Sunday, 25 September 2011

An Adventurer from Bristol

The following story was posted in The Times on October 6, 1786. It tells of a wealthy woman whose husband was an “adventurer”, running off to live a life among prostitutes and reckless companions. The woman, left alone to fend for herself, was consistently pursued by her husband’s friends. Until, finally, one of his friends (a Lord no less!) offered a great sum of money in exchange for the wife, an insult to her virtue and worth. But all was not lost. In a clever twist, the resourceful wife was able to turn the dissipated actions of her “husbands” and make for herself a life in respectable society.

So, may this be one of the reasons you never purchase your friend’s wife:

 The Times, Friday, Oct 06, 1786; pg. 4; Issue 548; col A

It reads:

The following story has lately made a considerable noise in the Neighbourhood of Bristol.

AN Adventurer, who, a short time ago, made a considerable figure in the beau monde, suddenly disappeared, having clandestinely married a young Lady of considerable fortune, which was at her own disposal. He chose Somersetshire for his residence, where he lived in a most expensive and dissipated manner. He soon neglected the amiable sacrifice of his bed, and lavished large sums on the most abandoned prostitutes.

His wife was consequently left exposed to the addresses of each of his profligate companions. It would be no wonder if innocence fell a prey to them, but her sense and virtue repelled their advances; however, a certain nobleman of abandoned principles, made her such proposals, that she flew from him to her husband. Could any one suppose that such a monster existed, as a husband, who could advise an amiable wife, to accept the advances of another. To this effect, however, did our adventurer endeavour to persuade her. She returned his Lordship an answer, with all the indignation of insulted virtue.

It, however, became necessary for her to assume a different conduct, finding his Lordship had finally settled preliminaries with her husband, and actually paid him a large sum of money; therefore, assuming an air of compliance, she desired a settlement, to which my Lord instantly appeared with joy to comply, then, says she, let my attorney look over your deeds. He instantly produced them, but no sooner had she possession of the parchment, then she set off to London, and delivered them to his Lordship’s family.

Finding the deplorable situation of the young Lady, they rewarded her generosity, by taking her under their protection.

…and so the Lady goes from being the humiliated wife of a whoring drunkard, to a woman protected by the family of a Lord. This is the type of story where the woman could have easily ended up lost among the forgotten unfortunates of society, but for her quick instincts and action, she was kindly returned the status which she had been born to.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Mad Mary

This is the story of Mary. It tells of how she became mad and the "infernal friends that keep her so". The article was posted in The Times on November 29, 1786.

The Times, Wednesday, Nov 29, 1786; pg. 2; Issue 298; col D

Mary was the daughter of a very worthy man, who was steward to a Mr. C--  in the West of England. She possessed a sweet disposition and an amiable appearance, which, by the circumstances of her situation, were improved into elegance and accomplishment. Mr. C--  had an only daughter, and as Mary was of her age, she was her constant play-fellow and companion. Mr. C-- , thinking that a spirit of emulation might incite his daughter to a more rapid improvement in the different branches of her education, ordered the masters who attended Miss C—to give their attentions also to Mary; so that she became as accomplished as her friend, for whose sake she was instructed. Several years now passed on and Mary was the favourite of all who knew her, but none more than the amiable young lady whose inseparable companion she was. The time, however, drew nigh when they were to part. A gentleman of large fortune, whose name was Freeman, had made proposals of marriage to Miss C. which were accepted; and she soon quitted her father’s house for that of her husband. Mary grieved sincerely and in silence at the departure of her kind patroness, who soon after her marriage set out with her family to make the tour of Europe. They remained abroad three years, and though Mary loved her father and failed in no point of duty to him, the letters she received from Mrs. Freeman were her principal satisfactions during all that time. At length, her friend returned to England, and Mary received an invitation to pass the following winter with her in London. It was not long, therefore, before she found herself in a situation which, for some time, she thought the happiest on earth. But Mary was handsome, and her personal charms were accompanied with that softness of manners and sensibility of character, which awaken an interest in the breast of all who are within their influence. Thus endowed, Mary caught the libertine attentions of Mr. Freeman himself. Though he had every reason to be attached to his wife, he had not been the constant husband she merited to possess; and he was now on the point of making another offering at the shrine of infidelity. His continual assiduities did not appear to the innocent, unsuspecting Mary, but as the attentions of a friend; and he was obliged to speak very plain indeed, before she could be made to conceive the extent of his designs. When, however, the veil was drawn aside, her situation became truly deplorable. To acquaint Mrs. Freeman with her husband’s conduct, would be to plant a dagger in the bosom of her friend, and to remain in her present situation, without guarding against the dangers of it, would be to risk everything that was dear to her. She therefore wrote a precise state of the disagreeable circumstances with which she was surrounded to her father, and implored his immediate presence to snatch her from them. In the interval, however, Mr. Freeman had laid his plans so sure, that he succeeded in the object of them; when men are so lost and abandoned as to apply the opiate, that they make take advantage of insensibility – what can withstand them. Poor Mary awakened, as from a delirium, found herself in a strange apartment and in Mr. Freeman’s arms. She immediately grew outrageous, and, on hearing her situation explained to her, that outrage increased. A fever ensued, and her senses became disordered; nor have they yet recovered themselves but for very short and dubious intervals.  

Mary’s father no soon received her letter, than he set off with his son for London. They arrived at Mr. Freeman’s, and were told by the servants, that Mary was run off with some on whom they did not know, and that no tidings had since been heard of her. The poor man feared the worst, and it was by the interference of the Magistrate that he at length got to the sight of his unhappy child. Finding, however, that nothing could be done to punish the seduce, without bringing treble wretchedness on Mrs. Freeman, the daughter of his friend and master, and that the utmost vengeance would not restore poor Mary to her right senses, he was content to secure an annuity of 200 l. during her life, which enabled him to place her under his best care, and provide her with every comfort which her unhappy state was capable of receiving.

Poor Mary is now a wretched maniac. In her more tranquil intervals, she knows her friends, is sensible of her situation, and call herself Mad Mary. The last time I saw her, she had dressed her head fantastically with flowers, and sang melancholy ditties. As I was taking my leave of her, “Ah, (said she, with a sigh,) he may roll along in plenty, but not in peace. Mad Mary haunts him while he is at the jovial banquet: If he seeks the midnight revel, Mad Mary meets him there – Go, tell him, (continued she) tell all your sex, that when, to gratify a moment’s burning passion, they give disgrace and despair to the whole life of a wretched female, they are like those infernal friends, who are permitted by heaven to make poor Mary mad – and keep her so.”         

Monday, 5 September 2011

Disappearance of Mary Ann Brompton

The following is an article from The Times of September 21, 1836. It describes the mysterious disappearance of a servant girl who worked at the Bedford Arms Public-house. Her name was Mary Ann Brompton and she was 25 years of age when she disappeared.

The Times, Wednesday, Sep 21, 1836; pg. 3; Issue 16214; col C
The article reads: The mysterious disappearance of Mary Ann Brompton, a female in the service of Mr. Kerridge, landlord of the Bedford Arm public-house, South-street, Manchester-square, has excited no trifling degree of sensation in that neighbourhood. It seems that a man of rather genteel appearance entered the house about 10 o'clock on Friday night, and asked the barmaid if her name was Brompton. She replied in the negative, and told him that that was the servant's name, and going into the coffee-room, he requested to be allowed to speak to her. The servant was immediately sent into the room, and on seeing the stranger her countenance was observed to change colour, and she became dreadfully agitated. He gave her a letter, and departed. She read it through, and having put it into the fire, went to the bar, and requested leave of absence for a few minutes, which was granted, and then, without waiting either to put on bonnet or shawl, she hurried out of the house. Not returning that night, and fears being entertained for her safety, Mr. Kerridge on Saturday morning gave information of the circumstance to Inspector Thomas, of the D division, who sent policeman Williams, an active man, who has made every exertion to discover her, but hitherto without success. She had lived with Mr. Kerridge for some time, bore an excellent character, and the cause of absence is involved in mystery. She is about 25 years of age, five feet four inches in height, and was dressed in a black bombazine gown, white apron, and a cap trimmed with white riband. 

I feel that the mystery lies with the man of the genteel appearance. This description suggests that he did not look the part of a person one would usually find delivering letters. He obviously did not know Mary Ann Brompton, since he had to ask the barmaid if she was the girl he was looking for. And yet, Mary Ann only had to see him and "her countenance was observed to change colour, and she became dreadfully agitated".   How did she know that something was about to unfold that would lead to her distress? What was in the letter? After working with Mr. Kerridge for some time, did she not have anyone there to confide in, who might have some impression of what may have happened, or was there a confidant keeping her whereabouts a secret to help her stay hidden? Was she ever found? Did this article encourage anyone to come forward with a clue or some information to aid policeman Williams in uncovering her whereabouts?

I was not able to find any more information on Mary Ann Brompton, and I wonder what became of her.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The French Nun

Here is a story of a nun from France who found herself seduced by a Count. While seduction always makes for a story within itself, I feel that the real twist in this tale is the way in which Angelica, the nun, first entered the convent and how she was later released from her vows. 

The Times, Thursday, Sep 07, 1786; pg. 3; Issue 523; col C

This is the story of the French nun:
There is in France, amongst other religious nuisances, an order of nuns, who, of all their vows, keep most rigidly that of poverty. They are on this account permitted, once a year, to go about and solicit the charities of all good Christians, and never return empty handed. As these alms are by them collected during lent, they are generally called Hirondolles de Careme. They always go in pairs, when upon those expeditions, an old and a young one, the latter as much as possible handsome, gay, and lively. They fondly imagine, that the sanctity of their habit and profession is a sufficient guard against any attempt from profane men, and yet these young saints often become the heroines of some love adventure. 
Monsieur le Compte de __, never failed giving those pretty mendicants the most cordial reception, for which reason he was constantly visited, annually, by the two same sisters. This year he observed; that they had sent a new face, and enquiring of the old one what might be the reason. "Here," said she; "Monsieur, this parcel will tell you more about the poor sister Angelica, who has been very ill for these three months past; so saying, she left the bundle on the table and retired in some confusion. The Comte, as soon as she went out of the room, and indeed the house, which she quitted abruptly, uncased the parcel, and, to his utter astonishment, found it contained a beautiful child, about two months old. The sweet innocent child smiled at the Comte, who taking it up eagerly into his arms, kissed and bedewed its cheeks with the tears of sensibility.  Indeed, continues our correspondent, I do not recollect to have ever witnessed so affecting a scene, but more was to come; as I was more collected than the Comte, I perceived and pointed to him a letter pinned to the child's breast; he snatched it up; tenderness, indignation, and heart felt concern were visible by turns in his countenance during the perusal, and he imparted to me the contents.
Sister Angelica, the fair writer of the moving epistle, upbraided him for his perfidy in seducing her when she was last at his house, but fairly confessed that her inclination had but too well pleaded his cause in her heart. The rest of the letter was filled up with expressions of the liveliest contrition for her past folly, recommending the infant to his particular care, and concluded by acquainting him that she was the sole daughter of the Marchioness de __, who, as it is but too common in France, had, for the sake of a brother, since dead, forced her into a convent, and to take the veil.
The Comte who is, without exception, one of the best and most tender hearted men, could not stand against such a tale of woe, instantly took the proper steps which the law directs in such cases, where compulsion has been used. His cause was that of humanity, he pleaded it feeling, and soon set the unfortunate victim at liberty, and crowned so noble a work by giving her his hand, as the only means of atoning for his past offences. The Marchioness is since dead, and the Comtesse is now in possession of 60,000 livres annual income in her own right. 

In the end, it seems that Angelica has made for herself a pleasant life - that is, however, with the assumption that the correspondent was correct when writing that the seduction was of her own inclination as well as the Count's. She is released from the vows she was forced to take, free from the family that released her into a life she did not want, happily rich, and, hopefully, quite content with her Count and child. Perhaps all ended well for the young French nun. 

Friday, 29 July 2011

Gaston and Rosebud

The following advertisement contains many little gems of information, and so it seems that the story unfolds itself.

 The Times Monday, Nov 13, 1865; pg. 1; Issue 25341; col B

It reads:  GASTON. I have seen you at last; but alas! too late, for I am now the wife of another, and from henceforth, should we ever chance meet, it must be as strangers. Let me implore you to return my letters, under cover, to Mr. Pollaky, private inquiry office, 13, Paddington-green; and my last prayer is, that you leave England at once, and in other climes endeavour to forget that “Rosebud” ever existed. – Farewell. 

Here is my telling of the story:  Once upon a time, Gaston and “Rosebud” were in the thralls of young love. Their few and scarce moments together were not enough, and so they sent letters to one another, of a personal and private nature, to strengthen the bonds of love between them. Sadly, Gaston’s path led him to the sea in an attempt to make his way through the ranks and gain some fortune. At first, his absence made Rosebud a love-lost romantic, ever waiting for his return. But time reveals all, and after only a few months had past, Rosebud, through the advice and persuasion of her family directed her attentions elsewhere. She was soon married, happily, with Gaston being only a frivolous love story from her youth. That is, until, some years later, when she sees him across the gallery at the theatre, him having returned from the frightful abyss of the sea as a naval officer, gallant and decorated. She feels the pounding of her heart as she remembers the warmth and passion of their love, but this feeling turns cold as his eyes reach hers, and upon recognition, he looks at her with such malice and hatred that she crumbles in her place. Complaining of a sudden and terrible headache, Rosebud is rushed home. As the coach makes its ways through the foggy slick streets a frightful realization strikes like lightning to her soul, surely she has wronged him, and now he holds the secrets of her past in his vengeful hands. Those letters! Everything is in those letters! In the innocence of youth she had unveiled her very soul, and that of her family and closest friends, secrets that her husband and all her dear acquaintances stood in the dark of.  Upon reaching home she scrambles to her private room. With a shaking hand she writes a note, calls the servant in and asks that it be delivered by the footman, to be posted immediately. In Monday’s paper, her note is revealed to the world, but only to Gaston does it have any purpose. She asks that he returns the letters written by her young hand, that he delivers them secretly to Mr. Pollaky, the most well-respected detective in London. She asks that he leave England, return to his true home of the sea. She asks that he takes on a new reality, one in which Rosebud had never existed. Does he comply or does he use those letters to incite her social ruin? In my telling of the story, Mr. Pollaky received the letters the following day. Upon Rosebud’s request they are destroyed, the secrets dead in the ashes.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Three Weddings

Here you will find three wedding tales. They were posted in the paper together and tell of some very diverse couples and their wedding escapades. It begins with a story of first love, which, through the circumstances of life, required 36 years to come to fruition. The second is a story of an elderly couple and a clever friend who forbade their marriage. The last story is of a wedding that did not take place due to the wickedness of the groom. Three assorted tales, brought together in The Times of October 13, 1821. 
The Times, Saturday, Oct 13, 1821; pg. 2; Issue 11376; col E

It reads:
FIRST LOVE. - Yesterday week was married at St. John's church, Chester, Mr. Robert Mercer, of Henburn-bridge, near this town, to Miss Jemima Morris, of Chester. The parties should have been married 36 years ago. The bridegroom has since been married, and had 18 children by the first wife. He had not seen his present wife for 35 years before Monday last, when he met her at Chester, and married her the following morning. - Blackburn Mail.

I wonder what events took place 36 years before this, that led Mr. Robert Mercer to marry another. I would like to think that Miss Jemima Morris had a happy life in the interim, even if she was not the one to bear him 18 children!

BANS FORBIDDEN. - Sunday, the 23d ult., after the clergyman of Scredington, near Sleaford, had published the bans of a couple of parishioners, a blithe widow rose up, and with "an audible voice" forbade the same. Much surprise was of course excited amongst the congregation, and bursts of laughter followed, the forbidder and the forbidden being all above threescore years of age. 

This couple was above threescore years of age, so they were over 60 years old. I can picture this happening, and it makes me smile.

CURIOUS BREACH OF PROMISE OF MARRIAGE. - Wednesday afternoon an occurrence of rather an extraordinary nature took place in Lambeth Marsh. A young couple who had been attached to each other for some time, were to have been that day married at Christchurch; and matters had gone so far, that the girl had left her place, purchased a wedding-ring, and her friends had prepared a feast for the occasion. The bridegroom paid a visit to his affianced wife early in the morning, and under some pretence obtained the wedding-ring for a moment, and then managed to leave the house unperceived. This created no alarm, but he did not return. At length it became too late to have the ceremony celebrated that day, and great apprehensions were entertained for the young man's safety, whilst the young woman was ready to sink with grief and disappointment. At length it was suggested to go in quest of him, and after a laborious search, he was found by the girl and her brother and a number of other men. A scene of mutual recrimination then took place, and the poor girl went into hysterics, whilst her faithless lover made a precipitate retreat to avoid the vengeance of her brother. However, his relative who remained behind took up the cudgels in his defence, and the two men instantly proceeded to the little field near the Coburg Theatre (right hand side of the new road), where, after an obstinate contest, victory was proclaimed for the fair sex. It was afterwards discovered that the worthless fellow had pawned the ring, and spent the money which he got for it. 

I suppose the success of two out of three will have to suffice!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Mrs. Bradley

In The Times of 1866, within the column set aside for advertisements, it is common to find, each day, a list of requests and pleas, one after another. It is in this section of the newspaper where those in need make their entreaties, whether it is a need for money, communication, retrieving what was lost, or to find those who are absent. However, on February 9, 1866, Mrs. Bradley posted the following two advertisements, neither of which are requests, but rather, offerings.

      The Times Friday, Feb 09, 1866; pg. 1; Issue 25417; col B

It reads: 
THE YOUNG WOMAN who complained at the Wandsworth Police Court of INABILITY to get her CHILD BURIED is requested to SEND (by post) her NAME and ADDRESS to M.B., 28 Wyndham-street, Bryanston-square.
THE MAN dressed in canvas suit, who APPLIED at the Thames Police Court for CLOTHES, to enable him to get work, on the 9th of January, is desired to SEND his NAME and ADDRESS (by post) to Mrs. Bradley, 28, Wyndham-street, Bryanston-square, London.

I am sure there is a desperately sad story behind this woman in need of a grave and this man in need of work. I wonder if they read these advertisements that were written for them and finally received what they were in need of. I find it interesting that these were both posted together on the same day. It is especially curious when noticing that the man in the canvas suit had made his request a month prior to the posting. It is also interesting to note that the first request was made at the Wandsworth Police Court and the second was made at the Thames Police Court. What connection did Mrs. Bradley have to each of these locations that would allow her to be aware of the diverse needs of these two individuals? I also wonder if this was an impulsive act of giving or only a sample of the charity of Mrs. Bradley. Did it take courage for her to offer these acts of kindness, or did she do it without hesitation? I have been unable to find any other postings from Mrs. Bradley, and yet, these two seemingly random offerings were likely as refreshing in her time as they would be in ours.  

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Singular Love Affair

Perhaps it is time for something slightly more joy-filled. This story was posted in The Times on October 22, 1838. It tells of a shipwreck, but the story itself is about a romance that began among the wreckage. So here is a love story, since" would seem that love, thus borne upon the bosom of the deep, cradled by the ocean wave, and refined under the fierce beams of an almost vertical sun, is, after all, the very thing."

The Times, Monday, Oct 22, 1838; pg. 6; Issue 16866; col F

It reads: SINGULAR LOVE AFFAIR - The Delaware Gazette tells a good story of two persons saved from the wreck of the Pulaski, which we will endeavour to repeat in a few words.
Among the passengers was Mr. Ridge, a young man of wealth and standing, from New Orleans, who, being a stranger to all on board and feeling quite as much interest in his own safety as in that of any other person, was, in the midst of the confusion which followed the dreadful catastrophe, about helping himself to a place in one of the boats, when a young lady who had frequently elicited his admiration during the voyage, but with whom he was totally unacquainted, attracted his attention, and he immediately stepped forward to offer his services, and to assist her on board the boat; but in his generous attempt not only lost sight of the young lady, but also lost his place in the boat. Afterwards, when he discovered that the part of the wreck on which he floated would soon go down, he cast about for the means of preservation, and, lashing together a couple of settees and an empty cask, he sprang in and launched himself upon the wide ocean.
His vessel proved better than he expected, and amidst the shrieks, groans, and death struggles which were everywhere uttered around him, he began to feel that his lot was fortunate, and was consoling himself upon his escape, such as it was, when a person struggling in the waves very near him caught his eye. It was a woman, and, without taking a second thought, he plunged into the water, and brought her safely to his little raft, which was barely sufficient to keep their heads and shoulders above water. She was the same young lady for whom he had lost his chance in the boat, and for a while he felt pleased at having effected her rescue, but a moment’s reflection convinced him that her rescue was not rescue, and unless he could find some more substantial vessel both must perish.
Under these circumstances he proposed making an effort to get his companion into one of the boats which was still hovering near the wreck, but the proposition offered so little chance of success that she declined, expressing her willingness at the same time to take her chance with him either for life or death. Fortunately they drifted upon a part of the wreck, which furnished them with materials for strengthening their vessel, and which were turned to such good account that they soon sat upon a float sufficiently buoyant to keep them above water, and when the morning dawned they found themselves upon the broad surface of the “vasty deep,” without land, or sail, or human being in sight, without a morsel to eat or drink, almost without covering and exposed to the burning heat of a tropical sun.
In the course of the next day they came in sight of land and for a time had strong hopes of reaching it, but during the succeeding night the wind drove them back upon the ocean. On the third day a sail was seen in the distance, but they had no means of making themselves discovered. They were at length, however, picked up by a vessel, after several days of intense suffering, starved and exhausted, but still in possession of all their faculties, which it seems had been employed to some purpose during their solitary and dangerous voyage.
We have heard of love in a cottage – love in the deep green woods – nay, even of love on the wild unfurrowed prairie; but love upon a plank, in the midst of old ocean, with a dozen frightful deaths in view, is still more uncommon. And yet it would seem that love, thus borne upon the bosom of the deep, cradled by the ocean wave, and refined under the fierce beams of an almost vertical sun, is, after all, the very thing. There is about it the true spice of romance – the doubts, the hopes, the difficulties – ay, and the deaths too, to say nothing of the sighs and tears. Mr. Ridge must, therefore, be acknowledged as the most romantic of lovers, for, there, upon the “deep, deep sea,” he breathed his precocious passion, mingled his sighs with the breath of old ocean, and vowed eternal affection. Women are the best creatures in the world, and it is not to be expected Miss Onslow (such was the lady’s name) could resist the substantial evidences of affection which her companion had given, and accordingly they entered in an “alliance offensive and defensive,” as the statesmen say, which has since been renewed upon terra firma, and is ere long to be signed and sealed.
On reaching shore and recovering somewhat from the effects of the voyage, Mr. Ridge, thinking that perhaps his lady love had entered into the engagement without proper consideration, and that the sight of land and of old friends might have caused her to change her views, waited on her and informed her, that if such was the case, he would not hesitated to release her from the engagement, and added further, that he had lost his all by the wreck of the Pulaski, and would henceforth be entirely dependent on his own exertions for his subsistence. The lady was much affected, and, bursting into tears, assured him that her affection was unchangeable, and as to fortune, she was happy to say she had enough for both. She is said to be worth $200,000. – American paper.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The Innocent Transgression

Here is a sad story. This article was found in the news section of The Times and is titled “The Innocent Transgression”. In the end, whether you believe the transgressors to be innocent or conniving, the outcome for all those involved is sad indeed.
The Times, Saturday, Jan 06, 1787; pg. 3; Issue 870106; col A 

The article reads: THE INNOCENT TRANSGRESSION. ACCIDENTS the most trifling are often productive of the greatest good and evil. Celia possessed beauty and virtue, she was the joy of her father, beloved by her friends, and respected by all who knew her.
     Cleveland, a young fellow of education, whose sole dependence was on the exertion of his literary abilities, paid a visit at the house of her father – it was at the festival of Christmas, a, there being much company in the house, it so happened that Celia was removed from her own chamber to another, and Cleveland lay in her’s.
     Celia had for some time been accustomed to walk in her sleep, but was unconscious of the circumstance. She had never, however, exceeded the bounds of her own chamber, nor had she ever given credit to a maid servant who had mentioned the circumstance to her. On the night of Cleveland’s lying at her father’s, Celia arose from her bed, and, taking a lamp, walked to the chamber she had formally lain in, where Cleveland was wrapt in a heavy sleep – and laid herself gently by his side.
     The additional warmth awoke the youth by degrees – astonishment first seized him on seeing the Lady, but as he was immediately seized with a fervency of desire, which bid defiance to the admonitions of honour and dictates of philosophy.
     Cleveland had long admired Celia, and though he never made any formal declaration of love had intimated his passion sufficiently to be understood, and the Lady had received his hints in such a manner as, at least, flattered his hopes.
     She awoke overwhelmed with confusion – but here let us put out her lamp and draw the curtain – Celia lost her honour.
     Cleveland remained in the house for some days, and his amour with Celia was carried on with the utmost secrecy – on his departure he swore the strictest fidelity.
     Two months elapsed, when the unfortunate Celia discovered the consequence of her love must shortly expose her to the world – she wrote to Cleveland on the subject, but received no answer.
     Stimulated by pride and shame, she left her father’s house in search of the object of her love, and cause of her dishonour – she found him – but how – in the very struggle of death. – He had fought a duel some weeks before, and received a shot to his body – by his side lay a letter; it was directed to Celia, desiring her attendance, that marriage might, is some degree, repair the injury she had sustained.  
     But she arrived too late – Cleveland expired within a few minutes after she entered his chamber – she received his last breath in a kiss, and they sunk together on the bed.
     It would have being happy for Celia had she never recovered – life returned, accompanied by misery.
     A friend of Cleveland had her removed to a lodging, and wrote to her father – her father was inexorable – the disgrace of his daughter afflicted him with a melancholy insanity; he retired from the world to a cave in the neighbourhood, and subsisted upon the bounty of those who brought him food.
     The consequence to Celia was horrid – it was a life of prostitution – accompanied by a continual series of repentance.
     Reduced to indigence, despair ensued, and she resolved to seek the residence of her unhappy father, there to put a period to her existence; for which purpose she procured a dose of laudanum.
     She arrived at his cell just at the close of the night, and saw him enter to take repose – she retired a few paces, and, having taken her melancholy station at the foot of an old tree, swallowed the fatal drought.
     Early in the morning the unhappy father discovered the body of his daughter – the shock called back his senses for a moment – and in that moment he died of a broken heart.

Is it fair of me to judge? To me, it seems that there was one individual who was less innocent, or more guilty, than the rest – and he was the one to die of a broken heart.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Public Health - August 1849

The report on the public health of Londoners was a frequent column in The Times. In this section, a report from the Registrar-General would outline the registered deaths and illnesses that had ravaged the people of London throughout the week. While these articles on the public health tend to result in a feeling of hopelessness, they would, in the end, finish off on a positive note, as the numbers of registered births were reported. Typically, the report was nothing other than a list of numbers and facts.  That is why this following article caught my attention. In this particular public health report, the focus is entirely on the impact that cholera has had on the population. This article was more than a list of numbers and facts; you can hear the author's voice in this article as he questions who should be blamed for the outbreaks of cholera that are sweeping through the city. After stating the increase in deaths caused by cholera, the author takes note of the resources that have gone into catching two murderers who had a killed a man on August 9, and suggests that the same quantity and quality of resources and efforts should be used to combat the cholera epidemic.  

The Times Wednesday, Aug 29, 1849; pg. 5; Issue 20267; col A

The report reads: 
(From the Registrar-General’s Return.)
      In the week ending Saturday, August 25, the deaths in London were 2,45; of which 1276 were by cholera, 238 by diarrhoea. The deaths from all causes in each of the last seven weeks were 1,070, 1,369,   1,741,  1,931,  1,967,  1,909,  2,229,  2,457; the deaths from cholera, 152,  339,  678,  783,  929,  823,  1,229, and 1,276. Although the number of deaths last week is greater than any number yet recorded, it is gratifying to learn that active measures are now in actual operation, or commencing in every district, to combat the great epidemic which has already destroyed 7,470 lives in London. The mortality stands in favourable contrast to that which has been felt in other cities, where the visitation has recalled the ravages of the middle ages. But if the general sanitary state and arrangements are superior to those of the other civilized countries of Europe, it is quite certain that while the present epidemic has excited some talk and terror, the efforts which have hitherto been employed to combat it look feeble and insignificant when contrasted with the vast means and agency which are brought to bear by the nation in other fields for the protection of life and property.
     The energy with which parts of our institutions work makes the defects of the rest more evident. On August 9 last, a man was murdered in Bermondsey, and before his death, reported by the coroner, will appear in these returns, one, and it is probable both the persons charged with the murder will be in custody. Steam ships, the electric telegraph, the heads of the police, and professional agents, specially chosen, were all employed to arrest the destroyers of this life; the columns of the newspapers were filled with the details of the death. On the same day (August 9) a stock-broker died at No.12, Albion-terrace, Wandsworth-road;  a widow lady, and an old domestic servant at No.6; in the five preceding days in the same terrace the daughter of a grocer, a child of five years of age, had died at No.1; the widow of a coach proprietor, and a commercial clerk, at No.2; a gentleman’s widow at No.3; a surgeon’s daughter at No.4; a spinster of 41 at No.5; the wife of a Dissenting minister, his mother, a widow lady, and a servant at No.6; a young woman of 21 at No.10; a gentleman at No.12, where the stock-broker had died; a commercial clerk and a young woman of 19 at No. 13, where a young woman had also died on July 28; a gentleman’s wife at No.14, who had seen her daughter die there the day before. The 19 persons died of cholera, many of the inhabitants of the terrace were dispersed; and the deaths of several have been registered elsewhere. “It appears,” says the registrar, Mr. Frost, “that at No.13, inhabited by Mr. Biddle, where the first death occurred, and where two deaths were afterwards registered, the refuse of the house had been allowed to accumulate in one of the vaults (which is a very large one) for about two years, a when removed last week, the stench was almost intolerable, there being about two feet of wet soil filled with maggots. The drains also had burst, overflowed into the tank, and impregnated the water with which the houses were supplied. On the back ground, in the distance, was an open ditch, into which nearly the whole of the soil of Clapham runs.” As turpentine to flames, so is the exhalation of such cellars, tanks, and sewers to cholera; it diffused itself rapidly, attacked many, and 19 inhabitants, after some hours of suffering, sickness, and spasms, expired.
     The effects of decomposing refuse and water on health were well known – their fatal subsidies to cholera had been heard of every day; yet no steps had been taken for their removal from Albion-terrace in July, no medical police had interfered to disturb the contents of Mr. Biddle’s cellar; and now the nineteen of the masters, servants, parents, children rest in their graves, it appears to be taken for granted that blame attaches to nobody – to nothing – to the householders themselves – to the guardians of the district – to the institutions of the country! Such mean intangible instruments of death can be invested with no dramatic interest; but fixing our eyes on the victims, it is well worth considering whether substantially it is not as much a part of the sound policy of the country that lives like those on Albion-terrace should be saves, as that the murderers of the man in Bermondsey should be hanged... 

After the epidemic of cholera in London in 1849, there would be another in 1853/4. It was through the work of Dr. John Snow that cholera was recognized as a disease that spread through contaminated water or food, not by inhalation. Over time and efforts to restrict the water supply and locate sources of contaminated water, the epidemic was contained.    

Friday, 8 July 2011

A Cure for Love

For those who have been desperate to find a cure for love, search no more. This article was posted on May 29, 1788, and provides an infallible recipe to end a bout of love-sickness.

The Times Thursday, May 29, 1788; pg. 4; Issue 1085; col A

It reads: TAKE eight ounces of consideration, half the quantity of indifference, ten grains of ingratitude, six scruples of patience, a small sprig of rue, two handfuls of employment, four months absence, mix the whole with the constant conversation of a rival, and to this you may add as much discretion as nature has allotted; boil all together without intermission, till a third part be consumed, cooling it with a few flights – after which, you must spread it on the thoughts of your Mistress’s imperfections, and apply that plaister luke-warm to your heart, but be sure not to remove it, till it comes off itself. And if this should not prove efficacious and susceptible, your case is deplorable indeed.

Now you know!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

A Cautionary Tale

This is an article that was printed in the Sherborn Mercury and then reprinted in The Times on November 7, 1821. It was the title, "Excessive Stupidity", that first caught my attention. Enjoy.

 The Times, Wednesday, Nov 07, 1821; pg. 3; Issue 11397; col E

The article reads:

EXCESSIVE STUPIDITY. - A poor fellow, named Cock, a carpenter, at Denham, Cornwall, was defrauded of 311.6s., by Gipsies, under the following circumstances: - They informed him that he was the person destined to obtain a treasure amounting to upwards of 4,000l. in gold, which lay buried in a certain spot, near his house, which they could not point out then more precisely, but that he could obtain the above sum, and carry it about him for a certain time, he would discover the place. Having made up the sum required, he carried it to the Gipsies, when, after performing some incantations, one of them, in his presence, wrapped up the money in an old handkerchief, which was given to him, with a positive assurance, that if he did not open it for four days, nor reveal the secret, he would at the end expiration of that time infallibly find the treasure. The dupe departed on this assurance; but soon after, beginning to fear that the Gipsy had transferred the money to her own pocket, he opened the handkerchief, and to his great joy found that the sum was really in his possession. All doubt of the truth of the Gipsy's prediction was now removed, and when the 4 days had expired, he went again to his erratic friends, when one of the women told him that she could do nothing for him, unless he would make oath that he had done as he was directed. On this the poor fellow owned that he had looked at the money. The Gipsy desired him to give her the handkerchief containing the money, and to place his back against hers ; this being done, she commenced gesticulating with some violence, and uttering words in a loud voice, which he did not understand. After a short time she delivered the handkerchief to him again, and desired him to provide a pick and a shovel, and that she would come to his house that night, and point out to him the spot where the treasure was hidden. The simpleton departed, provided the implements for digging, and waited up the whole night, during which he watched anxiously, but in vain, for the appearance of the Gipsy. When the morning appeared, he began to fear he had been duped, and again opening the mysterious handkerchief, to his unspeakable surprise and dismay, he found only two-pence. It is almost unnecessary to say, that the Gipsies decamped soon after he left them, and conducted their march so secretly that no trace of them could be discovered by their nearly distracted dupe or his friends. - Sherborn Mercury

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

A Corporal's Love

 The following article is one of my favourites. I can't claim that it's a mysterious or shocking story, but somehow it clings to me in the same way. I think there are two reasons for this. The first is that the article was posted on Friday, November 28, 1828 but tells of a letter belonging to a deceased magistrate, written over thirty years prior. I can picture a person sorting through papers the magistrate had filed away over the years. I picture him flipping through official paperwork, documents, and then finding this old letter. He reads it and decides it is curious enough to share with others. After sharing it with a few, the few become many, and eventually the letter is posted in the Edinburgh Observer and, later, in the London Times. I think I'm a bit envious of that person who had an opportunity to read through another's papers and find this gem. The second reason I enjoy this article so much is because of the content. Within the letter, the writer, Hugh Galley, a corporal, makes an unusual request:

  The Times Friday, Nov 28, 1828; pg. 2; Issue 13762; col F
The article reads:
A CORPORAL'S LOVE. - The following curious letter was lately found amongst the papers of a deceased magistrate:-"Glasgow-barracks, 26th May, 1797.-Honoured Sir, - This is to let you know that I, Hugh Galley, corporal in his Grace the Duke of Gordon's Regiment, humbly begs of your honour, that he, through your help, might marry Jean M'Donald, prisoner in the cells of Glasgow, who was put in through bad company that she misfortunately happened to be in, and brought her to a disgrace by folly - it being her first crime since she was born. Honoured Sir, I, your humble servant, will be happy to marry her before your face, if you think that I am in a scheme. Honoured Sir, I beg of you, if it will not take place any other way, be so kind as to send for her to your house, and let me marry her there, and then confine her back again, and I will be happy to have the pleasure of that same. Honoured Sir, be not angry for being so positively, because I am afraid that the regiment will move from the barracks, and that is the reason of it. I can give you a sight of certificates from the parish that I was brought up. Honoured Sir, I trust in my God that you will have pity on me, and the Lord will pay your kindness. Honoured Sir, all that I have said to you I hope that your good sense will conceal it from my officers and brother soldiers; not that I see any shame in it, but they would look down on me for ever for marrying any out of the confinement. My good character you may hear in the regiment; thank God that they have nothing to say to me as yet. Honoured Sir, I am your humbled and most obedient sorrowful servant, till death.-Hugh Galley, corporal, North F. Highlanders.-To Mr. -, magistrate in the city of Glasgow." - Edinburgh Observer.
What makes this letter so unusual to the point that the writer describes it as "curious" and deems it curious enough to publicize it in the paper? Is it because of the boldness of Hugh Galley and his request to marry Jean M'Donald, despite her imprisonment? It is clear that Hugh is determined to keep this relationship as quiet as possible, for reasons that are obvious considering the social implications. So then, what is the purpose of the marriage? Is it love, money, a guilty conscience?
I suppose this story could have unfolded in many different ways. The magistrate could have agreed to the marriage. Jean M'Donald may have been released after a period of time and the union might have been a happy one. Or, perhaps, this crime that was described as "being her first crime since she was born" was only the first crime of many. The life that followed may have been a hard one. Maybe Hugh was actually "in a scheme" and took advantage of Jean M'Donald. Could they have been in the scheme together? 
But here are the questions I wonder about the most: When this letter was found and posted, thirty years after it was written, was Jean alive and growing old? Was she a free woman, married with children? Did she open the paper one day and see this letter that had been written about her, penned by a man that had been pleading for her? Did she even know it had been written?

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Heart of Stone

I have a notebook filled with clippings from The Times. These clippings consist of news articles, birth, marriage and death announcements and advertisements. They are not arranged in chronological order of when they were written, but only in the order in which I found them. As I flip through pages of my notebook, the years jump from 1795 to 1864 and back again. I have been quite disorganized and random in my search for interesting treasures. So, when I find pieces that are connected, it feels like a blessed bit of serendipity.  One of my favourite series of clippings is an example of this type of fortunate find.

This advertisement was posted in The Times on September 9, 1859:

The Times Friday, Sep 09, 1859; pg. 1; Issue 23407; col B

It reads:
To the HEART of STONE.—Why torture the victim longer? Bright prospects shine if you meet on the instant. He has been ruined over and over in screening you. It is the last attempt. If you oppose him now, a few days will put it out of his power to do all he desires for you - this is more than can be told. He forgives from his heart, and will never allude to the past. If he has offended, he hopes, alas, to be forgiven. Let him see the child and kiss it. The nurse shall bear the note fixing the time and place. Let it be where you now are.

Parts of this advertisement are cryptic, but a few things are clear. There is a child involved, a man who has been advocating for Heart of Stone and is now being advocated for by the writer, and this man is being kept from the child. I could not find any more references to Heart of Stone until this advertisement was posted on October  3, 1865, over 6 years later:

 The Times Tuesday, Oct 03, 1865; pg. 1; Issue 25306; col B

It reads:
THE HEART of STONE.—Why torture the victim longer? Bright prospects shine if you meet at once. Present conduct very suspicions to him who knows all; indicates also desire to delude, and exhibits all the past professions to have been for the same purpose. The “Martyr” can no longer endure such ungenerous, petty insult; it out-Herods all. Address, as before, under cover, to Mr. Pollaky, private inquiry office, 13, Paddington-green, W.

Six years have passed and the conflict continues. A few days later, this advertisement is posted. It seems to have been written by the Heart of Stone:

The Times Thursday, Oct 12, 1865; pg. 1; Issue 25314; col B
It reads:
THE HEART of STONE. – Fifteen years of gloomiest depression and long, sad hours of pain and sorrow have made me what I am; but the idol of our mutual affection having now passed into a better life, “Heart of Stone” will relent if “Martyr,” with meekness and submission befitting her self-adopted title, consents to the conditions stated in a former communication to Mr. Pollaky, private inquiry office, 13, Paddington-green; until then, no meeting can, or shall take place.

This advertisement provides a new perspective to this story. It seems that Heart of Stone has a heart that is made of anything but stone, as it has been filled with “pain and sorrow” and the “gloomiest depression.” We also hear that the “idol”, who I presume is the man referred to in the first posting, has died. This next advertisement is written again by Martyr, the author of the first two postings:

The Times Wednesday, Oct 18, 1865; pg. 1; Issue 25319; col B

This advertisement reads:
MARTYR to HEART of STONE. – I accept all your conditions, with the exception of that part of clause 5 which refers to “Corca.” I have left all the necessary documents with Mr. Pollaky, at 13, Paddington-green, W.

It appears that this is a conflict that is further complicated by legal matters. This final advertisement, written by the “Heart of Stone” suggests some resolution, and a promise of meeting:

The Times Tuesday, Oct 24, 1865; pg. 1; Issue 25324; col B
It reads:
HEART of STONE to “MARTYR.” – After so many years of lacerating agony what are riches to me! And, now that our idol is no more, I do not press further your acceptance of Clause 5. Let our meeting take place on the approaching anniversary of an event so indelibly impressed on the memory of us both; and may the solemnity of our reconciliation at the hour of our reunion not be profaned by the faintest suspicion of parsimony. I will communicate to Mr. Pollaky the exact time and place of meeting.

 I find the mention of the “approaching anniversary of an event so indelibly impressed on the memory of us both” to be quite haunting. What was this event that begins such a long period of suffering? What happened to the child? Who was the Martyr and the Heart of Stone? How did they find themselves to be woven in this complicated story?

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Publicly, Yet Anonymously

In today’s newspapers, the classifieds are found near the back, full of both the offering and desire for work, belongings and love.  However, in The Times during the Victorian Era, the classifieds were considered advertisements and could easily be found on the front page, immediately after the announcements of marriages, births and deaths. In this section, individuals searched for lost family and friends, misplaced or stolen belongings; they pleaded for help or money, and declared their love and affection in the public arena of the newspaper.  These advertisements take up only a few lines of print. It is a place where names are usually replaced by initials or code and messages are made simple and concise. I am often mystified by how the reader could ever be sure the message they were reading was actually intended for them.  Below are a few advertisements that have such anonymity and whimsy that I can’t help but imagine that hundreds of young women read these words and hoped and dreamed that the message was intended for them and no one else. I cannot help but be a romantic when I read these postings:

                                  The Times Thursday, Sep 18, 1879; pg. 1; Issue 29676; col B

This posting reads:   W. to J. – My very true and loving queen. You know how I worship you and feel for you. Keep a good heart; things at their worst must mend. Anxious for news. Look Oct. 1st.

Sadly, there was nothing posted on Oct. 1st, and nothing on the 2nd or 3rd. I would like to imagine that those things that were “at their worst” did indeed mend, and that J.- continued to be W.-‘s true and loving queen for their whole lives through.

                                  The Times Saturday, Aug 31, 1867; pg. 1; Issue 25904; col B

This advertisement reads:  MY STAR of HOPE WANES to WHITE. News that you are better would revive its glow. – B.

Oh, to be the one to revive the glow of a waning star!

                                The Times Wednesday, Apr 06, 1859; pg. 1; Issue 23273; col B

This reads: H.N.R. – I will not tempt you. I implicitly believe and respect you. Trust me also. I shall never change. God bless you. Good bye.

When I read this, I see a man making his last effort to communicate with the woman he has fallen in love with, even though she is committed to another. He will leave, the love will fade, and all that remains are these words.

Just a few lines and so many stories can unfold. Who were these individuals who wrote these words and sought to communicate so publicly and yet so anonymously?