~ THE LAST ~
(Written by George Beattie in September, 1823)
dreadful cloud has hung over me for some time past: I fear much I
shall never again enjoy the sunshine of this world. This paper will be
laid down beside the Statement of Facts, &c., respecting Miss
letters from that are in John Walker’s little black box. I beg that
special care may be taken of these letters, and the different papers;
they may perhaps be required as a justification of my conduct, if any
such can be admitted, for I have suffered, and am suffering more than I
can bear. I thought myself, and I have no doubt that most people will
hold the same opinion, that I would almost have been the last man in the
world, that would have allowed himself to be so oppressed and borne
down, upon an occasion of this nature; and I dare say, I might have
laughed at any other person, under similar circumstances. None can
know, however, until they are placed in the same situation, and unless
they were acquainted with all the circumstances, which none can be but
the poor victim himself. God knows what may happen, I have no distinct
views on the subject; my feelings have been lacerated in a dreadful
degree. I shall blame no person, but I have been most cruelly and
unjustly treated; and no person can know the extent of this treatment,
but myself. I can scarcely command resolution to look back upon the
connection and intimacy that subsisted between Miss Gibson and me, and
which was, at all events, as much cherished by her as me; when I have,
at the same time, to bring to my remembrance, that no sooner did she
acquire an accession to her fortune, and know the extent of this than
(forgetting, without regret or remorse, all our former pledges, vows,
&c., &c.) she immediately wished to break her engagements with
me, which she has actually done; and no sooner was this done, than she
instantly admitted the addresses of, and entered into engagements with,
all the circumstances be revealed, no person could believe that such
could have been the case. I could not tell my ideas on the subject;
they could not be expressed. Much will now be said about me.
would I have lived till overtaken by death, in the ordinary course of
nature; but I have wrestled with my fate, till I can wrestle no longer.
I could have suffered any degree of bodily pain, penury, privations, or
hardships of any description; but the agony of my mind, contrasted with
my former happy condition, can not be borne, I must submit.
hope every person will endeavour to think as charitably of me as
possible. I will not, I need not attempt to justify my past life or
conduct. I wish they had been much, very much better than they have
been; yet, I may not, on the whole, have been very much worse than some
others, who have made greater pretensions than ever I did.
I most dreaded was my defects and deficiencies, as a practical
Christian and a good man, terms of nearly the same import. Without
taking any merit to myself, I may state that I have undergone a pretty
strict self-examination for some time past. I have had ample time for
this, during the night, when sleep has not visited me.
have found myself lamentably deficient; all my comfort is, I never
oppressed the poor or helpless, although I had the power, and had been
urged to do so. I never did a deliberate act of cruelty to man or
beast. Although I sometimes got into a very temporary passion, which I
never failed afterwards to regret, I never deliberately did, or wished
harm to any person. Although latterly accused, when I least expected
it, I never was selfish, nor did I at any time acquire cash by improper
means. Any means I was in possession of I had no pleasure in
squandering, and I could not justly do so, while others were depending
on me; and I can say, as a dying man, that the accusation brought
against me by Miss Gibson, of wishing to possess myself of her fortune,
is as cruel as it is unjust and unmerited. Although her fortune had
been laid before me, I would not have touched a halfpenny of it, and it
would now be of no use to me.
she really believes the accusation herself, what must she think of the
individual preferred to me, who only could have paid his addresses to
her, after she came in possession of it, and who never would have done
so but for it.
As a dying man I may pledge myself for the truth of this. I am however, digressing, and my time is limited.
have only to say then, that although I found myself deficient in almost
every respect, and although I die the death of a wretched suicide, yet,
trusting in the unbounded goodness and mercy of God, I am confident I
will be happy.
I hope all my friends and acquaintances will vindicate me, as far as they can do so with justice.
meant to have mentioned some of them by name; I have not time,
however, and perhaps in the agitation of my mind, I might forget some of
the best of them. May every happiness attend them through life, and
may they never suffer themselves to be induced, as I have been, to place
their whole happiness on one object.
I meant to have written a separate letter to my parents; this,
however, I can not do. I can only think of them, with that dreadful
degree of agony, that the perspiration falls in drops from the tips of
my fingers on the paper.
die as I lived, their loving, dutiful and affectionate son. It gives
me some consolation, at this awful juncture, to think that I have not
been a bad son, or a bad brother; my parents, and David and Catherine,
can speak as to this.
are all good themselves. I feel for poor David, he must work away with
the business. I hope some will employ him for my sake, and many for
his own. A better young man, a more honourable, or a more punctual,
does not exist.
is well calculated, in every respect, for business; much better than
ever I was myself. I hope the brethren of the profession will be kind
Catherine, I know, will feel dreadfully. All this redoubles my agony, and urges me to a speedy oblivion of my woes.
We will all meet in a better world.
I have one consolation, they will not be left destitute here.
I have endeavoured, by every possible means, to conceal the dreadful
state in which I have been for some time, it certainly must have been
noticed. I have not slept many hours in the course of two months.
am a complete wreck and a ruin, totally unfit to do business. I have
been different in every respect from what I previously was. Instead of
reading my book, as I was wont, I have sought company and even
dissipation; I do not mean, that I have betaken myself to drinking,
but, I have left company with regret, knowing that I had not the power,
as formerly, of retiring into myself with comfort and placidity.
which flew over me with rapidity before, now lags, and wears me out of
patience. I have not been the same man at all. I know myself, and I
know that time, instead of giving me relief, will only increase my woes,
and what impels me to fly from them just now, is the fear of absolute
and total insanity. I would then be deprived of the power of
extricating myself from that deplorable state of existence.
when about to leave this world, I can say with truth, that before I was
visited with this calamity, few enjoyed it so much, because I could
delight in my earliest recreations. I had always a delight in the
enjoyment of simple pleasures; the seeking of birds’ nests in their
season, playing games with children, &c.; but I have latterly had
not even an idea of pleasure of any description. In this fatal
connection, I have been true to honesty and virtue, but blind to
I can not blame myself. We often talked of the difference of our
dispositions, &c., and Miss Gibson was so fully satisfied of our
future happiness, I became of the same opinion, and she forged the
chains which she afterwards broke, and along with them, my heart. The
injuries I sustain are manifold, the loss of the object of my
affections, after she had repeatedly owned, and given me unequivocal
proofs of her attachment, the pangs which must wring one in my
situation, to think that one in whom I had placed the utmost confidence,
and whom I believed to be incapable of caprice or deceit, could be
capable of such conduct, the affront to myself, and disgrace with the
world, the humiliating idea that another should be preferred, after so
long an attachment, and after solemn engagements had taken place betwixt
us, and the scorn that must be borne, from one who piques himself in
having cut me out, &c., &c., &c. Here I might go on for
hours, but I have said enough. Who could even bear what has been
stated?, and I have a thousand other feelings, many of them that I
could communicate, and many of them that I could not.
an interval of suffering, I have again taken up my pen. I find no
improvement in the state of my mind. On the contrary, the more I think
of the matter, I feel the more astonished an oppressed.
The great mistake was, my allowing myself to get on an intimate footing
with one who was great, or considered herself so. Miss Gibson knows
what often passed betwixt us on this head; how she satisfied my
scruples, and urged me on. She seemed to have convinced herself, and
convinced me, that in reality our dispositions were quite congenial. I
should have been like the “Mynstrell of Dun,” who prayed the great Lady
to be allowed
“To hirple his waas to the cot-house doore,
And cheer with his layes ye sempelle and poore.”
The poor old man’s fate somewhat resembles my own. I should therefore
wish that piece preserved, particularly as it was originally written,
when I was a mere boy, and before I had almost read any poetry, and lay
past for years, before it was published, or supposed to be worthy of
being so. I must, however, say, that till the moment Miss Gibson wished
to break her engagements, and for years previous, she in all cases
conducted herself, towards me, with more than ordinary affability and
condescension. I can not now express myself, as I would wish, but I
hope it will be distinctly understood, that it is not the breaking of
written or verbal promises or oaths that troubles or astonishes me,
these are no doubt the only palpable evidence that can be brought of a
connection of this nature; but it is the breaking of the impalpable and
continued chain of endearments that passed betwixt us for a long
period, the long and uninterrupted course of interchanged affection,
expressed in a thousand different modes, the meaning of which was so
well known to both; it is the breaking of these that utterly confounds
me. It is to me altogether unaccountable, and displays such a dreadful
breach of faith and want of principle, that it shakes my resolution, and
overpowers my reason to attempt to scan the motives that could have led
to all this. I allow, that in many cases a female may change her mind,
and, in an ordinary case, I would be ready to excuse this. I am very
ready to mistrust myself, and had I not met with the strongest
encouragement, I would not have continued my attentions. But the most
extraordinary circumstance, after having been so long encouraged, and
when so many promises had passed betwixt us, was the wish to set the
whole aside, the moment the extent of Miss Gibson’s fortune was known,
and the instantly substituting in my place another, who had not paid the
least attention to her, till she came into possession of that fortune.
During all my visits, and they were many, I never saw that gentleman unless when a party was invited.
Gibson wishes to make it one excuse for drawing back, that I had not
visited often enough in the spring. That circumstance has already been
explained, and I am sure that gentleman never was there in my absence
during the spring.
If I could have acted agreeably to philosophy and reason, I would have
shaken off this nonsense, and despised any daughter of Eve that could
have acted in such a manner. I know it will be said that in not being
able to do so, I have displayed a great want of spirit and pride,
&c., &c.; that it was contemptible to allow myself to be
troubled and depressed on such a subject, &c. I am fully aware of
all this myself, and although I have been enabled at times to soar above
my wrongs, still they have returned upon me with increased force, and
latterly I have been totally unhinged.
treatment I have received appears so extraordinary, that the very
thoughts put me in a state of mind, that I neither can account for nor
plots were laid by others to oust me and secure Miss Gibson’s fortune, I
know well from the inquiries that were made at myself from a certain
quarter. Those who interfered were far too many for me.
if it might have been allowable for Miss Gibson to have transferred her
affections to another, notwithstanding of our engagements, &c., and
after all that had taken place, it might have been supposed that, from
feeling and female delicacy, she would not have immediately rushed into
the arms of another.
I now most freely forgive Miss Gibson. I forgive everybody. I can not read over these papers.
If I have written any thing that may offend her, I am sorry for it.
have it only in view, that these papers shall be used in justification
of the awful step I have been impelled to take, partly from the
acuteness of my own feelings, they are much more so than generally
known or believed.
I do not indeed know, if such a step will admit of justification or palliation. It was inevitable. I need not say more.
wish, however, for this purpose, all circumstances, as far as I have
revealed them, known to my friends, so as they may do justice to me as
far as possible.
Let none of the originals be given out. If necessary a copy may be taken.
When at Edinburgh, Mr. Farquhar of the Custom house, Leith, Mr. George
Anderson of this place, and myself, agreed that we should attend the
funerals of each other, at whatever distance we might reside from each
wish Mr. Farquhar to be accordingly invited, Mr. Anderson will be so
of course. I wish this the more so, as Mr. Farquhar repeated this, the
last time I saw him, and we made promises. I shall never wish to hear
again of these being broken, and I never did so. None will be more
astonished at my fate.
If ever I had intruded myself upon Miss Gibson, or urged her to come
under engagements or promises, implied or expressed, I would have had no
right to feel myself much disappointed at the violation of these; but
the very reverse was the case. This Miss Gibson knows well; and also
what led to the connection and intimacy betwixt us.
attachment was reciprocal, but all the proposals as to matrimonial
union came from herself, and were most cheerfully acquiesced in by me.
Can any human being suppose, that I can now bear the violation of these,
under all circumstances. I am certain there can not.
It is not through the madness of passion, or the love of fortune, that I
have suffered, or fallen a sacrifice, but from the deep and indelible
sense of the wrongs done me; and which I could not have done myself, at
any time of my life, to any human being, under any circumstances. The
least excuse for these has not been offered, or palliation attempted.
I have perhaps written too much, and what I have written, not free from
contradiction. This proceeds from the unsettled state of my mind, and
the different views I take at different times.
I repeat, that I most freely forgive Miss Gibson, and impute no bad
motive to her; what I thought she had done wrong in, at this instant
appears like a dream.
I shall endeavour to die with this impression on my mind.
man cared less for the opinion of the world, at one time, than I did.
Now I would wish everybody to speak as well of me as they can. I
recollect the concluding lines, written by Campbell, on the grave of a
“Ah! once perhaps the social passion glow’d
In thy devoted bosom; and the hand
That smote its kindred heart, might yet be prone
To deeds of mercy. Who may understand
Thy many woes, poor suicide unknown?
He, who thy being gave, shall judge of thee alone.
I know my character has been a good deal mistaken. There were some
things, that I have observed other people extremely anxious about, to
which I was totally indifferent, but not in all things. My feelings on
other points were extremely acute; but I believe, till of late, few
were so happy as I as.
It may be believed I had at first considered myself shockingly used,
when I was induced to threaten one I had been so long on intimate terms
with, to seek legal redress. It might have been but just to do so,
under all the circumstances; but this is a step I never could have
proceeded with, and even if I had done so from principle, a farthing of
damages never could have gone into my pocket. Again I repeat my entire
Nothing has sickened my soul so much, as the being accused by Miss Gibson with having designs upon her fortune.
no doubt puts a value upon it herself, but she reasons wrong, when she
takes it for granted, that I hold it in the same estimation. God knows,
if I had all the wealth in the world, I would give it all, that I were
myself again; but this may not be. Nay, at times, I would give it all
for a sound sleep. I am well aware, the cool and calculating part of
mankind can never enter into my feelings; and many will say, it is
sinful in me to let the loss of a single object have such an effect upon
me. They reason wrong. In the loss of this one object, under all the
circumstances, everything else is lost to me. Reason and philosophy may
say “Have you not still all the objects in nature, which you formerly
delighted in; your solitary walks, &c., &c. Have you not the
society of friends and acquaintances, your books, and all your former
enjoyments?” But this is not the case. I have none of all these,
nothing of the kind.
objects, &c., still exist, but they are not the same to me. I see
them through a totally different medium. What most delighted me
formerly is now painful in the same ratio, or interests me not at all.
smooth mirror of my mind, which formerly reflected all objects in such a
pleasing and agreeable manner, and which was a continual source of
happiness to me, is now broken and ruffled, and reflects everything
distorted, hideous, and disgustful. I am a being different from my
former self, and support a different and painful existence.
Miss Gibson must recollect how she was in the habit of treating me,
when at any time she only imagined herself neglected, and this, too,
without the least cause. Nothing could be more gratifying, nothing to
me could be more curious, than to know how she reconciles, in her own
mind, her former with her latter conduct towards me.
From any thing that I can learn, and from appearances at least, she seems to act with a self-approving conscience.
It would now appear also, that she has in the whole matter acted with the approbation of her parents and connections.
This must be so far consolatory to her.
have forgiven her and everybody; but, although I might have lived far
beyond the space allotted to man, I could never forget my wrongs. It is
officious memory that puts me on the rack, and keeps these continually
staring me in the face.
course, while I possess memory and consciousness, I must be miserable;
and without these, I would be a second Edward Shore, and not even on a
par with the beasts that perish. Beyond everything, I dread the falling
into this state.
do already find many of my faculties considerably impaired, and still
getting worse. There is no remedy for this dreadful calamity but one,
and may Almighty God forgive one of his poor unhappy erring creatures,
for presuming to have recourse to such a remedy. Miss Gibson is not,
and could not, from what has past betwixt us, be ignorant of the state
to which I have been brought, I shall not say by her, and truth compels
me to state, that she was evinced the very reverse of any thing like
feeling or regret for my condition, a sad contrast to her former
goodness. If she only but a very short time previous imagined that I
was unwell or unhappy, she was all anxiety.
All this certainly could not have been feigned. There was no occasion for her latterly standing aloof.
time was gone by, and although she had again made a tender of herself,
with a fortune unheard of in extent, neither would have been accepted of
by me; for she had inflicted a wound by her want of faith and feeling,
that shut me out from all the enjoyments of this world.
I have already said that, in many instances, change of female affection might be excusable.
might be the case, when the acquaintance or connection between the
parties had been, and when no real attachment could be formed, when
stratagem, misrepresentation, or strong entreaty had been used, or when
any circumstance of importance had been concealed. Miss Gibson,
however, had none of all these excuses.
It is a delicate matter to speak of the attachment that existed betwixt us. I have avoided this as much as possible.
do not pretend to be versant in these matters. I thought I could not
possibly be mistaken; but to set that matter at rest, Miss Gibson,
without any question from me, voluntarily and unequivocally declared her
first happened in the House of Kinnaber, spring, 1822; this I am
certain she will not deny: and when this attachment continued
increasing and uninterrupted till the instant of time that Miss Gibson
became acquainted with the extent of her fortune, I think I will stand
excused for feeling as I do.
If I could have figured any excuse for her conduct after this, it would have been of some relief to myself.
doubt an individual has now come forward since the receipt of this
fortune, who was not ignorant of our previous connection, and who
undoubtedly is preferred. Had this happened at a previous period, it
had been well.
admit him to be more suitable, more accomplished, and better in every
respect; but as he came forward after a train of engagements had been
entered into with another, and which still exist, I can see little
difference betwixt this and coming forward after our marriage had
followed upon these engagements. There may be some difference legally,
morally none on the part of Miss Gibson; there might on the part of
the gentleman, if these engagements were concealed from him, which can
not for an instant be supposed.
this now signifies nothing. I will, however, be excused, under the
circumstances, for stating how my feelings have been wrought upon. I
have held out till I can do so no longer. I must leave my business and
home in the meantime.
I repeat my most entire forgiveness, and expect forgiveness myself.
my Settlement, I have burdened my sister and brother with no legacies.
We have poor relations of our own, and they will not forget those who
have been in the habit of getting some little assistance. I have only
to give the hint, and I am sure it will be obeyed. I would wish them to
pay ten pounds to the Kirk-session of St. Cyrus, for the poor of that
parish, ten pounds to William Low, Kirk treasurer here, to be given in
charity, as he shall think proper, five pounds to William Blacklaws,
and one pound to each of, John Hutcheon, cooper, John Graham, Mary
Aitkenhead, and a poor man nearly blind, who often sits upon the
has arrived at a dreadful crisis, when the hand is lifted against the
heart; yet it here partly deserves the punishment, for enlisting itself
in a cause, which has terminated so disastrously for its unfortunate
owner. That it was so far pressed into the service is true. If I had
acted prudently, I should have fled temptation; but this I was not
permitted to do. Miss Gibson’s letters will faintly show this. What
she stated verbally was of a more determined nature. I could not help
myself. I sincerely think, and die in the belief, that I am not to
blame in any respect, thought the contrary may be attempted to be
proved, after I can not answer for myself. I had it not in my power to
what I have experienced, if the proposal of breaking the connection
(any time before the extent of Miss Gibson’s fortune was known) had come
from me, it would have been scouted with the utmost indignation; indeed
I confess she had so far attained the ascendancy, that such a proposal
could not have been hinted at. It was therefore ungrateful, unfeeling,
selfish an cruel, to bring it forward herself, at that period only, when
she thought, or perhaps had seen that this fortune has become an object
to others, holding, no doubt, much higher pretensions in every
respect, than ever I aspired to. However, all this now signifies
nothing; it only shows that my mind has not been affected, nor my
feelings wounded without cause. Miss Gibson and her fortune are now
alike indifferent to me, but still the treatment has left an impression
that can never be obliterated, even by time itself; on the contrary, it
still wears deeper, as rivers wear their channels, as the poet aptly
expresses it; and it can not wear deeper, without destroying both body
is the inevitable issue. It has already been busy with both. It is
awful to think, that I can not live, and yet can not die without
shocking my relatives. They have not been out of my mind for one
moment, for a very long time. It is a dreadful alternative. I will
make it as little shocking as possible. I will lay down the burden
which I can no longer bear, in some sequestered place, I think in that
solemn, sacred, and silent spot, where my bones will be deposited.
It was upon the 9th May, as I think, that Miss Gibson sent me a letter
asking forgiveness for having asked to be relieved of her engagements,
stating that her conduct had been highly unfeeling, that she had no
excuse for herself, that she would not hurt my feelings again, and that
she would never repeat a wish to be released.
is well known how she conducted herself at the Roup of Balmakewan only a
few days after this, dates will speak for themselves, I am not in a
situation for making these particular references.
hope some person of feeling, some good Christian, will yet lend their
help with a view, as far as possible, of excusing the last act of my
Miss Gibson did, in a strange manner, inform me of her going to
Pitcaithly. It is known that she went there accordingly, and who was
should at least have acted more candidly towards me. My last letter,
like some others, perhaps, was very foolish, and had evidently been
written under dreadful depression of spirits, so much so, that I had
thought it necessary to execute a Will of the date mentioned in my
letter. I then laboured under dreadful apprehensions. In this letter I
foolishly besought Miss Gibson to do nothing for some time that might
have the effect of accelerating my fate; the immediate consequence was
her attendance at the theatre along with Mr. Smart and her mother on one
occasion, and on another with Mrs Neil and that gentleman, all of whom
were acquainted with the nature of my request.
was foolish in me to write such a letter, but it proceeded from the
state of my mind and feelings at the time, and it would have been no
disparagement to them to have spared my feelings for a short time; the
period asked was not long. They had laid down their system, however.
They may have thought that the word of a madman would not be believed, and that “a dead man tells no tales.”
this as it may, I have been studiously treated with every want of
feeling; in other circumstances this would not have affected me. I
would have laughed at them all; but when the spirit is deeply wounded,
any additional unkindness sinks it beyond the power of recovery.
May God forgive them. They have been the ruin and death of me.
This will no doubt be thought of little consequence.
Smart was in the use of telling, that upon one occasion Twedale’s
natural son*, in taking a parcel from the Mail coach, let it fall in the
strand, and when challenged by the guard, he said, “what does it
signify, it’s only to Georgie Beattie.” I believe the story to be very
true, and a similar remark may be made here.
simple, innocent creature, named Jemmy Jamie, who carried parcels from
the Mail, had one day dropped a parcel for Mr. Beattie in the strand.
Somebody said to him he had dirtied the parcel. “Oh,” says he, “it’s
for George Beattie, it’s for George Beattie.” Had it been for any one
else, he would have paid the penalty; but Mr. Beattie had been very
kind to him, and the poor, simple fellow knew, that the good-hearted
George would not be angry at him. Mr. Smart, in retailing the story,
put a false gloss on it, which was as base as it was untruthful.
It is very true, as stated by Mr. Gibson in his last letter, that this
world is full of trials and disappointments; but it does not follow,
that one fellow-creature ought to stand acquitted for willingly
inflicting these on another.
this sound reasoning, the miscreant who sets fire to a person’s house,
would only have to tell the sufferer to be content, as the world was
full of trials and disappointments. Mr. Gibson argues as if the trial
inflicted on me was a dispensation of Providence. I certainly can not
see the matter in this light, nor can I think so lightly of it, as Mr.
Gibson seems to do, the very reverse; and from what he knew of the
matter, and from what Miss Gibson mentioned to me that she had
communicated to him, I thought it would have been viewed by him in a
very different light.
I have no right to exemption from trials and disappointments, but I would have looked for them from a different quarter.
injuries would have “cried buff” off me, that would have made others
wince; but, in some instances, they would wound me deeper than they
would do any other. That there are as good fish in the sea that ever
came out of it is very true, but this applies not to my case; it might
be thought applicable by some, but my feelings will not admit the most
distant application, or even meaning, here. How would a mother feel,
who had lost her first born, if this proverb were offered her, in the
shape of consolation? It would be equally true in her case.
can not now be of the least consequence to me, but I should like to
know if Miss Gibson, in the midst of her nuptial preparations, allows
herself to recollect of what she was in the use of talking to me, on
that subject, about procuring a ring, providing furniture, &c.,
&c., &c.; and if she has forgotten, that she was in the habit
of making suppositions, as to how I would acquit myself in these
matters. This was a subject of mirth to us both. Trifling as they are,
it can not be supposed that these, and many other circumstances, can be
forgotten by me.
I have often repeated, I am very anxious to justify myself as far as
possible, and in doing so, I have no wish to throw blame on Miss
Gibson. There is nothing to be apprehended on this score. Any one
possessed of a fortune, and living in prosperity, can never be in the
least affected by any circumstance of this nature; he would have a
superficial knowledge of the world, that could think so. I have
continued my remarks longer, much longer than I intended; it all
proceeds from the wish to excuse myself, for the commission of an act
which I can not avoid, do what I will.
have not done this in a pet, but after making every attempt to stem the
torrent, and finding to a certainty, that I really have not the power.
I would not, I could not, for worlds, pass such another period of
suffering and misery; rendered doubly so, by being reduced to the
necessity of continually disguising my feelings, and concealing my
misery and distress from the world. The punishment of attending
parties, or attending to business, is distressing beyond description.
Good fortune to myself in this world would now be worse to bear than any
thing. This may appear strange, but it is nevertheless very true.
Misfortunes and disasters are more suitable to the present state of my
mind, which appears unalterable unless to the worse. The only
consolation I have, and it certainly at times makes me tranquil and
almost reconciled to my fate, is, that I am not suffering from any wrong
that I have committed.
relieves me to think that I have injured no one, but that my sufferings
proceed from injuries that have been done to me. The feeling or
sensation, therefore, hard as it may be to bear, is not remorse nor any
thing akin to it. Had the tie been broken by a dispensation of
Providence, over which mortals have no control, the feeling would have
been very different, the regret, in this event, might have been equally
strong, but this must ultimately have been followed by a soothing
melancholy which would have been unaccompanied entirely by the wounded
spirit, the irritated feelings, the self-degradation, and the many other
feelings and sufferings, which have brought about the present crisis.
never dreamed that I could possibly have been visited by such a
calamity. I was not previously acquainted with these matters. I hope
few have suffered so much as I have done, and that it is a very uncommon
case. If it is not, the world is not worth the living in, and I have
lost nothing by leaving it, if I could have only left it in the course
I did believe at one period I would have done, but however powerful
have been the workings of my mind, they have had to operate on a frame
so full of health, that it could not be pulled down but by violence.
Many would have given much to be possessed of such health, but it has
been my bane latterly. My agonies and want of sleep, having no effect
on my bodily health; it could not be subdued by any operation of the
mind, and it is impossible these operations could have been more
Will must be now perfectly good, for notwithstanding of my mental
sufferings, I have had a very distinct, clear, and satisfactory view of
the manner in which I have disposed of my property. It was my intention
to make a settlement in exactly the same terms before I fell into the
shade, and I am sure it will not be challenged. If it should, it would
be found good, otherwise my disponees will be wronged, and my settled
and unalterable intentions disregarded. I have heard that some
individuals enjoy a morbid and sickly satisfaction in fancying
themselves to be miserable; this is far from being the case with me. I
would fain leave miser far behind me, I would fain emerge from the the
cloud, but memory makes it more dense and dark, and the almost
continual sunshine of the breast which I formerly enjoyed, is no longer
my companion. I say to myself in words, “live, and endeavour to do
good, this trial ought to be a new era in your life, despise the
wrongs that have been done to you, and forget them.”
can do all but the last, and memory brings them before me in so many
different views at different times, that every hour visits me with pangs
unknown before. I wish I could have watched the departure of the last
sun that was destined to shine on me, with a pious smile, and blessed
heaven for a long life, after having done much good here; but as I have
become so miserable, and am so irresistibly impelled, I am not without
hope that I am permitted to lay down a burden which I have not been
granted the power to support, whatever may have been the will.
I have never, to the last, been favoured with any reason by Miss Gibson for her breach of promise.
do not know what the ladies think in these matters: perhaps they
conceive it a sufficient reason if they imagine the have got a better
match. That point I shall not dispute, but Miss Gibson knows herself,
that she often said of her own accord, that she was satisfied I would be
a good husband. These were amongst the last words she said to me, on
the Sunday on which our engagements were renewed. She never at any time
hinted at an objection; on the contrary, she paid me compliments of
which I was utterly undeserving. In the letter she asks to be free of
her engagement, she even says she prefers no other to me. However, the
minds of women have puzzled men of experience, they are beyond my
reach. I admit, that previous to this, I had formed a very high opinion
of Miss Gibson, and was therefore the less prepared to bear any trial
that might be inflicted on me by her. That, however, and all my other
trials are now at an end.
After every exertion, and finding that my fate was inevitable, it is astonishing how well I have become reconciled to it.
have (not without emotion, but free from despair) taken my last view of
various places which at one time were highly interesting to me, and I
have seen many acquaintances and friends whom I know I shall never see
have had longer time for preparation than most men. Although I could
not, without being noticed, relinquish altogether my ordinary pursuits,
or show publicly any visible alteration in my conduct, I have scarcely
for a second of time forgotten the awful situation in which I stand. It
can render me no service to cant to man, that I never could have done
at any time, under any circumstance, and I will not do so yet. It is
not the pretending to be good, &c., &c., &c., and making a
noise about it, that will avail; but it is the being really good,
&c., &c., &c., in silence, that will do so.
will make no pretensions, there is no necessity for doing so, it is
enough to be known here (perhaps too much) that I have latterly at least
done my best, and I know by whom I will be judged.
At a time like this, hypocrisy itself throws off its mask.
This brings to my mind that it was a condition betwixt Miss Gibson and
me, and often expressed, that I should, after our union, attend the
church, at least once every Sunday. This I had not the least objection
to, it was reasonable, and would have been necessary under the
circumstances, but I might now have some reasons to inquire, what she
intended I should learn there, not certainly to break sacred ties,
promise, engagements, or oaths, or, as Shakespeare has it :-
“Make marriage vows as false as dicer’s oaths.”
This, however, I never could have done, that did not go often to
church. Miss Gibson will recollect that she used to tell me I was a
good practical Christian, and too honest, and not cautious enough in
acting to please myself, without following the general example of
others. This was saying more in my favour than I deserved. I have no
doubt she is now ready to retract. My sufferings ought to have made me
better in every respect, and I sincerely hope they have done so. As I
am not granted the power to resist, I am, better prepared just now than I
would have been at an after period. When one full of bodily health,
not far gone in years, easy in his circumstances, and, previous to this
calamity, of a very happy disposition, can thus reconcile himself, it is
astonishing that others, oppressed with age, poverty, disease, and all
the other ills of life, should cling so unreasonably to existence.
Indeed, I may say, for one in my situation, and considering the extent
of my ambition, I was perfectly independent in my worldly
circumstances. This is sufficient to show that a fortune, under other
circumstances, was itself no object to me.
I had at one time resolved to travel, with the view of endeavouring to forget my injuries and leave my sufferings behind.
I found could be of no avail, all places are now alike to me.
Existence could not have been supported anywhere, and, from my absence
of mind, and consequent indifference to comfort, &c., I could not
have lived apart from my own relations.
The scene is now near closing. I feel not the common repugnance to
death so much spoken about, if it had only been an honourable one. I
had been happy.
on the afternoons of Saturday, when a mere child, I have visited alone
the solitary place where my bones were to rest, even at that time, with a
kind of melancholy pleasure, and then I am sure there was not a living
being of more buoyant spirits, or fuller of life and glee, and frolic
and fun of every description. The people in that neighbourhood speak of
this to the present moment. I wish to sleep peacefully in this spot.
I wish “life’s fitful fever o’er.” I admit I cast “many a longing, lingering look behind.”
I do so, what do I see? One who, for a length of time (certainly
myself nothing loath, but the very reverse) has unceasingly urged my
entering into the most sacred and important of all engagements, which,
after being entered into repeatedly in the most solemn manner, she
herself wished to dissolve, and instantly formed another, without the
least feeling towards me or delicacy towards herself and sex.
A dying man may surely be allowed to state what he believes or rather
knows to be true. I merely meant to excuse myself, but if occasional
gleams of resentment dart from my dark and clouded mind, I can not help
I will soon be of another mood. I write from the instant impulse of the moment, without forethought or premeditation.
do so to unburden myself, and as a satisfaction to my relatives and
friends. They know I will state nothing but facts, and my reasoning,
even if wrong, will be viewed by them with indulgence. Is there any
thing, therefore, in what I see, to induce me to court any longer
acquaintance with the world.
If Miss Gibson could only have waited a short time, a very short time, it would have been a consolation to me.
told her, in that event, I would be insensible to any thing she might
do. Nobody can know her better than I do, and I know she is too
susceptible, of too loving a temperament to have admitted of any such
delay upon so insignificant a plea.
“Heaven and Earth!
Must I remember, how she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on! Yet within a month,
Let me not think. Frailty, thy name is WOMAN.”
a month, not a week, perhaps not a day after Miss Gibson sent me the
two letters asking forgiveness, making excuses for hurting my feelings,
and demanding, with the utmost urgency, my intentions towards her, which
I stated with all kindness. I believe she was admitting the attentions
of another, or did so a very short time after, without stating the
circumstances to me; dates will speak for themselves.
this can now make no difference to me; nothing can do so. But let any
person not destitute of pride and feeling, place himself in my
situation, and say how he would have felt, or what might have been his
fate under such feeling.
this, too, immediately after Miss Gibson had come in possession of a
fortune, which she often spoke to me in anticipation of. For more than a
year previous to this, I had not met the least interruption; there had
been no rival-ship whatever, and although there had, from what had
passed, and was passing betwixt us, I could have apprehended nothing.
And notwithstanding of a complaint of absence, there were not, during
the year, I am certain, twenty days (with the exception of a short time I
was from home), that I did not either see Miss Gibson, at Stone of
Morphie, Montrose, Kinnaber, or some other place, or hear from her
verbally or by letter. As matters now stand, it can make no
difference; still I had reason to expect that Miss Gibson would have
spared my feelings as much as possible.
thought her own feelings might have dictated this to her. There
certainly was something strange in her parading the streets with
another, in the open manner in which she has been in the habit of doing,
since the receipt of my last letter.
the whole of this matter in view, I believe few have been treated in
the way I have been, and I do think full justice can not be done to me,
without publishing the whole. I can not now convince myself, that such
conduct does not deserve a full disclosure. This is my conviction at
the present moment, but I leave it to others, who are better able to
judge. No other occurrence could have so unmanned me. From my
interference for others, I have seen ruin staring me in the face, and
only latterly averted, by fortunate circumstances, that could not have
been anticipated; and it scarcely gave me a moment’s uneasiness.
Perpetual imprisonment, with all the squalor carceris, and torture
itself, would not have reduced me to my present state. Under all this,
the spirit and the mind would have remained unsubdued. When these are
deeply wounded, all is over.
the heart is sickened to the core, there is no remedy. What a
difference there is in the fates and fortunes of different men. I envy
none their good fortune or happiness, but at this moment, I envy some
whom others pity.
I wish it could have been my fate to die like Marshall Ney, and yet many thought he was cruelly treated.
a glorious doom, compared to mine, to get a few brave fellows to shower
their bullets through the heart, particularly in his case, when they
would only obey his own orders. None will obey me, and I am
constrained, God forgive me, to do what, till lately, could not have a
place in my mind. I have spent a summer very different from what I was
wont, it is passed with all its pains. Autumn has followed, and I
shall fall before the leaves.
a truth I have “fallen into the sear, into the yellow leaf.” The
variegated fields that used to delight me, now pall upon my sight, and
the changing foliage affords me no delight. I have no refuge but in the
silent and peaceful grave.
That I would have obtained damages in a court of law, there can be no
doubt. Whatever I may have said, however, perhaps by way of threat or
otherwise, under my sufferings, I never could have resorted to such a
would “sooner have coined my heart’s blood” than raised cash by such
means (indeed any body would have been most welcome to my blood, that
would have saved me from spilling it with my own hands).
I spoke of seeking redress, it was on the idea that I could by no other
means expose conduct, which I thought, and still think, most
reprehensible. At no time did I ever think of pocketing a farthing. No
one will blame me for this.
everybody seems so anxious to grasp at, has, for a considerable time
past at least, been a matter of entire and total indifference to me.
Whatever riches it might have been my lot to be possessed of in other
circumstances, I never could have been induced to live extravagantly;
such a mode would not have been to my taste.
I can say what few can; I believe I never asked a favour in my life, that is, for myself or relations.
When this matter came to be spoken about, I was astonished on
overhearing people say “there is no doubt but he will get ample
damages,” just as if this could have healed my wounded feelings, or
cure the heart-ache.
was a gross, a sordid, and vulgar idea; an idea that I spurn with all
my heart and soul. Had I even died a beggar (which, God be praised is
not the case), and left those depending on me beggars, I am sure they
would sooner have solicited alms from the cold hand of charity, than
accepted of recompense or favour from those who had deprived them of
their protector. I do not wish to punish Miss Gibson, or the individual
she has preferred to me.
no. I have inflicted all the punishment on myself. Had I been prone
to revenge, or wished to return evil for evil (as many in my situation
would), I might have taken vengeance. I had only to do what I have
done. I had only to die at any rate. A man who is reduced to the
dreadful alternative that I have been reduced to, would not fear any
kind of death or mortal suffering. Were it not for the dreadful act
itself, however, I might almost say that I die innocent, whatever
previous offences I may have committed, for I have not a wish to hurt a
human being, not even those who have reduced me to my present condition.
Mr. Gibson seems to think that I ought to be pleased, if I can form a connection with another.
Such an idea could never enter my mind. Men, I suspect, are more true to their attachments than women.
I did not previously think. Situated as I was, and having others to
care for, I was not particularly desirous of changing my mode of life,
till Miss Gibson persuaded me to do so. She knows this to be the case,
and that what I mentioned to her in my letter of the 9th May, and it the
Statement of Facts, forwarded to her father, on this point, is far
within the mark and short of the truth. This, as may be supposed, was
done from delicacy.
knows at whose instigation the first letter was sent to Pitcaithly,
although certainly that could not be gathered from the letter itself.
She knows how I stood aloof, after receiving her answer to it, and how
she immediately afterwards did so much to explain it away. After a
connection was formed, I could not think of breaking it; particularly
so long and peculiar a connection as ours had been. There is nothing I
can less excuse Miss Gibson for, than for pretending, in her letter
seeking back her promise, that there had only been one given, and upon
one occasion, and when she speaks of not having been allowed time.
This, however, she does entirely away in her letter of the 9th May.
fact is, and Miss Gibson knows it, that (besides the different
engagements and vows, which had previously passed betwixt us, which are
stated in my letter of the 8th May, and admitted by hers of the 9th),
on the Thursday immediately preceding the Sunday so often mentioned, she
asked me particularly to attend her in the garden. The time, I by some
means mistook; and she told me afterwards, it was for the purpose of
renewing our vows. It certainly was wrong, after all this, to pretend
that she was taken by surprise, or that she stood in need of time to
consider of a matter which had been so often discussed. There was a
want of candour in it, that struck me particularly at the time; but I
had enough to upbraid Miss Gibson with at the time, to take very
particular notice of all these matters. What passed betwixt us on the
Sunday was mere matter of course, and I would have looked upon our
engagements every whit as strong, although I had not seen Miss Gibson
that day. No doubt, by that means there are some letters that would not
otherwise have been in my possession, and therefore Miss Gibson may
think that she might not have been legally bound.
one in her situation in life ought to hold a moral obligation as strong
as a legal one. Although one letter had not passed betwixt Miss Gibson
and myself, the engagements, in a moral and honourable point of view,
would not have been the less binding. It would appear, from her anxiety
to get possession of her letters (and, as I have said, it was by mere
chance there was one in existence), that when this object should be
accomplished, her mind would be at ease; that she would hold any verbal
obligation as nought; that when palpable evidence was wanting, the
evidence of her own breast could be concealed from all but herself and
me; and that she could, without compunction, represent the whole as
ideal and visionary. With submission there is more here of the lawyer
than the moralist; I mean of the chicaning lawyer. And although Miss
Gibson, in one of her letters, hints, that she must take care of
herself, as she is writing to a “man of the law,” I shall leave it to
the determination of any person, which of us has shown most of the
lawyer in the sense I have mentioned, in the last stages of this fatal
business. Instead of acting with the duplicity of which men of the law
are generally accused, I have been made the dupe of one whom I believed
incapable of duplicity, and perhaps the subject of mirth to herself and
an individual, who, however preferable he may have become to me in her
estimation, I did not at one time at least consider my superior in
intellect. I will not now venture to put myself in competition with any
person on this head. Some people would comfort themselves with the
assurance that all this had been ordained, and that what must be, must.
I will not dispute that point; but if it was predetermined that I
should form a connection of so important a nature, I wish to God it had
been with some guileless, artless lassie, whatever might have been her
station, or with some “Highland Mary” from the harvest rig. In that
event I had at least a chance of being happy. It may be said I have
this still in my power. This, however, is not the case.
had entered into a serious and solemn engagement, and I never could
enter into another, nor could I live but in a state of misery, after
that was broken in the circumstances it has been. There are
reminiscences connected with that engagement that can never be
obliterated from my memory. Miss Gibson can not have forgotten, at
least ought not to forget, how we anticipated the happiness we had in
prospect, and how we imagined ourselves in the possession of all the
happiness and enjoyments of the state in which we were to enter, that
we hoped to be blessed with pledges of our affection, and Miss Gibson
spoke with pleasure of my fondness for children. Can this be
forgotten? No, not by me;
but it appears it can, and that in a very brief space too, by one in whom it might have been as little expected.
an honest and proper point of view, the accession to Miss Gibson’s
fortune, should rather have been the means of cementing an attachment
which had been formed under circumstances less auspicious, than of
rending it asunder.
the accession to have been on my side, I do not need to ask myself if I
would or could have withdrawn, it would have been impossible, the
idea never could have had existence. I know what would have been my
feelings on the occasion. I need not express them. Miss Gibson was not
so young as not to be qualified to judge and act for herself in
entering into engagements, nor so old as to be entitled to have recourse
to subtleties for getting clear of these afterwards.
Keep your promise plight, leave age its subtleties,
And grey-haired policy, its maze of falsehood;
But be you candid as the morning sky,
E’er the high sun sucks vapours up to stain it.”
What has, perhaps, made this bear stronger on me is, that my mind has,
for as long as I can remember, been strongly impressed with the
peculiarly sacred nature of any engagement or understanding of the
kind. Indeed, that idea, I believe, is imbibed by most of us, from our
national songs and other writings, and there are few that do not hold
poetical ideas of the subject. Theoretically, I had believed it
impossible that such a breach could take place, and I never could have
dreamed that, practically, I was myself to be made the unsuspecting and
unfortunate victim, to prove the contrary. That Miss Gibson is making
light of, and laughing at, the matter, I have from the best authority.
she has also already spread it, and mentioned circumstances which had
gone to the public, there is no doubt that she has shown and published
my last letter, there can be no doubt.
(Miss Helen Gibson mentioned the particulars to a lady in town.)
Well, she has succeeded in bringing about what she wished. She is at
full liberty to laugh at me. I suppose few, after all, bad as the world
is, will envy her of her sport. It is not in all cases the extent of
the wrong, but the reflection of by whom it is inflicted, that plants
Caesar saw Brutus stab at him, he offered no resistance, his heart
burst, and muffling up his face in his mantle, he fell at the base of
is now over. I die in perfect good will towards every human being. If
my feelings may have led me to say any thing offensive respecting Miss
Gibson I am sorry for it.
She has my entire forgiveness.
I have erred in any thing, I hope she will forgive me, and it will be
wise in her to forget whatever may have passed betwixt us.
If I could have done this, I would have been happy.
There is no use in repining. I never did so before………………………………..]
*This is part of the last sentence, which is erased.