Imágenes de páginas




S you seem to be a friend to the distressed, and willing A to listen to the cries of the miserable, O pity the res mains of an unhappy family, and give this affecting little history a place in your Miscellany. But why do I ask for your pity? your inserting it will be of no service to me. I should rather attempt to move you by observing, that the story I am going to relate, may help to raise the compaflion and to move the hearts of the Clergy, to attend to the miseries of the most poor, the most desolate and most afficted part of the nation. O, fir, the publick but little knows the fad shifts which the widows and children of Clergymen are left to struggle with. Had the scheme you have publish'd, tai prevent our iniseries, taken place two years ago, my child would not have suffered the most dreadful distress, and I should still have had a daughter. But it is now too late; our fall is accomplish’d, I have lost my child, and can receive no advantage from such kind and friendly intentions. Yet fürely our misfortunes will awaken the humanity of mankind, and serve to forward a scheme in itself so laudable, so just, and let me say, so necessary. This is all my hope, and my only motive for giving you this trouble, and for reviving my own uneasiness, and the bitter sense of my loss and disgrace, ,

I, sir, am the daughter of a gentleman. I had a genteel education, and was married without the consent of my parents to a clergyman of a small income. As my father was displeased with our marriage, he would never make use of his influence to get my husband promoted in the church; and we waited till his death to possess a fortune, which he would not part with in his life-time; but when my father died; an end was put to all our hopes; for unknown to his family his


estate was so much involved; that, when the lands were sold and the mortgages paid of, there was scarcely sufficient to defray the expence we had been at in his funeral, and to pay some small debts that we had contracted.

My father died about two years after our marriage; and as our expectations of assistance from him were vanish'd; we contracted our expences, and with the utmost frugality lived a little above want. My husband, who was a curate, had an income of thirty pounds a year, on which (with the assistance of fome presents we frequently received from the neighbouring gentry) we, during his life, made a shift to live; and, as we had büt one child, and were situated in a chcap part of the country, we made a tolerable appearance. The endearing affection of a tender husband inade life agreeable, and we endeavoured to support our low station in a becoming manner, by extending our views to a better world, and pleasing ourselves with the thoughts, that there all out troubles and misfortunes would have an end, and give place to a happiness the most exalted and refined. Our child was educated with the greatest care; and no pains was wanting to instill into her mind a deep sense of virtue and religion, and we frequently flatter'd ourselves with the pleasing hopes, that our instructions were not thrown away upon her:

But at last the time came; when our happiness was to be at an end; the tender union, that always subsisted between my husband and me; was broken. After being married 19 years, he died. I shall not attempt to describe my grief at a stroke of providence, which I thought the most severe that could fall upon me. I imagined it impossible for any worfe misfortune to befall me, since I was not only depriv'd of that dear good man, who had always been my tender friend, my instructor, and the partner of all my cares, but also of the very means of subsistance. I fought for confolation, and did not seek it in vain ; I recollected the discourses of my dear husband, and while frequently meditating on what I had learnt from him, found that hez who was the cause of my

grief, grief, had furnith'd me with fufficient motives for my confolation. I therefore 'resign'd myself to the will of God, and by reflecting on his happiness whom I had loft, learnt to think with composure on my own misery.

My daughter and I endeavoured at first to support ourselves with our needles; but this being very precarious, and at best hardly sufficient to procure us bread, my daughter chose to go to service; but not being willing to be a fervant to any of those, who had before sometimes done her the honour to admit her as a visiter, a place was found for her at a market town at - fome miles distance, where the was hired as a chambermaid to a rich old bachelor, who, with the appearance of a good deal of religion, seem'd to have no other fault but an excessive fondness for the world. However his avarice was not a vice that could give me any apprehensions for my child; and therefore, as I had no reason to fear that she would want necessaries, I was under no uneasiness. But oh! how was I mistaken! I had put her into the hands of a monster, a merciless and cruel monster.- As to myself a lady of great merit was so kind as to take me (and I was very well contented) for her houfekeeper.

We had been in this situation for fome time, in which I' had feldom heard from my child. One day I was in high spirits, having just received a promise from the good lady with whom I lived, to take her into her family, and was delighting myself with the thoughts of having her continually under my eye, when I receiv’d the following short but dreadful letter.

[ocr errors]

.'" Dear, dear Mamma,

H what shall I lay? how shall I tell you of iny difa

tress? forgive, forgive the uneafiness I have brought' 6 upon myself, and you. I have been deluded by iny master, “ I have lost my hononr, my virtue, and my reputation.. I “ have a child;--and this wicked man, by whom I had it, has s6 thrown me into priton. · When he found that I was with Numb. VII.


66 child

“ child, he turn’d me away, and gave me fome money; but “ he would not give it me without a note. With this I was “ brought to bed, and cloath'd the infant; and it being gone “ I went to him for more, when he arrested me for the " money, and had me and the poor child drag'd to jail. O « dear mamma! forgive and pray for me, and let me see “ you : but do not reproach me. I have repented, indeed I “ have: the guiltless infant is now dying, and I shall foon “ follow. Did you but know my grief, and how ill I am, “ you would pity me, and pray for me. Do but come and “ tell me that you forgive me, and that you will not hate me " after I am dead, and then I shall die in peace.

“ Your guilty, ruin’d and almost distracted daughter,"

A. W.

Did ever mother receive so dreadful a fhock? I fainted several times; but being at last brought to myself and a little recover'd, having earnestly pray'd for my poor fallen child, and with a flood of tears beg'd that God would graciously enable me to bear this most dreadful of all my afflictions, I began to recover my spirits, and instantly set out on this painful journey. But what words can express the situation of my mind? or how shall I tell you the horror that seiz'd me, when with trembling knees I enter'd the prison ? But what was this ta the sight of my child ? had it not been for a fresh Aow of. tears which I stop'd to indulge at the door of the dreadful room, and which gave me some relief, I should certainly have run distracted. I entered the apartinent, a dark and dismal place: --but I will not attempt to describe the horrors that were present to my view.--I soon faw my daughter proftrate at my feet, ill, and so wasted with fickness and sorrow, that I could not have known her. “ And can you, can you, " said shey be so good as to come and see me?" Q what grief,


« My poor father, had he been alive, how would he have " born the shame I have brought upon his family?” But : then, as if recollecting herself, the cried had he « been alive I should not, no, I should not have been guilty, “ I should not have been in a jail.” Then with what bitterness did she reproach herself!

But I beg pardon, Sir, I ought to cut short this tender scene. It was with the greatest difficulty that I rais'd my child, who had hardly strength to stand on her feet. I led her to her bed, where I saw the innocent proof of her guilt, which had died some hours before merely for want of nourishment, for my daughter's milk left her from the time she enter'd the prison. O, Sir, no tongue can tell, no words can express the anguish of my heart. It was not a time for reproaches : on the contrary I gave her all the comfort that lay in my power. After she had told me her story, as well as her weakness would give her leave, I had her remov'd to another part of the prison, put into a clean bed, and a physician fent for; but he could give me no hopes of her life. I resolv'd not to leave her, 'till in four days time she expired. I would then have gone to the horrid villain, whose luft and barbarity had deprived me of all the comfort of my life; but my own illness render'd it impossible. I was seiz'd with a fever, and while out of my senses was carried home: But I had no sooner recover'd the use of my reason, than I was told that the wicked barbarian, struck with his guilt, and his. conscience reproaching him with the murder of the two helpless sufferers, was become saving mad, that he was actually confined, and his brother was suing for his estates

Surely, Sir, the widows and children of the inferior Clergy are the most expos’d, the most wretched part of the creation. In the lowest, the meanest employments of life, industry meets with its reward; and, I have heard, there are frequent, opportunities in which a man may rise in the world, or enter Kk 2


« AnteriorContinuar »