha! You trifle with my feelings, Senor: my mother has been dead and buried full twenty years ago, and my poor old father, too, is with her in paradise! My mother seeking me! Why, how canst thou
insult me thus? But Diego is not here; and I have no one left to protect me now,' said the poor maniac, whilst a profusion of burning tears bedewed her colourless cheek.
I could not leave her-I pressed her warm hand-she opened her eloquent eyes, and a faint smile acknowledged the emotion of her broken heart. It was the last effort of exhausted nature-she trembled sadly-I placed my hand upon her forehead: it was cold and moist-I spoke to her, but she answered not-her spirit had fled!
THE MINSTREL MAID TO HER ABSENT Knight.
THOU art gone, my noble knight,
To glad the eyes of ladies bright,-
THE CASE OF MR. ERSKINE, AT BOMBAY.
To the Editor of the Oriental Herald.
London, June 15th, 1828. THE letters of Vindex,' in 'The Asiatic Journal' of April and June last, are so evidently intended to give a false impression of the proceedings of his Majesty's Court of Justice, at Bombay, in regard to Mr. Erskine, that I must request you will publish the whole Judgment of the Court in that important case; which will enable those who feel an interest in the matter to draw their own conclusions from the facts therein detailed; and, as 'The Asiatic Journal' has admitted into its columns garbled and incorrect statements, in which some of the most material facts are suppressed, whilst others are alluded to in a manner calculated to mis-lead and deceive, I feel confident that a sense of what is due to public justice will at once induce you to comply with my request.
The abuses that had been going on in Mr. Erskine's office were brought to the notice of the Court, in the first instance, by a petition presented by one of the suitors in the Small Cause Court, complaining of extortions and injustice, to which the petitioner had been subjected. This petition, and others of a similar nature, were referred to Mr. Erskine, for his report upon them; but, so little satisfactory were his explanations on the subject, that his Native head clerk, Bappoo Ramjee, was examined on oath touching the frauds which were alleged by the petitioners to have take place in Mr. Erskine's office. Bappoo Ramjee so grossly prevaricated in his examination, that he was committed to jail; but enough had been elicited from him to determine the Court to examine Mr. Erskine himself. It is most untrue, however, that Mr. Erskine was examined, in secret, by the Recorder, as Vindex' asserts. On the contrary, he was examined by the Court, consisting, at that time, of the Recorder, Mayor, and Aldermen; and, when his examinations were concluded, he was informed, by the Recorder, in presence of the Mayor and Aldermen, that they (the Judges) had come to the determination of dismissing him publicly from the situations he held under the Court; but that, if he thought he could explain his conduct to the satisfaction of a jury, that course was open to him; and, if he determined to adopt it, he would only be suspended from his offices until the issue of his trial was known.
Mr. Erskine at once declined the option thus afforded him of going before a jury, and the unanimous judgment of the Court was accordingly pronounced by the Recorder, at a Special Court, summoned for the purpose, and in presence of the other Judges, who were all in their places on the bench at the time. The important fact of Mr. Erskine having refused the option of a Trial by
Jury, was not noticed by the Court in giving judgment; but the omission is supplied by the author of 'The Case of Mr. Erskine,' in which publication that circumstance is mentioned. If Mr. Erskine had been put upon his trial before a jury, the evidence of Bappoo, as elicited in his examination, coupled with Mr. Erskine's own admissions, as recorded in the Court's judgment, must have ensured his conviction; or, if these could not have been received in evidence against him, (as to which I am not lawyer enough to determine,) there was the overwhelming testimony of hundreds of poor suitors in the Small Cause Court, whom he had plundered and oppressed without mercy, and who had petitioned the Court for redress against him.
The name of Mr. Elphinstone, at that time Governor of Bombay, is mentioned by 'Vindex,' and became necessarily connected with these proceedings, from the extraordinary line of conduct adopted by him on the occasion. At the period when Mr. Erskine was dismissed from the offices he held under the Court, he was Superintendant of Police; a situation of great trust and emolument, and to which he had been appointed by the Government; and it was considered, by the Court, as due to the Governor, to inform him of the grounds on which a person holding an office under Government had been dismissed from those he held under the Court, and the Recorder in consequence sent Mr. Elphinstone a copy of the Court's judgment against Mr. Erskine, with a note, in which he stated his reasons for doing so, and added that Mr. Erskine had declined the option of having his case decided by a jury. Mr. Elphinstone acknowledged and thanked the Recorder for his communication; and, in the following month, (the 30th of July, 1823,) a public meeting of the Literary Society was held, at which Mr. Elphinstone presided, and proposed a laudatory address to the same Mr. Erskine! The proceedings of that meeting appeared in the Bombay Government paper, 'The Courier,' on the Saturday following; and which I hope you will also publish, as they will account for the disgraceful opposition which was immediately thereafter shown to the proceedings of his Majesty's Court at Bombay, and the base attempts that were made to interfere with, and impede, the administration of Justice there; for, when the Governor had thus hoisted the banner of party, in opposition to the King's Court, it is not to be wondered at, that he found active and zealous partisans in many of those who were indebted to him for the official situations they then held, and dependent on his patronage for their further advancement. The address was carried unanimously, (for who would have ventured to say, 'No,' to a proposition of the Governor's?) and exhibits the disgraceful and degrading spectacle of the head of the Bombay Government, and * * *, subscribing themselves with sentiments of the truest respect and esteem (such are the concluding words of the address) to a public delinquent.
The second letter of Vindex,' published in "The Asiatic Journal' for June, is a tissue of such unfounded and libellous assertions on the Court, that I scarcely know in what terms to notice it. It adverts to circumstances that took place at Bombay, after Mr. Erskine's dismissal, some of which would have been important, if they had been correctly stated. Vindex asserts, that no written rules, or table of fees, had ever been established, by which to regulate the proceedings and charges in the Small Cause Court; that the suitors also had never previously applied for a taxation of costs, and that, "in Mr. Erskine's case," the Recorder's Court framed instructions for the purpose, ex post facto, arbitrarily, &c.' All this is utterly untrue: a set of rules, and a table of fees for the Small Cause Court, had been framed by Sir William Syer, the first Recorder of Bombay; the latter were hung up in Mr. Erskine's office, and he was bound, under the solemn sanction of an oath, to be regulated by that table of fees in his charges. He was also bound, by one of the said rules, to account to the Court, on oath, when required, for all his charges and proceedings in the Small Cause Court; and it was under that very rule, that he was examined, vivd voce, by the Judges. The unfortunate suitors complained loudly and justly by petition to the Court, after Mr. Erskine's dismissal, that, although they had always applied for a taxation of costs, it was invariably refused, and they were compelled to pay the bills which Mr. Erskine or his clerk presented, without being allowed to object to a single item, although they were shamefully overcharged in every instance.
The Court, in consequence, ordered a certain number of bills, which had been paid to Mr. Erskine, to be taken indiscriminately from the records of his office, and taxed by the master in Equity, which was done. I send herewith an official copy of the return to that order of the Court, and the result, as your readers will observe, is, that, on twenty one bills, (being the number thus taxed,) Mr. Erskine had charged and received one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two rupees, whilst he was only entitled, by the table of fees, to charge nine hundred and thirty rupees! I must also here remark, that the last bill in the list, No. 392, is that of the poor unfortunate widow, from whom he extorted ten rupees, (as particularly set forth in the judgment of the Court,) after having charged, and actually received from her, as appears by this return, three times as much as he was entitled to do. The Court, on seeing by this list the very serious extent to which Mr. Erskine had been plundering the public, immediately determined that all those who had been subjected to these disgraceful overcharges, should be allowed the opportunity of having their bills taxed, and the overcharge returned to them; and hence the orders issued by the Court to that effect. Some of the unfortunate suitors had their bills taxed and the overcharge returned; but it was soon discovered, that