vol II date / index
Sts. Gorgonius, Dorotheus, and Companions A. D. 304. St. Omer, A. D. 607. St. Kiaran, Abbot A. D. 549. St. Osmana of Ireland. St. Bettelin.
St. Bettelin, or Beccelin.
The town of Stafford is honoured by this saint being its patron, where "his relics were kept with great veneration." He is said to have served St. Guthlac, and been of all others most dear to him, and to have led an "anchoretical life in the forest near Stafford."*
The fate of this unhappy young woman who committed suicide at Bath, on the 9th of September, 1731, is still remembered in that city. She resided with Mr. John Wood, the architect, and on the night of the 8th went well to bed, nowise disordered in behaviour. Her custom was to burn a candle all night, and for her maid to lock the door, and push the key under it, so that she always got up in the morning to let her maid into the room. After she had retired, on the evening mentioned, she got out bed again, and, it is supposed, employed some time in reading. She put on a white night-gown, and pinned it over her breast; tied a gold and silver girdle together, and at one end having made three knots about an inch asunder, that if one slipped another might hold, she opened the door, put the knotty end of the girdle over it, and locking the door again, made a noose at the other end, through which she put her neck, by getting on a chair and then dropped from it. She hung with her back against the door, and had hold of the key with one of her hands; she had bit her tongue through, and had a bruise on her forehead; this was occasioned, probably, by the breaking of a red girdle she had tried first, which was found in her pocket with a noose on it; there were two marks on the door. The coroner's inquest sat on her that day, and brought in their verdict non compos mentis. She was daughter to the late general Braddock, who at his death left her and her sister 6000l. by her sister's death about four years before, she became mistress of the whole fortune, but being infatuated by the love of gaming, met "an unlucky chance" which deprived her of her fortune. She had been heard to say, that no one should ever be sensible of her necessities, were they at the last extremity. She was generally lamented, and in life had been greatly esteemed for courteous and genteel behaviour, and good sense. She was buried in a decent manner in the abbey church, in the grave of her honest brave old father, a gentleman who had experienced some underserved hardships in life; but who might be said to have been thus far happy, that he lived not to see or hear of so tragical a catastrophe of his beloved daughter. The following verses were written by her on her window:—
"O, death! thou pleasing end to human woe!
Thou cure for life! thou greatest good below!
Still may'st thou fly the coward and the slave,
And they soft slumbers only bless the brave."*
Mr. Wood who wrote "an Essay towards a Description of Bath," speaks of many circumstances which unite to prove that Fanny Braddock had long meditated self-destruction. In a book entitled New Court Tales, she is called "the beautiful and celebrated Sylvia," which Wood says "she was not very improperly styled, having been a tenant under my roof during the last thirteen months of her life; and at the time of her unhappy death, her debt of two and fifty pounds three shillings and fourpence for rent, &c. entitled me to the sole possession of all her papers and other effects, which I seized on Monday, the 13th of September, 1731." Though Wood probably knew better how to draw up an inventory, and make an appraisement, than a syllogism, yet at the end of five months the creditors drew "a new inventory" of what was in his possession, and made a new appraisement. "The goods were then sold," says Wood, "and people striving for something to preserve the memory of the poor deceased lady, the price of every thing was so advanced that the creditors were all paid, and an overplus remained for the nearest relation; though it ought to have come to me, as a consideration towards the damages I sustained on the score of Sylvia's untimely death"!
Whatever was Wood's estimation of his unhappy tenant when alive, he could afford to praise her dead. "Nothing can be more deplorable than the fate of this unfortunate young woman; a fate that I have heard hundreds in high life lament their not suspecting, that they might have endeavoured to prevent it, though it should have been at half the expense of their estates; and yet many of those people, when common fame every where sounded Sylvia's running out of her fortune, would endeavour to draw her into play to win her money, and accept of whatever was offered them from her generous hand!" She was ensnared by a woman named Lindsey, who kept a house for high play. "When I came down to Bath," says Wood, "in the year 1727, Sylvia was entirely at the dame's command, whenever a person was wanting to make up a party for play at her house. Dame Lindsey's wit and humour, with the appearance of sanctity in a sister that lived with her, strongly captivated the youth of both sexes, and engaged them in her interest." The reputation of this "dame Lindsey" was at a low ebb, but Wood observes, "in the course of three years I could never, by the strictest observations, perceive Sylvia to be tainted with any other vice than that of suffering herself to be decoyed to the gaming-table; and, at her own hazard, playing for the amusement and advantage of others. I was therefore not long in complying with a proposal she made to me in the summer of the year 1738, for renting part of a house I then lived in, in Queen-square; her behaviour was such as manifested nothing but virtue, regularity, and good nature. She was ready to accept of trifling marks of friendship, to give her a pretence of making great returns; and she was no sooner seated in my house than ladies of the highest distinction, and of the most unblemished characters were her constant visiters: her levee looked more like that of a minister of state than of a private young lady. Her endowments seemed to have had a power of attraction among her own sex, even stronger than that of all the riches of a court among the gentlemen that are allured by them."
The last night of her life she had spent in Mr. Wood's study, where whe took her supper, and dandled two of his children on her knees till the hour of retiring. She then went to the nursery and taking leave of a sleeping infant in its cradle, praised the innocence of its looks. Passing to her own room she undressed and went to bed, and, as her servant left the room, bade her good night; she had never done so before. It is probable that at that moment she thought on her fatal purpose, and some passages in Harrington's translation of "Orlando Furioso," are supposed to have strengthened it. It was found that after she had arisen she had been reading in it; the book lay open at pp. 74 and 75, the story of Olympia, who, by the perfidy and ingratitutde of her bosom friend, was ruined.
Canadian Golden Rod. Solidago Canadensis.
Dedicated to St. Omer.
Notes [all notes are Hone's unless otherwise indicated]:
1. Butler. [return]
2. Gentleman's Magazine. [return]