"SELFISH, IDLE LIVES."
SCATHING JUDGMENT IX THE " DIVORCE CASE. <From Our Special Correspondent.) LONDON, March 12. The Stirling divorce case, in wliieh X6rd"BanfurJy's son, Viscount Northland, figured as a co-respondent, has been decided in favour of Mr. Stirling and Mrs. Atherton, and against Mrs. Stirling and Vi.-count Northland. Thp ease took up "IS"days of the full time and energy of "the Scottish High Court—an expenditure oi time which Lord Guthrie, the Judge, characterised us preposterous. Lord Guthrie's judgment was a -.cathing com- . zuentary on L the lives of the parties to the suit— "seifioh, idle lives, containing nothing that was romantic, not muck that was even anoek heroic, and little ■that was legitimately interesting." The Judge added that whatever might be said about llr. Stirling or L-ord Northland, it was necessary to remember in considering the conduct of Mrs. Stirling and 51r». Atherton that their inentaJ endowments could not be ranked high, nor xheir common cense, good taste, or right feeling. For instance, speaking about a visit to Paris, they jrave the name of the Louvre not to the great museum and gallery, but to a shop. .Mrs. Stirling, young and in good health, breakfasted in bed at 11 o'clock or at midday when resident in the country in. summer, her husband going regularly to 'business in London by a half-past eight train. At Amberley Cottage in the latter part oi -June and in July the only useful occupation of Mr. and Mrs. Stirling, Mrs. Atherton, and Lord North]and seemed to have consisted, on Sunday in manicuring each others' nails. When, on a voyage alone to America, jn July, taken in painful circumstances, -brought about by herself, which threat- . eaedTto break up her home, Mrs. Stirling . (according, to her account) spent her .time on board the Adriatic in playing bridge with a total stranger, with whom she "flirtedj and from whom she entertained an invitation to stay at his house. During the voyage her only letler to her husband was written to make a oelfish proposal for a separation to suit her own convenience, .coupled with the" "condition that ehe should get an annual allowance of £720, apparently for the rest of her life. And after the break up of her home in September, she ' saw, and saw now, no unseemliness in frequenting restaurants and theatres "with the man on account of whom she Lad separated herself from her husband and her child. In their attitude towards human life there was not much to choose between the actors in this squalid drama. AH four, Scottish laird, American ex-ac-tress, Peer's son. and divorcee, appeared to have looked upon life merely as an opportunity for having a good time, regardless of their duty' to themselves, • to each other, to their children, and to ■their relatives, and indifferent to the good opinion of self-respecting people. They .treated , life as a comedy, but they lad made a pitiful tragedy of it and a costly one. The Judge held that Lord Northland lad failed to prove that his affection for [Mrs. Stirling was merely '"platonie." -'His Lordship's view of the evidence involve J disbelieving Lord Northland, ■who looked "a kindly, sensible, straightforward man"; but in a case like that such disbelief was not difficult. Lord -Northland might lave preferred that ■■3te Stirling should admit the charge, but if she resolved to defend, it was part - i>l the eocJe of Honour of such a man •to stand by the woman and see her through. No mere friendship or humanity could account in the case of a' kindly ,jnian_like Lord Northland for his playing " with Mrs. Stirling for a ring given to .Jhim.by hjs own mother, nor, in the ease of a sensible man like him, for his acts of almost-incredible folly in relation to _ Mrs. ■ -Stirling —going about with her openly when forbidden by her husband ; ito ■eomimmicate with her, and writing to her -in private when he knew that he "was being watched by detectives. And mo mere friendship or humanity could account in the case of a straightforward niari like him for the treachery to his old friend and the breaking of promises "which he scarcely attempted to deny. But if neither friendship nor humanity would avail as explanations, sexual passion not under control wouk'—the passion which 3jad made of some of the most chivalrous characters in history, sacred and profane, not-oaK- adulterers, but liars and -murderers to boot. ~ granted a divorce to Mr. Stirling, on thr- ground of his wife's misconduct, and refused Mrs. Stirling's petition. As Mrs. Stirling and Lord Northland are appealing against the verdict, a : good 1 -deal ;of the public time is likely to be consumed by the ease.
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