Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

said seals,) that they died for the said Rebecca : and whereas the said Rebecca persisted in the said evil practice ; this way of life the said society construed to be, according to former edicts, a state of death, and demanded an order for the interment of the said Rebecca.'

I looked upon the maid with great humanity, and desired her to make answer to what was said against her. She said, 'it was indeed true, that she had practised all the arts and means she could to dispose of herself happily in marriage, but thought she did not come under the censure expressed in my writings for the same; and humbly hoped I would not condemn her for the ignorance of her accusers, who, according to their own words, had rather represented her killing, than dead.' She further alleged, “That the expressions mentioned in the papers written to her, were become mere words, and that she had been always ready to marry any of those who said they died for her ; but that they made their escape as soon as they found themselves pitied or believed. She ended her discourse, by desiring I would, for the future, settle the meaning of the words, 'I die,' in letters of love.

Mrs. Pindust behaved herself with such an air of innocence, that she easily gained credit, and was acquitted. Upon which occasion, I gave it as a standing rule, “That any persons, who in any letter, billet, or discourse, should tell a woman he died for her, should, if she pleased, be obliged to live with her, or be immediately interred upon such their own confession, without bail or mainprize.'

It happened, that the very next who was brought

before me was one of her admirers, who was indicted upon that very head. A letter, which he acknowledged to be his own hand, was read ; in which were the following words ; 'Cruel creature, I die for you.' It was observable, that he took snuff all the time his accusation was reading. I asked him, 'How he came to use these words, if he were not a dead man?' He told me, 'He was in love with a lady, and did not know

any
other

way of telling her so; and that all his acquaintance took the same method.' Though I was moved with compassion towards him, by reason of the weakness of his parts, yet, for example's sake, I was forced to answer, ‘Your sentence shall be a warning to all the rest of your companions, not to tell lies for want of wit.' Upon this, he began to beat his snuffbox with a very saucy air ; and opening it again, "Faith Isaac, (said he,) thou art a very unaccountable old fellow.—Prythee, who gave thee power of life and death? What a pox hast thou to do with ladies and lovers ? I suppose thou wouldst have a man be in company with his mistress, and say nothing to her. Dost thou call breaking a jest, telling a lie? Ha! is that thy wisdom, old Stiffrump, ha?' He was going on with this insipid common-place mirth, sometimes opening his box, sometimes shutting it, then viewing the picture on the lid, and then the workmanship of the hinge, when, in the midst of his eloquence, I ordered his box to be taken from him ; upon which he was immediately struck speechless, and carried off stone dead.

The next who appeared, was a hale old fellow of sixty. He was brought in by his relations, who desired leave to bury him. Upon requiring a distinct account

of the prisoner, a credible witness deposed, 'That he always rose at ten of the clock, played with his cat' till twelve, smoked tobacco till one, was at dinner till two, then took another pipe, played at backgammon till six, talked of one Madam Frances, an old mistress of his, till eight, repeated the same account at the tavern till ten, then returned home, took the other pipe, and then to bed.' I asked him, what he had to say for himself? “As to what (said he) they mention concerning Madam Frances— I did not care for hearing a Canterbury tale, and therefore thought myself seasonably interrupted by a young gentleman who appeared in behalf of the old man, and prayed an arrest of judgment; for that he the said young man held certain lands by his the said old man's life. Upon this, the solicitor of the upholders took an occasion to demand him also, and thereupon produced several evidences that witnessed to his life and conversation. It appeared, that each of them divided their hours in matters of equal moment and importance to themselves and to the public. They rose at the same hour : while the old man was playing with his cat, the young one was looking out of his window ; while the old man was smoking his pipe, the young man was rubbing his teeth ; while one was at dinner, the other was dressing ; while one was at backgammon, the other was at dinner; while the old fellow was talking of Madam Frances, the young one was either at play, or toasting women whom he never conversed with. The only difference was, that the young man had never been good for anything ; the old man, a man of worth before he knew Madam Frances. Upon the whole, I ordered them to be both interred together, with in

[ocr errors]

scriptiɔns proper to their characters, signifying, 'That the old man died in the year 1689, and was buried in the year 1709. And over the young one it was said, "That he departed this world in twenty-fifth year of his death.'

The next class of criminals were authors in prose and verse. Those of them who had produced any still-born work, were immediately dismissed to their burial, and were followed by others, who, notwithstanding some sprightly issue in their life-time, had given proofs of their death, by some posthumous children, that bore no resemblance to their elder brethren. As for those who were the fathers of a mixed progeny, provided always they could prove the last to be a live child, they escaped with life, but not without loss of limbs ; for in this case, I was satisfied with amputation of the parts which were mortified.

These were followed by a great crowd of super annuated benchers of the inns of court, senior fellows of colleges, and defunct statesmen ; all whom I ordered to be decimated indifferently, allowing the rest a reprieve for one year, with a promise of a free pardor. in case of resuscitation.

There were still great multitudes to be examined ; but finding it very late, I adjourned the court; not without the secret pleasure that I had done my duty, and furnished out an handsome execution.

Trial of the Petticoat.

The court being prepared for proceeding on the cause of the petticoat, I gave orders to bring in a criminal who was taken up as she went out of the puppet-show about three nights ago, and was now standing in the street with a great concourse of people about her. Word was brought me, that she had endeavoured twice or thrice to come in, but could not do it by reason of her petticoat, which was too large for the entrance of my house, though I had ordered both the folding-doors to be thrown open for its reception. Upon this, I desired the jury of matrons, who stood at my right hand, to inform themselves of her condition, and know whether there were any private reasons why she might not make her appearance separate from her petticoat. This was managed with great discretion, and had such an effect, that upon the return of the verdict from the bench of matrons, I issued out an order forthwith, that the criminal should be stripped of her encumbrances, till she became little enough to enter my house. I had before given directions for an engine of several legs, that could contract or open itself like the top of an umbrella, in order to place the petticoat upon it, by which means I might take a leisurely survey of it, as it should appear in its proper dimensions. This was all done accordingly; and forth with,

« ПредишнаНапред »