Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Crowell Divorce Suit.

New York, 1895

Jacob Rudd Shipherd and Mrs. Lydia S. Crowell have had a fair trial before an impartial judge and an unbiased jury and they have been found guilty of the offense which Charles B. Crowell, the woman's husband, charged against them. The evidence of their guilt was overwhelming. Mrs. Crowell has been a most foolish woman. One might almost assume that she could not have been of sound sense so easily was she lured to her ruin, and that Shipherd is a hypnotist before whom DuMaurier's creation of the mythical Schvengali fades wholly away. From the first meeting of the couple on an electric car and their flirtation Shipherd seems to have marked the woman for his victim and to have pursued her relentlessly until at last he got her wholly within his power under his own roof. It cannot be said that she was not a willing victim, for she had been put on her guard by friends who knew full well the fate that would befall her if she continued to coquette with Shipherd. She received him in her home and concealed his visits from her husband. She received affectionate letters from him, and letters that were impious and nasty, and concealed the fact and the letters from her husband. The receipt of such letters by a woman is not in itself evidence of criminal conduct on her part, for a man might send such missives to her maliciously, with the intent of injuring her good name and disrupting her family relations, but when a woman consents to receive improper communications, breathing love or uttering unprintable words, and replies to them and revels in them, and makes her husband a thing to be mocked at by her duplicity, she becomes a moral criminal deserving only to be despised and cast out from association with decent people. This is Mrs. Crowell's case precisely. The verdict of the jury stamps Shipherd a scoundrel who ought to be in prison. There are purer and better men wearing stripes. In his temporary absence from the object of his lust he defiled Christianity by audaciously invading the sanctuary and making a religious address, by carrying his polluting person into the midst of an assemblage of pure young people of the Christian Endeavor order, and writing home to his concubine letters that sought by the use of Gospel quotations to justify his and her moral leprosy. Such a creature is not fit to be spat upon by the wayfarer.

Short Editorial, No Headline:

"Pig" was the pet name Mrs. Crowell choose for Jacob Rudd Shipherd. It was well chosen, too. His was not so happy a thought in calling her "Lamb." Old Mutton would have been better.

—The Long Island Farmer, Jamaica, NY, June 14, 1895, p. 4.

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