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interment; I have set apart Wednesday, the twentyfirst instant, as an extraordinary court-day for the hearing of both parties. If, therefore, any one can allege why they, or any of their acquaintance, should or should not be buried, I desire that they may be ready with their witnesses at that time, or that they will for ever after hold their tongues.
N. B. This is the last hearing on this subject.
N° 110. THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 1709.
Quæ lucis miseris tam dira cupido?
VIRG. Æn. vi. 721.
Sheer-lane, December 21. As soon as I had placed myself in my chair of judicature, I ordered my clerk, Mr. Lillie, to read to the assembly, who were gathered together, according to notice, a certain declaration, by way of charge,
of my session, which tended only to this explanation, that as other courts were often called to demand the execution of persons dead in law; so this was held to give the last orders relating to those who are dead in reason. licitor of the new company of Upholders near the Haymarket appeared in behalf of that useful society, and brought in an accusation of a young woman, who herself stood at the bar before me. Mr. Lillie read her indictment, which was in substance, · That, whereas Mrs. Rebecca Pindust, of the parish of Saint Martin in the Fields, had, by the use of one instrument called a looking-glass, and by the farther use of certain attire, made either of cambric, muslin,
or other linen wares, upon her head, attained to such an evil art and magical force in the motion of her
eyes and turn of her countenance, that she the said Rebecca had put to death several young men of the said parish; and that the said young men had acknowledged in certain papers, commonly called love-letters, which were produced in court, gilded on the edges, and sealed with a particular war, with certain amorous and enchanting words wrought upon the 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 farther 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 person, 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 the lady, and did not know
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 examplesake 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 snuff-box with a very saucy air; and opening it again, Faith, Isaac,' said he, thou art a very unaccountable old fellow-Pr’ythee, 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 to 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 commonplace 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 de
sired 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 until twelve, smoked tobacco until one, was at dinner until two, then took another pipe, played at back-gammon until six, talked of one Madame Frances, an old mistress of his, until eight, repeated the same account at the tavern until 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 Madame Frances —
I did not care for hearing the Canterbury tale, and, therefore, thought myself seasonablyinterrupted by a young gentleman who appeared in the 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,
young man was rubbing his teeth; while one was at dinner, the other was dressing ; while one was at back-gammon, the other was at dinner ; while the old fellow was talking of Madame 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 any thing; the old man, a man of worth before he knew Madame Frances. Upon the whole, I ordered them to be both interred together, with inscriptions 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 the 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 lifetime, 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 superannuated 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 free pardon 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 a handsome execution.
Going out of the court, I received a letter informing me, that, in pursuance of the edict of justice in one of my late visions, all those of the fair sex began to appear pregnant who had run any hazard of it; as was manifest by a particular swelling in the petticoats of several ladies in and about this great city.' I must confess, I do not attribute the rising of this part of the dress to this occasion, yet must own, that I am very much disposed to be offended with such a new and unaccountable fashion. I shall, however, pronounce nothing upon it, until I have