Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

servants :-" Such we call them, my dear," says || and rogues made by that one prison of Newgate,
she, “but they are more properly called slaves." || than by all the clubs and societies of villains in
Or second, such as are transported from New the nation; it is that cursed place," says my
gate and other prisons, after having been found mother, “that half peoples this colony."
guilty of felony and other crimes punishable with || Here she went on with her own story so long
death.

and in so particular a manner, that I began to
" When they come here," says she, “we make be very uneasy, but coming to one particular
no difference, the planters buy them and they l) that required teling her name, I thought I should
work together in the field till their time is out; have sunk down in the place. She perceived I
when it is expired," said she, “they have en- || was out of order, and asked me if I was not well,
couragement given them to plant for themselves, and what ailed me? I told her I was so affected
for they have a certain number of acres of land with the melancholy story she had told, and the
allotted them by the country, and they go to work || terrible things she had gone through, that it had
to clear and cure the land, and then to plant it || overcome me, and I begged of her to talk no
with tobacco and corn for their own use; and as more of it.
the tradesmen and merchants will trust them “ Why, my dear," says she, very kindly,“ what
with tools and clothes and other necessaries upon || need these things trouble you ? These passages
the credit of their crop before it is grown, so I were long before your time, and they give me no
they again plant every year a little more than || trouble at all now; nay I look back on them with
the year before, and so buy whatever they want i a particular satisfaction, as they have been a
with the crop that is before them."

means to bring me to this place ?" Then she "Hence, child,” said she, “many a Newgate went on to tell me how she very luckily fell into bird becomes a great man, and we have," con a good family, where behaving herself well, and tinued she, “ several justices of the peace, officers her mistress dying, her master married her, by of the train bands, and the magistrates of the whom she had my husband and his sister, and towns they live in, that have been burnt in the that by her diligence and good management after hand."

her husband's death she had improved the plantaShe was going on with that part of the story, || tions to such a degree as they then were, so that when her own part in it interrupted her, and most of the estate was of her getting, not her with a great deal of good humoured confidence || husband's, for she had been a widow upwards of she told me she was one of the second sort of || sixteen years. inhabitants herself; that she came away openly, I heard this part of the story with very little having ventured too far in a particular case, so || attention, because I wanted much to retire and that she was become a criminal ; "and here is the ll give vent to my passions, which I did soon after, mark of it, child,” says she, and pulling off her and let any one judge what must be the anguish glove, “Jook ye here," says she, turning up the of my mind when I came to reflect that this was palm of her hand, and showed me a very fine || certainly no more or less than my own mother, white arm and hand, but branded in the inside and I had now had two children, and was now of the hand, as in such cases it must be.

big with another by my own brother, and lay This story was very moving to me, but my | with him still every night. mother, smiling, said, “ You need not think such || I was now the most unhappy of all women in a thing strange, daughter, for as I told you, some | the world. O, had the story never been told of the best men in this country are burnt in the me all had been well; it had been no crime to hand, and they are not ashamed to own it; there have lain with my husband, since as to his being is Major - ," says she, "he was an eminent my relation I had known nothing of it. pick-pocket ; there is Justice Ba r , was a I had now such a load on my mind that it kept shoplifter; and both them were burnt in the hand, | me perpetually waking ; to reveal it, which would and I could name you several, such as they are." || have been some ease to me, I could not find

We had frequent discourses of this kind, and would be to any purpose, and yet to conceal it abundance of instances she gave me of the like ; || would be the next to impossible; nay, I did not after some time, as she was telling some stories | | doubt but I should talk of it in my sleep and tell of one that was transported but a few weeks ago, Il my husband of it whether I would or no; if I I began in an intimate kind of way to ask her to discovered it the least thing I could expect was tell me something of her own story, which she || to lose my husband, for he was too nice and too did with the utmost plainness and sincerity; how , honest a man to have continued my husband she had fallen into very ill company in London in | after he had known I had been his sister, so that her young days, occasioned by her mother send. || I was perplexed to the last degree. ing her frequently to carry victuals and other | I leave it to any one to judge what difficulties relief to a kinswornan of hers who was a prisoner | were presented to my view. I was away from in Newgate, and who lav in a miserable starving | my native country, at a distance prodigious, and condition, was afterwards condemned to be the return to me unpassable ; I lived very well, hanged, but having got a respite by pleading her but in a circumstance unsufferable in itself. If belly, died afterwards in the prison.

I had discovered myself to my mother it might Here my mother-in-law ran out in a long l be difficult to convince her of the particulars, account of the wicked practices in that dreadful li and I had no way to prove them. On the other place, and how it ruined more young people than hand, if she had questioned or doubted ine I had all the towns beside; “and child," says my been undone, for the bare suggestion would have mnother, " perhaps you may know little of it, or immediately separated me from my husband, it may be, heard nothing about it," says she ; without gaining my mother or him, who would we all know here, that there are more thieves have been neither a husband or brother; so that

between the surprise on one hand and the uncer- ij sure, would have prevented, or at least delayed, tainty on the other, I had been sure to be undone. my going over to England.

In the mean time, as I was but too sure of the | However, at last I put him so out of humour, fact, I lived therefore in an open avowed incest | that he took up a rash and fatal resolution that, and whoredom, and all under the appearance of in short, I should not go to England; and though an honest wife ; and though I was not so much he had promised mc, yet it was an unreasonable touched with the crime of it, yet the action had thing for me to desire it, that it would be ruinous something in it shocking to nature, and made to his affairs, would unhinge his whole family, my husband, as he thought himself, even nause- || and be next to an undoing him in the world; ous to me.

that, therefore, I ought not to desire it of him, and However, upon the most sedate consideration, || that no wife in the world that valued her family I resolved that it was absolutely necessary to con and her husband's prosperity would insist upon ceal it all, and not to make the least discovery of such a thing. it either to mother or husband; and thus I lived This plunged me again; for when I considered with the greatest pressure imaginable for three the thing calmly, and took my husband, as he years more, but had no more children.

really was, a diligent careful man in the main During this time my mother used to be fre work of laying up an estate for his children, and quently telling me old stories of her former ad that he knew nothing of the dreadfui circumventures, which, however, were no way pleasant stances that he was in ; I could not but confess to me; for by it, though she did not tell it me in to myself that my proposal was very unreasonplain terms, yet I could easily understand, joined able, and what no wife that had the good of her with what I had heard myself, of my first tutors, family at heart would have desired. that in her younger days she had been both But my discontents were of another nature; whore and thief ; but I verily believe she had I looked upon him no longer as a hushand, but lived to repent sincerely of both, and that then as a near relation, the son of my own mother, she was a very pious, sober and religious woman. and I resolved some how or other to be clear of

Well, let her life have been what it would then, him, but which way I did not know, nor did it it was certain that my life was very uneasy to seem possible. . me ; for I lived, as I have said, but in the worst It is said by the ill-natured world of our sex, sort of whoredom, and as I could expect no good that if we are set on a thing, it is impossible to of it, so really no good issue came of it, and all my turn us from our resolutions : in short, I never seeming prosperity wore off and ended in misery ceased poring upon the means to bring to pass and destruction. It was sometime indeed before my voyage, and came that length with my husit came to this ; for, but I know not by what ill band at last, as to propose going without him. fate guided, everything went wrong with us af This provoked him to the last degree, and be terwards, and that which was worse, my husband || called me not only an unkind wife, but an ungrew strangely altered; froward, jealous, and natural mother, and asked me how I could enunkind; and I was as impatient of bearing his | tertain such a thought without horror, as that carriage as the carriage was unreasonable and of leaving my two children (for one was dead) unjust. These things proceeded so far, that we without a mother, and to be brought up by came at last to be on such ill terms with one strangers, and never to see them more? It was another, that I claimed a promise of him which true, had things been right, I should not have he entered willingly into with me, when I con done it, but now, it was my real desire never to sented to come from England with him, viz., | see them, or him either, any more ; and as to that if I found the country not to agree with me, the charge of unnatural I could easily answer it or that I did not like to live there, I should come to myself, while I knew that the whole relation away to England again when I pleased, giving was unnatural in the highest degree in the him a years' warning to settle his affairs.

world. I say I now claimed this promise of him, and I | However it was plain there was no bringing must confess I did it not in the most obliging my husband to anything; he would neither go terms neither; but I insisted that he treated me with me, or let me go without him, and it was ill, that I was remote from my friends, and could quite out of my power to stir without his condo myself no justice, and that he was jealous | sent, as any one that knows the constitution of without cause, my conversation having been un- | the country I was in, knows very well. blameable, and he having no pretence for it; and We had many family quarrels about it, and that to remove to England would take away all they began in time to grow up to a dangeroccasion from him.

ous height ; for as I was quite estranged from I insisted so peremptorily upon it, that he my husband, as he was called, in atfection, so I could not avoid coming to a point, either to keep || took no heed to my words, but sometimes gave his word with me or to break it; and this, not I him language that was provoking. And, in withstanding he used all the skill he was master || short, I strove all I could to bring him to a of, and employed his mother and other agents parting with me, which was what above all to prevail with me to alter my resolutions ; in I things in the world I desired most. deed the bottom of the thing lay at my heart, He took my carriage very ill, and indeed he and that inade all his endeavours fruitless, for might well do so, for at last I refused to bed my heart was alienated from him as a husband ; with him, and carrying on the breach upon all I loathed the thoughts of bedding with him, and occasions to extremity, he told me once he used a thousand pretences of illness and humour thought I was mad, and if I did not alter my to prevent his touching me, fearing nothing more conduct, he would put me under cure; that is than to be with child again by him, which, to be to say, into a madhouse. I told him be should

find I was far cnough from being mad, and that !! I interrupted him, and told him I was sorry I it was not in his power, or any other villains, to li had gone so far, since I saw what disorder it put murder me. I confess at the same time I was I him into, but I desired him not to talk to me of heartily frightened at his thoughts of putting | explanations, for that would but make things me into a madhouse, which would at once have worse. destroyed all the possibility of breaking the truth This heightened his impatience, and indeed out, whatever the occasion might be ; for that perplexed him beyond all bearing; for now he then no one would have given credit to a word began to suspect that there was some mystery of it.

yet unfolded, but could not make the least guess This therefore brought me to a resolution, at the real particulars of it. All that run in whatever came of it, to lay open my whole case; his brain was, that I had another husband alive, but which way to do it, or to whom, was an in. which I could not say in fact might not be true: extricable difficulty, and took me up many but I assured him, however, there was not the months to resolve; in the mean time, another least of that in it. And indeed, as to my other quarrel with my husband happened, which came husband he was effectually dead in law to me, up to such a mad extreme as almost pushed me ll and had told me I should look on him as such,

on to tell it out all to his face; but though I | so I had not the least uneasiness on that score. || kept it in so as not to come to the particulars, I But now I found the thing too far gone to

spoke so much as put him into the utmost con conceal it much longer, and my husband himself |fusion, and in the end brought out the whole gave me an opportunity to ease myself of the story.

secret much to my satisfaction. He had laboured He began with a calm expostulation upon my with me three or four weeks, but to no purpose, being so resolute to go to England, I defended only to tell him, whether I had spoken those it; and one hard word bringing on another, as words only as the effect of passion, or to put is usual in all family strife, he told me I did not him in a passion ; or whether there was any treat him as if he was my husband, or talk of my thing of truth in the bottom of them? But I children, as if I was a mother, and in short, that continued inflexible, and would explain nothing, I did not deserve to be used as a wife: that he unless he would first consent to my going to had used all the fair means possible with me; England, which he would never do, he said while that he had argued with all the kindness and he lived ; on the other hand I said it was in my calmness that a husband or a Christian ought to power to make him willing when I pleased, nay, do, and that I made him such a vile return, that to make him entreat me to go; and this increased I treated him rather like a dog than a man, and his curiosity, and made him importunate to the rather like the most contemptible stranger than highest degree. But it was all to no purpose. a husband ; that he was very loth to use vio At length he tells all this story to his mother, lence with me, but that in short, he saw a and sets her upon me to get the main secret out necessity of it now, and that for the future he of me, and she used her utmost skill with me should be obliged to take such measures as indeed; but I put her to a full stop at once, by should reduce me to my duty.

telling her that the reason and mystery of the My blood was now fired to the utmost, though I whole matter lay in herself, and that it was my knew what he had said was very true, and respect to her that had made me conceal it, and

respect to her that had made me concea nothing could appear more provoked; I told that in short I could go no farther, and therehim for his fair means and his foul, they were fore conjured her not to insist upon it. equally contemned by me; that for my going to She was struck dumb at this suggestion, and England, I was resolved on it come what would ; could not tell what to say or to think ; but layand that as to treating him not like a husband, ing aside the supposition as a policy of mine, and not showing myself a mother to my children, continued her importunity on account of her there might be something more in it than he un son, and if possible to make up the breach bederstood at present; but, for his farther con tween us two. “ As to that, I told her, that it sideration, I thought fit to tell him thus much, was iudeed a good design in her, but that it that he neither was my lawful husband, nor was impossible to be done ; and that if I should they lawful children, and that I had reason to reveal to her the truth of what she desired, she regard neither of them more than I did.

would grant it to be impossible, and cease to I confess I was moved to pity him when I desire it.” At last I seemed to be prevailed on spoke it, for he turned as pale as death, and stood by her importunity, and told her I dared trust muto as one thunder struck, and once or twice I her with a secret of the greatest importance, thought he would have fainted; in short, it pui and she would soon see that it was so, and that him in a fit of something like an apoplex. He I would consent to lodge it in her breast, if she trembled, sweat or dew ran off his face, and yet would engage solemnly not to acquaint her son he was as cold as a clod, so that I was forced to with it without my consent. run and fetch something for him to keep life in She was long in promising this part, but rather him; when he recovered from that, he grew than not come at the main secret she agreed to sick and vomited, and in a little after was put that too, and after a great many other prelimito bed and in the next morning was, as he had naries, I began and told her the whole story. been indeed all night, in a violent fever.

First, I told her how much she was concerned in However it went off again, and he recovered, all the unhappy breach which had happened bethough but slowly, and when he came to be a tween her son and me, by telling me her own little better, he told me I had given him a mortal! story, and her London name; and that the sur.

one with my tongue, and he had but one ll prise she saw I was in, was upon that occasion : ining to ask before he desired an explanation. li then I told her my own story and my name, and

[ocr errors]

assured her by such other tokens as she could leave me to sue for the little portion that I had, not deny, that I was no other, nor more nor less and perhaps waste it all in the snit, and then be than her own child-her daughter born of her | a beggar. The children would be ruined too, body in Newgate--the same that had saved her having no legal claim to any of his effects; and from the gallows by being in her belly, and the thus I should see him perhaps in the arms of ansame that she left in such and such hands when other wife in a few months, and be myself the she was transported.

most miserable creature alive. It is impossible to express the astonishment My mother was as sensible of this as I, and she was in ; she was not inclined to believe the upon the whole, we knew not what to do. After story, or to remember the particulars, for she some time, we came to more sober resolutions; immediately foresaw the confusions that must but then it was with this misfortune too, that my follow in the family upon it, but everything con- mother's opinion and mine were quite different curred so exactly with the stories she had told froin one another, and indeed inconsistent with me of herself, and which, if she had not told me, I one another : for my mother's opinion was, that she would perhaps have been content to have | I should bury the whole thing entirely, and con. denied, that she had stopped her own mouth, | tinue to live with him as my husband, till some and she had nothing to do but to take me about | other event should make the discovery of it more the neck and kiss me, and cry most vehemently convenient; and that, in the meantime, she over me, without speaking one word for a long would endeavour to reconcile us together again, time together.

and restore our mutual comfort and family peace; At last she broke out, “Unhappy child !" says that we might lie as we used to do together, and she, “what miserable chance could bring thee so let the whole matter remain a secret as close hither? And in the arms of my own son too! | as death : " For child," says she, “we are both Dreadful girl !” says she, “ why we are all un- undone if it comes out." done! Married to thy own brother! Three To encourage me to this, she promised to children, and two alive, all of the same flesh and make me easy in my circumstances as far as she blood! My son and my daughter lying together I was able, and to leave me what she could at her as husband and wife! All confusion and distrac- ! death, secured for me separately from iny hus. tion for ever! Miserable family! what will be- || band; so that if it should come out afterwards, come of us? What is to be said ? What is to I should not be left destitute, but be able to be done?" and thus she run on for a great while, | stand on my own feet, and procure justice from nor had I any power to speak, or if I had I did | him. not know what to say, for every word wounded This proposal did not agree at all with my ine to the soul.

judgment of the thing, though it was very fair With this kind of amazement on our thoughts and kind in my mother; but my thoughts run we parted for the first time, though my mother li quite another way. was more surprised than I was, because it was As to keeping the thing in our own breasts, more news to her than to me. However, she and letting it all remain as it was, I told her it promised again to me at parting, that she would was impossible; and I asked her how she could say nothing of it to her son till we had talked of || think I could bear the thoughts of lying with my it again.

own brother? In the next place liold her that It was not long, you may be sure, before we || her being alive was the only support of the disbad a second conserence upon the same subject : 11 covery, and that while she owned me for her when, as if she had been willing to forget the child, and saw reason to be satisfied that I was story she had told me of herself, or to suppose iso, nobody else would doubt it; but if that she that I had forgot some of the particulars, she be should die before the discovery, I should be gan to tell them with alterations and omissions : || taken for an impudent creature that had forged but I refreshed her memory, ar:d set her to rights | such a thing to go away from my husband, or in many things which I supposed she had forgot, || should be counted crazed and distracted: then and then came in so opportunely with the whole I told her how he had threatened already to put history, that it was impossible for her to go from me into a madhouse, and what concern I had it; and then she fell into her rhapsodies again, been in about it; and how that was the thing that and exclamations at the severity of her mis drove me to the necessity of discovering it to her fortunes.

as I had done. When these things were a little over with her, From all which I told her, that I had on the we fell into a close debate about what should be most serious reflection I was able to make in the first done before we gave an account of the case, come to this resolution, which I hoped she matter to my husband, but to what purpose | would like, as a medium between both, viz. that could be all consultations. We could neither of she would usc her endeavours with her son to us sce our way through it, nor see how it could give me leave to go for England, as I had debe safe to open such a scene to him. It was im sired, and to furnish me with a sufficient sum of possible to make any judgment, or give any guess money, either in goods along with me, or in bills at what temper he would receive it in, or what || for my support there, all along suggesting, that measures he would take upon it; and if he should he might one time or other think it proper to have so little government of himself as to make come over to me. it public, we easily foresaw that it would be the This was my scheme, and my reasons were ruin of the whole family, and expose my mother good. I was really alienated from him in conand me to the last degree ; and if at last he sequence of these things; indeed, I mortalls should take the advantage the law would give || hated him as a husband, and it was impossible to him, he might put me away with disdzin, and ll remove that rivetted aversion 1 had to him. At

the same time, it being an unlawful, incestyous || and he was quite another man to me; nothing living, added to that aversion, and everything || could be kinder and more obliging than he was added to make cohabiting with him the most | to me upon all occasions; and I could do no less naliseous thing to me in the world, and I think than make some return to it, which I did as well rerily it was come to such a height, that I could | as I could ; but it was but in an awkward manalmost as willingly have embraced a dog as have ner at best, for nothing was more frightful to let him offer the least thing of that kind to me; || me than his caresses, and the apprehensions of for which reason I could not bear the thoughts being with child again by him, was ready to throw of coming between the sheets with him. I can- | me into fits; and this made me see that there not say I was right in point of policy in carrying was an absolute necessity of breaking the case it such a length,—while, at the same time, I did to him without any niore delay, which however not resolve to discover the thing to him, but I I did with all the caution and reserve imagin. am giving an account of what was, not of what able. ought or ought not to be.

He had continued his altered carriage to me In this directly opposite opinion to one another near a month, and we began to live a new kind my mother and I continued a long time, and it of life with one another; and could I have satiswas impossible to reconcile our judgments; fied myself to have gone on with it, I believe it many disputes we had about it, but we could | might have continued as long as we continued never either of us yield our own, or bring over alive together. One evening as we were sitting the other.

and talking very friendly together under a little I insisted on my aversion to lying with my own awning, which served us as an arbour, at the enbrother; and she insisted upon its being impos trance from our house into the garden, he was sible to bring him to consent to my going from | in a very pleasant agreeable humour, and said him to England; and in this uncertainty we abundance of kind things to me, relating to the continued, not differing so as to quarrel, or any pleasure of our present good agreement, and the thing like it; but so as not to be able to resolve || disorders of our past breach, and what a satiswhat we should do to make up the terrible | faction it was to him, that we had room to hope breach that was before us.

we should never have any more of it. At last I resolved on a desperate course, and I fetched a deep sigh, and told him there was told my mother my resolution, viz. that in short, nobody in the world could be more delighted | I would tell him of it myself. My mother was than I was in the good agrceinent we had always frightened to the last degrec at the very thoughts kept up, or more afflicted with the breach of it,

of it; but I bid her be easy, told her I would do and should be so still, but I was sorry to tell him ¡ it gradually and softly, and with all the art and that there was an unhappy circumstance in our good humour I was mistress off, and time it also case, which lay too close to heart, and which I as well as I could, taking him in good humour knew not how to break to him, that rendered my too: I told her I did not question but if I could part of it very miserable, and took from me all be hypocrite enough to feign more affection to the comfort of the rest. him than I really had, I should succeed in all He importuned me to tell him what it was; I my designs, and we might part by consent, and told him I could not tell how to do it, that while with a good agreement, for I might love him it was concealed from him I alone was unhappy ; well enough for a brother, though I could not but if he knew it also we should be both so; and for a husband.

that, therefore, to keep him in the dark about it All this while he lay at my mother to find out, was the kindest thing that I could do; and it was on if possible, what was the meaning of that dread that account alone that I kept a secret from him,

ful expression of mine, as he called it, I men. the very keeping of which I thought would first | tioned before ; namely, that I was not his lawful or last be my destruction.

wife, nor my children his legal children : my It is impossible to express his surprise at this

mother put him off, told him she could bring me U relation, and she double importunity which he I to no explanations, but found there was some used with me to discover it to him. He told me y thing that disturbed me very much, and she I could not be called kind to him, nay, could not I hoped she should get it out of me in time, and I be faithful to him if I concealed it from him ; I

in the meantime recommended to him carnestly told him I thought so too, and yet I could not to use me more tenderly, and win me with his do it. He went back to what I had said before usual good carriage; told him of his terrifying to him, and told me he hoped it did not relate to and affrighting me with his threats of sending me what I had said in my passion ; and that he had to a madhouse, and the like, and advised him resolved to forget all that, as the effect of a rash not to make a woman desperate on any account provoked spirit. I told him I wished I could whatever.

forget it all too, but that it was not to be done ; He promised her to soften his behaviour, and the impression was too deep, and I could not do bid her assure me that he loved me as well as it, it was impossible. cver, and that he had no such design as that of He then told me he was resolved not to differ sending me to a madhouse, whatever he might 1 with me in anything, and that, therefore, he say in his passion; also he desired my mother to would importune me no more about it, resolving use the same persuasions to me too, that our to acquiesce in whatever I did or said ; only affection might be renewed, and we might live begged I would then agree, that whatever it was, together in a good understanding as we used it should no more interrupt our quiet, and our to do.

mutual kindness. I found the effects of this treaty presently ; This was the most provoking thing he could my husband's conduct was immediately altered. have said to me, for I really wanted his farther

« VorigeDoorgaan »