22 May 1886
In the Middlesex Sheriffs' Court, Red Lion square, before Mr. Under Sheriff Burchell and a Common Jury, yesterday, the case of Mildon v Binstead was heard, it having been remitted from the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice for purpose of assessing the amount of damages, if any, to which the plaintiff was entitled, the defendant having allowed judgement to go by default. Mr. Montague Druitt, who was counsel for the plaintiff, said that this was an action for recovery of damages for a breach of promise of marriage. His client, Miss Marion Mildon, when she first made the acquaintance of the defendant was a lady's maid in the service of a titled family near Selborne, and the defendant was employed as a draper's assistant in a neighbouring town. In September, 1883, she was walking out one evening, and she met the defendant, who seemed fascinated by her good looks, and he asked her if she would allow him to accompany her for a short distance. She assented, and from that time forward he paid her the most marked attentions; he wrote her a number of letters, breathing sentiments of undying love and attachment, telling her that her darling image and lovely form occupied his waking hours and sleeping dreams. (Laughter.) She had so bewitched him that feared he was rather negligent in the performance if his duties as a draper's assistant, for it was Cupid, and not calico or cambric, that was uppermost in his mind. (Renewed laughter.) The correspondence that passed between them was voluminous, but the learned counsel said that he should content himself with a few samples. Writing from Odiham on March 8th., 1884, he says:-
My dearest Marion, - You can hardly imagine how your lovely letter of this morning relieved my poor dull brain of all the weary thoughts that generally occur in bachelor solitude. (A laugh.) But thanks, darling, your sweet, loving,. little epistle has acted as an emetic, and has carried the black bile off. (Roars of laughter.) You must always allow me to think about you in my daily work, but do not be afraid that I shall omit doing my ordinary duties; it will be the reverse, for in having your loving angelic face always in my memory it will inspire me with the everlasting hope of gaining my chief desire on this earth - namely, darling, your own sweet self. (Laughter.) With you, my lovely one, my honeysuckle, my incomparable "Maid Marion", as my wife and partner in all my joys and sorrows, I will be an English Ajax, defying the thunders and lightnings of mundane tribulation. (Continued laughter.) In our wedded life, darling (and oh!, do I not wish the happy auspicious day of our nuptials was now at hand!), I hope sorrows will be, as the poet says, few and far between. I suppose we must wait a little while longer for that glorious day which will consummate all my thoughts of terrestrial bliss.
In another of these effusive epistles. glowing with the tender and rapturous feelings of love, he wrote:
The 8th. March was your birthday, and strange to say I was wondering and thinking about you all the way along the road from Alton, whilst I was driving in the low backed car. I kept looking at my watch every ten minutes or quarter of an hour, wondering if you had got home in time ..... Sorry you were so awfully hungry! What a pity you had not some of those apples I had with me! Would I not be superlatively pleased to present, like another arbitrator of beauty, on a Hampshire Mount Ida, the prize to the fairest goddess on earth - my own darling Marion. (Laughter.) I had a favourable reply from Yateley yesterday, and I am very glad of it, because now I shall not be so far from you. I shall try and get the chance to see you often, as it is a beautiful road for walking along. Indeed, I do not know of any more secluded or appropriate promenade for two find hearts to coo and bill in. (Laughter.)
During his holidays he took her, said the learned counsel, to the home of his parents, by whom she was accepted and treated as their future daughter in law; she was the honoured guest of his numerous friends and relatives in Hampshire and Sussex, who invited her to balls, dancing parties, penny readings, and other forms of mild dissipation in which unsophisticated country folks like to indulge. He told her his wages amounted to £2 a week, besides commission on whatever sales he effected, and these latter, according to his own representation, were occasionally very considerable. In addition to these brilliant prospects he assured her that his father and mother were thrifty people, the former being for many years a coachman in the service of the Right Hon. George Sclater-Booth, and the latter a housekeeper to a nobleman in Hampshire; and at his mother's death, he told Miss Mildon, he would be entitled to a large sum of money. In the first week of March, 1884, with the full approval and sanction of his parents and friends, he solemnly ratified the promise he had previously made to her, by giving her an engagement ring, and telling her that she might regard herself as his betrothed wife. He removed from Selborne to Petersfield, and from the latter place he wrote her a letter in which he stated that his life was incomplete, cheerless and melancholy, because she was not near to solace and soothe the weary, languid hours. (Laughter.) "Marion," he gushes forth -
My Sweet and darling Marion, - When I take my solitary walks abroad I am ever fondly thinking of you. (Continued merriment.) At church yesterday, when the parson preached from the old familiar text, "Love one another," my thoughts were wandering from the subject of his discourse, and where were they? Aye, where? They were nestling in your fond bosom. (Roars of laughter.) Life has lost its charms for me; and why? The response is, because my darling is away. Some moonstruck poet once wrote, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," and I have bitterly realised the full truth of that assertion, for without you I am pining and wasting away. (Laughter.)
This letters concluded, said the learned counsel, with 60,000 kisses, and with a number of geometrical figures which he understood were, in the language of love, emblematic of undying attachment and perennial love. (Laughter.) In a subsequent letters, dated from Yateley and addressed to his "Darling Marion," he beseeches her to remember him in her prayers, and at the same time, while he is at Pulborough, near Brighton, to send him some of those amatory notes that she had lately been in the habit of writing to him. Away from her, his lovely, idolised one, he felt disconsolate and lonely, for without her he often thought he was like a ship without a captain or a boat without a rudder. A very short time after these gushing letters were written the plaintiff received a letter from the defendant expressing sentiments the reverse of those which characterised his previous communications; and in this note he coolly informed her that he must break off the engagement, as his parents did not approve of the intended marriage. Miss Mildon was naturally horrified at this sudden and astounding revulsion of affection on his part, and, as might be expected, she indignantly wrote back, asking for an explanation, but (said the learned counsel) the quondam amorous swain did not deign to give any excuse or exculpation for his despicable treatment of this poor young woman, and for such disgraceful trifling with the affections of a chaste and virtuous woman he hoped the jury would award his client not a vindictive or an immoderate amount of damages, but such a sum as would be some solution for her wounded feelings and the wrong done to her womanly pride.
The plaintiff gave evidence in support of the opening statement of her counsel.
The defendant did not appear nor was he legally represented.
The jury assessed the damages at £50.