Judges and kisses

Continuing with love-themed stuff, in honour (or, more probably, dishonour) of the season of pink hearts, and making it vaguely law-themed, here are a couple of bits on two things you wouldn’t think to put in the same title – judges and (remembered or imagined) kisses.

The first snippet comes from a breach of promise case.  I give you the reported sentiments of Lawrance J in the Suffolk assizes, in a breach of promise case in 1906. The case was brought by a certain Ethel Wheelhouse against ‘a veterinary surgeon’ (note, her name is publicised, his is not). Ethel did actually win the case, albeit recovering only a relatively small amount (£5) in damages). Nevertheless, there was some comment from the judge as to the quality of the love letters between the two: they never ‘got to burning point’, and, in particular ‘there were no crosses for kisses’. All in all, things had been ‘hotter in his day’. Was any of that really necessary? Rather condescending, and not a little narcissistic. And I am not sure anyone wants to think about judges salivating over hot kisses.

Then, also from 1906, we have an extra-judicial opinion on the subject, also related to love letters, from the Master of the Rolls (Sir Richard Henn Collins). This one, which combines condescension (again) and a bit of an obsession with kisses. He was giving out prizes to some ‘girl typists’, and felt moved to ‘speak of the lady typists’ love letters’,  asking (a bit creepily, let’s be honest, though no doubt thinking he was charming) about the idea of writing a love letter on a typewriter, and whether any of them had ever received a type-written love letter. In particular whether there was ‘in the region of type production anything that of itself could depict a kiss’. I am imagining that being followed by nervous laughter. And why would a type-written x not be obviously the same as a written one?

The very dreamy Richard Henn Collins. Relax ladies, he was married (and is now extremely dead).

Finally, getting much more modern, there is a report from 1907 of a judge rebuking a defendant for saying in court that a woman used to give him whisky and kisses, on the grounds that ‘when ladies kiss me, I generally hold my tongue’. Did he have to? Pass the heart-shaped sick bucket.

GS

23/1/2023

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

Dwynwen and ‘Dwynwen’: troubled love and patronage

Aside from its association with some Scots poet or other, 25th January is, as we all know Dydd Santes Dwynwen – the day of St Dwynwen, ‘patron saint of Welsh lovers’ or ‘Welsh patron saint of lovers’, depending how exclusive or expansive one is feeling.[i] It is a funny old business, this celebration of Dwynwen: a mix of medieval poetry – [see Dafydd ap Gwilym’s invocation of Dwynwen here in Welsh and here in translation] -, historical snippets, (not-so-old, somewhat inconsistent, and sometimes nasty) stories and the modern cultural politics of Cymreictod, (proud) Welshness. If Dwynwen is new to you, the place to start is Dylan Foster Evans’s piece here. To summarise, the now-standard story features a 5th C Welsh princess, a suitor pressing for sex, a divine intervention involving ice cubing, a prayer and a retreat to a convent. The Dwynwen-related story which I came across recently, and have decided to inflict upon all those stumbling over this page, is a bit different: neither as magical (no ice cubes, no wishes) nor as attempted-rapey as the St Dwynwen story itself, but I think it has some pondering points nonetheless.

The year is 1904 and the scene is the National Eisteddfod, this time taking place in (Y) Rhyl, a seaside town in North Wales.  As was customary, the in-crowd at these affairs, the Gorsedd of Bards, headed by the Archdruid, Hwfa Môn, were admitting various notables to their order. The first so admitted as an honorary ‘Ovate’ (ofyddes) was one of Queen Victoria’s many grandchildren, Princess (Marie) Louise of Schleswig Holstein.[ii]

Princess Louise did not obviously have any connection with Welsh culture. As a letter reveals, she had not known about the Gorsedd before the visit in question, and, in her response to an address by the town clerk of Rhyl, at the Eisteddfod, she had noted that this was her first time at such an event. There was no requirement of proficiency in Cymraeg at that time, for acceptance by the Gorseddd, nor, indeed, was such a requirement imposed until pretty recently, and, though she had some other languages, including, of course, German, she was not a speaker of Yr Hen Iaith. Her 1956 memoir, My Memories of Six Reigns,[iii] says nothing about the Eisteddfod, or Welsh culture. I have seen no evidence of a lasting interest, either. Nevertheless, she was apparently cheered, and made a good impression. She sent Hwfa Môn a signed photo of herself, and some pictures of the Gorsedd which she had snapped, receiving in response a short formal poem in Cymraeg, an englyn, ‘Englyn I “Dwynwen”’,[iv] which perhaps somebody translated for her. And when HM lay dying the following year, the Hon Mrs Mary Hughes of Kinmel, a royal lady in waiting, who had also been Gorsedded in 1904, was a keen enquirer after his health. That is all my quick research foray could unearth, as far as her post-Eisteddfod connection with the Gorsedd was concerned.

All slightly irksome from a political and cultural point of view, perhaps, this toadying to a woman because of her royal lineage, but what has the incident to do with Santes Dwynwen? Well, along with having a ribbon bound around one’s arm (a ribbon which may have been green or blue or red, depending which account is consulted!) one of the perks of being received into the Gorsedd circle was and is the bestowing of a by-name (ffugenw), and the princess (hardly short of names, already having been given this little list: Franziska Josepha Louise Augusta Marie Christiana Helena!) was given the name … Dwynwen. Little explanation was given for this choice, in the newspapers which picked up the story.[v] It did strike me as rather intriguing, though.

To the extent that newspapers commented on the name at all, they emphasised non-christian interpretations. For the Chester Courant, the name Dwynwen signified ‘the British goddess of love’, and elsewhere, she was ‘a goddess known to the mythology of Ynys Môn [Anglesey]’ or ‘the Celtic Venus’. Some of those present at the Eisteddfod would have known the tale of Santes Dwynwen, and her designation as nawdssantes cariadon – patron saint of lovers.[vi] ‘St Dwynwen’ was in hearts and minds in Wales, as can be seen from the fact that an imposing  cross with an inscription to ‘St Dwynwen’  had been erected on Dwynwen’s ‘island’, Llandwyn, as recently as 1897. Hwfa Môn, as both a ‘descendant’ of Iolo Morganwg and a native of Ynys Môn, cannot have been unaware of her story. So, why the choice of ffugenw for the princess?

Was the association between Dwynwen and Louise a nod to her sad marital history? Married to a German royal, one Prince Aribert of Ansbach, in  1891, her marriage did not go well. In her memoir, Louise refers to her love life in quite moving terms, calling her marriage ‘a sad and tragic chapter’ and something which she ‘thought was going to be so perfect’, but which ‘ended, alas, in disaster’ (p. 110). There are no juicy revelations, or nothing which would get modern readers excited, but it was probably quite something, in 1956, to have a princess saying that:

‘As time went on, I became increasingly aware that my husband and I were drifting father and farther apart. I had no share in his life; there was not that real companionship and understanding between us, which, after all, is the true foundation of a happy marriage. In fact, I was not wanted, my presence was irksome to him, and we were two complete strangers living under the same roof. We occasionally met at meals and when we had guests, otherwise days might pass without our ever seeing each other.’

And that she had moved from being an ‘enthusiastic girl’ to a ‘disillusioned woman’.

(Louise c. 1890, portrait by Josefine Swoboda)

Aribert and Louise’s nine-year marriage was annulled by her father in law, who apparently had the right to do this arbitrarily. I have to say that I am not on top of the detail of Ansbach family law (fascinating though I am sure it is) but the use of the terminology of annulment suggests that, as far as that law was concerned, it was as if the marriage had never taken place. Louise, however, took seriously the fact that she had been married before God, according to the rites of the Church of England, and did not, apparently, seek another husband, but accepted a single life. Aribert lived on until the 1930s. Was the choice of ‘Dwynwen’ an allusion to her lack of luck in love, or her need of the aid of the nawddsantes cariadon?

Whether or not it had that ‘spin’ to it, there is a bit of a parallel between Princess Louise and the Santes Dwynwen of the standard story. That Dwynwen, after the whole block of ice and praying business, went off happily to spend her life as a nun. There was no possibility for Louise of entry into a convent, but we might see as slightly nunnish the way that she did go on to spend a large proportion of her time on all sorts of charitable endeavours and good works, as well as taking an interest in arts and crafts. Dwynwen was a patron saint, Louise a patron of various well-meaning organisations. A princess of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, however, was bound to be treated as rather more trivial than her fifth-century namesake. Reporting on her attendance at a craft/industrial event just before the 1904 Eisteddfod, journalists were unable to stop themselves focusing on the fact that she was ‘gracefully attired in a pale pink dress with a pink chip hat trimmed with roses’.  We hear a lot less about Santes Dwynwen’s outfits.

GS

20/1/2023

 

 

[i] For some reason, she is also associated with patronage of sick animals – not sure what sort of a spin that puts on Welsh ideas about love. Let’s not go there.

[ii] For some biographical details, see the ODNB entry, if you have access: K. Rose, ‘Marie Louise, Princess (1872-1956).

Much Druidic and Pan Celtic costumed business followed and surrounded all of this. The papers also report the competitions, including, interestingly, a prize for ‘the best chart or map showing the changes effected around the Welsh coast by the encroachments and recessions of the sea since the year 1800 – winner, Mr E M Lewis, Rhydyclaidy, Pwllheli. There was some grumbling about aspects of the Eisteddfod, and about the institution itself, as ever.

[iii] (slightly less controversial than Spare …) Marie Louise. 1956. My Memories of Six Reigns. London: Evans Bros. My memories of six reigns : Marie Louise, Princess, granddaughter of Victoria, Queen of Great Britain, 1872-1956 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

[iv] (nicely crafted but not that exciting, to my inexpert mind – images of sunshine etc.).

[v] The event was picked up by newspapers in  Wales, See, e.g., this and this. And, in Cymraeg, this. and also made an appearance in the UK national press: see Times Weds Sep 7 1904 p. 8. Manc Guardian Weds Sep 7 1904 p. 6.

[vi] For nawddsantes cariadon, see, e.g. this 1895 report.

 

Postscript

Continuing the comments on St Dwynwen and the phenomenon her day (see main post), there was the occasional comment on this in the UK press, from the 1970s. Somebody quickly used up one obvious title, in the 1972 Guardian article, ‘Funny Valentine’[i] (6th December, 1972) to give a rather sneery – and yet still interesting – account of the movement to ‘make St Dwynwen’s Day happen’.

James Lewis reported on the campaign by a Welsh publishing house, Y Lolfa, to drum up interest in the new or revamped feast, marketing cards on the model of the Feb 14th version. They were producing two ‘nice’ cards and one ‘naughty’ card. Obviously we wanted to know about the ‘naughty’ card first. This had a picture of ‘a young lady’s legs’ with the word rhyw x 6. This was a less-than-subtle play on words, because rhyw means ‘some’, but also ‘sex’ (and actually a number of other things, but let’s not over-complicate). So there you go – rude! Do wonder how many of those they sold, and how they were received.  The ‘nice’ cards featured one (rather sickly, to my mind, but perhaps that’s just me being jaded) pun Pwy sy’ wedi dwyn fy nghalon i? (Who has stolen my heart? – playing with the Dwyn in Dwynwen and the verb ‘to steal’), and a rather old-fashioned sounding Cofion cariadus ar Wyl Dwynwen (Loving greetings on the feast of Dwynwen. Although some doubted the likelihood that the cards would be popular, Lewis noted that Y Lolfa had been successful in their sales of a Christmas card of Prince Charles with ‘a greeting in pidgin Welsh’. Mocking the pretentions of the man who is now (Not My) King Charles III, or affectionate, I wonder.

[i]  Now there’s a song … apart from the fabulous Ella Fitzgerald recording of it, there are some splendid rhymes – e.g. ‘laughable/unphotographable’.

Bolder than the rest

Who needs a bit of historical cheer and encouragement this morning? I enjoyed this little 1908 story of a Llanelli ‘female’ who was ‘bolder than the rest’ and put a snobby minister in his place. 

It does leave questions, doesn’t it: who was this excellent woman, and who was the condescending clergyman? Just one more tantalising glimpse of women of the past not shutting up and taking it.

It encouraged me, anyway. Will be drawing on the energy of the unknown objector today, if anyone should talk down to me!

GS

18/1/2023

Long rain, short reign

Very wet morning walk today – not easy to get myself going. Did see this curiosity though – an Edward VIII postbox. How odd to think of people putting these up, assuming that they were in for years of E VIII. Historical hindsight, eh? Not that I am either in favour of monarchy, nor at all sympathetic to E VIII (very dubious character). But an interesting little time capsule of a thing. And of course I was immediately set off thinking about a micro-legal-history project on the Laws of Edward VIII. No, no, no … far too many other things on my plate …

(Yes, it was dark – winter + obviously this)

GS

14/1/2023

Woman in 2030 – not long to go now …

Today, looking for something in HeinOnline, I stumbled across  F.E. Smith (Birkenhead), The World in 2030 A.D. (London, 1930). I had never seen this before, and was interested to see that it includes a chapter ‘Woman in 2030’ – summary – there will be ectogenesis, but we should know our place… must get working on that charm and wit, only 7 years to go …

 

What a nice man! I note, also that it is dedicated to his daughter, Pamela (p. v). I wonder what she made of Daddy’s thoughts on women.

In some ways – apart from the content, this is my ideal book, bringing together law, history and a sort of sci-fi (and the illustrations are great). But then there is the content – not just dubious sexism, but also all sorts of other stuff which is very questionable from a race point of view,

I am excited to see that, within 7 years we will have:

limitless cheap power (p.3)

no more epidemic diseases (p.7)

completely painless childbirth (p.11)

drudgery abolished by science (p. 17)

Though sadly, as p. 21 tells us …

And the ‘ideas of Asiatic peoples’ may mean that we don’t in fact get rid of epidemics (p. 21). Yes, there is plenty of racism (and eugenics) in here.

 

A few other odd suggestions

p. 36 – ‘Cavalry, organised as mounted machine-gunners, will come into their own again.

p.72 mentions a 16 hour working week (because, technology, science etc etc). Wouldn’t that be nice!

p.88 We will be on our way to being content with the ‘rule of experts’ rather than party politics.

p. 91 All children will go to university.

p. 92 The conquest of poverty will be in sight.

p. 103 ‘Dirt will have disappeared from the ordinary man’s experience.’

p. 107 ‘As wealth increases, we shall all be able to ride to hounds.’

p. 155 ‘British rule in India will endure.’

p. 191 Average life span will be 120 years, and life will end with euthanasia.

 

 

 

 

GS

9/1/2023

 

 

‘Emasculation’: they are still at it …

I have a long-standing concern with the metaphorical use of the concept of  ‘emasculation’ as a way of describing weakening something or effectively rendering it useless. (See older comments on it). Why – well, think about it, the message is ‘something with male genitalia good, powerful, strong; something without male genitalia feeble, damaged, pointless’. It is less frequently encountered in legal sources, these days, but not as absent as it should be.

A quick New Year scan of Westlaw shows that it came up in some recent cases, discussing the weakening of statutes, statutory provisions, powers, etc. (see, e.g., DPP v Bailey et al. [2022] EWHC 3302 at para 18; Interactive Ltd. v. Oovee Ltd [2022] EWCA Civ 1665 at para 40; Novartis [2022] EWHC 959 (Ch) at 31). Particularly striking, perhaps, was its appearance in the Supreme Court (Lady Arden) in Triple Point v PTT [2021] UKSC 29 at 53, in relation to emasculation of a cap on liability by way of a ‘cap carve-out’ (which seems an odd mixture of different parts of the body, apart from anything else, though I suppose the ‘carve out’ idea has some resonance with the process of castration).

There is not too much resort to this sort of thing in modern legal scholarship, but I did note a pair of emasculations in an article in one of the most prestigious English law journals: see Neil Duxbury, ‘Final court jurisprudence in the crystallisation era’ L.Q.R. 2023, 139(Jan), 153-166, 165, in which a law professor chose to describe the practice of undermining or weakening precedents through the language of removal of male genitalia. It is very interesting to ponder what is the ‘spin’ on the subject matter of the article – jurisprudence, modern legal history of a sort – which is given by this emasculation vocabulary, to what extent its inclusion was uncritically carrying on the patterns of past analysis, to what extent it was a considered choice, and whether there is any sense in which it was necessary to use this metaphor in an article in 2023.

 

GS

4/1/2023.

Photo by Esteban Bernal on Unsplash

New Year

Just a bit of New Year fluff …

Love this campaign from a maker of fine pharmaceuticals, from the early 20th C – just what everyone needs for New Year, and as ever, I am in awe of the slick advertising. Offer is from 1907,


And what about this handsome chap with a fine moustache – Mr J Belcher of London – a sufferer not from belching but from, er, more down-the-way issues,  used in the same Bile Beans campaign of 1907?

Anyway, a happy 2023 to anyone who stumbles upon this (in 2023 – otherwise rather redundant wishes …). May better things lie ahead for all of us, even if we are just a bit late for the Bile Beans offer …

GS

1/1/2023.

Love and peace from Sir F. Pollock

Came across this today, and it is rather nice – lawyers, historians – let’s be friendly and interdisciplinary!

(from F. Pollock, Oxford Lectures and Other Discourses (London, 1890), 45(

Now wouldn’t that be nice?

Legal History goals for 2023 …

[Editing out the latter parts of this chapter, celebrating Empire in a very hubristic way …]

GS

30/12/2022

The case of the Southwark sorcerer

Now here is an unusual case from the King’s Bench plea roll for Michaelmas term 1364. (I was looking for mayhem, but found … magic and madness).

And it goes a little something like this …

Surrey. Richard, son of Nicholas Cook of Southwark (by attorney) sued Nicholas le Clerke of Southwark, asking him to explain why he had taken and imprisoned Richard at Southwark, and kept him imprisoned until Richard lost his mind [sensum suum amisit], as a result of seeing evil spirits, diabolically summoned up by Nicholas, [per visum malignorum spirituum per coniuraciones diabolicas per prefatum Nicholaum factas suscitatorum] and other outrages, to his great damage, against the peace etc. Nicholas did not turn up, so the entry descends into procedural things, and I am yet to find any resolution.

Whatever happened, the point is that this case was brought, and entertained by the court. It is, I think,  quite interesting to see  the use of malign magic as part of a trespass case, and the idea that spirits could be raised and deployed in a way which could cause a man to lose his sanity. To be absolutely fair to Nicholas le Clerke, it is not quite clear that the allegation was that he was deliberately setting out to use the spirits to make Richard lose his mind. That might have been an unfortunate side-effect of his fiendish antics.

It all seems a bit matter-of-fact and low-key, doesn’t it – certainly when compared with early modern treatment of harm caused by the summoning of spirits?  A good one to use as an illustration in future legal history classes on witchcraft laws, I think.

GS

21/12/2022

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

Festive mercy from Judge Owen

Here’s a seasonal snippet on somebody I have become interested in, as a biographical subject: a report in the Evening Express for 14th December 1906, telling readers that Judge Owen was giving ‘contemptuous debtors’ who were brought before him, in his court at Newport, an additional week to pay, so as to avoid locking them up over the Christmas period, giving them a marginally less bleak midwinter.

 

 

GS

21/12/2022