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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Defence of Madeline H. Smith by the Dean of Faculty

THE excitement, if it were possible, became greater on the eight day of the trial, when the Dean of Faculty came to make his appeal to the jury on her behalf. The look, the tone, the action—these no reporter could convey. For the time he fairly carried everything before him—as, with quivering voice, he painted the anguish and despair of the unhappy girl in her attempt to recover those fearful letters containing such damning evidence of her shame—as he indignantly denounced the man who refused to listen to those passionate appeals, and who determined to keep the letters as an engine of terror and oppression. After reading to the jury the letter posted by the panel on the morning of the 22nd March, he asked:

"When was it that she waited and longed? It was upon Thursday evening—that was the tryst. The letter (of L’Angelier) to Miss Perry proves conclusively that it was on the Thursday she waited, expecting him to come in answer to her previous invitation. When, then, do you think that she should write her next summons? I should think that, in all human probability it was on the following evening—that is, on Friday.

"She almost always wrote her letters in the evening, and I think I am not going too far when I say, that when she did not write them in the evening, she almost always put the hour to them at which they were written; and when she wrote her letters in the evening they were invariably posted next morning, and not that evening, for very obvious reasons. Now then, is it not clear to you that this all important letter, written upon the Friday evening, was posted on the Saturday morning, while she believed that he was in Glasgow with Mrs. Jenkins, making the appointment for Saturday evening, and not for the Sunday."

The Dean of Faculty next lucidly pointed out that inference was made by the Crown Advocate to take the place of proven fact, with reference to the motive and object of L’Angelier’s Sunday journey from Bridge of Allan to Glasgow, and more particularly as to what was assumed to have taken place from the eventful time that the clue failed, at half-past nine, on Sunday evening, till about two o’clock next morning, which effort to set up inference as a basis of conviction he exposed and denounced as "an entire and startling novelty."

Towards the close of his eloquent address and appeal to the jury, the learned counsel for the panel said:—

"I do venture to submit to you that if the case for the Crown is a failure—as it unquestionably is—upon the first and the second charges, it is a far more signal and radical failure as regards the third. The one fact which is absolutely indispensable to bring guilt home to the prisoner remains not only not proved—I mean the act of administration—but the whole evidence connected with the proceedings of that day seems to go to negative such an assumption.

"No man probably will, or ever can, tell how L’Angelier met with his death. But whether he met his death by suicide, or whether he met his death by accident, or in what way soever he met his death, the question for you is—Is this murder proved? You are not in the least degree bound to account for his death. The question you have got to try is—Whether the poison was administered by the hands of the prisoner? I pray you to remember that you are asked to affirm on your oaths as a fact that the arsenic which was found in that man’s stomach was presented to him by the hands of the prisoner."

Finally, as the learned counsel painted, with the hand of a master, the horror and remorse which must forever haunt the jury if they were to convict her, and her perfect innocence should be afterwards established - more than one of the jury, as well as many of the audience, were dissolved in tears.

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