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solute heathens. The force of truth has made Monsieur Bayle acknowledge, that if all the poisonings and assassinations which the intrigues of Paris give rise to, were known, it would be sufficient to make the most hardened and profligate shudder. Though such bloody events do not happen so often in London, they are, notwithstanding, but too frequent; and as the avarice of the old sometimes conspires with the passions of the young to produce them, the story I am going to relate, will, I hope, be not unedifying to the inhabi. tants of this city.
A citizen of Paris, who, though he could not amass wealth, for the acquisition whereof he had an inordinate passion, made, by his unwearied efforts, wherewithal to maintain his small family handsomely; he had a daughter, whose beauty seemed to be the gift of heaven, bestowed upon her to increase the happiness of mankind, though it proved, in the end, fatal to herself, her lover and her husband. Monsieur d’Escombas, a citizen advanced in years, could not behold this brilliant beauty without desire; which was in effect, according to the witty observation of Mr. Pope, no better than wishing to be the dragon which was to guard the Hesperian fruit. The father of Isabella, for that was the name of the young lady, was highly pleased at meeting with so advantageous a match for his daughter, as old d’Escombas was very rich, and willing to take her without a portion; which circumstance was sufficient, in the opinion of a man whose ruling passion was a sordid attachment to interest, to atone for the want of person, virtue, sense, and every other qualification. Isabella, who had no alternative but the choice of a convent or of M. d'Escombas, preferred being consigned to his monumental arms, to being as it were buried alive in the melancholy gloom of a convent. The consequences of this unnatural union were such as might be expected; as Madame d'Escombas in secret loathed her husband, her temper was in a short time soured by living with him, and she totally lost that ingenuous turn of mind and virtuous disposition which she had received from nature. Certain it is, that woman's virtue is never in greater danger, than when she is married to a man she dislikes; in such a case, to adhere strictly to the laws of honour, is almost incompatible with the weakness of human nature. Madame d’Escombas was courted by several young gentlemen of an amiable figure and genteel address: and it was not long before her affections were entirely fixed by Monjoy, an engineer, who was equally remarkable for the gentility
of his person, and politeness of his behaviour. There is not a city in the world where married women live with less restraint than at Paris; nothing is more common there, than for a lady to have a declared gallant, if I may be allowed the expression; insomuch that women in that gay and fashionable place may be justly said to change their condition for the reason assigned by Lady Townly in the play, namely, to take off that restraint from their pleasures which they lay under when single. Monsieur d'Escombas was highly mortified to see Monjoy in such high favour with his wife; yet he did not know how to get rid of him, though he had not the least doubt that he had dishonoured his bed. On the other hand, Madame d’Escombas and Monjoy, who looked upon the old man as an obstacle to their pleasures, were impatient for his death; and the lover often declared, in the presence of his mistress, that he was resolved to remove the man who stood between him and the happiness of calling her his own. In a word, he plainly discovered his intention of assassinating her husband; and she, by keeping the secret, seemed to give a tacit consent to his purpose. Their design was to marry publicly as soon as they could despatch a man who was equally odious to them both, as a spy who watched all their motions, and kept them under restraint. It was not long before Monjoy had the opportunity he wished for; he happened accidentally to sup with the husband of his mistress, at a house not far from the Luxemburgh palace, and supper being over, desired him to take a walk with him, which the old man, who dreaded Monjoy as much as he hated him, did not dare to decline. In their way thither, Monjoy found some pretence or other to quarrel with him; and having jostled him down, just as they came to the steps at the entrance of the garden, stabbed him several times in the back, and left him there breathless, and covered with wounds, which were given in such a manner, as made it evident to every body that he had been treacherously killed. It has been justly observed, that murderers often run headlong into the punishment which they have incurred by their crime: the conduct of Monjoy shows this observation to be just. No sooner had he committed the barbarous action above mentioned, but he went to a commissary, whose office is much the same in France with that of a justice of peace in England, and declared upon oath, that he had killed d'Escombas in his own defence. The commissary was at first satisfied with his account, and would have dismissed him; but Monjoy, being in a great flutter, and continuing to speak, dropt some words which gave the commissary a suspicion of his guilt. He accordingly sent for the body, and his suspicions were confirmed by a view of it. The assassin was then committed to the Chatelet, which is the city prison at Paris as Newgate is here; the body was likewise sent there, and, according to custom, exposed to public view, that the relations and friends of the deceased might come and lay claim to it. No sooner was Madame d’Escombas informed of her lover, but blinded with her compassion she went to visit him in his prison, and was there detained upon a suspicion of being an accomplice in the murder. * In the prison Madame d’Escombas and her gallant had plunged deep in guilty joys; and a child, whose education Madame Adelaid took charge of, after the tragical death of these lovers, was the fruit of their unlawful amours. Monjoy, though he rioted in bliss, and his passion for Madame d'Escombas continued unabated, was, however, from time to time seized with a deep melancholy; he knew himself to be guilty, and had not the least doubt but he should fall a victim to public justice; he therefore joined with the friends and relations of Madame d'Escombas, in endeavouring to persuade her to go to England, for he was aware of the weakness of human nature, and justly apprehensive that tortures would force from him a confession which would prove fatal to one who was dearer to him than himself. Madame d'Escombas, blinded by her passion for Monjoy, and doomed to destruction, would never give ear to this advice; she thought herself secure in her lover's attachment, and never once imagined that the near view of death might shake the firm resolution he had made never to impeach her. Just about the time that the murder above related was committed, the Parliament of Paris, which is the chief court of justice in the kingdom, and without the concurrence of which, no criminal can be brought to justice, was first removed to Pontoise, and then banished to Soissons, on account of their severe proceedings against the archbishop of Paris, who had given positive orders to all priests and curates, not to administer the sacrament to any but such as could produce certificates from their confessor. This circumstance procured our guilty lovers a year and a half of added life, for that space of time elapsed before the return of the parliament, and till then it was not possible to bring them to trial. They availed themselves of the time which they owed to the absence of their judges, and drauk
deep draughts of the cup of love; but it was dashed with poisonous ingredients, which at last made them both rue their ever having tasted it. They were roused from their trance of pleasure by the return of the parliament, which was no sooner recalled, but Monjoy was brought to a trial, and being upon full evidence found guilty of the murder of Monsieur d’Escombas, was condemned to be broke alive upon the wheel. Amidst all the torments which he suffered in receiving the question ordinary and extraordinary, he persisted to affirm that he had no accomplices; and the guilty wife of d'Escombas would have escaped from justice, had not a principle of religion, imbibed from his infancy, had more power upon the mind of her lover, than even the most excruciating bodily pain.
The confessor who attended Monjoy upon the scaffold, refused positively to give him absolution, if he did not discover his accomplices, telling him in the most peremptory sense, that he could not hope for salvation, if he concealed them from the knowledge of the world. This had such an effect upon the unhappy man, who was on the verge of eternity, that he desired Madame d’Escombas might be sent for: she was accordingly brought in a coach, and Monjoy told her in the presence of the judges, that she was privy to the murder of her husband. Upon hearing this she immediately faintcd away, and was carried back to prison. Her lover was, pursuant to his sentence, broken alive upon the wheel, after having made a pathetic remonstrance to the standersby; and Madame d’Escombas was about a month afterwards hanged at the Greve at Paris, upon his impeachment. Such examples as these show, that the misfortunes which attend unlawful love, are often owing to the cruelty of parents, who, by tyrannizing over the hearts of their children, lead them into that ruin which they might have escaped, if treated with indulgence.
AN ALLEGORY. In a dream I thought myself in a solitary temple—I saw a kind of phantom coming towards me, but as he drew near, his form expanded and became more than human; his robe hung majestically down to his feet; six wings whiter than snow, whose extremities were edged with gold, covered a part of his body: then I saw him quit his material substance, which he had put on not to terrify me: his body was of all the colours of the rainbow. He took me by the hair, and I was sensible I was travelling in the etherial plains without any dread, with the rapidity of an arrow sent from a bow drawn by a supple and nervous arm. A thousand glowing orbs rolled beneath me: but I could only cast a rapid glance on all those globes distinguished by the striking colours with which they are diversified. I now suddenly perceived so beautiful, so flourishing, so fertile a country, that I conceived a strong desire to alight upon it. My wishes were instantly gratified; I felt myself gently landed on its surface, where I was surrounded by a balmy atmosphere. I found myself reposing at the dawn on the soft verdant grass. I stretched out my arms, in token of gratitude, to my celestial guide, who pointed to a resplendent sun, towards which, swiftly rising, he disappeared in the luminous body. I rose and imagined myself to be transported into the garden of Eden. Everything inspired my soul with soft tranquillity. The most profound peace covered this new globe; nature was ravishing and incorruptible here, and a delicious freshness expanded my sense to ecstasy; a sweet odour accompanied the air I breathed; my heart, which beat with an unusual power, was immerged in a sea of rapture; while pleasure, like a pure and immortal light, penetrated the inmost recesses of my soul. The inhabitants of this happy country came to meet me; and after saluting me, they took me by the hand. Their noble countenances inspired confidence and respect; innocence and happiness were depicted in their looks; they often lifted their eyes towards heaven, and as often uttered a name which I afterwards knew to be that of the Eternal, while their cheeks were moistened with the tears of gratitude. I experienced great emotion while I conversed with these sublime beings. They poured out their hearts with the most sincere tenderness; and the voice of reason, most majestic, and no less melting, was, at the same time, conveyed to my enraptured ear. I soon perceived this abode was totally different from that which I had left. A divine impulse made me fly into their arms: I bowed my knees to them; but being raised up in the most endearing manner, I was pressed to the bosoms that inclosed such excellent hearts, and I conceived a presentiment of celestial amity, of that amity