19th century scandal, antebellum women

1 Comment

There’s plenty of scandalous behavior in EIGHTH WONDER, sexual impropriety, adultery, murder, revenge, kidnapping and treachery.  All swirling around the blind, autistic slave who began playing Mozart at three.

The 19th century with its high etiquette standards and brewing racial tensions, coupled with the pretensions of the southern gentry, provided plenty of fodder for men and women.  There are some interesting articles below on scandals of the antebellum era:

From: Brown University:

Women, Sexuality and Murder in 19th Century America

An exhibition from the collections of the John Hay Library
April 1 – May 15 1996

Sarah Cornell

The exhibition at the John Hay Library focuses on sexual scandals and murders in 19th century America that involved women in a significant way: as victims, as perpetrators, or as involved bystanders. The books, pamphlets, and broadsides on display reflect period attitudes on adultery, abortion and contraception, domestic abuse, and illegitimacy. Most noteworthy, perhaps, is how closely many of these events mirror contemporary issues concerning women, sexuality, and murder.

A scandal of particular interest locally is the death of Sarah Cornell, a pregnant factory girl of Fall River, Massachusetts, and the trial of the Rev. Ephraim Avery for her murder. In Boston, the trial of Albert Tirrell for the murder of Maria Bickford is noteworthy for the successful employment of the defense of sleepwalking.

New York, with its rapidly evolving urban culture and expanding population, was the scene of a number of well-known murder cases in the 19th century. The murder of the beautiful prostitute Ellen Jewett was widely reported in the developing penny press in the 1830s; the mysterious death of the “beautiful cigar girl” Mary Rogers a few years later caused an even greater public furor, and attracted the attention of Edgar Allan Poe, whose story The mystery of Marie Roget was based on the case. Mary’s death, like that of dressmaker Alice A. Bowlsby is one of a number of “murders” that were most probably abortions gone awry.

The case of Abby McFarland and Albert Richardson occupied the attention of the popular press in the late 1860s. Richardson was shot by Abby’s former husband in the offices of the New York Tribune; on his deathbed, Richardson was married to Abby by the famous preacher Henry Ward Beecher. A few years later, Beecher himself became involved in a public sexual triangle in the so-called Beecher-Tilton scandal, in which Theodore Tilton sued Beecher over an alleged affair with Tilton’s wife Elizabeth.

The illustration is from Brief and impartial narrative of the life of Sarah M. Cornell, who was found dead (suspended by the neck, and suspected to have been murdered) near Fall River, Mass., December 22, 1832. Written by one who early knew her. (New York: Printed for and published by G. Williams, 1833?), in the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays.

HELEN JEWETT, 19th Century Prostitute, Pt. 3

Leave a comment

watched the movements of the flashily dressed middle-aged woman with the deepest interest. When she saw her speak to Dorcas, she hastily directed one of her apprentices to run after the young woman whom Mrs. Burros was speaking to, and tell her to come back, as she wished to see her.

But Mrs. Burras was too shrewd to be taken at such an advantage. She had suffered much from detraction and backbiting . in her time; and having a habit of inspecting her rear, one of the glances which she oast over her shoulder betrayed to her the approach of the milliner’s emissary.

Stepping back a few paces, therefore, she said to the child, m a low but emphatic tone, * Tell Mrs. Macy not to concern herself about the French flowers for my hat.-; I think I shall wear cut velvet and a feather. Mrs. Watson has a splendid assortment of that description, and as all my girls talk of getting suited there, 1 may perhaps be obliged to go to her. Tell Mrs. Macy, however, that I shall manage to stop in and see her this afternoon before I decide. There now, mv dear, run back; I have some conversation with this young lady, and do not wish to be distuibed.” Having despatched the apprentice with this significant message, Mrs. Burras whisked round in her rustling sheen, and twitched back to Dorcas with a ” marry come up” sort of an air, which was sufficiently dashed with a look of vulgar triumph, to betray, even to her inexperienced companion, that Mrs. Burras was conscious of having carried a point .

Mrs. Burras and her young companion then proceeded on, and in the course of a long walk towards the west part of the town, she engaged Dorcas, or rather Maria Stanley, as the young adventuress now called herself, to do the plain sewing for her family, at the rate of four dollars a week and board, stating that the engage ment would extend to the duration of four or five weeks; and if she proved of superior service, her wages would be increased to a dollar more.

These terms were readily accepted by Dorcas ; and by the time the conditions were duly • settled, she arrived with her dashing employer at a neat two-story brick house, which that lady informed her was the place of her abode.

On ascending the stoop, Dorcas was rather surprised to observe that the door of the house was deeply indented in various places, as if it had been beaten with a hammer, or accustomed to the visitation of showers of stones; but not being able to account for this by the extremeat reach of fancy, she gave up the cogitation. She noticed too, that an extreme caution was observed in relation to their admission; and when, after a delay of some minutes, which i;emed to give Mrs. Burras no uneasiness, the door was opened by a full-blown figure in gaudy silk, with its hair dishevelled and its dress unhooked, as if it had just ran from its chamber, the young seamstress had occasion to remark privately to herself, that this one of Mrs. Burras’ nieces gave nnmistakeable evidence, in the crimson trimming of her eyes, to be either very much given to tears, or t> late hours u>d gin toddy.


Helen at eighteenLikeness of Miss Clara— The milliner and the magistrate—A lingular recognition.

Helen Jewett, or Maria Stanley, as she had concluded to call herself on her arrival at Portland, was at this period eighteen years of age. She was a shade below the middle height, but of a form of exquisite symmetry, and which, though voluptuously turned in every perceptible point, was sufficiently dainty in its outline, to give her the full advantage of a medium sta ture to the eye. Her complexion, which in our first chapter we have characterized as a ” strong” one, was that of a clear brown, bearing in it all the voluptuous ardor of that shade, without th» dregs and specks which are too apt to muddy the coarser specimens of the brunette, and which, instead of the promethean fervor, indicate no quality above mere grossness of the blood. Above a forehead of transparent smoothness, and beside a pair of ivory temples in which might be dimly seen a delicate tracery of blue, she trained two heavy waves of glossy jet-black hair, while on the top, that crown of female glory reposed, the richness of an abundant coil. Her features wer» not what might be termed regular, but thero was a harmony in their expression which wag inexpressibly more charming than mere mathematical agreement, or a precise accord. The nose was rather small, which was a fault; the mouth was rather large, but the full richness of its satin lips, and the deep files of ivory infantry which crescented within their rosy lines, redeemed all of its latitudinal excess; while her large black steady eyes, streaming now with glances of precocious knowledge, and anon languishing with meditation or snapping with mischievousness, gave the whole picture a peculiar charm, which, despite of its disagreements, entitled it to the renown of one of the most fascinating faces that ever imperiled a susceptible observer. Added to all these natural gifts, she possessed a nice and discriminating taste for dress, which, aided by a graceful carriage, consisting of a sweet oscillation that seemed rather to woo than to force the air to give it place, served to display those blessings to the best advantage.

In disposition, this lovely creature was equal to her form. She was frank and amiable. He« heart was kind, to excess, to all who required her assistance, though the ardor of her temperament rendered her bosom amenable to the fiercest sentiments of passion. These bursts, however, were fitful, not malevolent, and though unscrupulous while in their first gush of rage, might be turned, by a single well-directed touch, into the viaduct of generous forgiveness In manner she was vivacious and merry, though like all intellectual persons of that description, she was subject to sudden and violent depressions. But these were brief, and the ammal sparkle of her spirits soon triumphed and scintillated over all.

Such was Helen Jewett in her eighteenth

[merged small][ocr errors]

Tear. Such was she, when, tinder the name of Maria Stanley, she stood for the first time at a brothel door, waiting with Mrs. Hurras, its proprietress, for entrance, under the supposition that that excellent lady intended only to furnish her with occupation as a family seamstress.

The slattern figure which had opened the door for them, commenced, as soon as they had fairly got within the entry, to lodge a heavy wooden bar across the door, and when that work of protection was accomplished, followed them into the parlor. Dorcas, who had been slightly alarmed by this singular proceeding, did not endure the scrutiny of this person without much uneasiness; and she began to wish, as with a cold and intimidating look the bedraggled beauty travelled her from head to foot, after the malicious fashion of an old actress with a debutante, that she had not directed her attention to plain sewing under the patronage of Mrs. Burras.

Observing the embarrassment which this unceremonious observation occasioned to her protege, Mrs. Burras interfered, by introducing the pair together, and ” My niece, Miss Clara,” and ” Miss Stanley,” according to the rules in such cases made and provided, settled into a short retiring crouch that was intended to be, as on the part of our acquaintance it really was, the most approved style of female courtesy.

Miss Clara was a young lady somewhere in the vicinage of twenty-three, though the wear and the rough uses of this world gave her the credentials of a much longer probation. She was what might be termed full-blown, being some five feet ten inches in height, with shortcropped hair, and having a pair of fat pulpy cheeks, which when well rouged, and by candlelight, might give their owner the appearance of bouncing health. The filmy, diaphonous character of her eyelids, however, and the slight thread of inflammation that trimmed their edges, indicated that Miss Clara was somewhat given to drink; while the just perceptible creases of her forehead, made by the frequent pursing of her brows, showed that she had indulged in the emphasis of many a cracking oath. Indeed, a general mannishness seemed to prevail over this singular specimen of the feminine gender; and had it not been for the untempting revelations made by a loose boddice sagging down in front, she might have passed very well for a watchman in disguise.

” From the country, I ‘spose ?” said Miss Clara, with a smile, which vanished the instant she intended u> become a listener.

“No, from Augusta,” timidly replied Miss Stanley.

” Ah, I know a gentleman who belongs to Augusta.”

” What is his name!” asked Dorcas, quickly. “Oh, as for that,” replied Miss Clara, carefully, who saw from the sensitive tone of the young girl’s inquiry, that she had a secret of the heart, ” it don’t much matter • besides, I never betray my friends.”

” Betray! I do not see w\<tt there is to be

Iray in such a matter 1″ said Dorcas, reddening.

” It is a mere affair of acquaintance, I imagine.”

” Perhaps so, and perhaps not!” returned

Miss Clara, with a look of mysterious evasion. ” People cannot be too careful about certain matters 1″ and Miss Clara gathered up tha abundance of her boddice stringently, and endeavored to assume a look if honorable reserve.

Helen felt vexed, nay, slightly indignant, at the cavalier manner in which she was put off; but stimulated by jealous curiosity, she could not refrain from the risk of a further rebuff, by one more question.

” Is he a seafaring man, this gentleman I”

” Yes,” said Clara, reluctantly, as if sh« feH that she was suffering under an escape of coo science.

” And his name begins with an S. ?”

” Well, his name does begin with an S., sur« enough,” replied Clara, turning full upon her agitated questioner with a look of affected surprise. ” But how do you know ” then suddenly checking herself, as if she repented of an intention to say more, she added, ” There, ask me no further questions on that subject; for if you do, I shan’t answer ’em—that’s all!”

At this stage of the conversation, Mrs. Burras, who had stepped for a moment into an adjoining room, returned, and giving Miss Clara an indication by a movement of her head that she was wanted by some one up stairs, she told Dorcas that she must take off her hat.

The fair Augustan, however, had not formed a very favorable opinion of the quarters into which she had been admitted; moreover, she had taken a very orthodox hatred to Miss Clara, and under the press of a mingled sentiment of disgust and apprehension, remarked that she believed she would not stop at present, but would go to her hotel, and having arranged her affairs, return with her baggage.

But Mrs. Burras would not hear to this. She well knew that an unsophisticated girl who had seen the gloomy inside of her mansion only by day-light, and beheld the prison-like fastenings of its main door, would never imperil her liberty by trusting to its walls again; so she feigned astonishment at her prisoner’s change of mind, and told her very flatly that she would not think of letting her wander back alone, to be lost on her way and get astray amid the dangers of the town.

The landlady spoke with some spirit, and just as she had concluded her expression, Dorcas thought she heard a giggling on the head of the stairs, towards which the parlor door stood open, and which giggling, seemed to proceed from the conjunction of a male and female voice. The bewildered girl looked hastily over her shoulder up the stairs, but though the parties had raised their heads out of sight, she was confirmed in her opinion that she had been duped into an interdicted den, and that her struggles against fate were already the subject of merriment and jest among its inmates. Strengthened therefore in her determination not to stay, she repeated with some vigor, though under a mantle of affected mildness, that “she certainly must go back, tapering h«r determinate manner with the apologetic addeoda^jhat her clothes were__sij«wetLabput_her chamber 853” v 6ne~1>ut herself could uut them up, —• —•

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

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

! • I *e* Bow it ia,” said Mrs. Burras, tartly,

* that mischief-making huzzy Clara hae been insulting you in some manner, but I’ll soon find it out and set it all to rights;” and with tliese words, the beldame floundered up-stairs over the same track where the junior comet had a few minutes before trailed its flaring way.

There was the mumble of an excited conversation, muffled by the intervention of some two or three partitions after this, during which-Dorcas felt sorely tempted to steal to the front door, let down the bar and run out, but ere she could muster resolution for that purpose, the old woman trotted back.

” I have found it all out,” said she, laying her hand sympatlu’singly on the young woman’s arm.

• I have found it all out; that devil of a girl, if I must say such a word, has evidently had some intimacy with a gentleman to whom you are attached. She refuses to tell me anything about it, but wait, my child, tixke off your hat and remain with us, and I will find it all out

” for you, before to-morrow morning. Ah, my dear, my dear,” wound up Mrs. Burras, with a supplementary ejaculation, ” you have but little idua of the deception and wickedness of men. There n no remedy for us women but to find era out and pay ’em off in their own coin 1″

Dorcas 4id not respond to this sentiment, but she yielded to the temptations of her jealous craving, and with a prompt courage for which she afterwards became remarkable, resolved to stay and probe the secret’to the bottom. Sumner had resided in Portland for some months; he had passed through it some three or four times, and if it should turn out that he had been false to her, and with one so vulgar as to convict him of a grossly imbruted sense, why it might matter very little with her conscience how she disposed of herself. She suffered herself, therefore, to be introduced to Miss Rosalie and Miss Fanny, the two remaining nieces of Mrs. Burras, and when a gentleman in a blue coat and bright buttons, with a shiny hat cocked sharply over his eyes, was introduced to her as a friend of Rosalie’s, who would see to her baggage and have it safely brought to the house she yielded her consent with a graceful inclination and a smile, the effect of which upon the gentleman in the shiny hat, did not seem to give Miss Rosalie very lively satisfaction.

The packing of the young girl’s trunk, of which Dorcas was obliged to furnish the key that the dresses which she had hung about her chamber at the hotel might be stowed with the rest of her goods, enabled the gentleman with the shiny hat to get a glance at a letter or two, and to find Simmer’s name in full on the fly-leaf of a small pocket volume of Don Juan. Committing this secret to his fliers untie Hiss Rosalie, and she transmitting it to Mrs. Burras, the item was so worked up by that ingenious lady, as to send poor Dorcas weeping to her beo, convinced of her lover’s defection as completely, as if she had been the supervisor of his guilt She did not once feel the twinge of any cross accusation during this review ; but it is the caprice of license never to take its own perversions 40 account, when awing the monstrosities of others.

Mrs. Macy, the well-intentioned milliner, »h« tiad vainly sent her apprentice after DoreM, when she saw Mrs. Burras accost .her in th* street, had determined to make another elfort to save the girl, and she had the less reluctance to revive her exertions, from the fact that on the following day she saw the frail household of the beldame, flaunting in Mrs. \V atson’s cut velvet and feathers. SheJhereiorejcBmbinSxl her philanthropy. mlh_a slighfjJasEef-Tevenge, • ana sent^jn «nonjmqus_nnt«”iira-m»f{istrate, .’ informing him that an innocent young gnj_fiom the coTintjy,.Iiad beett doooyccT mto the bjutliel . of . Betsy Burras, and., that uiiless immediate measures were taken for her rescue, slie wo. i inevitably fall a victim to seduction, or to bt ut&l violence.

In this Christian essay Mrs. Macy did her duty, and she was deserving of credit for it, maugre the little spleen which helped to keep her to the moral purpose. But unfortunately, she did not know the character of the mngii« trate to whom fhe sent her billet.1 It so happened that he was one of the secret patrons of the beldame’s caravanserai; and when he read the missive, he smiled and sucked his teeth over the latent fragments of his dinner; at what he thought the ingenuity of Mrs. Burrai in informing him that she had something on hand worthy of his epicurean inspection. His visit to the house, therefore, was paid thai night, alone, instead of with a posse of officers, and he went with far other sensations than Mrs. Macy, in the innocence of her heart, had credited to his magisterial cognizance.

The magistrate was not the kind of man In make a favorable impression upon a mind gov emed by such .refined and elegant tastes Iip Dorcas Doyen’s. He was coarse, and short, and fat. His head was small and flinty like a pugilist’s, and covered with a crop of close, foxy hair, that resembled the harsh coat of a fighting-terrier. His eyes were vicious, retorted, and twinkling; his cheeks were puffy, aiki around his chops and little puggis-h incur o sprung up a perpetual stubble, which took ao vantage of the absence of the razor, if lei: unreaped even so long as fifteen miiTutes at > time. It was not strange, therefore, that Doi cas, in the face of this temptation, should prov ^ resolute in virtue, and be able to commaixl tears for her indignities. Indeed, she fell n> her interview with this person to nothing below the chaste pattern of Pamela; and thougb ‘ the persevering magistrate did not go to tinfurious lengths of the gallant of that paragon of virtue, he frightened her sufficiently iw double the grief of her condition, and to »• spire her to threaten him and the whole ho’_*ehold with exposure, if she ever should escape* This was an unfortunate threat, for it obliged the mistress of the mansion to see her dish Hjored before she left her walls, as a measure «t safety to herself. In view of this necessity, Mrs. Burras required the magistrate to raise taw seige, and give room for a new gallant to enter the field, guaranteeing to him certain reser-cu rights, in case of the surrender of the citadel, Having accomplished this arrangement, Mn. Burras sent a note to the bank at which DoreM


made the victim of temptations which she h&A successfully resisted, but at the end of that time, while meditating a project of escape, she turned to find beside her in her detested prison, the very protector for her friendlessnees whom she had come to Portland to seek out. It cannot, therefore, surprise us, that she bounded into his arms at once, and refusing to suffer him to leave her until the morning, descended almost insensibly, into the avocations of a professional life of shame.

The entreaties of the poor girl to be remot- . ed from the abominable dwelling in which she had been so long a prisoner to some more eligi’ ble residence, were resisted by the cashier for a time, but nt length yielding to the growing fascination which she exercised over him, he procured a house for her in a remote portion of the town- and established her in most luxurious style. A friend of his, who maintained a similar connection with a young girl whom he had decoyed from home, shared the expenses of the establishment, and his chere amie formed a compamon for the young Augustan.

Though now really not much above the morality of Mrs. Burras’ establishment, Dorcas regarded Mrs. Burras and her demoiselles with ineffable disdain, and in the new ambition of vanity, mid ‘*”‘ “””‘lirffiS Pf n wcll#lled purse, she aspired to lie the beauty of fliVpr’omena le.

TmTappearance oT this”Star upon Hie staid Surface of the town of Portland, of course excited much attention, and soon the residence of the dashing brunette became well known to those of the coxcombs of the town who were sufficiently enterprising to follow to within eveshot of her door. Dorcas revelled in this homage, but by and by the thirst for intrigue betrayed her into more tangible encouragements than mere sidelong glances, and the result was s faux paa^& rupture with her lover, and the

firnption ofher independence.H19th


Leave a comment

But Helen evinced much less concern at the recital of this danger than the first. The truth was, she was a rapid reasoner ; and while she could see, at a glance, that he had not been hurt by the wild hogs, it was by m means so apparent that he had not suffered by

by tlw seductions of the amiable beauties of i exploits of which she desired him to Imow the lanai. least. These cross-examinations •would often At Manilla, the rover met with his first se- pruvoke the senses to an illustration, and it wai jrious misfortune. He accompanied a portion during an epilogue of this description that the ef the crew in an evening frolic about the town, sinful intimacy of the lovers was betrayed, during which all of them, but himself, got The negress had stolen on their ambush, but the drunk. As is usual with such parties, a brawl patience which had lasted her throughout th« •was made with some passers by, and the result interview, left her at a certain point, and she was that a Jesuit was killed for interfering to tumbled from her perch among the bushes uv« make peace. At this catastrophe all parties! the very presence of the young delinquents fled; hut our sailor, appearing to understand I She did not need her spectacles to convict the danger least, was seized in his retreat and them. They were too fairly caught to haw thrown into prison to answer the offence. ~ ” ‘—*” * *~ ‘

The Sophia sailed without him, and he lingered in his confinement for a period of five months, when he was released by the exertions of the American consul, who managed to find evidence to exculpate him altogether. It was sometime after he recovered his liberty that he gained his former robust health, having been as well flea-bitten and befouled during the entire period of his imprisonment, as the Emperor of China could have been, had the Emperor been in his situation.

From Manilla the rescued’seaman sailed, on board of an English ship to Canton, going from thence to Singapore, thence to Batavia, and into the Atlantic again, by the way of the Cape of Good Hope, stopping on the last stretch at Si Helena and the Cape de Verds for stores and water, and arriving at London in the month of December, 1827.

The pay which had become due for his three months trip, would, after the deduction of the advance made him at Manilla, not have enabled Sumner to have remained long at leisure to enjoy the luxuries and wonders of that vast Babel of the Eastern Hemisphere, had not a passenger, an East Indian merchant, who had come or, board at Singapore, have taken a notion to him, and, in addition to giving him a wardrobe and pocket-money on his arrival, have offered him a place in his employ. Thus persuaded, Sumner gave up all notion of the sea, but while improving the good fortune which had been thus thrown in his way, he never for a moment lost sight of the intention to get back to his native land, to offer to his little sweetheart a share of his portion, whatever it might be. Indeed, he had written her two or three letters, but, having received no answer, was meditating a visit back, when his patron suddenly died. This changed his prospects and left him at the control of others, who, after the lapse of a few days, politely informed lu’m that there would be no further need of his services, as the business which had employed him, would now be wound up.

With sixty pounds in his pocket, he then set out for New York, from which place, after a brief stay, he hurried to Augusta, to meet Helen on her evening walk, aa we have before desicribed.

The details of these adventures beguiled the itolen hours of many an afternoon. Dorcas •till returning to those forbidden chapters in the mysteries of the great cities, of which her careful lover had but vaguely spoken, and betraying, like the Widow Wadman, the most determined curiosity in relation to those strange

any alternative but confession. A compromis<

was therefore entered into, and the best was made of the matter. Every eaves-dropper n. y be converted into an accomplice, and Nancy, from that time, became the confidante, instead of the spy—the pander instead of the reprover.

From this time forth, the cottage of the negress became the scene of their illicit joys, and during the few weeks that Sunnier remained in town, the negress reaped a liberal harvest from the remainder of the young sailor’s money. At length, the alarming declension of his funds warned him that he must seek for some employment, and it so happened, that while his concern was deepest on this subject, he received a letter from New York, from the mate of the ship in which he had sailed from London, advising him, that if he had a disposition for a cruise, the berth of second mate was open for him in that vessel. The offer was a good one, and it was time that he should leave, for more reasons than one. The Cyrus had returned to Portland, with a scant cargo a:>d much disabled, reporting him among the deserters, and reporting a claim against his name which would bind him for another voyage to the Western Ocean, or cast him into prison for the debt, unless it were discharged. He therefore decided promptly in favor of the offer of his friend, the mate, and on the morning following its receipt, imparted his resolution to Dorcas.

We need not describe her dismay and gloom when she received this unexpected news. Suffice it, she was overwhelmed, and for a long time would not hear of his persistence in his determination. She mistook the blind abandonments of animal infatuation, for the deep devotion of a soul-absorbing love, and in her first frantic fervor declared that she could not live apart from him. Had she been truly in love, as she was doomed vet fatally to be, she would have fel* the possibility ot mailing a sacrifice tor the wel- . fare of her idol.

But sensual passions do not reason ; they on- ‘. ly rage. Affection, only, will endure a blight that its idol may flourish in the sun; but th« x demon of desire will rather provuke a joint destruction during its spasmodic revels, than be abridged one moment of its mad delight. It is for this reason that the infatuations of the vile seem so much more fervid than the tender attachments of the pure ; and t is for the same reason, chat the world ascribe the headlong sacrifices which they make for them at times, to sensual desperation, rather than to any generous devotion of the heart ^

But the positive qualities of Sum ler’a Mr


tore, and the manifest necessities of Lie case at length carried the day, and the second morning after the announcement by the lover of his intentions, found Dorcas desolate.

Some months passed away in dull routine after the departure of Sumner, during -which, the only solace which Dorcas received for his absence, were the frequent visits to the cottage •f the negress, and conversations upon pleasures past . In the meantime, the increasing beauties of her rosy womanhood began to attract general observation, and Dorcas soon found herself the object of the attentions of many a young beau of the place. Though naturally coquettish, she was not at first inclined to encourage these tender overtures, but appreciating by de grees the pleasures of a retinue, she smiled by turns upon all comers, and soon became as ex perienced, as a flirt, as she had shortly before been noticable as a dreamer. This mental debasement ; this moral prostitution of the face to every suitor who would engage its tractable charms in tender intercourse, finished what had been completed with the under senses, and Dorcas Doyen, in her coquetry, lost the last moral check, which the recollection of Sumner had left between her and promiscuous mankind.

Nothing now remained with her for her protection, but pride; an admirable safeguard against all tempters who run below the level of its owner, it is true, but weaker than a barrier of grass against those above it . In a Queen it might be potent to the last degree, but to the humble beauty left with no other shield, it fentes but one border of the path of peril, while it leaves the other naked to incursion.

Nancy had noticed the alteration of affairs in her young mistress’s notions of intrigue, and like the acute duenna of Donna Mergellina, she rose with her patroness’s fancy, and constructed for herself a new office out of the popularity of her charms. Nancy held herself accessible to the visits of the suitors, and many a note which the coquette devoured with mischievous merriment, had previously tickled the fingers of the negress with a silver fee. Nancy consequently speedily found herself in a thriving way, and as is common with avarice and ambition, she soon began to explore the avenue, which this preliminary commerce revealed to her, of heavier profits.

While things were in this state, there came to Augusta on a visit to some of his relations, a

man named Sp g, a cashier of one of the

Portland Banks who received an introduction to our heroine at church. He was not only young and wealthy, but he was likewise a splendid looking fellow, and for these reasons the acute coquette adroitly accorded to him to the exclusion of all other followers, the privilege of waiting on. her home. In her route, she recollected a lktle charity which was due from her to’a negro- cottage, so she dropped in for a moment to see Nancy, and leave her a sixpence for tobacco, or any little comfort she might desire. The gentleman took the hint, and left the negress a much more liberal sum, and taking a further notion to his counsel, returned to see the object of their charity on the same afternoon.

It was not lon£ before the shrewd negress

understood the cashier’s motives, and it tu not long moreover, before she communicated them to her elastic protege. The disclosure did not startle the perverted gill, but the counsel of the negress, which was a fiat persuasion to agree, did occasion her a small surprise. By degrees, however, she came to consider with a certain calmness, the complete security ir. transgression which Nancy kept impressing on her, and at the hour when it was tune to start for home, it had become a matter which might be talked of with no other emotions, but the pul sations of desire which were natural to youthful canvass of such a question. As she rose to go, she was met at the door by the very pet • son who had been the subject of discourse The negress at once withdrew, and the visiter receiving her signal to take advantage of ths temper of affairs, soon placed the question which had been so carefully discussed throughout the afternoon, beyond the necessity of further agitation.

We need not follow the fallen girl through the passages of this amour, nor trace the various stages of her lascivious declension. Hei “igressions from propriety continued and in creased, until they at length became so flagrant . that the town was filled with rumors of her shame. These rumors, at length, forced them selves upon the ears of the kind family which had done so much for her, and trembling with consciousness of guilt, she was summoned to answer in her defence. Her tears and protestations gained her an acquittal for a time, but subsequent disclosures, which were soon after wards brought forward, confirmed all previous reports of her incontinence, and with a rebuko which cost her sorrowful reprovers more agony perhaps, than it inflicted on herself, she was turned from the hospitable roof which had so long protected her, to find a shelter in that hollow world whose vanities and vices, she had so weakly chosen for her counsellors.


The outcast and the negressPortlandHelen receives employment from a charitable lady, very flashily dressed.

Thk wretched girl whose fortunes our last chapter traced to the margin of her eighteenth year, had now commenced to navigate those rapids which were doomed eventually, to whirl her over the last precipice of crime. Till within a brief period of the time of her expulsion from the roof which had given her such generous shelter, she had dreamed idly on the stream of life, no disturbing current setting her here or there, but moved forward only with the gentle onflow which bears the loiterer on the flood of time. The second advent of young “I Sumner, however, had thrown her dozing shallop into a vicious eddy, and before the excitement of its giddy whirls was over, she had been shot past the protecting headland into a buzzing tide, which none but a vigorous rower unspent by revel, ai ‘ unrelaxed by languor — ^ «u in the blast that whistled round her. She was desolate indeed!


[blocks in formation]

f” tould re-stem. Indeed, lost to all sense of dan

I ler in her blind infatuation, she took no note of

1 her descent, until the voices of those whose

\ counsels and example she had set at naught,

I oade her farewell, as one who was lost forever.

\ It was then that she heard the cataract roaring

\m the distance, and took in the truth that she

was «j be abandoned to its vengeance.

When wo feel wretched, our thoughts take flight at once to those who are most dear to us, and whom we know would most willingly take, if they could, a portion of our cares. It is a i elief; and we unload upon the shoulders of toe friendly image those heavy sorrows that are too much for us to bear ourselves, and which, without such shift, or rather such divi

sion, would press the imagiiiation to distrao.iion It was thus with Dorcas in her terrible despair The thought of bumner and his deep sympathy for her distresses, could he but know them, turned the brain-action to the flood-gates of her eyes, and saved her from madness by a flood of tears.

The day was as desolate as the young creature’s grief, when .with her little bundle, she turned an outcast from her guardian’s door. The year had harvested most of its bright joys; the blasts of a keen October had already stripped Nature of its summer gear, and, like a barbarous despoiler, it now whirled the atoms of its faded vesture in the air. On the night previous, there had been a hard black

[graphic][merged small][merged small]


Overcome with the agitation of her feelings, and weakened by pulling against the storm, the miserable girl turned to look for a spot to ait down for a few moments to recruit her strength, and reflect without the distraction of physical exertion. The movement was blessed with a relief, for she then discovered, that despite her darkened fortunes and debased condition, she was not as desolate as she had supposed. Close upon her heels, as his slow tracks gave proof- a faithful mastiff that had been her pet, had followed her footsteps from the threshold which had sent her forth, and now, when she sat upon a stone and leaned against the fence to recover her breath, he sat opposite and looked into her tearful face as though he understood her grief. This touching consolation unlocked the fountains of another flood, and softened thus, and likewise soothed by the contemplation of her voluntary escort, she soon took heart, and with a somewhat lighter spirit than before- proceeded on to the place of her destination.

When she arrived at the cottage of the negress, the surprise of the old hag was the signal for a new burst of lamentation- but refusing at the time to make explanation of her sorrows, the girl cast herself frantically upon the bed which had been so often the witness of her shame, and cried herself to sleep.

The negress, suspecting in a moment the con dition of affairs with her protege, did not choose to court the reproachful whirlwind of her grief by any pertinacity of questioning at that moment, but let her have her way, taking no measures of interference with her repose, except by the removal of her shoes and stockings, which the snow had saturated to the skin.

As Nancy expected, when Dorcas came to tell her tale of sorrow, she held her accountable for all the debasement she had suffered; but Nancy’s recollections were quite equal to the eloquent criminations of the beautiful accuser. She reminded the momentary magdalen of the scene which she had discovered between her and her lover in the woods, and charged, that she and he had taken advantage of her affection, to change her staid residence to a place of loose enjoyment. What was worse, that through her love for them they had by degrees familiarized her to a system of the vilest traffic, which, now Aat she looked coolly back upon it, made her shudder.

The wretched girl, astounded by this language, raised herself in bed, and looked with • bewildered stare upon the hag. She did not know how to yield, in a single moment, to the retaliations of that terrible equality which exists in degradation. Neither did she comprehend that Nancy, who shrewdly perceived she would no longer dare to harbor her and put her out to profit, wished to get rid of her forever. She therefore uttered an exclamation of surprise, and demanded to know of the old crone what she meant .

Nancy, however, was in too towering a flight of moral elevation to answer anything directly. ‘ It amused her, it did, to see soms people put

on airs; people, too, who was no better any otter people, and who, if the truth to the truth, were only servants at last!”

“Why, Naney!” said the girl in the tone as before, her cheek flashing and paling with alternate fear and rage.

But Nancy was still above the level of interrogation. ” She was astonished, she was, to say the least, that a person who had seduced and ruined an innocent young man, and sent him off to sea, should talk about being ruined herself I For her part, she was sick of such characters, and she had made np her mind to have nothing more to do with them. They had made her sinful enough already, and if she harbored or countenanced ’em any longer, she would expect some judgment of the Lord to fall upon her.”

The eyes of the object of this singular tirade, were no longer moist. They flashed with a fire which dried them in an instant, while the veins which swelled resentfully upon her temples, seemed as if they were about to burst with a surcharge of rage. When the negress had done speaking, the couchant listener paused for a moment in the hope that she would turn, so that she might catch her eye, but finding that Nancy’s high disdain tossed her head out of the reach of that rebuke, she gave rein to her passion, bounded from the bed, and throwing her on the floor, jumped on the prostrate body of the old wretch, and kneaded it with her little feet like a perfect fury. When released from this pedal discipline, the old woman rose, and ran screaming out of doors, but Dorcas, paying no heed to her movements, pulled on her shoes and stockings, which were now hanging dry by the fire, and putting on her hat and shawl, left the house in a paroxysm of passion.

It was near five o’clock in the afternoon. The storm was still raging, and the ground was covered to the depth of several inches with its feathery deposit: but it did not impress the wanderer as gloomily as it had done in the morning. Her insults had revived her spirits and imbued her anew with something like ambition. It seemed to her that she was the vie-”1 tim of a conspiracy, and a desire for revenge became at once a motive for exertion, and a spur for the defiance of those whom she regarded as her persecutors. She wrapped her -.. shawl well about her, and bending her head out of the feathery deluge, walked towards the town with a much firmer step than she had left her home in the morning. The few thin tears which now and then unbidden forced themselves into the trenches of her eyes, w^re parched from their channels in a moment, as a shower would be consumed in the crater of a volcano.

She avoided any approach to what had been her home, by a wide circuit to the south, and sought a little shop kept by an Irish wido* on the river. Explaimng that a falling out had taken place between herself and the family with whom she had resided, she engaged lodging for the night, and gave a shilling to a laborer to go to the mansion and bring the trunk, which she had left behind, and which, she had been told by her former protectors, would be sent after her whenever she shauld indicat*



[merged small][ocr errors]

her destination. It came to her by the hands of her messenger im the course of an hour, when, having seen it safely bestowed, she yielded to the solicitation of her good-natured hostess, and comforted herself with a hot sangaree. Immediately after this, she retired to bed to escape the cross-examination which Mrs. McGinnis expected to extract out of the hot toddy she had just got into her, making the remark before leaving the room, that she should go to Portland by the morning boat.

When the morning came, Mrs. McGinnis took the liberty of warning the young adventuress against the perils of a rash experiment upon a large city like Portland, and enumerated the multifarious perils which beset youth and beauty like her’s in every avenue of such Vanity Fairs. But Mrs. McGinnis, in her short-sighted good nature, did not know that she was really enhancing the attractions of what she was seeking to disparage, by every temptation that she represented. Youth and beauty were the outcast’s Only Capital. a-nrt the mnra Mra^jfftirfrJs,

showed them liable ~ to_the .perils of pursuit^ the higher did she represent the market where Dorcas had determined to embark those wares. Contenting herself, therefore, with replying that she had a female friend, a dress-maker, in Portland, who would give her employment in her business, Dorcas rejected the widow’s invitation to stay at her humble dwelling until she could settle herself somewhere else in her native place. She was too proud to remain to be the proverb and reproach of the companions whom her talents and accomplishments had once outshone; but in a strange place, where no one could rejoice over her debasement, or pierce her with the keener shafts of pity, she might submit to degradation if she could do no better. It was a question of caste, not con science, and to a mind like her’s, it seemed, by the exercise of a small quantity of philosophy, that she might be as happy in the exercise of the capital of Nature, as of that of custom.

Dorcas was, nevertheless, sufficiently proud and an ‘-utioua to desire a decent destiny for herself, and she flattered her heart with the hope that to whatever shifts she might be driven with her charms, sh« would bring them to an honorable market in the end. Her first object in Portland was to seek Sp ^^gJSfir second gallant, .Hrv*—^*agi”c’*. Triift.*” r””nr” a decent settlement in some phase of Ufa

To the disappointment of her_”first hopes, however, she learned, on her arrival at Portland, that the gentleman whom she sought was not in the city, having gone South on business for the bank, which promised to detain him some three or four weeks. A little boy brought ber the news as she waited for him on the corner nearest the institution, returning to her at the same time the exquisitely folded note which she had charged him to deliver, if he had found the person in.

The beautiful Gil Bias, for though a female, to the young adventurer might be termed, returned to her hotel in a disconsolate mood; and so occupied was she with perplexing contemplations, that she did not even notic«, as Cm passed clor,g, tiij uvquut udauration

which her voluptuous figure and her engaging face attracted from all passers by. When aha got to her lodgings, she was not a whit mora relieved, but spent the rest of the day in gloomy meditations, for which even her favorite Byron afforded no grain of solace. A little flirtation with the landlord at the supper table afforded a temporary cheerfulness, but she sank back into her depression on the rising of the party, and did not rally again that evening. Good cause had she for serious study; her purse could not wrestle with the charges of the house for three days longer, and she saw no definite avenue at the end of that time, even for escape. But retreat was the least of her thoughts. She had come to Portland with the resolution, that if she could not do well, she would do as well as she could; but that at any rate, she would never set ber foot in Augusta again, as a beggar for its toleration, or as a recipient of its charities.

Renewing this determination on her pillow, she awoke the next morning full of an intention to apply for needlework at some of the shops, satisfied that if she could obtain employment and a refuge until her gallant returned, she could extort from his abundance the means of setting up for herself, or at any rate vthe means of going further on. Her first two applications were at millinery stores; but at both, on the fact being known that she had no knowledge of the business, she was told that she could not be of any service; The third store at which she applied, combined with its millinery features the department of dress-making; and as Dorcas was somewhat of an adept in the latter science, she had better hopes on making her enquiries. The woman of the store replied, however, that she had a sufficiency of hands. Disappointed again, the youthful applicant turned to take her leave, her face saddened with another shade of hopelessness. As she approached the door, she observed a flashily dressed middle-aged woman standing in the way, and observing her with an air of keen attention. This person bad evidently deferred her departure to indulge her scrutiny, for she paused until Dorcas had passed out, and then immediately followed hot Suffering the girl to advance a few footsteps from the store, this woman increased her pace, and touching her on her arm, asked her if she had understood rightly that she was desirous of employment as a needle woman.

The girl looked upon the coarse, worldly fact of her questioner, in a manner which showed that she was not violently prepossessed in her favor; and after a momentary pause, answered that she had understood aright.

” Then I can furnish it to you, if you will come with me,” said the woman. ” Where V .1 ..

” At my own house.” – , i.i: .

” Have you any family V
” Only three young ladies.”
” Your relations I” ui. • •s’;

“My nieoee.” .’ .•i

When the conversation had progressed thai far, there canre running after the two females a youm* girl from tbe shop they had just left. Sle hid beIn sent oy tin lulliner, who had


1 Comment

The lives of Helen Jewett and Richard P.


By George

Wilkes, H. R.



Commencing the relation of one of the most horrid tragedies that ever froze the blood, we are involuntarily disposed, like one entering the chamber of the dead, to pause upon the threshold, and for a moment to fortify our breasts with precepts, which may dispose us to the lesson with a sense of profit .

The real name of the beautiful and unfortunate Helen Jewett, was Dorcas Doyen. Her parents were Welsh, but had emigrated to this country at an early period of marriage, and at the time of the birth of this, their only daughteejthey resided in the outskirts of Augusta, in the State of Maine. Their circumstances were humble, the father being a mechanic, dependent on his daily labor for his subsistence, and the mother, subject to tasks of knitting and shoebinding to supply the deficits sometimes occasioned by her partner’s bacchanalian lapses. They bad been rather more comfortable at Cardiff, on the Severn, where he had kept a shoe shop at the time of marriage, but some imprudeneies of expenditure, and an indiscretion which brought the wrath of a family of brothers upon him, exiled him to Swansea, from which place also, he found it prudent to push on further westward, even to the crossing of the Atlantic.

Dorcas, their child, was born in the month of June, 1813. At an early age she evinced a remarkable quickness of intellect, and learned •verything which was submitted to her examination, with the practical comprehension of a mature mind. At eight years of age she was able to assist her mother not only in her domestic tasks, but in her shop work, and when thai parent died, at the age of nine, she supplied her

place in the housewifery of the humble dwelling, with a capacity for all its cares.

Near Dorcas’ residence lived a boy some four years older than herself, named Sumner, who managed to ingratiate himself in her acquaint ance, by that mode of overture which nature and art both prescribe as the readiest means of access to the female heart—presents. He was rude in his manners and uncouth in his appear ance, but there was a beauty in bis rugged strength which was more apt to charm a certain class of female minds, than the smoother attractions of effeminate refinement. Helen was of this school of critics. It is true her sensibilities were fine enough to render her susceptible fo the most delicate appeals of the imagination, but her stea dy black eyes and strong complexion evinced a decided tendency for nervous appreciations, and Sumner, being the first to fall in her way, her fancy required no factitious impulse to take him for its beau ideal .

They were, therefore, soon close friends, andSumner, Bo rude to every one else, was to her as docile as a spaniel—tractable as a dove. He ran of errands for her; he accompanied her in her visits about the neighborhood, remaining for her at the door ; he helped her in her garden; he condoled with her on her father’s growing excesses; he told her stories from the Arabian Nights, and now and then, when the relation of some heroic deed would draw from her an expression of childish admiration, he would go off and provoke a quarrel with some boisterous comrade, that by his overthrow, he might win a new point in her regard.

The strange intimacy between these two children, apparently so dissimilar in disposition, was a matter of general observation; but, though it occasioned surprise to those who could not analyze below the surface, To one thought ol vetoing it with disapprobation.

But there was really no violation in the connection, of any of the natural affinities. Undet Helen’s gentle and affectionate nature there ran concealed a vein of fire that needed but the touch of passion to set it in a rage. Undeveloped, and in childhood, this tendency merely gave earnestness to her expressions, and added warmth to her attachments, but it was destined, when time should touch her with the throes of womanhood, to be as vehement as rage, and as intractable as frenzy. The quiet, resolute and energetic boy was, on the other hand, but another type of the ardent, loving girl, thougk her sparkling glee seemed, when contrast*** with bis hareh reserve, no nearer in alliance, than the dull carbon to the flaming gem.

As the intemperate habits of old Doyen increasedMipon him, the intercourse of the two children grew more close; and, finally, their impunity from check or observation, emboldened them to a degree, which led them to even step beyond the remotest limits of reserve. An accident one day betrayed this state of things to the father^ his rage knew no bounds, and, naif maimed under his blows, the boy was driven from the house. For the few days which immediately succeeded the discovery, the lad was obliged to conceal himself from Doyen’s anger; but at the end of the week, his friends, consulting a prudent policy, sent him to a store in Portland, and in a few days more despatched word to Doyen that he had gone on a whalmg voyage to the Pacific. As Helen, or Dorcas rather, was yet only eleven years of age, and as the circumstance was not known beyond Sumner’s family, the father soon consoled himself for what had happened, and sought to repair the damage done to his daughter’s morals, by curses at her for the enormity of her conduct, and by threats of vengeance if she should so offend again.

These counsels, like all which employ terror only as the minister of moral sentiment, inspired their object with a mortification at discovery, rather than a remorse for sin. Her recollections were therefore only the voluptuous reiterations of imagination; her sentiments, regrets for the past,; her lesson, caution in the enjoyments of the future. These were the confluent influences which broke the dam of childhood, and which set the course, and swelled the tide of future passion.

Helen, after the lapse of a few months, consoled herself for the loss of her companion, and behaved herself with scrupulous decorum, but as she increased in age, her father saw the impropriety of retaining a child of her quick and shrewd perceptions in such close proximity to the example of a parent’s vices. He, therefore, cast about for some situation in which to place her, where she might be brought up with a due regard to worldly profit and mental cultivation. She was a general favorite in the neighborhood, and many would have taken her; but she had most particularly ingratiated herself among the children of Judge Weston, with the youngest of whom, after Sumner’s expulsion from Augusta, she had been a regular playmate. The family of the Judge, therefore, seemed, for various reasons, beside the one that we have named, to be the most eligible for the child, and Doyen, confirmed in this conclusion by his daughter’s predilections, waited upon the Judge with a request that he would take Dorcas as an assistant in his family. Actuated mainly by a humane consideration for the unhappy prospects of the child, if allowed to remain under the example of her parent, and influenced as well br the vivacious and amiable disposition of the child, the Judge yielded to the appeal and took her under bis protection. This was in the year 1823, at wliich time Dorcas was 13 years of age. In a few months afterward her father died, his death being the result, according to

the statement of the Judge, of intemperate habits.

Dorcas Doyen soon became a general farorite in the family which had adopted her, and instead of being allowed to remain in a condition of servitude, she was promoted to the mora comfortable dependence of companionship. The talents she evinced gave her guardian an interest in her improvement, and she was sent to a common school with those of his children who were of the same period of life. Her quickness of apprehension and extraordinary proficiency soon exceeded all calculation, and such was her passion for learning, that we are told by the Judge in a letter drawn from him some time afterward, that her attendance even at the Sunday School was unremitting, and that it was in those sober classes that her astonishing advance was most remarked. —’

Certain it is, that during the earlier years of I Dorcas’ residence in this excellent family, her I conduct was precise and exemplary, and that j she merited by her demeanor and her studious ha- / bits, all the encomiums and kindly feeling, which J were extended to her by her teachers and her I friends. But guarded as she was, she had no J chance to fall, for she suffered the assault of no temptation. -—’

As she progressed in scholarship she acquired a taste for reading, and in this she was suffered to indulge to the full extent of the multifarious collection of the Judge’s library. Then it was that her young blood, only warm before, became alert and fervid; then, that the glance of her large black eye, from the mere sparkle of thoughtless cheerfulness, became soft and Ian . guishing with voluptuous meditation. The romances of Richardson inspired her with sentiment ; the heroines of Scott aroused and flattered her imagination; while the strains of Byron, the mysterious noble, who had just then became famous in this country by his history as well as by his verses, fevered her veins, and made her pillow the confidant of yearnings, which had they received fruition, would have rendered her Ineligible to have hunted in the train of Dian. 9

Ripened by these stimulations, her form at sixteen had taken the contour of maturity—her faculties and functions also developed to their climax, chafed at the restraints which condemned them to inaction. It would have been well for her had she then been given in marriage; for the bounding impulses which subsequently became determined into irregular and inordi nate appetites, might have had a wholesome issue and have left her equable and conservatively qualified. But she did not yearn for the hymenial condition. She was lovely and might have commanded a match, but her proud demeanor restrained those of her own class from any serious application, while her sanguine notions had never contemplated anything short of a very superior connection. Besides, there still lurked in her imagination a kind thought or two of her first sweetheart Sumner; and while pausing amid the paper loves of Juan or of Azim, she would now and then indulge her fancy with the notion that perhaps the banished boy might one day come back from his


ramble, loaded -with pearls and rubies, or •with his chest freighted with the golden sand, which had formed the beach of some theretofore urtrodden Indian isle.

One soft moonlight evening, while returning iilone from the house of an acquaintance where she had spent the afternoon, she fell into a reverie of this kind, and as she followed the illusion through its vagaries, her step fell slower and slower on the path. Suddenly, as she passed a cluster of trees, whose heavy foliage threw from the other side their shadow into the centre of the road, she heard a rustling in the copse, and in the next moment a large dark figure stepped out from the shade and advanced towards her through the moonlight. She shrank in her tracks, and was about to scream with fright at the unexpected apparition, when a voice pronounced her name which thrilled her •with a more profound sensation than the previous terror.

She paused and looked earnestly at the figure with a combination of emotions, spellbound, and without either resolution to speak, or power to retreat

“Dorcas 1” said the voice again, “has an absence of five years made you forget me !”

” What, is this you !” said the beautiful girl, in a tone of enthusiasm, extending her hands to give him welcome, ” Is it you ?”

” Yes, Dorcas,” said the man, rapidly advancing and slipping his hands between hers until his muscular arms met behind her waist,” Yes— this is me—Sumner, your old playmate.”

” Ah,” said Dorcas, languidly, as she thrilled I beneath his pressure, ” I never expected to see I yru again.”


Stolen joys and feverish dreamsThe history of the loveiExpulsion from Paradise.

These are women who are driven into sin by 1 the very necessities of their natures. To such ‘—as these, when they fall into soft transgression, we must accord some lenient allowance, and measure their lapses with a rule which will balance their temptations against their powers of restraint The spark which will set fire to tow, will make no sensible impression upon flint The warmth which melts the quicksilver, and makes it overflow the zenith, will not ctart a globule to the surface of a vase of water. The touch which fevers the impatient pulse, and sends it bounding to the verge of ecs tacy, will fall without a thrill on tempered reins. Had the lovely Dorcas been the flint, or the limpid element to which we have alluded, our philosophy would not have been put to these justifying contrasts.

But, alas, she was not, and when the arms

of her old playfellow clasped her waist, and

held her close as he expressed a still warmer

j welcome on her lips, she summoned no prudery

I for her defence, but let the hot flash of passion

I ihrivel all resisting sense, and record its tri

\ nrnph in a languid sk’h.

It was late when the beautifu1 T); rcaj arrived at home that evening—an ho’jr iater than she should have been abroad—and oho received a reb’Jce for her delay, that wa<i intended to serve as a lesson for the future. Her appear anee was disordered, and her flushed face and ruffled ringlets did not escape without remark. A momentary blush rose to her cheek, as slia was questioned on these points, but an adroit evasion of the light, and a reply that she had ran nearly the whole road home, satisfied her unsuspicious inquirers, and she retired at one* to bed.

There was no sleep for her that night. He» whole system, its faculties, its sense, were in that tumult which succeeds the passage of the grand climacteric in woman, and between weeping and wondering, estimating loss and bargaining with hope, she paid tolerable penance foi, her stolen joys. The dawn at length released”^ her from her feverish vigils, and her half Magdalen, half Sybarite emotions, yielded to the heavy footsteps of fatigue. •

From this time forth, her meetings wi|h her lover were continuous and steady, and though her new passion for wandering in the woods far’ distant, with a book, occasioned a deal of speculation in the family, it never once took the color of suspicion. It was true, she was sometimes rallied good-naturedly upon her new habits, and her sylvan rambles were mischievously ascribed to a lender melancholy, inspired by some village sweetheart, but the ingenious earnestness with which she repelled such an imputation on her virgin meditations, disarmed the charge, and left it always within the boundaries of badinage^

There was one person, however, who was not thus deceived. This was a negress, who had lived for a while in Sumner’s family, previous to the period of his leaving home, and who knew of the childish pecadilloes of the young companions. On the youth’s recent return, she had spoken to him of his little sweetheart, and when he would have made her believe that he entertained no further thought of her, she shook her finger at him, with a knowing look, and gave him to understand that, according to her notions, Dorcas and he would still bear watching. Unfortunately, the negress did not confine this idea witfiin {he limits of a mere impression, but with the constitutional and characteristic inquisitiveness of her sex, she determined to watch the developments of the youthful passion to the extent of her opportunities.

If Dorcas did not improve her morals, or enlarge her literary acquirements as much since the arrival of her lover as before, she at least ate of the tree of knowledge in a different manner. Sumner told her his adventures, and from his roving narrative and nervous descriptions of the great world which laid beyond his little native town, she received the seeds of that desire to plunge into its strong delights, which had so terrible a consummation.

Thi Lover’s Btort.

Sumner, when sent from home, went to Port, land, where he was made a clerk in a small re

[ocr errors]

tail store. Soon becoming disgusted with the pitiful employment, and feeling within himself a spirit capable of better occupations, he went to the uncle under whose patronage he had been placed, and expressed a desire to be sent to sea. Nothing loth to make a long disposal of a protege whom he foresaw might become extremely troublesome if kept against bis will, his kinsman put him on board a schooner for New Bedford, and to the five dollars which he conferred upon the youngster’s pocket, he gave him a letter to a shipping firm in that place, with the request, that they would afford him the advantage of the first chance that offered for a cruise, in a whaler, to the South Seas.*

In accordance with these directions, the youth was duly embarked for a voyage round the Horn, and spent the sparkle of his boyhood in the grand sport of chasing the leviathan through his vast ranges between the Equator and the poles ; now and then plunging in the frolic of some Spanish town, and alternately basking in the voluptuow enjoyments of some Polynesian Cyprus. Dorcas had good cause to shake her finger reprovingly at her lover as he dwelt upon the revels of the ship’s company with unfastidious islanders, but as he asseverated his perfect fidelity to her recollection during all these extreme temptations, and confined his descriptions of amorous transgression to the conduct of his shipmates merely, she compromised the matter with a softened doubt, and a requirement that he should repeat their offences against the canons, with a particularity that might enable her the better to measure the exact degree of his own enticements.

For three weary years the whale-hunters were burning in the glare of the Pacific. Their hick had been bad; not one half of their cargo was in; the vessel kept continually falling out of repair, and the repeated patchings she had undergone at the Sandwich Islands, and likewise at Callao, were eating into the proceeds of tie trip after a fashion that threatened to enslave every seaman on his return, with a liability for loss, which would make him subject to a new trip, for the reimbursement of the ownera Sumner had seriously reflected upon this, and having no further stomach for such unpromising adventure, he resolved to leave the ship at the first opportunity,

A chance offered at Tahiti. At the gray of evening, after a stay of three or four days, the anchor w^ts hove and the sails spread. The ressel began slowly to yield to the gentle pressure of the breeze, when, taking advantage of the captain’s attention to the top rigging, the young sailor darted into the cabin, and slipped himself into the sea from the stern windows.

. • This story of the lover is not, as some will be ready to suspect, the production of the imagination of the Writer. It is related in a series of epistles which Dorcas Doyen, when shame made her heiress of another name, directed to a friend. Their original draft, or copies, were found transcribed in a large scrap-book, taken from the trunk at the time of her murder. In the reproduction of this portion of its con tents- nothing is altered but the style. These letters were probably written during her career in Boston, as they are signed *’ Helen Mar.” They are- without doubt- accurate records, as far as ftaey go, of bur earliest attachment.

Before letting go, however, he cat loose *n4 took with him a large basket, containing two sheets of cork, which he had a moment before slung over the stern. Turning the basket bottom up, and thrusting his head and shoulder* well up in it, the adventurer, buoved by the cork, released his hold upon the rudder post.

The ” Cyrus” had not got thirty yards away, when the deserter heard within his wicker bastion, the voice of the second mate ” damning the eyes” of all the men who were aft, with a special blessing for the cook, for letting the biscuit-basket get afloat . This drew the attention of the first mate, who, seeing what had happened, ordered the dinkey to be lirwered, to pick it up. Just, however, as the men began to cast her loose, the swimmer was relieved from his apprehension, by the voice of the captain ordering them’ back, and telling them to let the basket go to h—!.

In a few minutes the Cyrus began to get hazy in the falling glooin, when, throwing off his clumsy, but, till then, convenient vizor, the swimmer struck out boldly for the shore.

There was no picket there to question him, but there stood upon the beach a group of sailors belonging to an English barque, which was to sail on the following day for Canton, and which was short of two hands from a loss by a sou’-wester in coming round the Horn. These sailors were expecting the deserter, and it was their description to Sumner of the allurements of a western passage home, and assurances of an engagement at sixteen dollars a month, which had confirmed the young man’s determination to desert.

The Sophia, for that was the name of the English vessel to which Sumner had transferred himself, touche4 at the Ladrones, and likewise at Manilla, before reaching Canton, and of each of these stopping-places the young adventurer had wondrous tales to tell, as to what he had enjoyed and seen. He could not, like Othello, tell his eager listener ” of men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders,” but he could describe the Anthropophagi and the dusky beauties of Tanai, whose charms disdained all covering but the girdle of tattoo, and whose teeth might have rivalled the ivory hedges of Calypso, if it had not been for a cursed fashion of staining them like ebony. But lie vindicated to Helen their amiability of disposition, and sought to palliate their absence of attire, by the excuse of custom. His listener, however, could find no justification in tradition or in climate, for droves of females running in puris naluralibus among groups of long-fasting sailors, or for disporting with the most extravagant gymnastics, beside their vessel in four fathom water,

Sumner smiled quietly to himself as his pretty listener pouted at this passage of hia tale, and to divert her feelings, he changed to a perilous adventure in Guiana, in which he cams very near being run down and devoured by wild hogs.

19th Century Prostitutes and Cigar Girls, Antebellum

Leave a comment

Dorcas Doyan, aka prostitute Helen Jewett (murdered in New York City, 1836)

Helen Jewett (October 18, 1813 – April 10, 1836) , aka Helen Mar, aka Maria Stanley, was an upscale New York City prostitute whose murder, along with the subsequent trial and acquittal of her alleged killer, Richard P. Robinson, generated an unprecedented amount of media coverage.

Jewett was born Dorcas Doyen [1] in Temple, Maine into a struggling working class family. Her father was an alcoholic shoemaker; her mother died when Jewett was young. From the age of 12 or 13 Jewett was put out to work by her father upon his remarriage and was employed as a servant girl in the home of Chief Justice Nathan Weston of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. At the Weston’s estate Dorcas displayed a grace that belied her poor upbringing according to accounts of her from diaries and travel logs of people who met her and it is believed Dorcas acquired a sense of refinement and cultivated a taste for knowledge and literature (which would explain the subscriptions to literary journals, such as the Knickerbocker and the Albion and works of Lord Byron, Edward Bulwerlyton and Walter Scott found in her room upon her murder.) While in the judges employ rumors began when Dorcas was sixteen or seventeen that she was sexually active, the judge (who some suspected may have been one of her suitors) would be forced according to custom to confront her seducers and agreed with Dorcas to lie about her age so she could be released from employ.  It was agreed that she was 18 and she left the Weston home at the first opportunity. She moved out of the judges home, no longer a virgin and a young woman with a bad reputation, moving to Portland, Maine, where she obtained the only employ available to her that could bring the lifestyle she dreamed of having: she began work as a prostitute under an assumed name (a standard practice at the time).

“Ellen was one of the most splendidly dressed women that went to the third tier of the theater,” testified Billy Easy, one of Helen’s brothel clients whose real name was George Marston.

She subsequently moved to Boston and finally New York under a succession of fake names. (Wikipedia and other internet sources)

At the murder scene, letters were discovered in Helen’s trunk.  ”

April 12, 1836 New York Herald, “Ellen Jewett was well known to every pedestrian in Broadway. Last summer she was famous for parading Wall Street in an elegant green dress, and generally with a letter in her hand. She used to look at the brokers with great boldness of demeanor, had a peculiar walk, something in the style of an Englishwoman.”