Huntingdon journal. (Huntingdon, Pa.) 1843-1859, October 16, 1849, Image 1

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A STonw OF THE PRESS GANG. 1 ausly interpreted. A knock came to
I the door, and• that person entered to
Tile wrongs of a Wife and Revenge : know at what time Mrs.- , she had
of a Husband. i forgotten the young woman's name, ex-
Henry Mason had married Esther pected the dinner, she, the landlady had
, •Woodford, the widow of Jabez IVood- , undertaken to cook.
fa !d, who was killed by an necidental I Esther thi.idly replied that her hus ,
'MI ii. the Plymouth dockyard, of which , bated had promised to return in two or
he was foreman. Henry had loved Es- three hours at latest ; and that she did
then when a girl, but she had in a jealous not comprehend his continued absence
pive, married Woodford. After the —was indeed quite alarMed about it—
cfenth of her husband, she went to live " Your Husband !" said the woman,
try;th her brother-in-law, taking with her glancing insolently at Esther's figure.
in wily child, Willy, a sweet boy, but of "Are you sure lie it your husband I"
weak intellect. Her old love was re. 1 The hot blood suffused the temples of
vived, nod Henry Mason, who had be- the iudignaut wife as she said; " This
come a mate of a first class Merchant- apartment, madam, I believe is.inine 1"
man, belonging to the respectable hou se " Oh, certainly; as long as you Can
of Messrei , linberts of London, married ' pay for it ;" and rudely slumming the
the widow Esther. The evesitsiail their dour, the landlady departed.
subsequent iite are (tins related in t lie , The wietched night at last over, Es
4,f!titites of a distinguished Barrister." titer rose with the light ; and after giv
,ai It was about eight months after his lug her son his bi eakfust from the re ,
marriage—though he had been profits- mains of that of the day before, set off
enough employed in the interim— : with him to the place of business of the
at Henry !Vinson, in consequenee of the . Messrs. Roberts. it teas early, and one
welcome announcement tiatt the new clerk only had as yet arrived nt the of
brig was at last ready for her captain fice. use informed her that Mr. Henry
and cargo, arrived in London to enter ' Mason had not been seen, and that the
upon his new appointment. ! partners were greatly annoyed about it,
"These lodgings, Esther," said he as as his immediate presence was absolute
he was preparing to go out, soon after ly necessary.
brcitkfitet, on the morning after his ar. Stunned, terrified, bewildered by thb '
rival, " are scarcely the thug; and Its I, frightful calamity which she believed
Bice you, am a stranger in the Cockney. : had befallen her, she felt convinced that
lend, 1 had better consult some of the her husband had been entrapped and
iitin upon the subject before we decide murdered for Om sake of the money he
upon permanent ones. In the mean- had about hint; the wretched woman
time, you and W illy must mind and tottered back .to her lodgings, ntid threw
keep in doors when I um not with you, herself on the bed in wild despair.—
of I shall have one or the other of you . What was to be done for food even for
l est i n this great wildernes of a city. 1 lice boy I Her husband had not only
shall return in twoor three hours. I will his pocket book with him containing his
qrder something for dinner as Igo along; la rger money, but had taken her purse!
I have your purse. Good-by : God bless , She was alone and penniless in a strange
itoti both."l city ! The hungry wailings of her wit
Inquiring his way every two or three; less child towards evening at length
minutes, Mason presently found himself: aroused her from the stupor of despair
to the vicinity of Toner Stairs. A ! into which sh: had fallen. The miser
seuffie in front of a public house attract.' able resource of pawning recurred to
' ed his ciention ; and his ready sympa. her; she could at least, by pledging
tides were in an Instant enlisted in be- part of her wardrobe, procure suste
half of a young sailor, vainly struggling nance for her child till she could hear
in the grasp of several athelic men, and from her sister ; and with trembling
crying lustily on the gaping bystanders hands she began arranging a bundle of
fur help. Mason sprang forward, caught such things as she could best spar;
one of the assailants by the collar, nnd when the landlady abruptly entered the
hurled him with some violence against room, with a peremptory demand—as
the wall. A fierce outcry greeted this her husband had not returned, and did
anu aei.ais interference with gentlemen not appear likely to do so— for a month's
who, in these good old times, were but rent in advance, that being the term the
executing the law in a remarkably good apartments were engaged for. Thetears,
old manner. Lieut. Dunnaghtte, a some• entreaties expostulations, of the miser
what celebrated snapper up of loose mar- I able wife were of no avail. Not one ar
riners, emerged upon the scene; and in 1 title, the woman declared, should heave
a few minutes was enabled to exult in the', her house till the claim was settled. She
secure posses: ion of an additional prize affected to doubt, perhaps realy did so,
• in the unfortunate Henry Mason, who, . thit Esther was married j and hinted
too late, discovered that lie had embroil- coarsely at an enforcement of the laws
ed himself with a pee-s gang 1 Deeper- . against persons who had no , visable
ate. frenzied were the courts he made , ineans of subsistence, In a paroxysm
to extricate himself from the peril in of despair, the unhappy woman rushed
winch lie had rashly involved himself. out of the house; and accompanied by
In vain ! His protestations that he was her hungry child ‘ again sought the coun
t) titat-s, e c , .piaiii in the merchant sac- . tine. hoitee of the Messrs. Roberts. She
vice, v..c, e I:lilleeded or mocked at.was now as much too late as she had
To all his remonstrances he only got I been tomaitarly in the morning; the part
the professional answer—" His majesty aces pod clerks had gone, and she ap
wants yea and that is enough come. pears to Retie been treated with some
along, and no more about it." rudeness by the porter, who was closing
Bruised, exhausted and almost mad, the premises when she arrived. Possi.
he was borne off in triumph to a boat, bly the wildness of her looks, and the
into which he was thrust with several incoherence of her speech arid manner,
others, and swiftly rowed off to a recei- , produced an impression unfavorable to
sing ship in the river.--Even there hislier.—Retracing tier steps—penniless,
assertions and protestations were of no I hungry, sick at heart—she thought, as
avail. Nothing but an admiralty order 1 she afterwards declared, that she recog ,
the officer tuld him should effect his I nixed my wife in one of the numerous
libetation. His majesty was in need i ladies seated before the counters of a
of seamen; and he was evidently tool fashionable shop in one of the busiest
smart a one to be deprived of the glory' thoroughfares. Site entered, and not
of serving his country. " You must' till she approached close to the lady dis
therefore," concluded the officer, as lie pottered her mistake. She turned de ,
turned laughingly on his heel, "do as spairing,ly away,.; when . a piece of rich
thousands of other fine fellows have lace, lying apparently unheeded on the
b, 7n) compelled—" grin and bear counter, : met her eye, and a dreadful
it." lii about three weeks from the date i suggestion crossed her fevered brain;
of this imprisonment, Maio. found him- j here at least was the means of procu..
self serving in the Alediterailean on I ring food for her wailing child. She
board the "Active" irigate, Capt. Alex- I glanced hastily and fearfully round. No
adder Gordon, without inn' inf.*. been per- , eye, she thought, observed her; and,
mated one opportunity of cianentioca- 1 horror of horrors ! a moment after.
tiqg with the shore. This was certain- , wards. she had concealed the lace 'he
ly very 'sharp, but it was i:ot the less 1 neath her shawl, and with tottering feet
very common practice in ilia, I reat days l ' was hastily leaving the shop. She haul
ortriumphant battles icy land and sea. I not taken half a 'dozen steps when a
Vsety drearily pas,,sl the time with ! heavy hand was laid spun lice shoulder.
the bereaved wife. Her husband prom. : nod a voice, as of a serpent hissing in
iced to send home something for dinner, I her ear, commanded her to restore the
and various groceries; yet hour Mier ' lace she had stolen.—Transfixed With
hour Went past, and nothing arrived. I shame and terror, slie.atotul rooted to
Morning flushed into noon, day faded i the spot, and the lace fell on the floor.
into twilight. and. still the. well known I "Tett:liven , officer," said the harsh
and always eager step sounded not upon' voice. addressing one of the shopirien. •
the stair,. What could have detained 1. ," No—no—me screamed the wtetch
hini from his wife,' shut tip, inapri:tined, , ed woman falling op her knees in wild
as it were, iii that hot, burryitig,, stifling l'stspplication. ...For iny, child's, sake—
eity.l. She feared to listen to the stia , l irc mercy of the innocent babe as yet
gestions of her forboding heart; and I unborn=-have, pity
.and.forgive too!"
with feverish restlessness t oo out .upon 1 The harsh order .was reiterated ; and
the landing, and peered over the stairs Esther Masun, fainting.with shame and
every dine alttioelt or a ring was heard . agony, was eoiiveyesl.. to the prison in
at the street door. 'rids strange belie- Giltspur street. The next day she was.'
vior was, it seems, noticed by the land. fully committed to Newgate on the cap
lady of the lodging house, and injuri- ital charge of privately stealing in a
shop to the value of five pounds. A few
hours after her incarceration within
those terrible walls, she was premature
ly delivered of a female child.
I have no moral doubt whatever, I
never had, that at the time of the commit
tal of the felonious act, the intellect of
Esther Mason was disordered. Any
other supposition is inconsistent with
the whole tenor of her previous
life and character. " Lead us not into
temptation" is indeed the holiest be
cause the humblest prayer.
Three weeks had elapsed before the
first intimation reached me, in a note
from the chaplain of Newgate, an ex
cellent, kind hearted man, to whom Mrs.
'Alason had confided tier sad story. I
immediately- hastened to the prison ; and
i in a long interview with her, elicited the
foregoing statement. I readily assured
her that all which legal skill could do to
extricate her from the awful posi
tion in which she stood, the gravity of
Which I did not affect to conceal, should
'be done. The °fleece with which she
was charged had supplied the scafibld
with numberless victims; and trades
men were more than ever clamorous for
the stern execution of a law which, spite
of experience they still regarded as the
only safeguard •of their property. My
wife was overwhelmed with grief; and
in her anxiety to save her unhappy fos
ter-sister, sought without my knowledge
an interview with the prosecuter, in the
hope of inducing him not to press the
charge, Her efforts were unavailing.
He had suffered much, he said, from
such practices, and was, " upon princi
ple" determined to make an example of
every offender he could catch. As to
the plea that her husband had been for
-1 cibly carried off by a pressgang, it was
absurd ; for what would become of the
the property of tradesmen if the wife
of every sailor so entrapped were al
lowed to plunder shops with impunity 1
This magnificent reasoning wasof course
unanswerable ; and the rebuked petition
er abandoned her bootless errand in de
ep/dr.—Messrs. Roberts, I should have
mentioned, had by some accident dis
, covered the nature of the misfortune
which had befallen their officer, and had
already made urgent application to the
Admiralty for his release.
The Old Bailey sessions did not come
on for some time ; 1, however, took care
to secure at once, us I did not myself
practice in that court, t h e highest talent
' which its bar afforded. 11 illy, who
had been placed in a workhouse by the
authorities; we had properly taken care
of till he could be restored to his moth
er ; or in the event of her conviction, to
his relatives in Devonshire.
The sessions were nt last on: a " true
bill" against Esther Mason for shoplift
ing, as itilitas popularly termed, was un
hesitatingly found, and with a heavy
heart 1 wended my way to the court to
watch the proceedings. A few minutes
after I entered, Mr. Justice Le Blanc
and Mr. Baron Wood, who had assisted
at an important case of stockjobbing
I conspiracy, just over, left the bench ; the
learned recorder being doubtless con
sidered quite equal to the trial of a mere
capital charge of theft.
The prisoner was placed in the dock ;
but try as I might, I could not look at
her. It happened to be a calm, brig . it
Summer day ; the air, as if in mockery
of those death sessions, humming with
busy, lusty life ; so that, sitting with
my back to the prisoner, I could, us it
were, read her demeanor in the shadow
thrown by her figure on the opposite
sunlig,hted wall. There she stood, du
ring the brief moments which sealed her
earthly demo, with downcast eyes and
utterly dejected posture; her thin fin
! gers playing mechanically with the
1 flowers and sweet scented herbs spread
scantily before her. The trial was very
brief ; the evidence, emphatically given
and vainly cross-examined. Nothing
remained but un elaherote ad misericoi•
demise excusative defence, which had
been prepared by me, and which the
prisoner begged' her counsel mi ! rlit be
allowed to read. This was of coarse re
fused ; the recorder reniarki.ig, they
might well allow coansel for felons
to address juries, as read defences; and
that, as every practical man knew, would
be subversive of the dire administration
of justice. The clerk of the court
would read the paper if the prisoner felt
too agitated to do so, 'ibis was done ;
and very vilely done: ' The clerk, I dare
say, read as well as he was able; but
old, near-sighted, ind possessed of any
thing but a clear enunciation, what
could be expectedl he defense, so
read, produced not the slightest effect
either on the court or jot y. The recur: e:
briefly commented on the conclusiveness
of the evidence for the prosecution ; and
the jury, in the same brief, business-like
.manner, returned a verdict of guilty
' "What have you to say," demanded
the clerk, "why sentence of death should
not be pronounced upon you, according
to law V'
The shadow started convulsively as
the terrible words fell from the man's
lips; and 1 saw that the upraised eyes
of the prisoner were fastened on the foie
of the fearful questioner. The lips too,
appeared to move ; but no sound reach
ed my ears.
"Speak, woman," said the recorder,
"if you have anything to urge before
sentence is pronounced."
I started tip, and turning to the pHs=
oner, besought her in accents to speak.
"Remind them of the infant at your
breast—your husband''—
"Who is that conferring with the
prisoner 1" demanded the judge in an
angry voice.
iturned and confronted him with a
look as cold and haughty as his own.--
He did not think proper to pursue the
inquiry further; and nfter muttering
something about the necessity of not in
terrupting the proceedings of the court,
again asked the prisoner if she had any
thing to urge.
"Not for - myself—not for my sake,"
at last faintly murmured the trembling
woman ; "but for that of my poor dear
infant—my poor witless boy ! Ido not
think I was in my right mind. I was
starving. I was friendless. My hus
band, too, whom you have heard"—
She stopped abruptly ; and a choking
sob struggled in her throat ' • and but for
the supporting arm of one of the turn
, keys, . she would have fallen to the
"Unhappy, guilty woman," said the
recorder, with the coolness of a demon,
"the plea of insanity you would set up
is utterly untenable. Your husband it
seems, is serving his majesty in the roy
al navy, defending his country, whilst
his wife was breaking its laws, by the
commission of a crime, which, but for
the stern repression of the law, would
sap the foundations of the security of
property, and"—
. .
I could endure no more. The atmos
phere of the court seemed to stifle me ;
and 1 rushed for relief into the open air.
Before, however, I had reached the
street, a long, piercing scream informed
me that the learned judge had done his
No effort was spared during the inter
val which !elapsed previous to the re
corder presenting his report to the privy
council—a peculiar privilege at that
time attached to the office—to procure a
mitigation of the sentence. A petition,
setting forth the peculiar circumstances
of the case, was carefully prepared ;
and by the indefatigable exertions elan
excellent Quaker gentleman, r whom, as
he is still alive, and might not choose
to have his name blazoned to the world,
' I will call William Friend—was soon
very numerously signed. The prose
cutor, however, obstinately refused to
' attach his name to the document; and
! the absence of his signature—aa strange
ly did men reason on such twitters in
those days—would, it was feared, weigh
heavily against the success of the peti
tion. T d amiable and enlightened Sir
Samuel Romilly not only attached his
' name, but aided us zealously by his ad
vice and influence. In short, nothing
was omitted that appeared likely to at=
tain the desired object.
i Two days before the petition was to
be forwarded to the proper quarter, Hen
ry Mason arrived in England, the exer
tions ol his employers having procured
his discharge. "The Active" was one
of Captain Hoste's squadron, which ob
tained the celebrated victory oft Lissa,
! over the Franco Venitian fleet comman
ded by Admiral Dobourdieu. Henry
Mason, it appeared by the testimonials
of the Captain and officers of his ship,
had greatly distinguished himself in the
action. We enclosed these papers with
the petition ; and then awaited with
anxious impatience the result of the re
corder's report. It was announced to
me as I was sitting somewhat later than
usual at my chaaibers, by Mr. William
Friend. The judgment to die was con
firmed ! All our representations had
nut sufficed to
. coanterbalance the sup
posed necessity of exhibiting terrible
examples of the fate awaiting the perpe
trators of an offence said to to be in.
creasing. Excellent William Friend
wept like a child
.at the announcement.
There are many persons alive who
recollect this horrible tragedy—this na
tional disgraCe—this act of horrid bar.
barity on the part of the great person
ege who, first having carried off the
poor woman's husband, left her to die
for an act the very consequence of that•
robbery. Who among the spectators
can ever forget that heart rending scene
—the hangman taking the baby from
the breast of the wretched .creature just
before he put her to death ! But let us
not rake up these terrible reminiscences.
Let us hope that the truly guilty are for-.
given. And let us take consolation
from reflecting that this event led the
great Romily to enter on his celebrated
career as a reformer of the criminaLlaw.
The remains of Esther Mason were
obtained from the Newgate officials, and
quietly interred in St. Sepulchre's
churchyard. A plain slab with her name
only plainly chiseled upon it, was sortie
time afterwards placed upon the grave.
A few years ago I attended n funeral in
the same churchyard ; and after a slight
search, discovered the spot. The in
scription, though of course much worn,
Was still quite legible.
I had not seen Henry Mason since
his return; but I was glad to hear from
Mr. William .Friend that, after the first
passionate burst of rage and grief had
subsided, he had, apparently at least,
thanks to the tender and pious expostmi
latious of his wife—with whow, by the
kind intervention of the sheriffs, he was
permitted long and frequent interviews
—settled down into czerriness and res
ignation. One thing. only he would not
bear to hear, even from her, and that
was any admission that she had been
guilty of even the slightest offence. A
hint of the kind, however unintentional,
would throw him into a parcxysm
of fury ; and the subject was conse ,
quently in his presence studiously
A few days after the exedUtion, Mr.
William Friend culled on me just after
breakfast ; accompanied by the bereaved
husband. I never saw so changed a
man. All the warm kindliness of his
nature had vanished, and was replaced
by a gloomy, fierce austerity, altogether
painful to contemplate.
"Well, sir," said he, as he barely.
touched my proffered hand, "they have
killed her, you see, spite of all you could
say or do. It much availed me, too, that
I had helped to wln their boasted victo
ries ; and he laughed with savage bit
"Henry—Henry !" exclaimed WU
liam Friend in a reproving accent.
" 0 ell, well, sir rejoined Mason impa
tiently, you are a good man, and have
of course your own notions on those
matters : 1 also have mine. Or perhaps
you think it is only the blood of the rich
and great which, shed unjustly, brings
forth the iron harvest 1 Forgive me"
he added, checking himself, 6 1 respect
you both; but my heart is turned to
stone. You do not know—none ever
knew but I—how kind, how loving; how
gentle was that poor long suffering
Ho turned from us to hide the terrible
agony which convulsed him.
"Henry," said Mr. Friend, taking him
kindly by the hand, we pity thee sin
cerely, as thou k newest, but thy bitter
revengeful expressions are unchristian:
sinful. The authorities whom thou, not
the first time, railest on so wildly, acted
be sure of it, from a sense of duty ; a
mistaken one, in my opinion, doubtless,
"Say no more, sir," interrupted Ma•
son. "We differ in opinidn upon the
subject. And now gentlemen, farewell.
I wished to see you, sir, before I left this
country forever, to thank you for your
kind, though fruitlesi exertions. Mr.
Friend has promised to be steWurd for
poor Willy for all I can remit for his
use. Farewell. God bless you both."
lie was gone:
War soon afterwards broke out with
the United States of America, and Mr.
Friend discovered that one of the most
active and daring officers in the Repub
lican navy was Henry Mason, who had
entered the American service in the mai•
den name of his wife ; and that the large
sums he had remitted from time to time
for the use of illy, were the produce
of his successful depredations on British
commerce. The instant Mr. Friend
made the discovery, he declined all fur
ther agency in the matter. Mason, how
ever contrived to remit through some
other channel to the Davie's, u ith whom
the boy had been placed, and a rapid im
provement in their circumstances was
soon visible. These remittances ceas
ed about the middle of the year 1814 ;
and a twelvemonth after the peace with
America, we ascertained that Henri•
Mason had been killed in the battle of
Lake Champlain, where he had distin
guished himself, as everywhere else, by
the reckless during and furious hate with
which he fought against the country
whi c h he accused of the murder of his
wife. He was recognized by one of his
former inessinates in the "active ;" who,
conveyed a prisoner on board the Amer
ican commander Mcdonwigh's ship, re
cognized him as he lily stret i ched o n t h e
deck, in the uniform of an American na
val officer ; his countenance, even in
death, wearing the same scornful, defi
ant expression which it assumed on the
day that his beloved Esther perished on
the scaffold.
11 , 1ATents.--.Do you keep thatches here
asked a wag of a retailer. 'Oh, yes all
kinds.' 'Then I'll take a trotting match.'
VOL, XIV, NO. 40
A number of the Columbia Sentinel,
(Benjamin Russel's paper,) for January
8, 1800, says a late Boston paper, is be
fore us. It was the time that funeral
honors Were being paid to the memory
of George Watihington. The follow
ing little waif we copy from the Centi
nel. It is replete with meaning, though
very simple, and conveys an idea of the
effect produced when it was announced
that 'George Washington was no more.'
be,!-----said the grey•haired
corporal—his eyes were filled with a
watery humor, and he was obliged to
take out his handkerchief. He forgot
the mug of beer which he called for—
shouldered his walkingstirk, then rever
sing it, marched home at a slow march.
The General is dead, Phcebe,' said
he, as he made a halt and sat down.
Is he sir V—Plicebc was emptying
her milk-pall, and the pail fell as she put
her checked apron tip to her eyes.
—A little girl, at this instant, came
running in from school—'What is the
matter Phcehe V said she—General
Washington's dead !' sobbed out Phoebe.
Is he V the girl sat down to cry.
Moses had just put up the Cows, and
come in to dry his feet before he went
to singing school.
What s the matter Mina V said ho
to his little sister:
General Washington is dead !' she
could hardly lisp.
Moses forgot his feet were wet, and
sat down in one corner whilst he whiped
his eyes with the sleeve of his frock.
Ph - cebe was still standing with her
apron to her fadb.
Jemima had retired to her little blalk
in the chimny corner.
Moses had wet his frock sleeve through
and through:
When the old Corporal raised his head
from the top of his walkingstick.—
Thmbe,' said he, 'you need not make any
hasty pudding to-tught
. No, sir!'
Jeminia nt length said tier prayers to
her sister and went to bed.
The whole family shortly followed her
example, and even Moses raked up the
fire and retired to his garret ; entirely
forgetting that he was to have learned
St. Martin's that evening.
By day break next morning, the old
than had got on his regimentals, which
had remained in his oak chest et•er since
his return from West Point. He knock
ed up a neighboring shop-keeper to get
a yard of black ribbon, and his grief
seemed to be somewhat more calm when
tie lied tied a piece of this around his
left arm, and Phirbe had made a bow- ,
knot en the top of his walking stick.
Jf mima seeing her father thus trim
ming himself with black ribbon, held up
her little hands—'l too,' said she.
The old Corporal smiled upon her, and
made a shift to tie a knot upon her arm
.1 hoped Once, Moses, that you would
fight the enemies of nor country with
him; but god's will be done, as our
Minister told me when your mother
died. The old General is done fight
ing now. I heard the chaplain of the
army say once when he was burying the
Colonel; that he supposed the ghost of
the good man Saw all that was done here
among us—and could take out of harm's
way all they used to love in the world.
1 suppose, Moses, the General is look
ing at us now! For lam sure he was a
good man—and if our soldiers should
have to fight the French why, he would
be among 'em, and give orders, too, only
we shouldn't see him
POTATOES.—From year to year we
have carefully chronicled the appear
ance of the potato crop us it approached
the season of maturity. We have this
year made many inquiries of our far
mers, and they uniformly state that the
tubers of this crop are more numerous
and agreeable than at an time since the
peculiar decay, which has of late years
proved so destructive, first began ; and
do more signs of unsoundness are ex•
hibited than were known in the `pa!mi•
est' and mealiest days of this valuable
esculent. For many years we have had
extremely wet weather when the potato
was in the most critical period of its
growth. 'This has undoubtedly contrib
uted very greatly to their decay, if it
has not been the cause. This year . the
weather has been peculiarly favorable
—the roots having never been more
than sufficiently moistened. e appre
hend this is the true reason of the
change, although from the universality
of the former loss it may be fully infer•
red that the disease had its origin in
sue enknown atmospheric phenomenon.
Hereafter the year of the cholera will
probably be remembered as the year
when the crop recovered its ancient vig
or and excellepce.--.-Buffato •Rdvcrtfaer.