A monologue from the play by Charles James Mathews

  • NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Patter Versus Clatter. Charles James Matthews. 1838.
  • CAPTAIN: [Takes a letter.] Nothing like a letter. Says so much, and yet says nothing. My lawyer's hand--the result of my law suit. Patter versus Clatter, Consistorial Court. [Opens letter.] Verdict for plaintiff. I was certain of it. How I should like to have heard my counsel's opening speech. I drew his brief myself. My lud and gentlemen of the jury: plaintiff in this case, who I shall prove to you upon undoubted authority is incontestably the son of his father and mother, consequently entitled to whatever property they left, of which defendant would unjustifiably dispossess him. There can be no doubt, gentlemen of the jury, of the antiquity of my client's family. His father and mother must have had their father and mother, and their father and mother must have had their fathers and mothers too; in short, my lud and gentlemen of the jury, to say at what particular period the first of my client's ancestors existed, who was born without father and mother, I leave to my learned friend on the other side to tell you. My learned friend on the other side, no doubt, simply replied by saying that if one man was the son of his father, another man must necessarily be so too; that though not in a condition to prove the marriage of the defendant's mother, that was not to prove that he was not the son of his father; that in the whole course of his professional experience it had never been his lot to hear so absurd a plea as that trumped up by the plaintiff. He should, however, leave it in the hands of an impartial jury, who would, no doubt, bring in such a verdict as would effectually put an end to the proceedings. The learned judge, of course, merely summed up by stating that it was a wise child that knew his father, and wiser still the father who knew his own child; that a son and heir was one thing, and that an heir and son was another; that there were many sons without being heirs, and many heirs without being sons; there were fathers with heirs, and fathers without heirs. These were the legal points. The jury, however, would consult their own judgment, and if they found one party right, they might very safely pronounce the other party wrong. The verdict, of course, was given for the plaintiff. Judge expressed his satisfaction, jury pocketed their fees, counsel put their briefs in their bags, and everybody departed satisfied, except the defendant, and finally reinstated that lawful heir to thirty thousand pounds, the fine estate of Parrot Hall, Patterdale, as decided by the judge in the cause long-pending, now ending, Patter versus Clatter, Consistorial Court.