Page images

chronicle of the daily and hourly incidents, which happened in the place. In the present instance, I could not have sought a more authentic source of information, as the circumstances of the adventure became officially under the cognizance of my friend, in his capacity of Chaplain to the Sherifl, the occurrence being nothing more nor less, than the trial, condemnation and suicide of a most daring and determined murderer-an individual of good family in the county, and of considerable attainments and talent. Since his condemnation, he had occupied himself in recording his confessions, a copy of which I now present to the public, as an extraordinary example of the evil effects of ill-regulated passions, and a total neglect of all religion: I shall give them without further comment, and leave the reader to make his own reflections. The Confessions of EDWARD WILLIAMS, written in the

Condemned (ell at Shrewsbury Jail; and addressed to

the Rev. J. R- Chaplain of the Prison. “ I have debated with myself long and earnestly as to the propriety of recording the present confessions; but as ihey may prove explanatory of the motives, which led to the commission of the deed, for which I am condemned to die, I am resolved, Sir, to pre sent them to your consideration, that you may make any use you please of them. But, let me make one observation: if


think their publication will prove salutary as a warning, you are mistaken—it will do no such thing; for if it did, -the thousands of lives, which have been immolated at the shrine of a sanguinary law, would have purified the world of crime, and rendered mankind universally virtuous.

“You know enough of my family to be acquainted with its worth and respectability-a condition, which has imbued my case with such eager interest to a wonder-loving public: but as the events of my own life were passed far away from the place of my birth, I shall briefly narrate them to you. When I first quitted the sanctuary of home, it was to accompany my cousin, Edwin Villars, to Oxford. You start at the name! Aye! and you shudder as you read it, for you see in it the name of my accursed victim !Accursed, do I say?-Aye! doubly accursed, if successful villainy, and a long course of exulting vengeance deserve to be accursed. Edwin was rich, while I was comparatively poor ;-he was crafty, designing, full of mystery and suspicion, and with a heart as cold and as hard as marble; while I was rash, impetuous, confiding, and candid, with a heart, open to every warm feeling, and actuatedfool, that I was !-by every impulse: it was this want of the world's wisdom, which rendered me so readily the dupe of others, and the victim of my kinsman's vengeance.

We pursued our studies together under the same tutor-a dull, quiet unan, who followed his vocation with easy regularity; and while Edwin soon engra ted himself into the good man's favour, my impctuous irregularities were a source of zore annoyance to him. However, he continued to instil no trivial portion of Greek, Latin, and Logic into my brains, and we both left the University, educated as young men of that period usually were.

Before we quitted College, however, I had formed an attachment to a young lady, the daughter of a clergyman's widow, who was residing near Oxford on a small, but genteel income. The principal charm of Mary Fenton was an inexpressible sweetness of manner, which characterized her every word and action. Gentle and timid as a dove, she soon won niy worship and my love; and I made no secret of it to any one: even had there been any cause for secresy, my candid and open-nay, if you please, imprudent-nature, would have soon revealed my conquest; but I had no reason to suppose, that any concealment was necessary; and finding that Mary Fenton loved ine in return, I enjoyed all the rapturous happiness of first and only love.

* During the whole of our College-life, Edwin and I were the best of boson-friends; and it gave me increased pleasure to find, that he approved of, and rejoiced at, my choice, representing it to our relatives, as every way worthy of their kinsman. You will not wonder, then, that I looked forward to my union with Miss Fenton, with all the joy and impatience, natural to persons in my situation; and, having obtained the consent of our parents, as soon as I could procure adequate means of subsistence, I used every effort to rise in my profession. But the joy of my young heart was not always to continue thus rapturous. I perceived a coolness in Mary's letters, very different to her usual affectionate style ; and, although at first, I attributed this to accident and indisposition, I soon became convinced, that it was perfectly serious and designed. I remonstrated by letter, and urged an avowal of the cause, but received only evasive answers, which provoked, while they saddened me : 1 could not endure the suspicion, that my own, my devoted and gentle Mary, was a dissimulator; and, determined to ascertain the cause, I hastened to Oxford, to hear from her own lips the reasolib for the change. Would that I had perished on the road ere I had discovered the treacherous design, which so nearly deprived me of my Mary, and, inflicted its first painful wound on my affectionate heart! My cousin, Edwin-my confidant-my friend-by a series of the most artful and ingenious methods, had instilled into Mary's mind, a suspicion of my fidelity, while he had represented the heedless follies, of youth, as vices of the deepest dye! An explanation ensued, when I regained my mistress, with the loss of my friend.

* Hastening homewards, I immediately sought an interview with Edwin, and accused him, qlone, of his treachery. I shall never forget his answer, or the fiendish expression of his countenance, as he uttered it. “You have found me out, then, my most sagacious cousin! I would you had waited another week, for Mary would, then, have been mine, and not your's. However," he continued, changing his sarcastic tone into one of frightful vehemence--" take her; and enjoy her; but know, from me, that I will be deeply revenged for my disappointment, and your triumph !" He left the room, as he spoke, leaving me in a state of breathless amazement. The next day Edwin quitted B-for London, where, under pretence of following his studies for the Bar, he entered into all the genteel dissipations of the metropolis.

“My father's practice as a solicitor increasing very considerably, it was arranged that I should be admitted as a partner, and, as soon as this was settled, that I should be united to Mary Fenton. The connexion, with my father, took place—my union with my beloved Mary ensued; and if ever there was a period in the life of any person, perfectly unalloyed with sorrow, it was the first year or two after these occurrences took place. As far as my worldly prospects were concerned, every thing was glad and prosperous : our business increased, Mary was the delight of my family, and, to crown my felicity, the probability of my being a father was duly approaching. This event, too, occurred, and my happiness was complete. My father, who, in addition to his private practice, held an appointment of some responsibility in the county, seeing the successful state of our business, became speculative; and commenced the building of a large mansion, on a farm, which he had purchased, a few miles from B-; and, in the hope of adding speedily to his income, he speculated largely in wool and grain. In these speculations, he was urged on, and occasionally joined by a "friend of the family," a neighbouring country gentleman who had already dissipated a considerable fortune, and who adopted this species of gambling in order to mend it. He was a shrewd, intelligent active man, extremely well calculated to influence my father, in a hobby of this kind; and, heedless and improvident as I myself was, I felt no trifling alarm at the extent of my father's speculations: and this, too, more especially, as I knew that, very frequently, the public money, entrusted to my father's charge, was often rendered available to the prosecution of these schemes.

“At first, as is usually the case, my father was very successful, clearing, by one speculation, more than three thousand pounds. His exultation was extreme; and, although I could not help, to a certain extent, sympathising in his joy, I had a sad foreboding, that it portended evil. Besides, I did not at all like or approve of the apparently so friendly interest of Mr. D, the "friend" before mentioned. I knew he had formerly been upon the most intimate terms with my cousin Villars, and, although I was aware that they had quarrelled, and that Mr. D never failed to speak ill and opprobriously of him, I had no faith in his professions. I had no particular reason for this, as Mr. D- was always particularly and even obsequiously friendly towards me; but I had an antipathy to him, which all his obsequiousness failed to remove.

“Our speculations—for I became, at last, involved in them, proved uniformly successful for a period of nearly three years; the mansion was finished, and our style of living advanced, so as to


compete with that of any person in the county. This, naturally, excited the envy of some, and the despisal of others, and

gave to strange remarks, and ill-natured insinuations : still, so long as we could preserve appearances, we were not destitute of seeming friends, and we continued to maintain our station amongst the first society in that part of the country. At length, the evil day, which I had anticipated with so much dread, and which, even amidst all our gaiety and profusion, would damp every delight, came upon us like a thunderbolt. My father was discovered to be a defaulter to the amount of several thousand pounds; the numerous creditors eagerly flocked in, but after every thing was sold-land, mansion, horses, carriages, plate, books, and all there remained but a 'dividend of five shillings in the pound, which was gladly accepted, and my father and I were thus preserved from the horrors of a prison. The stroke, however, was too great for my poor father; and in less than a month after his downfall, he was carried to the grave;

the victim of his own weakness and folly. On the very evening of the funeral, a letter was left for me, by an unknown person; it ran thus :— Edward Williams, you are a beggar, and by my means; my revenge has begun,--and begun well-it shall end as favour ably-Edwin Villars. P-S. How fares the lovely Mary?'”

(To be continued.)


I want a partner Beauty cried,
To share my labor, joy and sorrow,
One, who if heedful, could provide
The glass that modern beauties borrow.
What! though 'tis known a train I bear
Of ills-still loud my praise is chaunted,
Yet am I oft oppress'd with care,
And thus it is a partner's wanted.
Many offers soon were made,
Wit—the first who was accepted,
Soon threw Beauty in the shade,
This alas ! was ne'er expected,
Quarrels rose~and Wit rebell’d,
Nought her boldness ever daunted,
Beauty soon Wit's name expellid,
Thus, again, a partner's wanted.
Flatt'ry next preferr'd her claim,
Few her artifice detected,
Truth and Prudence, Pleasure, Fame,
All but Flatt'ry were rejected;
Beauty with delight unfeign’d,
Heard the praises Flatt'ry chaunted,
Ev'ry other suit disdain'd,
And laughing cried, “No partner's wanted !"

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

“I was only robbed once in thebush,—and I'll tell you how that happened.

“You remember Will Preston, that kept the sign of the Bronze Pigeon, up in Macquarie Plains, about ten years ago : well-Will had married my sister's husband's cousin; he drove a roaring trade, kept a capital 'store, and transacted all his business honestly and above-board, except now and then, when he'd buy a chest of tes ,

« PreviousContinue »