(From the North Devon Journal.)
It is a ghastly incident of this Christmas time Avhicli avc have to report as having happened at the village of Weargifford, near Bideford, by Avhich one life has been sacrificed and another placed under the shadoAV of the gallows. It av&s the life of a young wife, the mother of two children, and likely so m to have added a third ; and her murderer is her own husband and their father. We need scarcely add, so common is the case, that the inspiration of this foul and unnatural crime was the drink —nothing but the drink ! But for it they had now been a happy family, heart could wish. Strong drink made her a victim, their children motherless, and branded him as a murderer ! And this drink is an indulgence for which many good people plead, and say many soft things in extenuation and even in praise of it. When will our country rise as one man to declare Avar against this monster, which will surely ruin her if she do not crush out its life ? We need not dwell long on the circumstances of this tragedy, for they are but few. A gentleman and his Avife, of the name of West, from Cormvall, have been living at Woargifford a little more than two years. They seem to have been of ample means, and lived, in a style of much respectability. But he Avas known to be a drunkard, and they appear to have made no acquaintance of their own rank in society. Fond of his Avife, and affectionate when he Avas out of his cups, he Avas a demon when the drink possessed him. In his frenzy he had many times threatened to shoot her, and she Avas known to have expressed her apprehension that he Avould some day do so; but Avith a Avoman’s love and a Avoman’s Aveakness she persisted in running the lisk of her life rather than leave him. And her worst fears have been realised. It doss not appear that there had been any quarrel between them on Saturday night ; he had been drinking, but was someAvhat in* a frolicsome mood, and spent an hour or two with their maid-servants in the kitchen, Avhere he induced his Avife to join them, and some pleasantries passed betAveen them. Little did the illfated lady imagine that she had only a feAV short minutes to live ! Yet so it was. She retired to her bed-room, whither ho followed her. No sound of quarrelling Avas heard, but an ejaculation from her once repeated, “Oh Frank, don’t!” Then a rifle-shot, and all Avas over? Ste satin her chair a corpse, the blood flowing from the fatal Avound in her neck. And there, stupefied with drink, it must be supposed, he remained with the dead . body the rest of the night, Avhile all besides in the house slept. The servant went in the morning Avith a cup of tea for hefi mistress, and found her sitting in the chair dead ! And the murderer—he had gone to his workshop—to amuse himself, it may be, or to aAvait the issue. And the issue came full soon ; and noAV in the hands of j ustice he is immured in a dismal cell, by and by to be exchanged for the murderer’s doom. Such is the tragic story —one of thousands of instances in which the same deamon of drink is multiplying its victims every year. Are there none Avho will he moved, to make the only atonement —if \ve may so speak—possible for the young life thus brutally destroyed, by breaking off from, and vowing eternal enmity to, that accursed habit to which, not in herself, but in him Avho had solemnly sworn to guard and protect her, she oavgs the unutterably cruel fate which has overtaken her?
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 65, 24 February 1880
DRINK’S DOINGS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 65, 24 February 1880
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