Page:The house of Cecil.djvu/165

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THE EXETER LINE 139

with the Rev. William Sneyd, a curate. The story, as divulged at the " Action for Criminal Conversation," tried before Lord Kenyon on June 26th, 1790, shows all the parties in a very unfavourable light. Counsel for the defence endeavoured to show that Mr. Sneyd " fell into the snare of this young woman," who, though ' possessed of no personal beauty or attractions," yet " from the rank and dignity which she held in the country as wife of Mr. Cecil, had an oppor- tunity of drawing into her snare an unfortunate young man, who possessed an handsome person which happened to attract her attention." He went on to declare that "it is a fact absolutely notorious that no person in the family dreamed of anything like a criminal intercourse between these parties, until it was confessed by this unhappy young man, in the hour of sickness, who was desirous of making some sort of atonement to the person whom he had injured, and to obtain his forgiveness." In spite of these protestations, the cross-examination of the servants, witnesses for Mr. Cecil, tended to establish the fact that the whole household of twenty-four persons, and their master, were perfectly well aware, for weeks before the defendant's confession, of what was going on. After the confession, Mr. Sneyd left Mr. Cecil's house with his father, and Mrs. Cecil " fell down on her knees and implored her husband to allow her once more to go and see this defendant, and to take her final leave of him, and to give up his embraces for ever ; and that she would return to

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