Friday 18 February 2011

I Will Blow Out My Brains

Another random tale of love, betrayal and suicide, from Victorian London ...
On Monday night, an inquiry was held at Tottenham, by Mr. Humphreys, respecting the death of Mr. Gabriel Tregear, a civil engineer. The following letter, signed by him and his wife was found after his death. From it will be gathered his statement as to the cause he had for committing suicide :-
    "Fellow Countrymen -We have drawn up the statement that you might know why we have agreed to die together, and the villany that drove us to do It. We were married on the 6th of July last; and we met for the first time only a year ago. We slept together the first three months, and nothing disturbed our happiness; but then we took the house in Bedford-terrace, and, as we had only a very small income, to increase our means we let rooms. One of those lodgers was Mr. Cowen, bandmaster and secretary to the London Irish volunteers. In February I received a valentine, intimating that my wife had an adulterous intercourse with Mr. Cowen. I gave Mr. Cowen notice, and he removed to Mr. Rod's house, next door, giving out as his reason for putting up so near that he did it to show his contempt for the slander in question. I noticed that after this my wife's health failed, and four weeks ago I sent her down to lodgings in a highly respectable place three minutes' walk from my sister's, at Home Cottage, Tottenham. I received a letter from my sister, saying that she had discovered a letter written in slang terms to my wife, and she said to put a stop to any such clandestine correspondence. I suspected Cowan, and I called at Mr. Rod s, but Cowan was not in. I said to Rod I had got the letter, but Rod repudiated the imputation on Cowan, and said that he suspected someone; that it was the same person that sent the valentine, and that he would pledge his honour that Cowen was not the man he suspected, whose name be could not give. He said Cowan always spoke of my wife with respect and esteem, and as a father would of a daughter. But on Thursday I received a letter, stopped by my orders at the post office, addressed to my wife at Tottenham, cautioning her not to leave her letters about, as she was watched, and one of them was found.  The letter was signed "A Wellwisher," but as Mr. Rod was the only one that I had mentioned the affair to, I knew at once that the caution came from Rod's house. I had an interview with my wife and she admitted the intrigue. She was my adored idol. I had only seen her first twelve months ago, and I could not survive the blow. I had for her an undying love. She implored pardon, and I forgave her. I took laudanum. She called my sister, and I was forced to take an emetic.
    Let me say that my wife was only six months past 16 years of age when we married, and she was then pure as a babe. Now I call on you; fellow countrymen, to root out from society the man who infamously prostituted her to his lust. He is 43 years of age, and is married, but is not living with his wife. He committed a rape on my wife's person and then by threats compelled her to keep the dreadful secret, and so made her subservient to him, and by threats frightened her into secrecy. Her health was dragged down by the state of her mind. All you that have daughters sisters, or wives, punish this wretch. I cannot wish for life. We cannot live, and two young and shattered hearts we dedicate ourselves to deaths. (He has letters which she wrote to him, but they were written to him because he made her do so by frightening her with the secret.) My love was so great that I never would spare any expense for my wife. I cannot now bear that she should be made an exhibition of to punish that man. I hope you will all punish that diabolical wretch, who has crushed two young hearts in the spring of their life,
    The first witness examined was his wife, Mrs. Tregear, said to be very handsome. She said she was 17 years of age, and had been married ten months. She said she went to London with her husband and bought laudanum at several shops, and also took some and was ill. But his sister caused, them to take an emetic, which saved their lives. While Mrs. Tregear was lodging at Tottenham her husband came over to Tottenham to his sister's, and from her lodgings Mrs. Tregear went there to see him. He was greatly excited at the time, and Mrs. Wheaton, his sister, induced his wife to leave him, as she was sure he would be better with her away from him. He then remained ill in bed for two days without seeing her. But on Wednesday night, at a quarter-past ten, her landlady let him in after his wife had gone to bed.  bed. "He came into my bedroom," said Mrs. Tregear, "and shut the door. He stood for a quarter of an hour without saying one word. He laid flowers on the table, and he put there also the first letter he ever received from me. He placed several portraits on the table. His sister came into the room and wanted him to leave. He ordered her out, saying he wished to speak to me. She stood with her husband outside the door. My husband looked very strange, and I asked his sister to come in again. He again ordered her out, and she left, saying 'If anything happens to him you shall be given into custody.' He then walked round to the opposite side of the bed. He pointed to the flowers which he had brought, and said that he had plucked them at Hampstead that day, at the house where he had first met me. He pointed to his hat, on which there was a new black hatband, and asked me, 'Do you know what that means?' I said I did not. He said that he had seen my papa that day. (Her father had died before they were married, and he was aware of that). He said he had waited long before he saw him, and that then he told him 'to go and see her.' He said my papa told him he was married again. I do not recollect that he said anything else. I was terrified, and went to call Mrs. Wheaton, who was outside. He said, ' I will blow out my brains.' I ran to the door and called 'Sarah,' but heard an explosion, and saw him fall on to the bed. I found he had shot himself through the head."
    Dr. May gave evidence to the effect that he died an hour afterward from the pistol shot wound.
    Mrs. Wheaton, in her evidence, said that her brother had not exactly forgiven his wife, but he was so fond of her that he said to her, "I will die, Georgina, in your sight." She treated him with the greatest pride and callousness. They had agreed to take poison together, but she had evidently no intention of doing so. The Coroner said it would have been truly diabolical if the wife had accompanied her husband up to London to purchase poison under an agreement to take it with him, when she had no intention that it should be fatal to more than one. Mrs. Tregear repeated that she did take the poison with her husband. The Coroner having summed up, The jury returned a verdict—"That deceased died from a pistol shot inflicted by his own right hand while in a state of insanity into which be had been driven by the infidelity ant heartless conduct of his wife." It was stated that the unhappy lady was the daughter of parents that died seven years ago. She was then brought up in the family of an eminent surgeon practising in Hampstead, at whose death, two years ago, she was left with no other protector than his aged widow.
Liverpool Mercury 11 May 1869

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