A Rogue's Life HTML version

family, and his Christian readiness to look pityingly on my transgressions. He had
engaged the leader of the circuit to defend me; and he would have come to see
me, but for Mrs. Batterbury; who had implored him not to expose himself to
agitation. Of Lady Malkinshaw the letter said nothing; but I afterward discovered
that she was then at Cheltenham, drinking the waters and playing whist in the
rudest health and spirits.
It is a bold thing to say, but nothing will ever persuade me that Society has not a
sneaking kindness for a Rogue.
For example, my father never had half the attention shown to him in his own
house, which was shown to me in my prison. I have seen High Sheriffs in the
great world, whom my father went to see, give him two fingers--the High Sheriff
of Barkinghamshire came to see me, and shook hands cordially. Nobody ever
wanted my father's autograph--dozens of people asked for mine. Nobody ever
put my father's portrait in the frontispiece of a magazine, or described his
personal appearance and manners with anxious elaboration, in the large type of
a great newspaper--I enjoyed both those honors. Three official individuals politely
begged me to be sure and make complaints if my position was not perfectly
comfortable. No official individual ever troubled his head whether my father was
comfortable or not. When the day of my trial came, the court was thronged by my
lovely countrywomen, who stood up panting in the crowd and crushing their
beautiful dresses, rather than miss the pleasure of seeing the dear Rogue in the
dock. When my father once stood on the lecturer's rostrum, and delivered his
excellent discourse, called "Medical Hints to Maids and Mothers on Tight Lacing
and Teething," the benches were left empty by the ungrateful women of England,
who were not in the slightest degree anxious to feast their eyes on the sight of a
learned adviser and respectable man. If these facts led to one inevitable
conclusion, it is not my fault. We Rogues are the spoiled children of Society. We
may not be openly acknowledged as Pets, but we all know, by pleasant
experience, that we are treated like them.
The trial was deeply affecting. My defense --or rather my barrister's--was the
simple truth. It was impossible to overthrow the facts against us; so we honestly
owned that I got into the scrape through love for Alicia. My counsel turned this to
the best possible sentimental account. He cried; the ladies cried; the jury cried;
the judge cried; and Mr. Batterbury, who had desperately come to see the trial,
and know the worst, sobbed with such prominent vehemence, that I believe him,
to this day, to have greatly influenced the verdict. I was strongly recommended to
mercy and got off with fourteen years' transportation. The unfortunate Mill, who
was tried after me, with a mere dry-eyed barrister to defend him, was hanged.