« PreviousContinue »
passion. You may be sure I was guarded more attentively, so that I had no future opportunity of witnessing a similar scene; but, for some years, this woman's image was never absent from my sight; by day I saw her shockingly distorted visage, particularly the foam round her mouth, and at night she was ever present to my view. What seemed the more strongly to impress on my mind this horrible vision, was the knowledge I soon after acquired of her history, and the history of her family. It was shortly this. The woman, who was more than ordinarily weak in her intellect, and, therefore, a greater object of compassion, possessed some property, bequeathed to her by a London relation. Her brother, in whose house, she resided, deprived her of this property, and literally starved her, insomuch that, in order to allay the cravings of inordinate hunger, she was obliged, after nightfall, to go round the streets, and search for the rind of potatoes, and the paring of turnips, which were thrown out in the little heaps, in the by-streets, for the scavenger to take away in the morning. Thus, for some time, did she drag on a miserable existence, till her brother, observing that she still lived, in spite of his denying her food, one night dragged her by force through the town, not without noise; for the poor creature's shoes, much too large for her feet, made a great scuffling, and her pitiable moans brought more than one person to their windows, as spectators of the scene; to a river about a quarter of a mile distant, where, in shallow water, not two feet in depth, he held her down by main strength, and, by the light of the moon, which shone resplendently, while her silver beams played upon the face of the water, witnessed the convulsive struggles of death, saw the agonizing contortions of her countenance, and heard the supplicating voice, the earnest prayer for life, of his sister, unmoved, indifferent, unrelenting. Not even the solemn stillness of the scene, where not a murmur was heard, save that, at distant intervals, the sullen sound of the bell, tolling the hour of twelve, struck on his ear; or, that, now and then, a faint groan of his expiring sister served to convey some faint idea of the anguish she suffered, could put this fiend from his purpose. He, with a steadily extended arm, held her down, till he conceived that life was no more; he raised his hand from the water, the body rose, he thought it moved; he again plunged it down under the stream, and there fixed it till he was well assured that the waters of bitterness had gone over her soul, and she was no longer an inhabitant of this terrestrial globe; he returned, not to his habitation, but to a common stew, where he ended in bestiality that night which he had begun in murder. In the morning he visited his house; his wife asked him for his sister; his answer was a most violent kick in the groin; she fell, it was the seventh month of her pregnancy; she was carried to her chamber, where she lingered one month, gradually, but painfully, journeying on to the gates of death. Her husband one morning entered the room, "What! are you still there, are you not gone yet?? cried he, in a tone, and with a look, that would have appalled and withered the stoutést heart. She faintly and feebly, but mildly, and without reproach, replied, "That if he would
have a little patienee, she should soon depart, for it was morally impossible she could long exist under such bodily torture as she had endured for the last month past.' 'Oh, oh! so you want to make people believe that the kick I gave you was the cause of your death; but you are mistaken, madam, said he, with a diabolical grin, 'for I will prove that the kick shall not be your immediate passport into eternity.'
Having said this, he dragged her out of bed on the floor, and strangled her with his own hands. He replaced the body in bed, sent for an undertaker, and had her buried. These circumstances were well known through the whole town; but what is every one's is nobody's business, and he was not called to any legal account for two murders, which he had perpetrated by his own hand. Mark the sequel: I saw this man before the commission of these infernal deeds; he was tall, robust, majestic, exquisitely proportioned ; a statuary might have created an excellent Hercules Farnese by copying bis person: two years after I beheld him, shrunk, emaciated, decrepit, poor, crippled, diseased, a most pitiable object; the spring, the elasticity, the strength, the vigour of his frame, were departed; he exhibited not even the. shadow of what he once was; no man could look upon, and not compassionate him. Is not destruction to the wicked, and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?'
THE NARRATIVE CONTINUED.
«My mind was absorbed in the contemplation of this horrid picture of human depravity, and I could not help imagining, in the bitterness of my resentment, that some of those who had so maltreated me, only wanted an opportunity to be equally iniquitous with the brother and husband, a short sketch of whose exploits I gave in a former part of my narrative. I was roused from my reverie by a very smart box on the ear, and a vehement vociferation of 'You little varlet, I will scourge you within an inch of