Page images

VOL. 4.]

Sketches of London Society.


both carriages most particularly attentive. wall, and heard the scandal of the livWhen she drove off, I observed to Lady eried tribe. "How does your coat fit Mary, that I thought people of quality you, Sir Jerry?" cried one footman to were not sufficiently cautious of speaking before their servants, and that they owed to themselves and to polite society more care in this particular: she gave a slight toss with her head, and said, "Oh! they know nothing about amours and high life, and can't understand our conversation." I was, however, quite of a different opinion, in which I was afterwards still more confirmed.

another : "You'll only have to try it on: I once lived with your mistress, who was determined that I should not eat the bread of idleness, for I never got a moment's amusement whilst I was in her service: she sacks the card money; measures out her provisions like a nip cheese purser of a man of war; notes down every thing in her d-d account book; and if you can make a guinea besides your wages, I'll allow you to eat me roasted : but you'll not be long. there, though the old man is a goodnatured fool enough, deaf and drunken, snuffy, but never out of temper." Much more was added; but this was quite enough for me. Another scoundrel insinuated something concerning a fellow servant of his, and one of high rank, which almost induced me to cane him.

Our Exquisite now came up to the carriage a second time, with some concert tickets, which he wished my fair friend to take ; and he looked just as much as to say, "Thou art a happy dog, old gentleman!" A telegraphic signal passed, and he said to me, "I just met Sir Peter Panemar, the nabob, and he swears that there is the most beautiful Spanish woman that ever looked through a veil, just gone into the garden. It is At my return to the carriage, I delisaid, by the bye, that she is protected by cately hinted a part of what I had a certain Peer; but I believe her to be heard; but it had no effect: neither had a rich diamond merchant's wife: the the tearing of the lace flounce, nor the whole Park is in a blaze about her." I want of principle of the young four-inam a great amateur, I confess. A lovely hand buck : all seemed to pass with her picture is worthy contemplating; and Ladyship as matters of course in high my designs go no further. I also sus- life. And yet she is virtuous, prudent, pected that this was an adroit manœuvre and well principled ; but as Mrs. Marto get rid of me for a time. I therefore vellous calls it, she is far gone, and I am requested permission to alight, for the sorry for it. purpose of looking into the garden. This was cheerfully agreed to; and Lady Mary promised to wait until I had feasted my eyes on the fascinating incognita. The happy swain then offered to take my place until I returned; and this arrangement seemed to please all three. Our Exquisite entangled his spur in her Ladyship's falbela; but it did not discompose her in the least. I recommended chevaux de frise in future, at which she laughed; her sister looked insipidly; and the step was let down for me.

Arrived in the gardens, I sought la bellu senora in vain; and am now uncertain whether I was hoaxed or not, although our Exquisite most solemnly protested that the Nabob had seen her. I sat down for a moment on the low


Five o'clock now called us to dress, and a third succession of company arrived, who all appeared to have dined, and on whose cheeks sat the flush of punch and other strong liquors. these groups were children drawn by dogs, or by their papas, in little chairs, others in arms, fat landladies, tall strapping wives, and tame submissive husbands-the emblems of domestic drill and of petticoat subordination. Every insect of fashion flew off on fancy's wing at the appearance of le tiers etat.

And now commenced the pleasures and the labours of the toilette, which I leave my fair friend to indulge in, convinced at the same time qu'elle aura des distractions.

Lit. Gaz. July 1818.

[blocks in formation]

PROMISED to send you some reflectious of the unhappy young man in prison, upon his own review of the vicious course which he had pursued, and which had plunged him into all the horrors of despondency, and driven him to the dreadful act of suicide. I now transmit the following account of his last moments, during which he lingered between life and death.

I am, Sir, your's respectfully, June 3, 1818.


the general course of the dissipated life that he had led, I represented to him how unworthy of a rational being such a surrender of his better judgment and purer convictions must appear to him, when he reflected on the deceptious nature of those vicious gratifications which had led him to the brink of destruction, both of body and soul. pointed out the fatal certainty with which ruin of character and remorse of W. F. T. conscience-the one irretrievable and the other overwhelming, were always found to follow in the footsteps of the rash votary of libertine indulgence ;--I brought him to acknowledge the sad truth, that too frequently such an one was left by the treachery of his passions without any possibility of making amends to society for the outrages which he had committed upon its prescriptive laws and social rights;—I displayed to him the irremediable injury which he had inflicted upon his ill-requited parents;-I dwelt upon the misery, disgrace, and despondency, into which he had plunged a woman, who, whatever might have been the atrocity of her acquiescence in his unprincipled view, certainly did not deserve to be rendered for ever wretched by the man who had been generously made the participator of her husband's unsuspecting confidence, and liberal co-operation to promote his personal advancement in commercial profit and importance ;-I bade him reflect, that, notwithstanding he had escaped the sentence of death in consequence of the inadequacy of the laws against the enormous crime of duelling to bring the of fenders to condign punishment, the stain of blood was upon his hands, and the guilty deed of depriving a fellow-creature of life was recorded against him in the judgment of an Omniscient God ;--that, in the volume of Retribution, none of those evasions and sophistries would. be found allowed, by which the corruption of the human heart, and the fashion of a sinful world, sought to justify the

L- -shire. WHEN I entered the wretched youth's room, I was introduced to him by the worthy man who is the keeper of the prison, and whose character has been long revered by every one who knows him, as possessing all those excellent principles which render him an ornament to society, even in his unenviable and, too often, misrepresented office. I confess myself to have felt a disposition to think but slightly of the humanity of individuals in his station; but the many evidences of the tender consideration with which this person applied himself, in all cases of human misery, to alleviate the sufferings of his prisoners, have induced me to change my opinion, and acknowledge that all my prejudices against keepers of prisons and jailors, have given way before the generous conduct of this good man; and 1 perceive that even those whose employment it is to guard the conscience-stricken culprit, can feel for their depraved and degraded fellowcreature, and are anxious to temper the rigors of confinement with Christian sympathy.


After my first introduction, I visited young man three or four times before I received the letter which you have inserted in your Miscellany for last Month. At these seasons I was anxious to bring him to a just estimation of the moral and religious necessity for repentance.

As I had long been acquainted with

VOL. 4.]

Young Man in Prison.


selfish principles of a false and murder- ciety or his own-He was for ever deous honour ;-1 concluded by implor- prived of all return to reputation and ing him to consider well, in his own un- credit in this world; notwithstanding happy example, the religious truth of which, he had it in his power to seek the following inference: that no man that Divine favour and happy immorcan violate the moral obligations which tality, in which he would discover that he owes to society, without trangress- peace and joy can only bless those who ing in equal degree those in which he seek the one in this world through the is bound towards God. And, hence, it paths of pious obedience; and the othbecame him to seek the pardon of his er, in the world to come, through the guiltiness at his divine hand; since, as sure mercies of the Most High. his justice was eternal, so would be his As I felt the desolate misery to which wrath. To the justice of man he had this early victim of ungoverned passions submitted himself; and when the tem- had reduced himself, it was my great porary forfeiture of his personal liberty anxiety, as a Minister of the Word of should be paid, the discharge of the reconciliation, to seize the reflections of penalty exacted would he accomplish- his mind while they were balanced beed; and whether he manifested his tween self-reproach and repentance, penitence or not for the iniquity which and to fix them upon the latter; but I he had done, was not in the contemplation of those laws by which he was punished. It was not so with the justice of God, and the inflictions of his displeasure. The former could only be appeased by a faithful repentance of those trangressions which he had committed; and the latter could no otherwise be averted than by such newness of life, as might prove that repentance to be sincere. I advised him, therefore, to retire from the public eye as soon as the period of his sentence should be completed, in order to avoid that contempt and execration with which all who knew him would, out of regard to their own reputation, reject him from their intercourse. In this retirement he might cultivate that hope, which the mercy of Heaven still held out to him, and which henceforward could be the only consolation and the sole support of his mind.

This I unfolded to him in all its sacred dependencies, and endeavoured to impress him with a Christian trust, that forgiveness might still be obtained through the righteousness of his Redeemer, and this forgiveness might be followed by everlasting blessedness.

found his thoughts wretchedly bewildered between the infidel notions which he had imbibed, and those prospects of eternity which his fears, rather than his hopes shadowed to his foreboding soul. Pleasure, in all its most ruinous pursuits, had been his only object; and I clearly perceived that, so vitiated had been his heart, there was still a regret lingering in his bosom, at finding himself, by this last fatal act, cut off at once from all worldly gratification, and doomed to disappointment and disgrace; I, therefore, shewed him the utter unprofitableness of the career which he had so inconsiderately run, as well as the criminal impetuosity with which he had persevered in its course, unrestrained by the admonitions and expostulations of his heart-broken parents, and unchecked by the reproaches of his own conscience.

It was my duty to press these salutary truths upon this poor young man's acknowledgment; and my sympathies were too strongly excited, not to blend with my sense of duty, an earnest desire to call him back from the unhallowed paths in which he had wandered far from the moral and religious purity By these, and similar reasonings, I of Christian principle. When I looked probed his wounded conscience; and at him, and called to mind that he was searched the depths of the wound, by once the endeared child of an affectionrepresenting to him what he had lost, ate mother, and the promising hope of and what he yet might gain. He no an indulgent father-when I saw him longer possessed the good opinion of so- sunk in woe and personal privation

[blocks in formation]


Young Man in Prison.


[VOL. 4 when I recollected the expectations rific wildness that compelled me, for a which his youthful promise had raised moment, to turn away my eyes. in all his relatives-when, too, the ex- could not bear to contemplate the cellent education which be had receiv- shocking image of suicide. He strug ed, and the talents which it had unfold- gled with the attendants to get his hands ed, occurred to me; and when I con- loose, that he might prevent the surtemplated the sad and piteous reverse geon from sewing up the wounded of all this which he now exhibited, I parts: this caused the blood to gush could not avoid regarding him as a afresh; at length, however, he sunk dreadful example of that subjugation fainting into that gentleman's arms, to evil, by which a youth, who discards who requested me to withdraw for a all restraints of pious and moral in- few moments, until he should adminisstruction, and opposes the perverseness ter the miserable patient a composing of his will to the advice of the wise, is medicine, if he should be able to receive induced to unite himself to the libertine it, upon his coming out of the fit, association of the wicked and the vile: I withdrew accordingly. When he at first, perhaps, without intending to recovered from this state of insensibility, go all lengths with them; but, at last, he made signs that he wished to write; compelled to do so, by an influence the materials were brought him; and which he cannot resist; and to which, he wrote the following words in a by the destructive habit of continued hurried and scarcely legible character. intercourse, he willingly surrenders all "For God's sake do not let Mr. his better prospects, and happier hopes. go away-I want him-I must see I had attended him as an old ac- him-bring him back-I will be, I quaintance of his family; and, I trust, am more composed." The surgeon's I may add, as the friend of his soul assistant came for me, and telling me and I was the more disposed to use my that he feared the wound was too large most anxious exertions to reclaim him and deep to be effectually sewn up, from his guilty course, because I fear- recommended me to be prompt in whated, that in his then distracted state of ever I wished to say or do, as he had mind, despair might lay hold of him, little doubt of his going off in the next and precipitate him into a lower deep attack of faintness.


of misery, in which he would find “no I re-entered the room; the blood place for repentance, none for pardon had ceased to flow, and his countenance left." My fears were too soon realized. appeared more calm and settled. The letter addressed to me, informed pointed to a chair at the head of the me of the fatal fact. I scarcely stopped bed, and clasping his hands in an attito read it through, and instantly has- tude of prayer, seemed to implore me tened to the prison; I cannot describe with great earnestness, to supplicate the borror of the scene that presented the Throne of Grace in his behalf. I itself. Upon a bed, in the apartment complied with his desire. I had finishappropriated to the purposes of an hos- ed, and had seated myself upon the bed pital, lay the ill-fated votary of this nearly overcome with oppression of world's false delight. The bed-clothes heart, when turning towards him, I were covered with his blood, which, in saw his eyes lifted upwards, and fixed in spite of all the efforts of the surgeon to a trance of fervor, in which he seemed staunch it, still oozed from the wound to be wholly absorbed. His lips moved with which the poor wretch had pierced as he lay engaged in mental prayer, but his throat. He had nearly divided the no articulate sound proceeded from windpipe, and all power of speech was them. I watched him for some minutes, completely destroyed. When I ap- when, suddenly discovering that I bad proached him, he looked up, and shook ceased to pray, he lifted his head from his head. Never shall I forget the the pillow, and seeing me seated by ghastly countenance, in which the agonies of despondence, remorse, and desperation, were all combined in a ter

him, he caught hold of my hand, and grasped it convulsively. The pain which the motion of his head had occasioned

VOL. 4.]

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

forced him to resume his former pos- he shed tears. As they rolled down his ture, but he still retained his hold of cheeks,the surgeon carefully wiped them me, as if he dreaded to let go lest he off, that the dressings might not be should sink for ever. It was with dif- disturbed by his own effort to do it. ficulty that I could command myself; I took this opportunity of rising from when, with a faultering voice, I entreat- the bed to depart, when, taking a diced him to be tranquil-"I will come tionary, which he requested in writing again to you in a few hours," said I, might be handed to him, he turned "when I hope in God you will be better over the leaves to find the principal able to attend to me.' He lifted up words by which he might convey his his left hand and spread it upon his meaning to me. By the means of this breast, by which I concluded that he expedient, the following communica meant to convey a grateful acquies- tion took place between us:— cence in my design. I then gradually attempted to withdraw my hand from his; but as I moved it, he pressed it more closely; and when I had succeeded in disengaging it, he raised his own and let it fall immediately, unable to support its weight. I left him with tion of seeing him alive at the hour tance will be accepted?"

little very

when I proposed to return.


"Can I be forgiven? Is there any hope for such a sinner as myself? O speak! you are a minister of God! Dare you bid me hope?"


Yes, I dare bid you trust in the Divine Mercy, if your repentance be sincere."

“How can I know that my repen

[ocr errors]

You have the warrant of your Saviour's words to justify your hope that it will be- I am come to seck and to save those that are lost.'

The time arrived, and to my great astonishment I found him sitting up in his bed, supported by pillows. The surgeon still continued with him, under "I fear I am lost for ever!" the apprehension that a hemorrhage "Not SO ! God is the judge! He would come on. As soon as the young looks upon the heart; and as he alone man saw me, he beckoned to me to can judge of the sincerity of your penicome near him; and writing upon a tence, he alone can give you hope of piece of paper, gave it me :-"O my forgiveness.' dear sir! My worthy friend! Comforter "O my kind friend! could I die in of my soul! do not-O do not, I be- this hope, I have no desire to live." seech you, let my rash action be ever "Do not mistrust the Power and imparted to my afflicted mother, should Will of your God and Saviour. Even she regain her senses." I promised it now he has touched your soul with conshould be kept from her knowledge. He viction that you require his forgiveness. would have bowed his head to thank Meditate upon this conviction until I me, but the stiffness of the wound see you to-morrow, and in the mean checked him. He then again made while I commend you to his Grace and signs for me to pray with him, and pre- Mercy." pared himself to join me, by putting He then closed the book, and signihis hands together. When my voice fied to the attendants that he would lie ceased, he closed his eyes, and remained down again. I bade him adieu, which perfectly still for near a quarter of an he answered with a look of assent. hour; and then opening them again On the morrow I repaired to him full upon me, 1 was rejoiced to see that again. I found by the report of the their frantic stare was changed for a surgeon that he had slept for three mild and complacent gaze-a smile of hours, and had awaked much refreshed, grateful respect reposed upon his lips; but that from the appearance of the and he again took my hand, but with wound there was great cause to apless force than before. His pressure prehend that mortification had taken was gentle, and repeated at intervals. place. I learnt also that he had emHe laid his other hand upon it, and for ployed nearly two hours in writing the first time since the dreadful deed a letter to me. When I went to him

« PreviousContinue »