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not appeared any symptom of life. Mrs. Bailey farther asserted that she found a small phial in the hand of the deceased, which she removed and placed upon the toilet-table. Mrs. Maclean had appeared well when she sent her to fetch the pomatum. She had observed in her no appearance of unhappiness. Mr. Maclean stated that his wife had left him about seven o'clock in the morning, and that he had never seen her again in life. When he was called to her dressing-room, he found her dead upon the floor. After some time, he observed a small phial upon the toilet-table, and asked Mrs. Bailey where it had come from. She told him that she found it in Mrs. Maclean's hand. This phial had contained Scheele's preparation of prussic acid. His wife had been in the habit of using it for severe fits or spasms, to which she was subject. She had made use of it once on the passage from England to his knowledge. He was greatly averse to her having such a dangerous medicine, and wished to throw it overboard. She entreated him not to do so, as she must die without it. There had been no quarrel nor unkindness between him and his wife. Dr. Cobbold, who had been requested to make a post mortem examination, did not consider it at all necessary to do so, as he felt persuaded she had died by prussic acid. He was led to this conclusion from the appearance of the eyes of the deceased ; and he believed he could detect the smell of the prussic acid about her person. My own evidence proved that I had parted with Mr. and Mrs. Maclean at a very late hour on the evening before, and that they appeared then on the happiest terms with each other. There was found upon her writing-desk a letter not yet folded, which she had written that morning, the ink of which was scarcely dry at the time of the discovery of her death. This letter was read at the inquest. It was for Mrs. Fagan, upon whom she had wished me to call. It was written in a cheerful spirit, and gave no indication of unhappiness. In the postscript—the last words she ever wrote--she recommended me to the kind attentions of her friend. With the evidence before them, it was impossible for the jury to entertain for one instant the idea that the unfortunate lady had willfully destroyed herself. On the
other hand, considering the evidence respecting the phial, her habit of making use of this dangerous medicine, and the decided opinion of the doctor that her death was caused by it, it seemed equally clear that they must attribute her death to this
The verdict, therefore, was, that she died from an overdose of Scheele's preparation of prussic acid, taken inadvertently.
“ In those warm latitudes interment follows death with a haste which often cruelly shocks the feelings Mrs. Maclean was buried the same evening, within the precincts of the castle. Mr. Topp read the funeral service, and the whole of the residents assisted at the solemn ceremony. The grave was lined with walls of brick and mortar, with an arch over the coffin. Soon after the conclusion of the service, one of those heavy showers only known in tropical climates suddenly came on. All departed for their houses. I remained to see the arch completed. The bricklayers were obliged to get a covering to protect them and their work from the rain. Night had come on before the paving-stones were all put down over the grave, and the workmen finished their business by torchlight. How sadly yet does that night of gloom return to my remembrance !
How sad were then my thoughts, as, wrapped up in my cloak, I stood beside the grave of L. E. L. under that pitiless torrent of rain! I fancied what would be the thoughts of thousands in England if they could see and know the meaning of that flickering light, of those busy workmen, and of that silent wateher! I thought of yesterday, when at the same time I was taking my seat beside her at dinner, and now—oh, how very, very sad the change!"
Mr. Cruickshank further observes : “ It was also afterward proved that Mrs. Bailey, upon her return to England, with the view of attracting attention to herself and gaining notoriety, had made some flagrantly false statements in reference to this event, and that she was altogether a person undeserving of credit. I then remembered that she had made no mention of the phial having been in Mrs. Maclean's hand until some time after she had found her mistress on the floor, and only then in answer to a question from Mr. Maclean; and it occurred to me that such a suspicious circumstance as a phial being found in the hand
of a person suddenly deceased could not fail to be immediately noticed and mentioned without any inquiry. These considerations induced me to discredit Mrs. Bailey's testimony altogether, and to believe that the phial had not been found in Mrs. Maclean's hand at all."*
In regard to the preceding account, there are some matters to be observed.
There is a great discrepancy in the accounts given by Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Cruickshank as to the interval between Mrs. Bailey leaving her mistress writing and her (Mrs. Bailey's) return to Mrs. Maclean's room. There is a discrepancy, also, in the reasons given for Mrs. Bailey's leaving the room after her first entrance that morning. Mr. Cruickshank says, “ Mrs. Bailey was absent only a few minutes;” she had been called by Mrs. Maclean, “and sent to a store-room to fetch some pomatum.” Mrs. Bailey, on the other hand, deposed at the inquest that “she had seen her mistress about half an hour before (the catastrophe); that Mrs. Maclean told her to retire, and she would send for her when she wanted to dress.”
Mrs. Bailey deposed that, “ on again entering the room, she found an empty bottle in her (Mrs. Maclean's) hand, labeled acid. hydrocyanicum ;'” and Mr. Cruickshank says circumstances induced him “to believe the phial had not been found in Mrs. Maclean's hand at all."
Now Mr. Cobbold, the surgeon of the castle, deposed at the inquest that, on being called to attend Mrs. Maclean," he found her perfectly insensible, with the pupils of both eyes much dilated, and fancied he could detect a slight pulsation of the heart, but very feeble, and which ceased a very short time after his arrival.”...... He was of opinion “that death was caused by the improper use of the medicine, the bottle of which was found in her hand...... The body, after death, was perfectly natural. ..... was so fully convinced that the medicine was the cause of her death, he did not think it necessary to open the body.”
* Eighteen Years in the Gold Coast of Africa, including an Account of the Xative Tribes and their Intercourse with Europeans. By Brodie Cruickshank 2 vols. Hurst and Blackett.
says, “Dr. Cobbold was sent for, but from the first moment of the discovery of the body on the floor, there had not appeared any symptom of life.” “ Dr. Cobbold,” he tells us, “who had been asked to make a post mortem examination, did not think it at all necessary to do so, as he felt persuaded that she had died by prussic acid. He was led to this conclusion from the
eyes of the deceased, and he believed he could detect the smell of the prussic acid about her person."
The phial, it is to be observed, contained none of the drug when found. Mrs. Bailey says she found it uncorked in the hand of her mistress, and put it aside.
Then Mr. Cobbold must have declined to make a post mortem examination mainly because “ he believed he could detect the smell of the prussic acid about her person.” How far the principles of medical jurisprudence are consonant with the practice at Cape Coast Castle in a case like this, of a lady alive and well between the hours of eight and nine in the morning, suddenly carried off by poison—a corpse before noon—the subject of a coroner's inquest, without a post mortem examination, coffined before sunset, and buried in the court-yard of a house she had been a living, healthful inmate of within less than twelve hours of that burial, is a question which must be determined wholly and solely on its own merits.
L. E. L.
I have given elsewhere an account of the death of L. E. L., written by a friend of the deceased lady—the Countess of Blessington, which may be presumed to be, in all important particulars, derived from the best sources of information that were available to her, though I do not vouch for their correctness in all particulars. The friends of the husband of the deceased lady have said their say; it is only fair the friends of L. E. L. should at last be permitted to have theirs.
Shortly before my departure from England, Lady Blessington charged me with a commission, to be executed on my arrival at Cape Coast, namely, to obtain the permission of Mr. Maclean to erect a monument, at her ladyship's expense, over the remains of her deceased friend. I felt some hesitation, for some days after my arrival, in speaking to Mr. Maclean on the subject; but at length I communicated to him Lady Blessington's wishes. Mr. Maclean said it was unnecessary—he had already ordered out from England a mural slab, with an inscription, and it had been lying for some time in a store in the castle, and he would have it put up shortly. In a day or two after this conversation I heard some firing of guns early in the morning; on inquiry, I found the firing was the inauguration of the monumental tablet, which had been set up in the wall opposite the grave of Mrs. Maclean.
There is a spacious court-yard in front of the castle, surrounded by the dungeons (well filled with human pawns by Mr. Maclean) which had formerly been used for slave barracones, and this court-yard is now the place of exercise and parade for the native soldiers who form the garrison of Cape Coast Castle. In the centre of this court the remains of L. E. L. are deposited.
A small white marble tablet, inserted in the castle wall, bears the following inscription :
Hic jacet sepultum
omne quod mortale fuit LETITIAE ELIZABETHAE MCLEAN, quam, egregià ornatam indole,
musis unicè amatam, omniumque amores secum trahentem,
in ipso aetatis flore,
mors immatura rapuit,
Quod spectas viator marmor,
Conjux moerens erexit.
Words might be added to it, and truth suffer no wrong: