A Picture of a Farm with low fences, numerous trees, two yards, and three single-story buildings. One person is standing by a horse-drawn cart in the center of the painting, and seems to be talking to another person on the right side of the picture. View of Durfee’s Farm, With the Stack Yard, &c. at Fall-River.


Fall River,

Authentic Narrative.

By the Author of
[Mrs. Catharine R. Williams]
Tales, National, Revolutionary, &c. &c.

“Oh for a Lodge in some vast wilderness, Some boundless contiguity of shade, Where rumour of oppression and deceit Can never reach me more. My soul is sick with every day’s report Of the world’s baseness.”

Sold by Lilly, Wait & Co. Boston: Marshall
Brown & Co.


Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 18331833, in
the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States,
within and for the Rhode-Island District.

Cranston & Hammond, Printers, Providence.



It is with feelings of embarrassment never felt on any former occasion,
that the writer of this little volume lays it before the public.
The tale which forms the principal part of its contents has been
hitherto treated in such an indecent manner, that this, of itself,
was nearly sufficient to terrify any one at the undertaking; and it
was not until after long and reiterated persuasion, that the author
was induced to attempt it. Who first proposed it, is of no consequence:
it is sufficient that a very great part of the subscribers
and patrons of former works have seconded the request; and if the
volume answers no other purpose except proving the wish to oblige,
it will certainly answer an important one. But we confidently
hope it may answer other and more useful ones.

The History of Fall River, a place which is becoming of so much
importance in the manufacturing world, cannot but be acceptable
to the public. The anecdotes connected with its revolutionary
history are worthy to be preserved. And a fair and candid statement
of facts, connected with the late unhappy affair in that quarter,
is desirable. As to the trial, it does not treat of things in their proper
order, nor cannot: and in the next place, none but what is called
legal evidence is admissible; and lastly—and its greatest objection
—it is not fit for any body to read. A narrative, therefore,
that would embrace the facts, without any of the odious details in
the trial, is highly necessary, if public curiosity on the subject is
lawful: and who shall say that it is not?

There is another way too, in which it is hoped and presumed
this work may prove useful:—as a salutary and timely warning
to young women in the same situation in life, in which the ill fated
girl was placed, who is the subject of this narrative. On
many accounts it may benefit. That baneful disposition to rove,
to keep moving from place to place, which has been the ruin of so
many, will here receive a check. And what is more important
still—though an extremely difficult subject to treat upon so as to A2 A2v 4
be understood—they will be warned, by the fate of one, against
that idolatrous regard for ministers, for preachers of the gospel,
which at the present day is a scandal to the cause of christianity;
which neither honors God or benefits his church; and certainly
is calculated to bring reproach and ridicule on the christian character.
To venerate the ambassador of the Most High, and listen
to him with respect, while in the sacred discharge of his ministerial
duties, is right and proper; to contribute to his relief in sickness
and support in health, of our abundance, or our personal exertion,
if necessary, is likewise our duty; but here let us stop,
and not make ourselves, and the cause we profess to be engaged in,
ridiculous, by such attentions as mortal man ought never to receive.

The absurd custom of crowding round some handsome preacher
on every occasion, in order to share his smiles, and be distinguished
by his gracious gallantries, has justly excited the ridicule
of a large part of the community, and armed every scoffer
with weapons against that holy cause, which ought not to suffer
from the faults of its ignorant professors, but which they nevertheless
confound together. Besides, ministers are mortal men; and,
with good intentions, sometimes persons of weak minds: and it requires
a very strong mind to resist continual flattery. Some of
them too are ignorant persons; people, who, if they had their
proper places in society, would be hewers of wood and drawers
of water, rather than teachers. This description of false teachers
is very plainly set forth in the Scriptures, as being “ever learning,
and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth;”
as “creeping
into houses, and leading captive silly women,”
&c. &c. This
last description of preachers take care to insinuate themselves into
every place where they can possibly find entrance. No matter
what the religious privileges of the people may be, they go among;
unless they themselves have built up a sect among them, they consider
them as destitute of truth and the means of grace. If a
neighborhood is furnished with ever so many good, respectable,
competent teachers, supported by those who are able to do it, there
must be one more added, if there is no other way to support him
but out of the hard earnings of the poor. Now the fact is, that a A3r 5
preacher, who cannot be supported without drawing upon the
charity of poor factory girls, ought to go in and go to work himself.

It will be seen too after perusing the history of this unfortunate
girl, whether a course of spiritual dissipation is favorable to the
growth of religion in the soul; whether a continual round of going
to meetings night and day, is in reality recommending the
cause, or likely to recommend the character, or preserve the characters
of young women, in an especial manner. It is much to be
feared it is otherwise. In the first place, this appearance of superior
devotedness, this over zeal, fails in no instance to draw all
eyes upon her. There is rivalship in churches it is known, as
well as in other communities, and such members are watched with
jealous regard; if they go and return protected as they ought to
be by one of the other sex, barbarous insinuations will sometimes
be made; if on the contrary they wander about from meeting to
meeting alone, they are immediately censured. And added to
this it is expected that the general deportment of such females
should differ from that of others; that it should present an appearance
of stiffness and restraint incompatible with youth, with cheerfulness,
and a social temper; hence the slightest deviation from
the prescribed forms is censured in such persons as a crime; what
would pass in others without remark, is the subject of unqualified
abuse in these, and induces a species of persecution, that too often
results in loss of character to the victim.

And is this counterbalanced by any inward advantage? Does religion
thrive most in noise and tumult? Does the heart become
better, the imagination purer, the temper more placid? can that
God, who is worshipped only in spirit and in truth, be only honored
in a crowd? Let every heart decide the question.

With respect to embellishment in this book, no person acquainted
with the facts, who has seen it, pretends to say there is any,
except in the first interview between the physician and the unfortunate
heroine of the tale; where it is said the phraseology is improved
without altering the facts. If the error is on the side of
delicacy we hope to be pardoned.

A3 A3v A4r

Fall River,
an Authentic Narrative.

Chapter I.

Situated on a rather abrupt elevation of land
rising from the northeast side of Mount Hope bay,
distant about eighteen miles from Newport, and
nine from Bristol, R. I. stands the beautiful and
flourishing village of Fall River, so called from the
river, which, taking its rise about four miles east,
runs through the place, and after many a fantastic
turn, is hurried to the bay over beds of rocks, where,
before the scene was marred by the hand of cultivation
and improvement, it formed several beautiful
cascades and had a fine and imposing effect. The
village is now only picturesque from the variety of
delightful landscape by which it is surrounded,
the back ground presenting a variety in rural scenery
—where neat farms and fertile fields shew themselves
here and there, between hill and dale and rock
and wood. The soil, though for the most part
fertile, is in some places exceedingly rocky, and
often in the midst of such places some little verdant
spot shews itself, looking, as Cunningham says, “as
though it were wrested from the hand of nature.”

But Fall River is chiefly inviting as a place of
residence from the salubrity of its air, and the vicinity
of Mount Hope bay, which spreads before it like
a mirror, and extends easterly until it meets the A4 A4v 8
waters of Taunton river, forming on each side numerous
little creeks and coves, which add to the
charms of the landscape materially; while on the
southwest it takes a bold sweep, and passing round
through Howland’s ferry, where it is compressed
through the narrow channel of a drawbridge, having
the island of Rhode-Island on one hand and the
town of Tiverton on the other, again expands and
flows on to meet the ocean. Howland’s ferry is not
visible from the village of Fall River, though it is
from the bay when at the distance of three or four
miles. Vessels do sometimes pass and repass through
the drawbridge at Howland’s ferry to and from Fall
and Taunton; but the most usual way of access
to the former is through Bristol ferry, two
miles south of Bristol port. It requires no great effort
of imagination to go back a few years, and imagine
the Indian with his light canoe sailing about
in these waters, or dodging about among the rocks
and trees. The neighborhood of Fall River has
been the scene of frequent skirmishes among the
Picknets, the tribe of King Philip, and the Pequods
and Narragansetts. Uncas too, with the last of the
Mohicans and the best, has set his princely foot upon
its strand.

Fall River, which in 18121812 contained less than
one hundred inhabitants, owes its growth and importance
principally, indeed almost wholly, to its
manufacturing establishments; which, though not
splendid in appearance, are very numerous and employ
several thousand persons collected from different
parts of the country, as well as many foreigners:
the immense fall of water here being now nearly
covered by establishments of various kinds.

There are at least forty thousand spindles in operation, A5r 9
and it is only twenty-one years since the
erection of the first cotton manufactory. Previous
to this the land in this vicinity belonged principally
to the families of Borden, Bowen, and Durfee; three
families from whom the principal part of the stationary
inhabitants sprung. The land now divided
among the different manufacturing establishments
is principally held in shares, that is in the neighborhood
of the establishments. So flourishing has
business been there, that there is scarce a mechanic,
trader, or even labourer, who has been there for any
length of time, who has not acquired an estate of
his own. In 18121812 the first cotton manufactory was
erected by a company incorporated by the name of
the Fall River Company. In the same year, another
company was incorporated called the Troy Manufacturing
, and another factory built.
There are now, in 18331833, thirteen manufactories, viz.
two cotton manufactories of the Troy Company
Pocasset, one woollen do.dittoNew PocassetMassasoit
Olney’s millCalico worksFall River
mills, three in number—AnnawanIron
Works and Nail Manufactory
. The Calico Works
alone, which cover a large area of ground, employ
nearly three hundred hands; its state of improvement
is not, we believe, exceeded by any establishment
of the kind in the country—besides a number
of machine shops, &c. which, stuck about on the
jutting rocks, many of them in the very bed of the
stream, have a most singular appearance. The fall
originally was through a deep black gulf, with high
rocky sides. Across this gulf most of the manufactories
are built. There is an appearance of active
industry and a spirit of enterprise, as well as of
cheerfulness and contentment, that at once strikes A5 A5v 10
a stranger. It is evident too from the number of
houses of worship, schools, &c. that the moral and
religious education of the rising generation is not
neglected. There are seven houses of worship.
Two for Congregationalists, two for Baptists, one
Free-Will Baptist, one Unitarian, one Methodist &c.
There are a number of free-schools here, towards
which the inhabitants themselves voluntarily contribute
twenty-five hundred dollars per annum.
The number of inhabitants at the present date,
18331833, is said to exceed five thousand. It is to be
supposed that among the heterogeneous materials
which form the community in this place, there is a
great variety of character, as well as of creeds; occasionally
some differences of opinion as well as
clashing of interests. Yet for the most part crime
has been unknown there. There have indeed been
a few suicides, but they were “few and far between;”
and it has often been a boast among the inhabitants,
that living as they do, on the borders of two
states (part, and by far the greater part, is in Troy,
the other in Tiverton, R.I.) the laws of either
were seldom called in to punish any thing except
venial transgressions. Fall River too can boast
of its prowess in battle, of its revolutionary characters
in “the times that tried men’s souls.” For although
their humble attempts to resist invasion have not
yet found a place on the pages of history, yet certain
it is, the tide of war has once rolled its threatening
waves as far up as to reach the shores of Mount
Hope bay
. The character for bravery, generosity,
and independence of mind manifested at that period
seems to have become a part of their inheritance.
Among all the changes which the increase of population
causes, the primitive virtues of simplicity and A6r 11
hospitality are still eminently conspicuous. Whoever
goes to reside there seems to adopt readily the
manners of the inhabitants. Even the labouring
part of the community in the manufactories, as well
as in other departments, are positively distinguished
by a degree of refinement and courtesy of manners,
superior in a great degree to what we usually meet
with in manufacturing villages. I shall always recollect with pleasure one little incident, in
one of the weaving rooms of the manufactory, where the noise
was very distracting arising from a vast number of looms going
at once. The machinery suddenly stopped, and a strain of
music arose simultaneously from every part of the room, in such
perfect concord that I at first thought it a chime of bells. My
conductor smiled when I asked him if it was not, and pointed to
the girls, who each kept their station until they had sung the
tune through.
It is a fact that
speaks loudly and deserves to be recorded in letters
of gold, that Fall River is the only place known to
the writer of these sheets where she ever past a week
without hearing one individual speak ill of another:
and few persons ever had a greater opportunity, having
spoken with more than three hundred people
during that time.

We have stated that previous to the commencement
of its settlement as a manufacturing village, and even
as far back as the revolutionary war, the families of
Borden, Bowen and Durfee, were the principal proprietors
of the soil—and brave fellows they were too,
some of them. Even the soil around this secluded spot
was stained with the contest. At the time Newport
was in possession of the British, there was an attempt
made to destroy their mills at this place, consisting of
saw mills, grist mills and a fulling mill. An expedition
was fitted out in boats, and came upon them in the
night with the intention of firing the village, consisting A6v 12
of a ltittle cluster of houses, about ten in number,
and those remote from each other. They were
aided by some of the tory refugees, and succeeded
in landing on the shore, a little below the long
wharf, that now is, where they fired the house of
Thomas Borden. Several little bridges lay between
them and the mills, and these were immediately destroyed
by the brave little handful of men collected
on the spot, except the last, behind which they entrenched
themselves, and commenced firing a few
yankee shot, and from behind the house of Richard
, at the corner of which one of the enemy
was shot. (The old fabric is still standing.) The
enemy continuing to advance, and becoming more
formidable, they succeeded in levelling two of them;
one was shot dead, supposed by Doct. John Turner,
and the other mortally wounded. This rather intimidated
the assailants, who made a motion to retreat,
but after halting at a little distance, returned
again, and the scuffle was renewed—the yankees
fighting bravely, with their last powder and ball;
finding their ammunition all expended, they contrived
to make up the defect by management. One
of them, Sherman, by name, was mounted on the
wall, and instructed to give orders, which he did
with a great flourish, telling them to fight on bravely
—the day was their own, and they had ammunition
enough to last a month. The poor fellows had
then the very last in their guns—but they gave a
great shout, and discharged that in the face of the
foe, who swallowed the bait, and retreated to their
boats, carrying with them, however, one prisoner,
old Mr. Richard Borden, who had ventured too
near in the zeal of the moment. Boys fifteen and A7r 13
sixteen years old, fought in that contest, and women
brandished their broomsticks—and tradition says
only one small boy was frightened, and he ran off
and hid in the woods until it was over. One of the
tories who had been an inhabitant of Fall River,
and guided the enemy to this little nook was named
Holland. The business not prospering as he expected,
he was glad to retreat with the British, and
at the evacuation of Newport went to reside at Halifax.
Many years subsequent to this, and after he
had become quite an old man, he returned to America,
and being anxious to see Fall River, the scene
of his treacherous attempts, he visited it under an
assumed name. Thomas Borden was then an old
man, and the stranger made some pretence for calling
at his house, but in spite of his disguise and the
lapse of years, his eagle eye detected the resemblance,
and hastily advancing he demanded to know
“if he was not the traitor Holland.” The stranger
stoutly denied himself to be that character. “If I
knew you was,”
said the old man, clenching his fist,
“I would lay you on that forestick, (pointing to
the fire) and roast you to a cinder.”
Holland, terrified,
fled again from the place and has never been
there since.

This Richard Borden was a singular character
for oddity. He was taken prisoner, I before observed,
at the memorable contest of the mills, and
as they were carrying him off laid down in the boat
while they were passing Bristol Ferry, lest some
shot from his enraged countrymen should reach
them. The enemy commanded him to stand up,
which he refusing, two men took hold of him and
attempted to force him upon his feet, when a chain
shot from the shore, mowed them both down at A7v 14
once, and they fell on the body of the prisoner, dead

The wounded prisoner, meanwhile at Fall River,
died the next day, and the two comrades were
buried on the spot where they fell, side by side.
One Peter Thatcher, who had distinguished himself
on that memorable night, advanced to the grave
while this operation was performing, and protesting
if their heads were laid together there would be
some mischief hatching, commanded them to be
laid heads and points. This was accordingly done,
and in 18281828, when the ground was excavating for
the erection of the Massasoit Factory, the bones of
the unfortunate victims of kingly power, of the poor
wretches dragged from their families three thousand
miles across the water to engage in a broil of which
they probably knew nothing—were discovered laying
heads and points. “War is a game, that were their subjects wiseKings could not play at.”

The growth of Fall River from the period of the
revolution to the year 18121812, must have been slow—
and even since that, until 18221822,
The third manufactory was erected in 18211821, and two more in
the ensuing year. At this period, 18331833, a large and elegant one
is going up.
when there was
but four stores in the place, of any description, and
not to exceed four hundred inhabitants. There is
now about 100 shops and stores of various descriptions
—but excepting two or three on the Tiverton
side of the village, scarce any where spirituous
liquors are retailed, and not a single distillery in the

A8r 15

The roads north and south of the village, lead
through a delightful country. The view of the
island of Rhode-Island on the south one is beautiful,
almost enchanting—while that leading to Taunton
is scarcely less picturesque. On this road lies the
little village of Assonet, where there is considerable
commerce carried on. It is a singular sight to see
large vessels coming up to the very doors of the cottages,
sheltered and shut in by the little woody point
that encloses the tiny harbor—and music to hear
the voices and loud laugh of numerous little urchins
who are frequently seen playing on the hull of some
old vessel on the grassy strand. These fairy landscapes
on the one hand, are strangely contrasted by
the wildness and sterility of that on the east, which
resembles a newly settled country. The land lying
between Fall River and New-Bedford, a distance of
from sixteen to eighteen miles, is a perfect desert
for the most part, being only diversified by bogs,
rocky pastures and forests of scrub oak and wild
poplar. The village of Fall River perhaps owes
much of its picturesque appearance to the rocks
which are seen rising on all sides, some of the most
finished buildings being nearly surrounded by rocks.

It almost seems in the law of destiny that every
place shall have something in its history to recommend
it to the attention of mankind.

In the countries of Europe, in every part of the
old world, scarce a village or hamlet is past, where
the attention of the traveller is not called to some circumstance
of notoriety connected with the history
of the place, either it has been the birthplace of
some hero, or statesman, or poet, renowned in the
annals of the world, or the spot where some bloody A8v 16
battle has been fought that perhaps decided the fate
of nations. Here was once the resort of banditti,
and here once stood the monastery of some religious
fanatics. Here was the cell of an anchorite, and
here the home of unbounded luxury and unbridled
licentiousness. Those ruins cover the springs once
so celebrated in history where the beauty and fashion
of centuries long gone by resorted for health and
pleasures, and drank from the fountains now hidden
fathoms under ground. This place witnessed ages
since, the vows of those celebrated lovers, and this
was the scene of a black and midnight murder.
Here, dwelt the witches of yore, and here the sorcerers.
Here was lighted the fires of the martyrs, and
there, their persecutors breathed their last. Here
wept an injured, banished queen, and here a king
abdicated his throne. In short, there is no end to
the catalogue of events by which each place is consecrated
in the memory of man.

In our happy country, new to crime and unknown
to greatness comparatively speaking, there is little
of this kind of distinction known. It is sufficient
that the thriving city exhibits the appearance of industry
and application and enterprise, that the rural
landscape teems with sights and sounds of human
happiness, that it is clothed with the flowers of
spring, the verdure of summer, and the fullness of
autumn. The unenvied distinctions conferred by
the monuments of former greatness and vengeful
crimes, we desire to leave to our older neighbors.
Yet even in this our new and favored country, crime
is sometimes known. The primeval curse which
extends over the whole earth, has not left our plains
and vallies without some demonstrations of its universality. A9r 17
“The blood of man, slain by his brother
man, has at intervals stained the soil where peace
and purity were wont to dwell, and the cry of murder,
borne on the midnight blast, has sometimes
been heard, even in some of the most secluded parts
of happy America.”
The traveller in future ages,
as he wends his way through the delightful village
we have been describing, shall point to the lowly
grave on the side of yonder hill, and say “even
here, has the curse been felt—even here, has murder
stalked abroad, amidst scenes of nature’s loveliness,
calculated to warm the coldest heart with gratitude
towards that good and glorious Being who
clothes the fields in plenty and bids the landscape
smile, has the assassin lurked—here plotted the direst
deed of darkness—here executed a scheme of
cruelty which the savages of our western woods
might have shrunk from.”
Here at this lonely
grave, whose plain and unobtrusive stone just tells
the name and age of a female, cut off in the prime
of her days—and tells no more—shall the young and
the beautiful read the warning against the wiles of
man, here try while recounting the sad story of her
who sleeps beneath to fortify each other against the
encroachments of vice, especially of that which captivates
under the mask of love. Here the prudent
mother shall bring her lovely daughters to read those
lessons of prudence and caution, which of all other
lessons the youthful heart is most apt to revolt at,
the youthful mind to forget. And pointing to this
place, the drunkard, the swearer, the Sabbath breaker,
the gambler, and even the highway robber, shall
exclaim, “that grave attests that monsters have lived
worse than me!”
On yonder slope, where nature A9v 18
has spread her richest carpet of almost perpetual
verdure, and where the quiet of the scene might
seem to speak of sweet repose and heavenly contemplation,
a deed of darkness has been perpetrated,
at which even such might have revolted. But this
is digression, and we hasten on to the story.


Chapter II.

About half a mile from the centre of the Village
of Fall-River, in a southwardly direction, on the direct
road to Howland’s ferry and rather remote from
any other dwelling, there is a large old fashioned farm
house belonging to a family by the name of Durfee.
The land descends from here towards the bay with a
gentle slope, and is probably about 150 or 200 rods to
the water. The house stands in the State of Rhode-
, and is quite near the line that marks the
boundaries of the two states. Proceeding from here
towards the village you enter the suburbs of Fall-
. In the State of Massachusetts in about a
quarter of a mile distance, within a short distance
from this line on the Mass. side is the residence of a
physician esteemed in his profession as well as in
his private life, of unaffected manners, and unassuming
deportment. His appearance is the very epitome
of plain old fashioned Republican simplicity:
there is a degree of frankness and benevolence expressed
in his countenance that at once secures the
confidence, even of strangers.

It was on the evening of the 1832-10-088th of October 1832,
that the Doctor was summoned to the parlor to see a
lady who desired to speak with him. This circumstance
to a physician was nothing extraordinary, and
therefore it was without any feelings of curiosity or
awakened attention that the doctor obeyed the summons:
he perceived a young woman very plainly habited
and of most dejected appearance: her age he
judged might be about twenty eight, and her countenance
bespoke the possession of beauty in happier B B1v 20
days—but it was now clouded with care and shaded
with grief, and as she arose to adress the doctor
upon his enterance, the air of extreme dejection that
she wore, caught his eye, and in a moment interested
him in behalf of the unknown sufferer. He begged
her to be seated: while drawing a chair opposite, he
endeavoured to penetrate so deep a grief and ascertain
the cause of this visit. “She had come she said
to consult him on the subject of her health. She
had not been well for some time, and wished to ascertain
with certainty the nature of her disease.”

The doctor desired her to mention her symptoms.
She did so. Not having the slightest recollection of
seeing her before, he inquired, was she a stranger
here? “Not exactly; she had been employed to
weave in one of the cotton manufactories for some
time past.”
“Her work probably disagreed with
her: had she been used to such employment?”
for several years.”
“Would she be so good as to state
her symptoms once more?”
she did so, with a faulttering
voice, and changing cheek. The doctor
rose, took a turn or two across the room, and again
seating himself opposite, asked the question, “Are
you married, madam?”

“No sir,” said the young woman faintly.—A long
pause ensued.

“If you were a married woman I should be apt
to tell you what I thought, but as it is I scarcely
know what to say, except it is my opinion you will
not be able to work in the factory much longer.”

The miserable young woman clasped her hands together
and wept profusely.

“Can you speak with certainty, sir, as respects my
“I cannot”, said the doctor, “nor no other person
with certainty. I only give my opinion, grounded B2r 21
upon the facts you have stated with respect to
your ill health, and I may add your too evident distress
bespeaks you have been the prey of a villain;
but has not the person who has thus entailed misfortune
upon you, the power to take you from the hardships
of a factory and place you in a comfortable situation,
until you can again resume your employment
with safety to yourself?”

“I am afraid he would not be willing to do so.”

“Not be willing! then he must be a very base
man. It certainly is in his place to do so. Who is
no answer but tears.

“Can you not tell me his name?”

“I cannot, I dare not,” said she at last, bursting
into a fresh flood of tears.

“Have you no connections in this place young
demanded the doctor.

“None sir except religious connections.”

“Then you are a member of some religious society
—of which?”

“Of the methodist, sir.”

“Well your case is certainly a very peculiar and
a very distressing one, but I can see no reason why
you cannot tell who this person is—this man who
has led you into this trouble—there seems to be
some great mystery about it, which I am desirous of
unravelling. Perhaps I can advise you to some safe
course, and if I am to be your physician I insist upon
knowing before I give you any further advice,
and if it is in my power to befriend you in any way
I should certainly do so.”
It was not until many
apparent struggles with herself, much persuasion,
solemn injunctions to secresy, and finally a promise
on the part of the doctor not to expose the name,
that she at length reluctantly disclosed it; and great B2 B2v 22
was the doctor’s astonishment indeed when she named
a preacher of the gospel as her betrayer—a
Methodist minister!

“Monstrous!” said the appalled physician, “and
does he preach now?”
“Yes sir, in Bristol, next
town to this.”

“But how, where, which way, could a minister of
the gospel contrive to insult one of his flock? Where
young woman, I must ask, has your interviews taken

“Our interview, sir, was at the late Camp Meeting
in Thompson, Con. It was unsought by me for
any such purpose, but I trusted myself with him in
a lonely place, and he acted a treacherous part.”

“Amazing,” exclaimed the doctor, “under the
mask of religion too! Well young woman it is useless
to mourn over what is past and cannot now be
mended. Your business must now be to take care
of yourself—and there is as I conceive one straight
forward course for you to pursue. Such a man deserves
to be exposed. It is a duty you owe not only
to yourself but to the public to expose the man. It
is outrageous that such a man should continue to
deceive the public. I would therefore if I were you
boldly go forward and expose him to the world, and
compel him by law to do me justice. You would
certainly be doing society a service to unmask such
a person.”

“Oh I cannot, I cannot sir, indeed,” said the
young woman, with a shudder. “I cannot consent
to bring such disgrace and trouble upon the church,
and upon his innocent family too. He has a worthy
woman for a wife, and she and all his innocent children
must be disgraced if he is exposed.”

“Well, I know not what to advise you, young B3r 23
woman, if you are averse to this course. There is
but one other way to obtain redress—and that is by
threatening him. You must at all events be provided
for before long, and the best way is in case you
do not expose him, to threaten to do so unless he
settles handsomely with you, and enables you to
leave the factory until after the termination of this
unhappy affair.”
To this the young woman assented,
and saying she would call again, after writing to
him, withdrew.

The image of this afflicted and unhappy person
could not momently be erased from the mind of the
doctor. The circumstance of itself was calculated
to interest, and the sufferer, though not very handsome,
was certainly a very interesting person. It
was not long though before she called again, and
the subject of her second communication was certainly
not less interesting than the first. She came
now she said to ask advice as a friend. She had
recently received a letter from Mr. Avery requesting
her to come to Bristol and see him there—that he
appointed a time and place, and seemed anxious for
the interview. She stated also she had received
another letter from Providence, during the four days

The doctor again advised her to compel Avery to
a settlement, and she asked what she had better say
to him. He observed that she ought at least to demand
three hundred dollars, and he had no doubt
Avery would think himself well off to come off so.

“Why,” said she, “he is not able to give such a
sum. The Methodist ministers are poor—all poor.
They are very illy paid for their services, and I doubt
his power to make up such a sum, besides I should
not dare name so much for fear he would think I B3 B3v 24
had told some one.”
And she seemed to be in considerable
terror at the idea that he should suspect
he had been exposed to any one. She then informed
the doctor that she had a short interview with
him at Fall River, where she met him on the meeting-house
steps, and walked away with him, and
that he wished her to take a medicine which he
recommended, in order to prevent future trouble and
expense, and at once obliterate the effects of their
connexion. The doctor inquired what it was, and
was shocked and surprized to learn it was one of
such deadly effect that she would probably have expired
on the spot had she taken it. The drug referred
to was the oil of tansy, one of the most violent
things ever used, and never given except in very
small quantities, and under the direction of a physician.
Comprehending as he now thought a little of
the plot, he advised her against a private interview
with Avery, and begged her by no means to go to
Bristol and give him the private interview he requested,
nor to take any medicine of his prescription,
telling her the one recommended would probably
have killed her on the spot, if not, it would have
utterly destroyed her health for ever. Thirty drops, she said he told her to take at once. Four
drops is considered a large dose.
The girl
seemed shocked, but could not seem to believe her
betrayer had designs on her life. The doctor observed
if she meant to do any thing of that sort she
must apply to another physician. She however
avowed her determination to take nothing, but bear
as she said, the whole shame and disgrace of it herself,
“and take care of her child as well as she was
The doctor commended her in this resolution,
and told her it was his duty to come to her, B4r 25
not hers to go to him, and to have him by all means
come to Fall River, and meet him in some suitable
place, where they could talk it over and make some
settlement with him, that was, in case she had still
resolved not to expose him publicly. This she seemed
resolved not to do, and spake again of the distress
such a disclosure would bring upon his family,
and mentioned the agitation the first disclosure of
her situation had caused him. He protested to her
afterwards that he passed the “most wretched night
that night he had ever done, having scarcely closed
his eyes.”
Much more conversation occurred of
the same description, accompanied by many tears,
which the doctor observed she always shed when
conversing on that subject; and thanking him for
his kindness, she withdrew, leaving an impression
of pity and admiration upon the mind of the good
physician, that one so feelingly alive to sentiments
of virtue and propriety should have fallen into such
a snare. She had, between these interviews mentioned,
called for medicine to take, such as her
health required, and the doctor observed he never
saw her without her shedding tears and betraying
most painful feelings with respect to her situation,
although she was calm, and seemed to have resigned
herself to the event.

A few weeks only elapsed since the last visit of
Miss Cornell, during which the doctor often thought
of her, and wondered how she was likely to settle
the difficulty with her seducer as he termed him, for
so perfectly modest and proper was her deportment
that he could on no account harbor an opinion, but
that she had been artfully led from the paths of virtue,
by one in whom it was perfectly natural she
should place the utmost confidence. He looked B4 B4v 26
upon her as one of the most unfortunate of women,
but could not despise her as he might have done in
other circumstances.

It was on a cold frosty morning, the 1832-12-2121st December,
that the doctor observed some people running
up the street, apparently in great haste; he stood
at the window watching when they should return,
to know what the matter was; but no body came
back, while another and another party followed
close upon the heels of the former. The women
appeared to be horror struck as they collected in
groups at their doors or in the streets, and many
leaving their families just as they were, (it was about
breakfast time) and hastily throwing something over
them pushed on in the direction of Durfee’s farm.
Presently some one came running into the doctor’s,
saying a young woman had just hung herself up at
Durfee’s. The doctor stopped to ask no more, but
catching his hat, ran up to the farm, without however
having the least suspicion who it was. Upon
gaining a stack yard some fifty rods south of the
house, he perceived a female lying on the ground,
for they had taken her down. She lay with her
cloak, gloves and calash on, and her arms drawn
under her cloak.

“Does any one know her?” asked one. “She
is well dressed,”
said another, “I think she must be
somebody respectable.”
“Yes I know her,” said
the Methodist minister who had arrived on the
ground a little previous to the doctor—“she is a respectable
young woman, and a member of my

Just then the physician reached the yard, and
hastily lifting the profusion of dark locks that had
fallen entirely over her face, he discovered with B5r 27
grief and astonishment the countenance of his late
interesting patient. Horror struck, he endeavored to
loosen the cord from her neeck; it was nearly half an
inch imbedded in the flesh. But alas! there was
nothing in the usual remedies to produce resusitation
that would have availed any thing here, for the
young woman appeared to have been there all night
and was frozen stiff. “And is this the end of thy sorrows,
poor unfortunate!”
thought the kind physician,
as bending over the hapless victim of unhallowed
passion. He gazed upon that altered countenance
—altered it was indeed—it was livid pale,—her
tongue protruded through her teeth—pushed out
her under lip, that was very much swollen as though
it had received some hard blow, or been severely
bit in anguish, gave a dreadful expression of agony,
while a deep indentation on the cheek looked
as though that too must have been pressed by some
hard substance; but whatever he thought at that
time respecting the means by which she came to her
death, he wisely forbore to utter it, and the jury of
inquest was summoned in immediately.
Her countenance was exceedingly distorted, and there was
not only an expression of anguish upon it, but one of horror and
affright, combined with an angry frown. “That terrible look,”
said the doctor, “was present with me for months, and often in
the dead of night has appeared to my imagination with such force
as to awake me, and I can scarcely think of it now without a
chill. That look never was seen on the countenance of a person
who did not die by violence.”
He expressed his amazement that
among all that was said in Court that circumstance was not attested.
In the
mean time the respectable farmer in whose premises
the deceased was found, after having her carefully
conveyed to the house, inquired of the Methodist
minister if she had any friends in the place, and
if not whether the society of which he said she was B5 B5v 28
a respectable member would not see to the expense
of her funeral. That person replied that he did not
exactly know their rules in such cases, but he would
go and consult them and return soon and inform
them. Meanwhile the truth struggled hard in the
breast of the doctor. He had felt himself bound to
secrecy in case the girl had lived, respecting the
name of her betrayer, but her death and the awful
manner of it impelled him to reveal what he believed
to be the cause. He felt that death had taken
off the injunction of secrecy; and stepping after the
clergyman, he related the confession of the unhappy
girl to him, and what she had said respecting
his brother Avery. In what language he expressed
himself, or whether he gave way to the feelings of
indignation which the knowledge of such a transaction
was calculated to awaken, is not known, but
the reverend listener was at once roused to defend
him, and express his full belief that his brother was
perfectly innocent, and finally asserted “that the
deceased was a very bad character, and that Avery
had told him so, and warned him against her, and
that she was not in full communion with the meeting
but only received upon probation.”
Very shortly
he returned to the house of Mr. Durfee, and said
that “the deceased was a bad character and the
meeting would have nothing to do with burying

Of course Mr. Durfee’s astonishment was very
great, having just before heard the Rev. gentleman
say “she was a respectable woman and a member of
their society.”
But nothing influenced the honest
and benevolent farmer to omit his own duty, and deny
the right of burial to the poor unhappy girl
whose remains Providence seemed in a peculiar
manner to have confided to his care.

B6r 29

“She shall have a burial place in my grounds,”
said he, “near my family, and as respectable a funeral
as any body, and as respectable a clergyman as
any other to make the prayer, and every thing that
is necessary and decent shall be attended to.”
without any fear of contamination, from the neighborhood
of one whom the clergyman chose to denominate
a vile character, he gave orders to have a
grave prepared for her near his own family.

In the mean time a hasty and irregular jury had
been selected and sitting upon the question, and after
a very superficial observation, and no examination
whatever of her person, brought in a verdict of
“suicide.” The corpse was then delivered into the
hands of five or six of some of the most respectable
matrons of the village who had volunteered to perform
this office of benevolence towards the hapless

They commenced this work with mournful reflections
upon the subject of self-murder, and some
expressions of pity towards her whose hard fortune
some way or other must have driven her to so rash
and daring an act, for that she died otherwise than
by her own hand never entered the heads of either
of the good women. But what was their astonishment
when stripping the body for the purpose of arraying
it for the grave they discovered marks of violence
about her person. “Oh,” said one of the oldest
of the ladies who they called aunt Hannah, “what has
been done?”
tThe person adressed answered “rash
Just above each hip were marks of hands,
the bruises of which were very bad, so that the spots
of the thumb inwards, and the fingers outside were
distinctly visible, they were those of a large hand,
for one or two of the women applyed theirs and they B6v 30
were not large enough to cover the marks: one only,
the person they called aunt Hannah, found her hand
to fit: there were bad bruises on the back, and the
knees scratched and stained with grass as though
they had been on the ground during some struggle:
spots below the knee where the skin was rubbed off
and bad bruises on the back; the right arm was bent
up and the hand turned back, and it was with much
difficulty the females could bring it down, after fomenting
it for some time with warm water, and
when they succeeded in bending it down it snapt so
that they thought it must have been broken: appearance
of a blow on the under lip, which was much
swollen, and the tongue projected out a little. Still
those women said but little, except a few whispers
among themselves: in fact the time was too short for
much talking. The body was not laid out until past
noon on the day she was found, and she was buried
at one o’clock on the next day. One most startling
circumstance however occured to arouse the attention
and petrify the blood of the spectators.

Mr. Durfee, the farmer who found the deceaced,
took his wagon (shortly after the verdict of the jury
of inquest) and proceeded to the house where she
had boarded, after her things, the object of this was
to find something suitable for grave cloths, and if
possible to ascertain by some letters or something
of that kind where the friends of this poor girl, if she
had any, were to be found. He found a trunk, locked,
and a bandbox of clothes, &c. which he took,
and returned about noon. The key of the trunk
was found in the pocket of the deceased, in presence
of a number of persons. The trunk was examined,
and four letters found in the bottom of it.
One was addressed to the Rev. Mr. Bidwell of Fall B7r 31
, her minister, written by herself. The other
three were anonymous, but directed on the outside
to Sarah M. Connell, Fall River. Near the middle
of the bandbox lay a small piece of soiled paper and
a lead pencil. Mr. Durfee did not open the little
piece of paper or think of its being of any consequence
whatever. Two of the women, on rummaging
the bandbox late in the afternoon, in hope by
some means to discover where to direct a letter to
her friends, chanced to observe this very piece of
paper, which, though very small, soiled, and looking
like waste paper, they unfolded and read. It contained
these words—“If I am missing enquire of
the Rev. E.K. Avery.

There were a great many persons in the house,
and constantly going and coming, and although the
women talked much about it and shew it to others
in the house, one of whom was the wife of the congregational
clergyman, invited to make the prayer, yet
it was not seen by the master of the house until next
morning. His thoughts upon reading it may easily
be discerned. The hour of the funeral however
drew near and active duties prevented much time
from being spent in debate. The resolution however
of Mr. Durfee and some others to have the matter
investigated, seemed to have been taken. A
crownd gathered early to the house, and solemn and
appropriate prayer was made by the congregational
minister, the Rev. Mr. Fowler, and, followed by a
numerous procession, the remains of the unfortunate
and mysterious stranger were conveyed to the
grave. Providence however had determined that
though consigned to the grave it should not be to
present repose. A storm was gathering which was
destined not only to call forth the dead from her B7 B7v 32
grave, but to shake the society to which she belonged
to its centre—a storm whose effects have continued
to be felt ever since—a contention which has
embittered many former friends against each other,
created many heart-burnings, assailed the peace of
families, hindered the christian missionary in the
exercise of his pious duties, caused the name of
Christ to be blasphemed, and in some places almost
depopulated churches.


Chapter III.

Although consigned to her grave, the image of
the murdered maid (for murdered he now no longer
doubted she was) continued to haunt the pillow of
Mr. Durfee, and he arose on the following day determined
to investigate the dark mystery which
hung over her fate. A circumstance occurred on
this morning to materially increase the evidence of
the murder of the young woman. A man in the
neighborhood, (Thomas Hart,) while walking near
the scene of the sad catastrophe, found about thirty
rods from the place, in the direction towards Fall
River, a piece of a comb, which upon being shewn
to the woman where the deceased boarded, was
identified as hers. It was also known by the jeweller
who had mended it for her a short time before,
by the rivetting, which was peculiar. This piece of
comb, evidently broken in a struggle, was carried
by Mr. Hart to Mr. Durfee. That gentleman took
it, and with that and the piece of paper found in
the bandbox, waited on the coroner. The first part of the comb was found some rods from the place
while she lay near the stack, after they had taken her down, and
the man who found it brought it and laid it on her cloak. They
did not then know but she wore a broken piece in her hair, until
after its fellow was found. Some way further off, on the lonely
path leading round the corner of the wall towards Fall River, she
was buried with the first piece in her hair, and when disinterred
it was taken out and compared with the remaining piece found,
and they fitted, and both parts were then identified. It was singular
that the pocket handkerchief of the deceased, found near her
wound up in a hard bunch and wet through and through, should
have been so little thought of at the time. By soaking it in
in cold water it would have been ascertained it was wet with
saliva, but they did not think of this test at the time, though it
was afterwards believed to have been used to stop her mouth by some
person who murdered her. Doctor Wilbour remarked that the
cloak showed marks of tears, which combined with the discharge
from the nose appeared to have been very plentifully shed and ran
down on each side of the cloak. He has even expressed his hope
“that they might have been tears of penitance as well as anguish,
shed when she found the fangs of the murderer were upon her,
and she was about to appear in the presence of her God.”
The case
seemed to call loudly for examination, and the coroner
ordered the body disinterred on the following B8 B8v 34
day, and called a new jury. Three of the principal
physicians and surgeons of the place examined the
person of the deceased, that is the external bruises,
and ascertained she had told no falsehood with respect
to her situation. From the state of the lungs
it appeared she died of suffocation, and from the
mark of the rope around her neck, that she could
not have died by hanging, but by the drawing of the
cord, which had been drawn so tight as to strangle,
and must have been so before suspension from the
stake, as the knot they all deposed was not a slip
knot, but what is called a clove hitch, and could
not have been drawn but by pulling the two ends
separately. Various other circumstances now for
the first time detailed, were related, such as the deceased
being found with her cloak hooked down before
and her hands under it, her knees within four
inches of the ground, and her clothes smooth under
them, and moreover as it was known that when the
neck is not broken by hanging, and hers was not,
there is a great struggle in death, and there was not
on the ground beneath the least signs of any. On
the contrary, her feet were quite close together, her
clothes standing off from her behind as far as they
would reach, and smooth under her. And lastly,
and most extraordinary of all, her gloves on her B9r 35
hands, without any marks of a rope or any thing of
the kind upon them, although the rope must have
been drawn with great strength by two hands before
it was tied to the stake.

With all these proofs before them it was not surprising
their verdict should be “murder.” It was
true suspicion pointed at Avery before, but the supposed
sanctity of his character shut the mouths of
many who but for that and his profession would
have been ready to exclaim “thou art the man.”

Although Mr. Durfee and others were thus alone
in acting, it must not be supposed that circumstances
of the nature just described could be concealed.
They were not: and the inhabitants of Fall River
on the Massachusetts side (where they do busines
off hand, and not quite so clumsily as in Rhode-Island)
having heard from the first the circumstances
of suspicion that had been developed, became very
much amazed at the slowness of enquiry respecting
such a horrible transaction; and feeling themselves
rather scandalized, as a place, although the matter
did not come under their immediate cognizance, at
length began to take active measures in relation to
it. All day Sunday there was a sort of half stifled
hum heard through the village. The bells as usual
called people to public worship, but not as usual was
the solemnity of it regarded by the great mass of the
people. Many, to be sure, went to meeting; but
many did not appear to hear after they got there.
Some thought ministers were such wicked creatures,
they did not want to hear them; and some too just
to condemn all, for the sins of one, endeavoured to
listen with reverence, while their thoughts, in spite
of themselves, would wander after him, who in their B9 B9v 36
mind was guilty of this foul deed, and at this very
time calling sinners to repentance.

Oh you! upon whom the authorities of the church,
and the partiality of man, have conferred the envied
distinction of speaking in your Master’s cause, of
being ambassadors for the greatest and highest of
potentates, how great is your responsibility! a stain
upon that spotless garment who shall wash away? If
you are defiled by abominations, the destruction of
your own souls is the least evil of which you are the

All day, little knots of citizens were seen gathering
at the corners of the streets, and even at the
meeting-house doors, discussing the subject of the
murder, though in an under tone of voice. Upon
separating, they were invariably observed to shake
their heads and walk away sorrowful. No active
measures were, however, taken until morningmorning; when
a few citizens met in the street, and agreed upon
having a meeting at the Lyceum Hall. A boy was
sent about the streets with a bell, to notify the people
to assemble, and very soon after the hall was filled
to overflowing. Upon motion, a committee, consisting
of five gentlemen, some of the most respectable
persons in the place, was appointed; who were
directed to “meet the Coroner and jury of inquest,
who, it was understood, were that morning to be in
session, and disinter the body for further examination;
and if, upon examination, they should believe
a murder had been committed, and upon having the
evidence that some person was implicated in the
murder, they should proceed to aid and assist the
authorities of Rhode-Island in having the subject
properly investigated, and in prosecuting it to a final
B10r 37

At this meeting too, another and larger committee
was appointed to collect and report to the first
named committee, “any evidence or circumstance
that might come to their knowledge, having a bearing
upon the case.”
It was resolved that the truth
should, if possible, be elicited in this search; and
that they should report every thing of a favourable
nature respecting the accused, as well as that which
should appear unfavourable. Another meeting was
subsequently held to make provisions for defraying
the expenses of this committee.

It is said by the friends of Avery often, that he
gave a manifest proof of his innocence in remaining
in Bristol till the warrant came, and not fleeing or
shewing any difference in his manners. The fact
was, that he did not know anything was suspected
of him, except his being the seducer of the girl.
Mr. Bidwell, to whom Doct. Wilbour had, as before
mentioned, related the conversations of the deceased,
had proceeded immediately to Bristol and communicated
with Avery, and had stated to him he was
suspected of being the betrayer of the hapless girl.
Avery and his friends got Mr. Bartlett, the stage
driver, and a Methodist by profession, to go to Fall
and see how matters stood. In the mean
time, Avery kept his house, walking it, as was said,
in a state of very great agitation. He did no preaching
that day. Bartlett proceeded to Fall River, and
went in search of Doct. Wilbour, who was from
home, visiting a patient. He followed him, and
met him returning not far from his house, which
they entered together. Upon going into the house,
the Doctor perceived J. Durfee and another man
from Tiverton waiting for him. Aiding Bartlett into
the parlour, he went out to see them. They informed B10v 38
the Doctor that the warrant they had got
was informal, and that it had been decided to apprehend
Avery; and they requested him to go over
the line and complain of him. This the Doctor refused
to do, because he thought it was not his business;
“but,” observed he, “if he is not apprehended
soon, he will be off. Here is Bartlett in the
other room now, come to see how the business stands;
and he will not get out of the place without finding
out he is suspected of the murder.”
One of the gentlemen
then proposed they should proceed immediately
to Bristol, and have him put under arrest until
the succeeding day, when a proper warrant could
be procured; and begging the Doctor to keep Bartlett
as long as possible, they departed, and in a few
moments were on the way to Bristol. In the mean
time, the Doctor apologized for delaying conversation
until he had dined, after which he recounted
the particulars of his conversation with the deceased
to his interrogator, and concluded with the question,
“and do you know that he is suspected of the murder
Amazed, the messenger answerd, “no:”
upon which the Doctor assured him of the fact. Of
course, he did not wait long after this, but hastened
to convey the alarming intelligence to his employer.
However, long before his arrival at Bristol, his friend
and brother was under arrest.

It seems scarcely possible Avery could have refrained
from preaching on that day merely from delicacy,
because he had heard it was suspected he
was the betrayer of the deceased girl, when he thus
perseveres in it at the present day. However, Bartlett
stated he was then very much disturbed and
distressed in mind indeed, and that “he did not
know when he had been kept from the house of
God before.”

B11r 39

Nothing was done hastily; the jury of inquest
were very slow in their operations; and it was not
until several days after the murder that Avery was
arrested; and he probably might have escaped even
that, had not new circumstances continually come
up calculated to strengthen former suspicions. For
instance, the other piece of the broken comb was
found on the same back route to Fall River; fitted
the first piece with which she was buried, and both
were sworn to and identified as hers by the person
who mended it and the people where she boarded,
who, with the persons who worked next to her in the
factory, deposed that she went out about six in the
evening with it whole; changed her dress for one
better; went in good spirits; and was exceedingly
anxious to get leave to go out at the hour of six: had
spoken of an appointment several days before to the
daughter of the lady where she boarded; said she
“did not care how many days it rained, if it was only
fair on that day,”
1832-12-2020th of December; shewed the
pink and yellow letter which were afterwards found
in her trunk to this young lady, who identified them;
the white one also, with which she returned from
the Post Office, on the 1832-12-088th of December. The lady
did not read the inside, but looked at the post marks
and hand writing and was able to testify to them.

Those letters corroborated the statement made
by Doct. Wilbour. The first of these letters, written
on yellow paper, was dated, 1832-11-13Nov. 13th 1832, and
was as follows.

“I have just received your letter with no small
surprise, and will say, I will do all you ask, only
keep your secrets. I wish you to write me as soon
as you get this, naming some time and place where
I shall see you, and then look for answer before I B11v 40
come; and will say whether convenient or not, and
will say the time. I will keep your letters till I see
you, and wish you to keep mine, and have them
with you there at the time. Write soon—say nothing
to no one. Yours in haste. ”

They observed that he says, “I have just received
and upon examining at the Post Office,
Fall River, it was found there was one letter mailed
for Bristol on the day preceding that addressed to
S. M. Cornell, viz. on the 1832-11-1212th. But who it was
for had escaped their recollection, if they observed
at the time. Again, there was a letter on pink paper,
addressed to the deceased, which a Mr. Orswell,
the engineer of the King Philip, (a steamboat plying
between Fall River and Providence) deposed was
given him by Avery, in person, to deliver to Sarah
Maria Cornell
, near the last of November, while the
four days meeting was holding among the Methodists
at Providence. This letter too appeared to be
in answer to one written not long before; and on
the 1832-11-1919th of November the Post Master recollected
that on that day, while making up the mail, he
heard something drop into the letter box after he had
cleared it; and upon looking, saw two letters, one
for Bristol and one directed to Mr. Rawson, brother
in law of the deceased, South Woodstock. This letter
was afterwards produced by Mr. Rawson. His
impression was, the other was directed to Avery;
remembered distinctly it was for Bristol: and as it
was ascertained he was correct about the first name,
the committee could have no doubt about the other.

But so extremely cautious were they to go upon
facts, that they delayed their proceedings until Orswell
went up the river and saw Avery, to ascertain
to a certainty, whether he would recognize the man B12r 41
who gave him the letter for that person. This letter,
the one mentioned when speaking of her communications,
to Doct. Wilbour, was as follows.

‘Dear Sister—I received your letter in due season
and should have answered it before now but iI
thought iI would wait till this opportunity—as iI told
you iI am willing to help you and do for you as circumstrances
are iI should rather you would come to
this place, Viz Bristol on the 1832-12-1818th of December,
and stop at the Hotel and stay till six in the evening
and then go directly up across the main street to the
brick building near to the stone meeting house where
iI will meet you and talk with you—when you come
to the Tavern either enquire for work or go out in
the street on pretence of looking for some or something
else and I may see you—say nothing about me
or my family—should it storm on the 1832-12-1818th come on
the 1832-12-2020th if you cannot come and it will be more convenient
to meet me at the Methodist meeting house
in Somersett just over the ferry on either of the
above evenings I will meet you there at the same
time or if you cannot do either iI will come to Fall
on one of the above evenings back of the same
meeting house where I once saw you—at any hour
you say on either of the above evenings when there
will be the least passing iI should think before the
mill stops work—this iI will leave with you if iI come
will come if it does not storm very hard—if it does
the first iI will come the second write me soon and
tell me which—when you write direct your letters
to Betsy Hill and not as you have done to me remember
your last letter I am afraid was broken
B12v 42 wWare your calash not your plain bonnet you can
send your letter by mail
Yours &c. B H
S M C.
let me still injoin the secret—keep the letters
in your bosom or burn them up.”

The white letter found in her possession, marked
one cent postage, was as follows.

I will be here on the 1832-12-2020th if pleasant at the
place named at 6 o’clock if not pleasant the next
monday eve.—say nothing.”

With respect to this last, final, and fatal letter,
upon examination, it was ascertained that Avery
had been at Fall River on that very day; had been
heard asking for paper in a store kept by a member
of the Methodist meeting; and that that man went
intointo the next store to get a wafer for him: could not
recollect whether he wrote in the store, but remembered
hearing him talk about writing to the editor
of a paper in the village, (whom, upon enquiry, he
did not write to.) From thence he went in the direction
of the Post Office, and the deputy post master
recollected, a few moments before the stage started
for Bristol, in which he went, hearing a letter
drop: and looking at the moment saw Avery just
withdrawing his hand from the box. He then looked,
and took out the one cent letter addressed to
S. M. Cornell, when the wafer was wet. That wafer
was recollected as the one supplied by the lady
next door to the store where the paper was supposed
to be procured—remembered from its peculiar colour.

The first letter, the yellow one, was post marked B13r43
at Warren; and on that day it was ascertained the
accused had been there.

The other letter was written by Sarah Maria
herself, and directed to her minister, Mr. Bidwell.
It expressed much compunction for her sins, confessed
herself unworthy of a place in the meeting,
and requested to be set aside as unworthy, &c.

With all these concurring circumstances before
them, it is most evident the committee could
not, in conscience, take any other course than
the one they did take. Now previous to the
arrest, when the suspicions of the murder were
first excited at Fall River, his friends (Avery’s)
consoled themselves with the assurance that Avery
would be able to prove where he was at the time of
the murder; and it being a very cold blustering day
until towards night, they had little doubt it would
be found he was at his own house. What then was
their consternation to find, upon enquiry, that he
had actually crossed the ferry, at Bristol, on the afternoon
of that very day, and after being absent on
the island until a very late hour in the evening had
gone back to the ferry-house requesting to be set
over, which Mr. Gifford, the ferryman, declined doing
on account of the lateness of the hour and tediousness
of the weather. There had been a rough
wind for most part of the day, and generally in that
place there is a considerable swell for some time after.

Still the friends of Mr. Avery kept up a good
courage, for they felt morally certain that being in
a methodist neighbourhood near so many friends and
acquaintance he could easily be recognized, and
would undoubtedly bring proof of where he was.
But when after the examination at Bristaol, it was B13v 44
found that he could not bring a single individual
who even thought they saw him on the rout he described
himself to have taken, many who had trust
in him before fell off. He observed he had been on
a walk of pleasure and observation, walking about
the Island towards the coal mines, near the Union
, &c. &c. past brother such a one and
sister ’tother one, crossed a brook, went through a
white gate, saw a “man with a gun, and a boy with
some sheep,”
and finally wandered back to the ferry
somewhere about ten o’clock, of a cold December
night, without any supper or appearing to think
of any? (though travelling ministers are not apt to
forget such accommodations.) No man with a gun, or
boy with sheep, could be heard of in that part of the
country from any body but himself, and no one saw
him, through all that route: nevertheless the justices
appointed to examine him at Bristol, after what they
declared to be a “patient, laborious, and impartial
examination of the subject,”
discharged him. The
county of Newport claimed him as their prisoner in
the first place, and it was not a legal examination,
because the offence alleged against him was perpetrated
in that county. But his friends were determined
to have his examination there, and they had
it. By this illegal and ill judged proceeding the State
was put to the expense of another examination, besides
some much more heavy ones. The inhabitants
of Fall River called another meeting and entered
complaint to a magistrate in the county of Newport.
A warrant was issued and a sheriff sent once more
to take him.


Chapter IV.

Upon arriving at Bristol, the sheriff found the
prisoner had fled. Thirteen days had been spent
in his examination, during which time he appeared
so firm and unmoved for the most part that it was
thought there was no danger of his decamping. He
had fled however, and left his character to take care
of itself. Those who believed him innocent, had
thought he would court a trial in order to free himself
from the odium attached to him, which unless
wiped off they knew must forever destroy his usefulness
as a mineister of the gospel; but when they
found he had decamped and left his friends and partizans
to fight it out in the best manner they were
able, they were confounded, but for the most part
wise enough to keep still; and had he never been
found, as most people believed he never would, it is
probable the point would have been conceded. But
he was gone: and Col. Harnden, the person who
went in persuit of him, was almost at a loss to know
what to do. There seemed no trace of him to be
discovered. But although the person of the accused
appeared to be beyond their reach, his character
was not; and this flight, disgraceful and unmanly
as it was, put the finishing seal to it.

Matters seemed so well arranged with respect to
the reverend fugitive, that it would have puzzled
wise heads to have known which way to look for him.
But the indefatigable Col. Harnden was not to be
daunted or disheartened in the cause he had undertaken.
He had been one of the committee appointed B14v 46
to examine into this affair by the inhabitants of
Fall River, and had satisfied himself that the accused
ought at whatever cost to be brought to trial.
He therefore commenced a most laborious and arduous
search, and after traversing hundreds of miles
backwards and forwards, in three States, having as
he believed got on a track of him, he finally succeeded
in his search, finding him in a remote neighbourhood
in New-Hampshire, at the house of a Mr.
. He was indebted at last to the sagacity of
a baker’s boy, who related a story of Mrs. Mayo
being accused of some misdemeanor in the meeting,
and Avery being sent for to plead her off, which he
succeeded in doing, and saved her from the censures
of the meeting—an evil of no ordinary character,
if we may judge from the manner of handling
the character of the deceased—and the lad thinking
according to the old saying that one good turn
deserved another, thought it must be he was concealed
at that house. Upon arriving at the house,
Mr. Mayo denied his being there, but observing his
wife glide out of the room, Mr. Harnden followed
her, and found Avery hid, pale and trembling behind
the door of a chamber, evidently fitted up for
his concealment, having the windows completely
darkened, with lights and fire wood laid in, and all
the comforts of life in abundance bore witness to
the gratitude of her who held him in such gentle
durance: pity that such comfortable quarters
should have been disturbed by the intrusion of such
unwelcome guests. Mr. Harnden returned with
him through Boston, where, as in several other
places, he, like other great characters, received the
calls of his friends, the Methodists: Divines and all
flocking to pay their respects—giving him the right B15r 47
hand of fellowship, &c. and having several “comfortable
seasons of prayer,”
Who can wonder that infidels should be strengthened by such
things as these? what a farce does even christian worship appear
when prostituted to secular purposes.
&c. with a man then
laboring under the strongest presumption of being
both an adulterer and murderer—of a man caught
in the very act of hiding himself from the ministers
of justice. “O tempora! O mores!”

The authorities of the county of Newport, after
examination, bound him for trial and he was indicted
for murder by the grand jury, and the first Monday
in May assigned for his trial. The interval between
the March term of the Supreme Judicial Court for
the county of Newport, and the first Monday in May,
was a busy one; scouts were out in all directions,
and oh the racing and chasing there was to look up
witnesses. Turnpike corporations and tavern keepers
reaped a golden harvest during those two months.
There was scarcely a factory village within a hundred
and fifty miles but what underwent a thorough
examination. The deceased it appeared, had been
a moving planet, which she accounted for in one of
her letters to her friends, by saying, “she belonged
to a people who did not believe in staying long in
a place.”
She seemed to have adopted for her motto,
the text, that “here we have no continuing city;”
and she adhered to it in the spirit and the letter.
Poor unfortunate being! she did not realize the
danger of changing neighborhoods so often, nor
know that it was safest for people to stay where they
are best known, and where slanderers make out to
live upon one old story for a thousand years, but transport
it into a new neighborhood and ten thousand
will immediately be added to it. She probably had B15v 48
never read that admirable fable of the Fox, who was
advised to remove on account of the swarm of flies
who beset him, and who wisely chose to remain
where they might after a time get gorged with his
blood, rather than to encounter a fresh and hungry
set, when he should be robbed of every remaining
drop of it.

In the mean time public indignation could not
wait with patience for the issue of the trial, and
from time to time it would speak out through the
medium of the papers. This the methodists termed
“persecution,” whatever it was it is certain that
much of it was provoked by their own imprudence
in continually and loudly asserting his innocence,
and the violence with which they endeavored to
bear down public opinion, as well as their ridiculous
fidgetting about the safety of his person, and his
personal accommodation, through all the stages of
his travels. Had Avery constituted solely in his person
the palladium of their rights, they could not
have guarded him with more jealous care. They
pretended to discover in the natural curiosity of
the populace to see one who had become the lion of
the day, a conspiracy to mob him; and at once took
the responsibility of his flight upon their own shoulders,
averring it to have originated in their fears for
his person, and expressing terrible apprehension lest
the Fall River folks should take justice into their
own hands instead of waiting for the slow remedy
of the law. The disgrace of flying from the persuit
of justice, they affirmed belonged to them, having
as they said persuaded him off and conveyed
him to a secret place, against his own judgment.
This last assertion may well be believed, viz. that
“it was against his own judgment;” as that, if he B16r 49
had any, must have told him that his flight, under
such circumstances, amounted to a strong presumption,
if not to a confession of guilt. That he had
fears cannot be doubted: he might have been in
the situation of Trumbull’s hero, “Who found his fear of tar and ropes,by many a drachm outweigh his hopes.”

Their fears however of the vengeance of the
“Fall River folks” were entirely without foundation,
since nothing was intended but to bring the accused
to a fair trial, and if his friends knew of such resources
as they boasted of, they ought to have been
the last to be afraid of that. But the important 1833-05-06sixth
of May
arrived, and headed by an army of preachers,
stout muscular men as evoer took the field, followed
by a company of women as a “corps de
—and flanked by a hundred and sixty witnesses
—the force of the prisoner made its appearance.
Newport swarmed with people of every denomination
—curiosity was on tiptoe. There was a
deep anxiety that truth should be brought to light
by the friends of justice and humanity—and a restless
and watchful one with others, to prevent if possible
its developement.

The trial came on, and the prisoner was produced.
He was a middle aged man, tall, and of very stout
frame, and a face that might have passed for good
looking, had not a certain iron look, a pair of very
thick lips, and a most unpleasant stare of the eyes,
have taken much from the agreeable; however it
was agreed on all hands that notwithstanding these
blemishes, he would almost any where pass for a
tolerable good looking man, and moreover “looked
like no fool;”
or to use the language of the spectators, B16v 50
“looked as though he knew more than he told
He was charged with three counts in the indictment.
First—“for choaking and strangling the
Secondly, “for tying her to a stake,”
and thirdly, inflicting various wounds and bruises
on the deceased, calculated to cause death; or at
least that must have been their meaning, though it
was worded in the indictment, “of which she instantly
but as no person could die twice, we
presume this must have been the meaning. The
prisoner of course plead “not guilty.” The difficulties
experienced in the formation of a jury were
greater, it is believed, than were ever known before
in any court in the United States, so strong was the
presumption of the prisoner’s guilt that it seemed almost
impossible to find a man who had not made up
his mind, and this mind was pretty rudely and unequivocally
expressed by all on the spot: some few declared
their feelings to be perfectly neutral, but one
only solitary instance could be found of a man who
said he had formed an opinion rather favourable to
the prisoner; and it was not until after one hundred
and eight were challenged that a jury could be found:
the difficulty was materially increased by the prisoner’s
counsel, who in this as well as in every part of
the trial seemed determined to carry every point by
what is called management, and who fought the
ground inch by inch—with so little apparent reverence
to the authorities of the law that many a native
of Rhode-Island blushed to hear the highest
court in his state dictated to thus by a Boston lawyer.

As there are many, probably, who read this, who
have never read the trial and never will, and some
who will not even permit that document to come into B17r 51
their houses, we shall endeavour to give a summary
of the evidence, though in a very brief and perhaps
superficial manner; without going into the whole revolting

First then, the case was stated in a clear light, by
D. J. Pierce, Esq. of Newport, the witnesses were
then sworn. The fact of the death of S. M. Cornell
was then proved, and of her appearance when found,
as presumptive evidence she could not have hung herself,
that she was taken down with the utmost care,
rolled in a blanket and laid on straw in a horse wagon,
and carried over a smooth road to the dwelling
of Mr. Durfee, so that none of the bruises could have
been inflicted after death. Here followed the testimony
of the women who laid her out, and of the physician
who examined her, the first and second time,
for she was disinterred the second time on the 1833-01-2525th
of January
, when a more complete examination was
had: this to be sure was nearly or quite a month after
her interment, but it was in the coldest part
of the year: she had been laid in a dry and marly
soil, was frozen when she was buried, and the earth
frozen that was thrown upon her, and the physician
deposed that there was little alteration in her from
the first examination. Every succeeding one brought
to light new barbarities, and imagination sickens
at the idea of the cruel butchery which this most unfortunate
girl must have undergone, previous to her
being strangled. No person could hear them unmoved:
the very judges, though used to the delineation
of crime, and pictures of violence, wept upon
the bench; yea wept like children, at the description
of her mangled person. We question whether the
mere bodily sufferings of any one woman ever created
such excitement, since the death of her whom B17v 52
the Levite cut in pieces and sent to all the coasts of
Isreaael, which caused the death of more than forty
thousand persons, and the extermination of a tribe. What mighty despotism, what scheme of bondage, what film
of ignorance and fanaticism, what system of ecclesiastical tyranny,
may not the death of this woman be intended to break?

The circumstances of the letters were sworn to,
and half a sheet of paper found in the store where
the letter of the 1832-12-088th of December was supposed to be
written, which exactly matched the one of the letter,
both the water mark and even the very fibres of the

It was proved that the prisoner left his home on
the 1832-12-2020th of December, without any good reason,
without informing his family where he was going or
assigning any excuse for absenting himself, that he
had refused an invitation for that day to visit a Methodist
lady, without giving any reason; that no
person had been seen on the route he pretended to
have taken on that afternoon; but that a man answering
his description exactly was traced step by
step all the way to Fall River, even to the very
stack yard. One man, Mr. Cranston, at Howland’s
bridge, swore to his identity. Mr. Lawton,
the man on the Tiverton side, remembered a person
of his exact description passing at the same hour,
three o’clock. Mr. Durfee had been blowing rocks
quite near the stack yard, and saw a man standing,
and looking about with his back towards him. Abner
, at work there, saw the same man sitting
on the wall, and upon his proceeding in the direction
of the rock where they had just laid a train of
powder (the direction of Fall River) called out to
him, when he stopped. Both of their descriptions
of clothes, person, &c. agreed with that of Avery, B18r 53
and upon seeing him they felt convinced he was the
person, but as they did not see his face, could not
swear to his identity. William Hamilton passing
this spot about a quarter before nine in the evening,
heard sounds as of stifled groans of some female in
distress. The sounds appeared to proceed from the
spot where the first piece of comb was found. He
rose the hill and stopped, when, hearing nothing
more, went on. One Ellinor Owen, who lived within
sight of the place, about a quarter of a mile distant,
testified to hearing screechings from that direction
at half past seven in the evening. The cord was
identified as belonging to some bags that lay in a cart
of Mr. Durfee’s within a few rods. A man answering
his description went into the back room of Lawton’s
hotel, early in the evening on that day, and had
a glass of brandy carried in. They did not know
Avery, but upon seeing him, believed him to be the
same person. Some person passed round the toll
gate, at Howland’s ferry, in returning, after it was
closed, (after nine o’clock) by the beach. Their
tracks were seen on the sand, where the water effaces
any print once in twelve hours. The gate-keeper
looked in the morning and ascertained some one had
passed. He returned to Gifford’s, at the ferry, latelate
at night, about a quarter before ten, and said he had
been on the island, on business; and to the question
of the ferryman’s daughter, if he “had a meeting
that evening?”
he returned for answer, he had
not, but had “been on business to brother Cook’s.”

Nothing perhaps through the whole proceedings
of the trial, examination, &c. gave more offence to
the feelings of the public than the reckless disregard
to character shewn by the prisoner and his
friends in impeaching witnesses. This last mentioned B18v 54
witness, Miss Jane Gifford, was a young lady
about eighteen years of age, of fair character it is
believed as any other in the country: she had been
a member of the Methodist class, and previous to
this no one heard any thing to her discredit, but
on this occasion they brought witnesses to swear
“her character was not good for truth and veracity,”
though upon cross examination they were
obliged to acknowledge “they had never heard any
thing to her disadvantage previous to the Bristol
Several very respectable persons
in the neighbourhood testified to her good character,
among the rest Judge Childs, who had
“known the girl from infancy.” They first spoke
against her at the examination at Bristol, where
she deposed to the fact. Another instance of this
barbarity occurred at Bristol, whence it seemed an
object to prove that S. M. Cornell was a wanderer
and interloper at the camp meeting in Thompson:
it was there mentioned she was seen with a
Miss Rebecca Burk of Providence, and by her
introduced to one or two methodists. Rev. Mr.
was asked if she was not a leading member
of their meeting? “No,” he answered, “she
was not a leading member there, that she had
been set aside for impudence, and imprudence of
or something like that, when the fact
was that this same woman had been considered
as a leading member in that society for more
than twenty years, that she had been of great service
in the cause of methodism in Providence
particularly, and it is believed by many has done
more towards building up the Methodist society in
that town than any three persons who could be
named, that she has given liberally of her substance C1r 55
towards the support of their meetings, though
obliged to labor with her hands for her own support.
The only thing they could have said, and that if
fairly explained would have done her no harm, was
some little disagreement between some of the members,
of whom she was one, some time previous,
wherein they were all what they call “put back,”
for six months, and at the end of that time restored,
and every thing went on as before; It is said to be their rule, where people dispute, to compel
them to live in harmony. If so it is a good rule at any rate.
People cannot always see alike, but they can refrain from disputing
on their differences.
but there was
nothing to affect her character. The words “impudence”
and “imprudence” are generally understood
to mean a great deal. But we are digressing.

Mr. Orswell, the engineer of the King Philip,
gave a very clear and comprehensive evidence with
respect to the delivery of the pink letter, by Avery,
in Providence“that he received it from the hands
of Avery himself in person, who gave it to him between
the hours of 8 and 9, or a little past 9, in
the morning—that he received it with an express injunction
to have it delivered as soon as the boat arrived,
and gave him nine pence for carrying it—that
he did not know Avery then, but went up to Bristol
to see him, and recognised him at once, at his
(Avery’s) house, and to his anxious inquiries of
‘what he meant to swear?’ he replied ‘that to the
best of his knowledge and belief he was the person.’
Avery then put on his spectacles and asked
him if he looked like him, and then turning to his
friends asked them ‘if he ever went out without
No notice appeared to be taken of
this in court which was singular, as all the witnesses C C1v 56
who saw him when he crossed the ferry (Mr. Pearce,
Mr. Gifford, &c.) attest to his being without spectacles.
It certainly amounted to proof positive of
his artifice and dissimulation. He did in general,
and for all that is known to the contrary, invariably
wear his spectacles on going out, except this
once, and on the fatal 1832-12-2020th of Dec. What could
possibly be his motive for going on those two occasions
without them, unless it was to disguise himself?
Mr. Orswell did not positively swear to the
day the letter was delivered him, but thought it was
on Thursday. The letter was identified as the one
he received, by the marks of his fingers which were
smutty and oily at the time, and he recollected the

With respect to the Camp Meeting, the source
and origin, as she asserted, of her misfortunes, it
was stated by a Mr. Paine, the young gentleman
who carried her there at the request of her brotherin-law,
“that he had seen her at various times during
the summer, at the shop where she worked, while
there, and that her conduct always appeared becoming
and proper, and that he neither knew or
suspected or heard of any impropriety in her.”

The sister of the deceased stated that she (S. M.
) returned from the Camp Meeting to her
house, with a young man, an apprentice of theirs,
Mr. Saunders; and that in September she confessed
her fears of her situation to her, acknowledging
her connexion with Avery at the Camp Meeting.
The sister also swore to the fact that Sarah M. Cornell
was free from any such embarrassment previous
to that meeting. This was also sworn to by a Miss
, a very respectable young woman in the
family at the time, and who was her bed-fellow.

C2r 57

The brother-in-law of the deceased also testified
to this confidence placed in himself and wife, and
being troubled about it, he consulted his minister,
Rev. Mr. Cornell, and a lawyer, and that they both
advised her removal to Rhode-Island. And further,
both stated they never had the least reason to suppose
she meditated self-destruction. That she had
never, notwithstanding what had past, spoken reproachfully
of Avery, but always mildly; and that
her conduct at their house was perfectly proper.

Mr. Saunders, the young man mentioned, gave
his testimony to the bringing of her from Camp
—her behaviour perfectly proper, &c. in
answer to the questions asked, and to his having
put letters in the postoffice for her several times.
“Were any of them directed to Bristol?” it was
asked. “Yes.” “Were the letters sent to Bristol
before or after the Camp Meeting?”
Before was the answer, and by what strange oversight
this witness was not even interrogated we cannot
tell; why after an answer that promised to them
so much light on the subject, it was pressed no further
is beyond conjecture. Many people previous to
this had formed the conclusion that “Marmion and
she were friends of old.”
And that the betrayer had
connived at her expulsion from the meeting, in order
to conceal his own villany the better, and they
thought they saw in this testimony of the correspondence
with Bristol previous to the Camp Meeting a
confirmation of their suspicions, that the interview
with Avery at that meeting was concerted by letter:
they therefore eagerly looked to see the witness further
interrogated, but no such interrogation took
place. What he would have said, if interrogated, C2v 58
belongs to another part of this story—and we hasten
along with the trial.

The testimony of her sister and sister’s husband
was the only one which related directly to the interview
of the deceased with the prisoner at the Camp
. She had told them of an acknowledgment
which she had given the meeting, about being
unworthy, &c. &c.; that although she was then in
good standing with them, it had not been returned;
that Avery still had the paper in his hands and ought
to restore it to her; that she had asked him on the
Camp ground for that letter, and he requested an
interview with her; that she met him in a retired
part of the wood, where he asked her to be seated,
which she complied with, and then asked him “if he
had got the letter with him?”
that he said “no”,
and then proceeded to take unwarrantable liberties,
and that she made ineffectual resistance.

It seemed the friends of the prisoner had made
great objections to the time it must have taken to
walk the distance back from Fall River to Bristol
ferry, on the night of the 1832-12-2020th; and two men now
appeared and swore to the fact of travelling it recently
in fifteen minutes less than it took the prisoner,
according to all their statements: and further,
it seemed the person whose route was traced all the
way on that afternoon, was no slouch of a walker;
for when he went over, a lady who saw him just on
the Fall River side of Howland’s ferry, remarked
“that if that man kept on as he was going, he would
get to Ohio before night.”
The evidence mentioned
constituted the most important part, and pretty
much all (though condensed into a much smaller
compass) that was given. After the Government
evidence was closed, the host of testimony on the
part of the prisoner was brought forward.

C3r 59

And first, there were six physicians, most of them
of very considerable eminence in their profession;
one or two holding professorships in the medical department
of some of our Universities. By them they
endeavoured to prove, first, that the deceased might
have hung herself; that there was a possibility of
her hanging herself up after she had strangled herself
to death with the cord: next, that the internal
injuries discovered in her person on the second examination,
viz. a little more than a month after the
first interment, might have been occasioned by decomposition.
Those observed at the first disinterment
they did not attempt much to account for.
Next, that hanging was a very common death by
suicide, and an uncommon way of murder. (This
was certainly a great discovery, and no doubt edified
the court and jury.) Thirdly, a long and most
indecent examination and discussion was entered
into, to prove that the prisoner could not have been
the father of the child which the deceased was about
to give birth to, and that her situation must have
commenced previous to the Camp Meeting. This
they ground on the circumstance of the child itself,
who perished with the mother, being larger than
common for that period of time. This seemed to
be the hinge on which they meant the case should
turn; and for this six physicians, some from a very
considerable distance, were brought together at a
great expense, and a most lengthy and elaborate
investigation was entered into, which for indelicate
exposure was probably never exceeded in any Court
of Justice. It was a saying afterwards that “the
next age would have no need of physicians, as every
boy capable of reading would be perfectly instructed
in all the secrets of the Materia Medica—in the sciencesC* C3v 60
of Anatomy and Surgery, at least.”
learned and elaborate it was, it is certain that
one single question put to those physicians, if properly
answered, as no doubt it would have been, would
have put the whole to rest at once, by overthrowing
the whole theory they had been endeavouring to establish.
But the counsel for the Government happening
to understand more of the laws of the land
than the laws of nature, probably never thought of
this test. What sort of opinion those physicians had of the effect of
their evidence may be gathered from the fact that one of them was
heard to declare, not more than three weeks after the trial, “that
he had no more doubt Avery killed her, than he had of his own

Immediately after the testimony of the physicians,
commenced the examination of a long string of witnesses
respecting the character of the deceased, and
here it has been shrewdly said the law was violated
which provides that “persons shall not be compelled
to give evidence against themselves.”
whole sum and substance of the charges seemed to
be taken from her own mouth, and women appeared
on the stand and testified to things told them by
the deceased of herself, “not fit for mortal ear to
hear, or mortal tongue to utter.”
Such a repetition
of village gossip—such a hunting up of old factory
stories, and of legends long since, as one would have
supposed, forgotten, (that is if they ever existed,)
never was heard of before. Such a display of the
amazing powers of memory too. That these witnesses
were from different States, and therefore voluntary
witnesses, relaters of scandals, of village gossip
which never yet spared any one, and of which the
good and the bad have sometimes to be equal partakers; C4r 61
betrayers of confidence reposed in them
(by their own account) which if true proved at least
that the deceased, however bad herself, considered
them of the same stamp, for whoever heard of a
loose woman pouring into the ears of a modest one
the history of her intrigues? Whoever heard of
such degrading herself by being in the confidence
of a wanton? It appeared the obvious intent of such
testimony to prove the deceased a perfect fiend, capable
of plotting any atrocity and of carrying it
through. But to what purpose it may be asked was
all this directed? What possible bearing upon the
case could such evidence have? It was not to prove
the deceased good, but the prisoner bad, that the
process was instituted. It was not supposed that
an immaculate, incorruptible being would have fallen
a victim to the clumsy courtship and bungling
attempts of a fellow who by the testimony of his
own letters does not appear to have understood even
the language he preached in, and a married man too.
Why then this innumerable company of witnesses
to blacken her character?

Why, as people generally understood it, it was
for a threefold purpose. In the first place, the mere
introduction of such a crowd of witnesses, the mere
repetition of such a mass of evidence, was of itself
sufficient to divert the attention, and confuse the intellects
of any court and jury that ever sat. It had
a certain tendency to throw dust in people’s eyes, a
phrase too well understood to need explanation here.
And above all, its effect would be to turn indignation
into another channel. This the wily counsel
were fully aware of, and the doors once open to admit
such evidence, they took care should not be
speedily closed, but that every possible frailty or imprudence
from the cradle to the grave should be C4v 62
hunted up and expatiated upon. It had the certain
tendency to turn the public indignation from the
murderer, whoever he might be, to the person murdered.
And some were almost ready to exclaim,
“No matter who killed her—such a person were
better out of the world than in it—they have certainly
done society a good service—whatever were
the motives of the slayer, he has certainly conferred
a public benefit.”
One person went so far as to say
that “he did not think such a drab worth having a
trial about!”

Persons of sense and discernment however there
were who thought they discovered in this host of
evidence great contradiction with itself. One of
these evidences, a physician, related that she had
come to him for advice, and told him she was a bad
girl. Several witnesses too corroborate his testimony,
and say that she told them of her calling on
this doctor, and that he insulted her, and upon
her repulsing him, threatened, unless she complied
with his solicitations, that he would ruin her character
with the meeting, and knowing therefore that
it is esteemed a point of honour with physicians to
keep all such things secret, and that he did immediately
after the threat, as she said, and after the
visit at any rate, say those things against her, they
believed it done for revenge. Others however swore she confessed this charge. It was further proved
that this physician made a demand of ten dollars
which she refused to pay, saying she did not owe
him more than half a dollar. Moreover one of these
persons testified that the deceased told her she was
doctored for a humour which originated in getting
cold at a camp meeting—a thing by no means incredible
to those who know the danger of sleeping
in the night air, and on the damp earth.

C5r 63

The story of this insult she persisted in through
all the subsequent trouble she met with, and they inquired
if one part of her testimony was to be credited,
why not all.

One witness testified to her going out of a factory
with a string in her hand and she followed her, and
really believed she was going to hang herself if she
had not interrupted her.

Another witneess of the Methodist Society testified
that the deceased once told her that she attempted
her life, and had not courage to go through with

Two persons, a tavern keeper and his wife, by the
name of Parker, gave a most singular testimony.
They averred that eight years before, a girl calling
Maria Cornell, came to their house in the
evening, being evidently in a situation no young
woman would want to travel alone in, and “appeared
much engaged in the work of God.”
That was
the expression. When two young men entered, and
she immediately charged one with being her betrayer,
and frightened him out of a sum of money
to settle with her, and gave him a receipt; and that
they all staid all night; and she came down stairs
next morning looking entirely different; and the
young man thus swindled took no notice of her altered
looks; and they all went away, it would seem
perfectly satisfied. This evidence was judged of
great importance it appeared by the prisoner’s counsel,
by the manner in which it was handled by
them. By others it was received as exhibiting inconsistencies
not to be reconciled. 1. That any
young man would put up with such an imposition.
2. That any one engaged in such a fraud would so
soon throw off the mask. 3. That persons so very C5v 64
religious as they evidently wanted to be thought,
would tolerate such transactions in their houses, and
lodge the whole company after it, the woman, whoever
she was, and her paramour.

Four women and two men (Methodists) were then
examined; the women gave a history of such disgusting
intrigues, as could scarce be parelleled,
which they said the deceased acknowledged to them
in the way of confession. That she appeared very
penitent for them, and one said “wept upon her
neck until she was quite disgusted with her.”
testified she had threatened vengeance upon Mr.
for signing her expulsion from the meeting,
and that she said “she would be revenged on him
if it cost her her life,”
although it did not appear
she had any known cause of hostility against him.
No one could attach any blame to him, who being
her minister was obliged to act as the rules of the
meeting required. One of these fair swearers was
one of those who went off with him at the time of
his flight from Bristol.

Another instance of that recklessness displayed
by the prisoner’s friends of the character and peace
of individuals, and perhaps the most barbarous, was
the trying to disgrace the character of her sister’s
husband, a young man of most unexceptionable
character, always known for his modesty, sobriety
and piety, and who had not seen the deceased for
several years previous to the fatal summer—the last
of her earthly pilgrimage, when she came to visit
them and her aged mother, who resided in the family.
They brought witnesses to say, that S. M. Cornell
had told that her sister’s husband had loved her
better than his wife, and that they had been as
free as man and wife; and one of the witnesses, a C6r 65
young girl, recited a long piece of poetry which she
recollected she said from reading it once or twice,
and which Maria had said her brother addressed to
her. It did not seem sufficient that her almost distracted sister had
to be dragged to Court, to hear this load of infamy laid upon the
departed, but her domestic peace must be assailed, by suspicions
endeavored to be infused of the fidelity of her husband, of the father
of her children, now her only earthly support and consolation.
“Oh,” said she, when speaking of this transaction afterwards to a
friend, “had I been at all addicted to jealousy, or had the least
cause to be so, or possessed as weak a mind as they imputed to
my sister, what might not the consequences have been. They
might have broken up my family and perhaps driven me to distraction
or suicide, but to disturb my peace in that way is beyond
their power.”
Still we must suppose she was a very great sufferer
in hearing such abuse.

The next company of witnesses were called to
cover the time of the prisoner’s being at the camp
meeting, which if we recollect was three days, in
such a manner as to occupy every moment of it, and
make it an impossibility of his having any assignation
with the deceased. In fact, if all this testimony
could be relied on, the prisoner had not only no
time for an interview with any woman out of their
sight, but no time neither for the ordinary occasions
of life, no hour for private devotion or any thing of
that sort; wherever he went, it appeared from the
testimony, there was some one at his elbow; if he
walked or rode, or sat or slept, or eat or drank, or
preached, somebody appeared to testify to the hour,
whose memory was fresh with every particular. As
one dropped him another took him up; if one left
him another joined him at the same moment, until
they fairly guarded him out of the premises, and
out of the country. Had E. K. Avery been a State
prisoner, suspected of treason, under one of the most C6v 66
arbitrary governments in the world, he could not
have been more strictly guarded, and closely watched
than he must have been, even if the whole College
of Jesuits
had been on the alert—besides having
such fine memories that they could all remember
so exact about every moment of time, and even
the slightest circumstance respecting this man.
Many argued, who heard this testimony, that this
was suspicious; that it was a thing contrary to general
experience—that among such a multitude, one
person of no very extraordinary character for any
thing, should be singled out as an object of remark,
a point of observation, a centre of attraction to
which all eyes were turned, and argued from this
very testimony, as well as the similar one of the
four days meeting in Providence, that it was overdone,
and would undoubtedly have a tendency to
convince the court of the delinquency of the prisoner
—the result however disappointed their calculations.

In the same manner they endeavored to cover the
time of day Orswell supposed was the one that the
letter was handed him. The Attorney General stated
in his remarks, that so earnest had they been to
cover the time, when the letter could have been delivered,
that “they made out fifteen minutes more
than there really was of it.”
It appeared from the
testimony of the witnesses, that he was constantly
with some of them except when he went from breakfast
to the clergyman’s, when the walk was accomplished
in as short a space of time, as ever man
walked it, and immediately appeared in another
place, when the Rev. somebody else took him to
brother somebody’s, and instantly he appeared
again in the methodist meeting-house, at the beginning D1r 67
of the meeting, precisely at nine o’clock; this
they remarked by one particular circumstance, it
is, that he did not open the meeting which he had
previously agreed to do; for this omission no reason
appeared from him or his friends, so that people
were left to conclude, either that there was a mistake
in the day, which Orswell did not swear to,
or that he had slipped away a few moments before
the meeting (eluding the vigilance of his sentinels,)
and was too much fatigued to open the meeting after
such a race; or that he excused himself from making
the first prayer, in order to slip away while the people
were on their knees and would not observe him;
and as to other profane spectators, they would not
have observed the circumstance of a man gliding in
and out, where there is such constant ingress and
egress. This dodging about in Methodist meeting is believed to be
nothing uncommon. The writer of these pages has a very distinct
recollection of J. N. Maffitt, who used frequently while another
minister was praying, to climb up and look over the house, to see
who stood affected, and either go to such after, or have them
brought up to have the benefit of his prayers: as it was not
noticed as a breach of decorum, we conclude it is not uncommon.

While the evidence was taking, witnesses arrived
post haste from Providence, to swear that they had
just measured the distance from the methodist meeting-house
to the steamboat wharf, and found the
distance so great that it was impossible he could
have travelled it that morning before meeting. So
Mr. Orswell was completely sworn down. Nevertheless
a little time after that trial was decided, a
respectable farmer came forward and testified to
seeing Avery when he delivered the very letter to
Orswell. He did not know Avery at the time, but
when the trial came to be published, accompanied D D1v 68
with a striking likeness of the Rev. accused, this
man, Mr. Angell, immediately recognized the person.
The measuring the ground and deciding he could not have gone
on account of the distance, reminds us of the trial of John N.
, whom a clergyman of unimpeachable character saw kiss
his hand during service time to a lady in the gallery. The methodist
conference went and measured the distance from where Maffitt
stood to the gallery, and very gravely decided that the distance
was so great that the witness could not possibly have heard the
report of the kiss!!! and that their worthy brother must be

Witnesses from the Camp ground were produced
against S. M. Cornell, the deceased: one of whom
testified she saw her slap a young man on the shoulder;
another thought something might have been
the matter with her, as she thought she walked different
from other folks; another imagined something
against her character because her frock did
not quite meet together behind; another testified
that it was said there were persons of bad character
there, who were directed to be ordered off the ground.
But although it was known the deceased was there,
it appeared she was not molested. As to the character
of Avery, a number of their witnesses were
examined, all of whom testified to the faultlessness of
his character; never heard but what his disposition
was good; his character for every thing, good. Two
of these witnesses, Methodist ministers by the name
of Merrill, upon being cross examined, confessed
he had been prosecuted for defamation in Massachusetts,
but stated it resulted in nothing to impeach
his character,
and that the Ecclesiastical Council
acquitted him of all blame.

And what, asks the reader who has never read
the trial and is unacquainted with the events of D2r 69
this story (unless Ecclesiastical Councils should take
the place of Courts of Justice, and become the law
of the land, and such books be condemned to be
burnt by the common hangman and their authors
to some modern Inquisition,) what did they, the
witnesses, say respecting the absence of Avery from
Bristol on the day of the murder? and how did they
manage to clear up the circumstance of the letters?
of his being so unfortunate as to be in the very places,
on the very day when the letters were dated,
and of having letters charged him at the Post Office
on the very day when the letters of the deceased
must have reached him? Surely here must have
been their strongest stand; and these things satisfactorily
accounted for would not only have saved
his life, but what is of more value, or ought to be to
a christian minister, his character. Doubtless this
must have been the ransacking for witnesses at the
time the turnpike gates saw such hard service.
This must have been the dodging in and out of every
tavern, factory village and factory boarding house
in the country.

No such thing, no such witnesses were brought
forward, nothing of the kind attempted. Relying
upon the protection of the law, that the accuser
shall prove where the accused is, not he prove where
he is not, the prisoner took possesion of the strong
hold, and saved the ship from sinking by throwing
character overboard.

But surely, says the reader, they must have made
a lame piece of work of it, if that were the case.
For what purpose this array of witnesses to prove
the deceased bad? that was what the Government
wanted to prove: for good she could not be and be
his mistress—her minister! a married man too! D2v 70
Why it argues a great degree of depravity, or infatuation,
or destitution of reason. How did all these
inconsistencies of character in the deceased help
him? It only made the probability of the case
more apparent. Granted—but nevertheless this testimony,
strange and inconsistent and contradictory
as it was, was their fort, and upon this they grounded
their defence of the prisoner. The counsel for
the prisoner had sketched out a romance, not to be
equalled by any thing we know or read of Spanish
or Italian vengeance, and dressing it up in a most
ingenious manner, presented it to the attention of
the Jury. His argument was, that this girl, the deceased,
was utterly bad, capable of any sort of wickedness;
that she owed the prisoner a grudge for his
share in turning her out of meeting, and that she
had wreaked her vengeance upon him in this manner:
first, by writing the letters or procuring them
to be written and sent to her, and then by pretending
he was her betrayer; and finally hanging herself
after writing a billet, “if she was missing to inquire
of the Rev. E. K. Avery.”
—that she had said,
“she would be revenged upon him if it cost her her
and accordingly had contrived this method
and carried it into execution, and that all the rest
was the effect of the heightened imagination of the
Fall River folks; and the excitement he politely
styled the “Fall River fever”: and whenever in
the course of his brief review of the evidence, he
chanced to come across something remarkably tough,
why, with a flourish known only to the people called
lawyers, he would give it a toss, and get rid of it at
once without any trouble, as easily as one would
toss a biscuit into the sea. Never was the old proverb
verified better than in this case, viz. “one bold D3r 71
assertion is better than a host of argument,”
“two negatives is as good as one affirmative;” and
we had like to have added the third, “a lie well
stuck to
is as good as the truth,”
but we leave that
out. He attempted to establish it as a fact that the
deceased was insane too, and yet that all this method
was adopted in her madness: that she was capable
of a plot of revenge deeper and of a more diabolical
character than any ever related before of
woman—a plot which, in conception and execution,
surpassed all human credibility.

He was replied to by the Attorney General, Albert
C. Greene
, Esq. whose health at the time was
not good, and whose arduous labours had during the
trial much exhausted him; a gentleman of good law
knowledge, of amiable manners, and feeling heart,
but whose plain good sense was no match for the
subtlety of his antagonist. His speech contained
much sound reasoning; nevertheless, after a short
charge from the chief justice, the jury retired, and
on the next morning, at 9 o’clock, brought in a verdict
of not guilty, having consumed four weeks in
the trial.

Various opinions respecting the verdict of the jury
prevailed, yet all felt it their duty to acquiesce in
the decision of a legal tribunal, and no one had the
least idea of molesting Mr. Avery after his discharge
by the court. The Fall River people, who had behaved
throughout most magnanimously, notwithstanding
the hue and cry of the friends of Avery,
that they were thirsting for his blood, and a deal
more of that sort, were as content to let him live as
any others. They however looked forward with
certain confidence to his being deposed as a preacher.
They could conceive of very great efforts to D* D3v 72
save him from the gallows, from the mistaken notion
that the penalty was the disgrace of crime, and that
his death would be thought to bring an uneffaceable
stain upon the methodist order. When therefore
his own people sat upon his case, as it was known
they did not measure their decision by the fiat of the
law, and that he did not, nor could not, satisfactorily
account for himself, or clear up the affair of the
letters, &c. it was believed he would be expelled
from their order, or at least forever debarred from
preaching—that if it were for their own character
alone, they would not suffer such an outrage upon
the feelings and common sense of the community.
But to their amazement and that of others the “Ecclesiastical
as they style themselves, the
highest tribunal among them at any rate, pronounced
him perfectly innocent, and freed from all suspicion,
and continued him in the service of his office.
This outrage upon the feelings of society it is
believed will eventually injure them more in the estimation
of mankind, than it would have done to
have had twenty preachers hung.

To leave digression and pursue the thread of the
narrative—E. K. Avery was almost instantaneously
hurried out of Newport, after the rendering of the
verdict, and conveyed to his family in Bristol, and
continued in his office, and weekly to hold forth to
the people, followed by crowds whom curiosity attracted
to hear him, so much more will that impel
people than devotion.

The murdered, mangled remains of Sarah Maria
still repose at Fall River, at rest we hope,
from all further molestation. The generous and
feeling inhabitants of the village wished to have
placed a handsome marble monument over her remains, D4r 73
detailing the sad tragedy of her death, but
this her relations objected to, from the fear that it
would not be permitted to remain, and that the same
interest which had been exerted to blacken her character,
might be to destroy all records of the transaction.
Her brother and sister Rawson therefore
placed a small but neat stone at the head and foot
of the grave, simply inscribed with her name and
age. That lowly grave has been the pilgrimage of
thousands from all the different sections of the country.
It is in vain that the friends of Avery endeavour
to place that unfortunate being beneath even
the pity of the virtuous. Her own sex feel she was
a woman, and as such entitled to their sympathies,
the other, more generally inclined to compassionate
female frailty, pity her with undissembled sorrow.
Few have visited that spot without tears. There
seems to be a spell breathing around that none can
withstand: the effect is absolutely irresistable. It
is a humble grave, in a solitary spot. It is the grave
of a poor factory girl, but from that grave a voice
seems to issue, noisless as that still small one, that
speaks to the conscience of the sinner, but whose
tones nevertheless sink deep into the heart. The
author of these pages visited that spot, as well as the
one where she met her fate, at a most interesting
moment. It was on the evening of the --07-01first of July.
The moon was then at its full, yet a kind of
shadowy darkness hung over the spot, blending the
outlines of the surrounding landscape so as to render
them nearly indistinct. For some time I stood wondering,
without dreaming of the cause, but upon
looking up, discovered the moon was in an eclipse.
There was a singular coincidence in it certainly,
and it forcibly reminded me of the dark and mysterious D4v 74
fate of her who reposed beneath. I watched
it as the shadow slid from the moon’s disk, and I
felt that confidence which I have ever felt since,
that the mystery of darkness which envelopes the
story and hides the sad fate of that unfortunate victim
will one day be dispersed. The following lines
were penned at the time and afterwards published
in the Fall River Monitor. They are inserted here
by request.

“And here thou makest thy lonely bed, Thou poor forlorn and injured one; Here rests thy aching head— Marked by a nameless stone. The stones with her name were not then up. Poor victim of man’s lawless passion, Though e’er so tenderly carest— Better to trust the raging ocean, Than lean upon his stormy breast. And thou though frail, wert fair and mild; Some gentle virtues warmed thy breast. Poor outcast being! sorrow’s child! Reproach can’t break thy rest. On thy poor wearied breast the turf Lies quite as soft as on the rich: What now to thee the scorn and mirth, Of sanctimonious hypocrites. That mangled form now finds repose, And who shall say thy soul does not, Since he who from the grave arose Brought immortality to light. D5r 75 Poor fated one the day is coming When sin and sorrow pass away— I see the light already gleaming Which ushers in an endless day. Where shall the murderer be found? He calls upon the rocks in vain— The force of guilt will then confound, Alas the Judge! no longer man. He calls upon the rocks in vain— The adamantine rocks recoil, Earth can no longer hide the slain, And death yields up his spoil. Where shall the murderer appear? My God thy judgments are most deep: No verdict can the monster clear Who dies a hypocrite must wake to weep.”

Chapter V.

Life of Sarah Maria Cornell.

With the greatest care and impartiality the author
of the following pages has collected together
all the facts susceptible of proof relating to the life
of Sarah Maria Cornell. Some of these were gained
from her own family—others from strangers.

S. M. Cornell was born in 1802-05May 1802, in
Rupert, Vermont. Her mother, the daughter of
Christopher Leffingwell, Esq. of Norwich, This Christopher Leffingwell was the direct descendant of
that Thomas Leffingwell of Saybrook, Connecticut, who had the
honor of rescuing by his bravery the celebrated Uncas, with his
remnant of Mohicans, from the power of the Narragansetts, in the
bloody war between the Indians of this last tribe and the new settlers,
the English, about the year 16601660; and who received afterwards,
as a testimony of gratitude from that renowned warrior,
the grant of land, by deed, of all that tract upon which the town
of Norwich now stands. New-England is under lasting obligations
to the name of Leffingwell. The circumstances were these.
Uncas, who with his band was fighting in defence of the whites,
got hemmed in, in a place of imminent danger, at some distance
from Saybrook, but found means to send a messenger to that place
to ask the English there to come to his relief. Their whole force
had left the place, in another direction, except those left to guard
the fort. But Thomas Leffingwell formed the bold plan of conveying
the whole band across into the fort, in the course of the night,
in his canoe, and actually accomplished it; and when the ferocious
Narragansetts came upon their post, in the morning, behold they
were gone! all safely stowed into the English fort at Saybrook.
This manœuvre turned the tide of war.
was a
well educated and good principled woman, a daughter
to one of the first families in the State. She
had been carefully brought up and accustomed only D6r 77
to the best society. Unhappily, she contracted
early in life an unfortunate attachment. Mr. Cornell
was a person employed in one of the manufactories
belonging to her father. Good looking
and of pleasing address, he succeeded in captivating
the affections of a daughter of his employer.
Mr. Leffingwell was at first very wroth, and made
considerable opposition to the match, but upon being
assured by his daughter that she was firmly and
immoveably attached to Cornell and could never be
happy with any other man, the old gentleman gave
up the contest, and suffered the union to take place
without further opposition. His daughter removed
after marriage to Vermont, where her children were
born; and here she was destined to taste the bitterness
of an ill assorted union. Her husband it
seemed had formed the design, and it very soon developed,
to be supported from his father-in-law’s
funds, which were supposed inexhaustible, and himself
to be a gentleman at large. In pursuit of this
determination he worked upon the feelings of his
wife to get her to draw money from her father. Mrs.
, who was one of those gentle, unresisting
characters that knew not how to contend, suffered
herself for some time, though sorely against her
feelings, to be influenced to this, and repeatedly
drew large sums of money from her indulgent father,
to supply her husband’s demands, until at
length the old gentleman resolutely refused to advance
any more; upon which Cornell carried his
wife and children to her father’s house, and leaving
them, quit the country, and relieved himself forever
from the task of supporting a woman whom he had
probably married without the least sentiment of affection
whatever, and abandoning the children in D6v 78
their helpless infancy, whom the laws of God, and
the laws of the land both required him to support.
What was the situation of Mr. Leffingwell’s estate
at his decease, we do not know, or whether he supposed
he had bestowed enough upon this daughter;
but certain it is that although the rest of the family
were in easy circumstances, if not affluent, she and
her family were poor, and she and her children
found a home with some of their relatives, and appear
to have looked chiefly to their own exertions
for support. They were separated, being all brought
up at different places, and not even knowing one
another for several year. The unfortunate girl who
is the subject of this memoir was in the same house
with her mother until about eleven years of age.
She then went to live with a Mrs. Lathrop of Norwich,
her mother’s sister. With her she continued
until fifteen years of age, and then went to learn
the tailor’s trade, where she staid two years, and
then for a time resided with her mother in Bozrah,
a short distance from Norwich, working at her

During her residence at the house where she
learned her trade, her mind appeared for the first
time called up to attend to religion. There was at
the time a great reformation, as it is termed, in the
neighbourhood—that is, there was a great stir about
religion, and much going to meeting, and many
professing, of which number doubtless many continued
steadfast; but in a time of such general excitement
it is known there is a great deal of selfdeception.
The quick feelings and sanguine temperament
of S. M. Cornell were calculated to mislead
her, and it was not long before she rushed with
the multitude to the altar of baptism, joining herself E1r 79
in christian communion to the congregation of the
Rev. Mr. Austin, a Calvinistic Congregationalist.
No reproach can with justice attach itself to a clergyman
in such cases, unless they are hurried into
such a profession without any time for trial, which
was not the case in this instance. Man cannot
look into futurity and tell who will prove steadfast
and who will not, and if a rational person makes
a good profession of faith, and avows a resolution
to lead a christian life, the minister is bound to receive
them, unless he knows something in their
present character and conduct at variance with
their professions. For two years she continued
steadfast, and it was said a bright example in outward
conduct; yet nevertheless the seed had fallen
on stony ground, where the earth was not of sufficient
depth to foster it. A season of declension
succeeded it. Lightness and vanity again took possession
of her imagination. A passion for dress at
this time seemed to be a predominant feeling, and
that passion she was obliged to set bounds to, be-
cause she had not the means of gratifying it.

It was at this unfortunate season, the only one it
is believed in her existence when the same temptation
would have had the same weight, that her mother
brought her to Providence. Her older sister
lived there with a relation who had brought her up;
and these two sisters, separated for many years, had
long desired a reunion. That wish, so natural, was
at last indulged, and like most of our earnest desires
for earthly gratification, indulged to their mutual
sorrow. Introduced for the first time since childhood
into the temptations and allurements of a commercial
town, those feelings of childish vanity, and
love of dress, and show, and ornament, which had E E1v 80
been growing upon her for some time, seemed completely
to get the mastery—and being often in the
shops where those articles for which she had so long
sighed presented themselves before her—she at
length possessed herself of some of them, trifling
indeed in amount, but destined to prove her entire
destruction in this world as respected character and
every thing else. Though the whole of these articles
purloined in a moment of lightness, of thoughtlessness
and temptation, did not exceed in amount
but a very few dollars, it was immediately discovered,
and the avenger was close upon her heels. Unused
to crime, her manner at the time was so singular
and agitated as to excite suspicion in the store,
and she was followed to the house of one of her
relatives, where the articles were found—not exceeding
five dollars in amount, and several very small
trifles beside, which she immediately told of and
where she got them, and her friends sent them to
the gentlemen, and offered to pay all damages, &c.
to both; they exacted nothing however but the
amount of the goods. The grief and agitation of
the poor girl vented itself in repeated fits of hysterical
laughing and crying at the time, and in the bitterest
self-accusation afterwards, when she seemed
fully to realize what she had done, and could those
gentleman have known the effect that disgraece was
to have upon her future destiny, doubtless they
would have preferred to have lost ten times the
amount rather than have exposed her. Be that as it
may however, the fact that she did purloin these articles
is certain, and I have it in express charge
from her nearest kindred, her kind brother and sister,
not to attempt to conceal it, but in every thing
as far as I can discover the truth to make it manifest. E2r 81
They knew of this delinquency in their sister
by her own confession; she did not attempt to deceive
them, and they knew of no other instance of
the kind of her offending; they know by the same
means, viz. her own confessions, of her intercourse
with Avery, and they know of no other person with
whom they believe her to have been criminal. But
to go back to the story. Some of the people so violent in denouncing this poor girl, at
the time, were running crazy after a new preacher then in town,
who, they affirmed, was one of the greatest saints living; as he
had done every thing bad—murder excepted. Among other things,
he had been a thief, they said. Not thinking that any particular
recommendation in a preacher, we had not the honor of hearing
him; but we recollect remembering, at the time, the old adage,
“one man may steal a horse, while another man cannot look over
his shoulder.”

The open, candid manner in which they had behaved,
themselves, and the keen distress of the offender
herself, certainly induced them to hope she
would not be publicly exposed, but by some means
or other it was immediately communicated to town
and country. For this they were not prepared, far
less did they anticipate that this circumstance would
be brought up in a court of justice, eleven years after,
to prove that she killed herself, to be avenged on a
man who had exposed her misconduct, when she
had not even shewn resentment towards them.

That this was the only sin of the kind—the only
instance of dishonesty that could be brought up
against S. M. Cornell, must be believed by every
one who ever saw the famous trial of S. M. Cornell,
denominated on the title page, Trial of E. K. Avery.
For had there been another thing of the kind
known against her—a wit observed as “heaven,
earth and hell were ransacked for witnesses,”
must have made its appearance. On the contrary, E2v 82
she was afterwards often remarked for the punctuality
and exact regularity of her dealings. The
writer of these pages knew a milliner with whom
she had very considerable dealings at Lowell, and
to whom she was often indebted, and who remarked
“that she was the most punctual person in the payment
of her debts she had ever known, as she seemed
to have a principle of honesty about discharging
a debt the very day she had promised the money,
and always bore in mind the exact sum she owed.”

It appears that the connexions of S. M. Cornell
generally, with the exception of her mother, and her
kind hearted sister, meant to make her feel the full
extent of the offence she had committed. It does
not in the general way require much to set rich relations
against poor ones—but here was ample room
for feelings of superiority over poor, fallen human
nature. Some of her connexions shut the door in
her face when she called to see them afterwards—
and for the most part they manifested a very proper
detestation of her offence, by displaying proper resentment.
She returned to the country and resumed
her employment, but the story got there before her.
She had relinquished her former employment of
tailoring and gone to work in a factory. Here she
was now regarded with a degree of suspicion, painful
in the extreme to a person of her natural pride, and
she quit the place and went to another, but being
dissatisfied with the employment, again resumed her
sewing, and went to live with a merchant tailor in a
neighboring town; she continued in her employment
some months, when the story reached the family that
she “had been talked about,” which caused them to
watch her with scrupulous regard. There was a
young gentleman then in the neighborhood who E3r 83
used to go often into the shop, and frequently sit
down by her and converse, sometimes in an under
tone, and sometimes he would invite her to take a
walk of a pleasant evening, and she would go with
him. This circumstance, as he was a young and
unengaged man, and she very pretty, would probably
of itself have caused no suspicion, had not the
saying that she had been talked about been so often
repeated. She did not board with the family who
employed her, but in the family of a respectable
physician on the other side of the way: and being
convinced by the circumstance just related, joined
to the saying that she had been “talked about,”
though they did not exactly know for what, that her
character was not good, the wife of her employer
took it upon her to dismiss her; and sending for her
to come in, begun by accusing her of “imposing
herself upon their society when her character was
not good;”
and having said all she judged necessary
on that head, she formally dismissed her from
their employment. During all this time the poor,
persecuted girl only opposed tears to the reproaches
heaped upon her. She knew that she had, by one
indiscretion, by one violation of that command,
“thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbor’s,”
brought reproach upon her good name; and
she probably thought they knew of it, and said
nothing because she could not bear to hear it named.
She only asked permission to remain until next
day, when the stage would pass, which was granted.
“To this day,” said the lady who had vented
these reproaches, “to this day, my conscience reproaches
me for the harshness with which I spoke
to her, when memory recalls the tears she shed, and
her meek, forbearing manners, and I must say, that E* E3v 84
she had the meekest temper, and one of the mildest
and sweetest dispositions I ever met with.”
added, that that very night a relation of theirs who
was then very ill in their house, was distressed for
a watcher, they having sent half over the neighborhood
for one without success; which S. M. Cornell
hearing of, immediately offered to watch with her,
and though they were ashamed to accept of her
services, they were constrained to; and that she was
so kind and attentive to the sick, that the woman
after her recovery often enquired after her, saying,
“she was the kindest and best person to the sick,
she ever saw.”

From this place it appears she went to Slatersville,
, and commenced working again
in the factory; soon after which, a Mr. Taylor, a
Methodist, commenced preaching there, and here
again there was a great stir about religion. Mr.
was one of their popular preachers—there
was a great reformation, and S. M. Cornell, who
had for some time given up the idea that she had ever
possessed religion, was once more awakened;
and having, by some means or other, become persuaded
that immersion was the only Scripture way
of baptism, felt desirous to be rebaptized. After a
profession of faith and going through all the preliminaries,
she was accordingly immersed; and the
Methodist meeting, who profess to believe that water
administered in any form, in the name of the
Trinity, is baptism, and who baptize in both ways
themselves, had no hesitation in rebaptizing her.
However, that is of minor consequence to what followed.
She continued in fellowship with them, it
appears by her letters, during her stay in Slatersville,
which must have been over two years; for she staid E4r 85
there until the factory burnt down, and then of course
had to depart inin search of employment. With several
others she removed to the Branch factory, a few
miles off. Here she staid until the water becoming
very low, there was not steady employment, when
she removed to Millville, to the satinett factory.
From this place, only about a mile and a half from
Slatersville, it will be seen by her letters, she attended
her beloved Methodist meeting at Slatersville,
and appears to have felt great joy at finding herself
so near there again. No person can read her letters
and suppose she feigned what she wrote. Just
before her leaving Smithfield, i. e. Slatersville, Mr.
, her brother-in-law, went and carried her
brother, who had been absent several years at New-
, to visit her, and inquired of the family
where she boarded, “how Maria got along?” “Very
well indeed,”
was the reply, “and much engaged
in religion,”
they added, “and set a very good example.”

While at this place her zeal in the cause of meetings
continued. It appears she was in the habit
of walking down to Slatersville, on all occasions, to
meetings; and that in the prayer meetings as well
as those for exhortation, she usually took a part,
and was called an active member. We do not
know whether she was censured at this time, but
this fact we do know from letters in our possession,
that she was in the habit of corresponding with
methodist sisters at this time, and subsequent to it,
who were highly spoken of for piety and consistence.
We have some directed to this last place,
and they address her as “worthy sister,” and solicit
an interest in her prayers.

It had been the intention of Maria (by that E4v 86
name she was generally called) to return to Slatersville
as soon as the new manufactory should
be completed, and never to leave the people with
whom she was connected there until death, but
unfortunately the works did not keep pace with
her impatience; she disliked the woollen factory
where she worked at Millville, and one of the girls
who had been a favorite companion and sister in
the church persuaded her to go to Lowell, and declaring
her determination to go there first, which
she did not however do immediately, as Maria came
to Providence to visit her friends, or more particularly
to visit her dear mother; and after staying
some little time in Providence and Pawtucket, received
a line from her friend urging her again to
go to Lowell, and naming a place on the road,
where they would meet on a certain day provided
she would comply. The place was in Dedham,
and here they concluded to remain, but there being
no methodist meeting, she became discontented,
and after four weeks residence there proceeded to
Dorchester. What caused all this delay in going to
Lowell is not known, unless some guardian spirit interposed
and delayed her progress to the place which
was to consummate her destruction. During the
time of her sojourn in the towns already mentioned,
at several different times she received attentions
from some young man, who she thought and others
thought wished to marry her. Many young men
make a practice it is well known of amusing themselves
at the expense of young women who are apparently
without friends and natural protectors to
call them to account for such baseness and compel
them to act honorably. S. M. Cornell had the curse
of beauty, and she was not without admirers. She E5r 87
was naturally of an affectionate and confiding disposition.
Her manners too, all partook of that character
of fondness for which she has been so unjustly
censured. She loved her mother and sisters, and
her letters bespeak any thing but a depraved heart.
It is an indisputable fact that an abandoned woman
is without natural affection, and we see that she was
the very reverse of this. Her letters she did not
even know would be preserved. Little could the
poor, unfortunate girl have dreamed of the use here
made of them: they were only to meet the eye of
her sister and her aged and bowed down mother.
It seemed as though her affections sought constantly
for some object upon which to repose themselves,
for something to lavish that tenderness upon with
which her heart was overflowing. Disappointed in
her first choice—(which has been basely insinuated
was her sister’s husband—a tissue of falsehoods
from beginning to end)—disappointed in those
schemes of earthly happiness upon which her heart
had once been set, she strove to forget all but her
duty, and to love God alone: nevertheless, there
were times when she could not help, situated as she
was, desiring some respectable connexion and decent
settlement in life; and it is believed that she
received the attentions of several young men who
professed to her honorable attachment, with the
laudable object in view of obtaining such settlement.
How different her fate would have been could she
have been settled in life and tied to the duties of a
wife and mother, we cannot now say, but the probability
is she would have made a very respectable
figure in society, and a much better wife than ordinary,
owing to the natural docility of her disposition,
her perfect habitual good nature, and forbearance E5v 88
and forgiveness. But the waywardness of her destiny
prevented, and perhaps the providence of God,
which sometimes ordains partial evils to promote
some universal good, ordered it otherwise.

The religion of this ill fated girl, it will be seen
by her letters, was a religion of feelings and frames.
Though there is no doubt it was sincere, yet it was
of that unstable kind that is most apt to fail when
most needed. She had engaged in it in a time of
high excitement, and its existence was preserved—
while it was preserved—by constant application of
the means which created it: viz. by frequent attendance
on those exciting meetings where highly
wrought feeling and sometimes hysterical affection
is often mistaken for devotion. While there, there
is no doubt she thought herself in the enjoyment of
religion; and when out, the mind and spirits, by a
natural reaction, would suffer a correspondent depression,
and the same stimulus must be again resorted
to. It will be observed that the style of the
letters, which follow this slight sketch, varied materially
after a years residence at Lowell, and were
less frequent. Previous to this date, during a residence
of more than a year in Dorchester, and the one
year that succeeded in Lowell, religion seemed to be
the chief subject of her correspondence; soon after
which, it is evident the subject, for some reason or
other, flagged: and her last letters, few and far between,
do not even make mention of the subject.
That there was a cause for this, no one can doubt.
She could write of it when in the confusion of a
boarding house, as she says, with “sixty boarders,”
and sometimes, nearly “all gabbling at once.” But
something has happened to damp her zeal now, or
conscience whispers, “Thou that preachest to
others, art thou a castaway?”

E6r 89

That she felt the want of a friend, that she desired
one, is something so natural and proper that we
cannot blame her for it. And that the warm tide of
her affections sought for rest on some object was no
fault of hers, but that they should have centred at
last on a married man, was shocking indeed.
That that man was her minister, the person who
broke the sacramental bread, and presented the sacramental
cup, was an aggravation of her crime, a
heinous aggravation. Although it is to be presumed
one of that sacred character might have more influence
over the opinions of a person than any other;
yet any attempts at familiarity ought to be doubly
offensive in such, since it proves at once that he
is a hypocrite.

As to the opinion of attachment on the part of S. M.
towards her minister, we ground it on these
facts. First, by her letters themselves; not merely
because they shew a decline in religious zeal at the
time when we believe it commenced, but from this
circumstance:—that the name of Avery is never
mentioned by her in any of them. She appears to
speak with freedom of other persons, and other ministers;
of Mr. Taylor, Oathman, Maffit and others; but
his name she studiously avoids. She was not only
three years at Lowell, the greater part of which time
she sat under his daily and nightly ministrations, but
she heard him at Great Falls and in other places in
the neighborhood of Boston. Yet his name never escapes
her pen. There must be some reason for this.
As has been said, she seemed to contrive to be somewhere
within the range of his preaching from the
first of her acquaintance with him. Whether it was
by her contrivance or his however, it is impossible
for us to say, since she cannot tell, and he wont tell. E6v 90
How the intimacy commenced, and whether it was
of a criminal nature previous to the Camp-Meeting
at Thompson, we believe no one has taken upon
themselves positively to say; but from what is related
of the circumstances of their intimacy, every one can
judge. The Parson, it is said, was a very polite man
to females, frequently inviting some one of them to
ride to a meeting or an evening lecture with him in
his covered Carryall, and that he sometimes did the
deceased the honor of riding with her. It will be
recollected that at the Bristol examination Avery or
some of his friends stated the fact that S. M. Cornell
had lived a short time in his family, but that
Mrs. Avery was not satisfied with her, and she had
been dismissed.

At the time the sheriff passed through Lowell in
pursuit of Avery, after his flight from justice, he
learnt some very important particulars respecting
this and others connected with it, and afterwards
proposed laying it before the court upon his trial,
but was told they were inadmissible, since it was
not any particular act of impropriety in the prisoner’s
life, previous to the commission of the crime
for which he stood indicted, but his general character
which they wished to know, and which could
alone in this case be considered as evidence. And
as the sheriff was not prepared to prove that his
general character, or that of any other preacher,
was that of a rake, he of course kept it back: some of
this found its way afterwards into the public papers
of the day, and upon examination, the facts appear
to be these.

First, that S. M. Cornell was a resident in the
family of E. K. Avery about a week, and that during
that time he used to come out of her room after F1r 91
ten o’clock at night; and that the family, on being
questioned upon the subject, gave as a reason “that
she was ill, and sent for him to come in and pray
with her.”

Secondly, that his wife, though habitually a mild,
forbearing woman, on this occasion rose, and positively
declared “she would not have the girl in the
house any longer,”
when she went away.

Thirdly, that it was customary for him to be shut
in his study with some young woman or other almost
every day; sometimes several, in the course of
the day. Very seldom any of these were seen by
his wife; but that unfortunate woman was often seen
with eyes red and swollen, as though she had recently
been in tears; and though used to speak
mildly, she never mentioned the name of S. M. Cornell
but with evident resentment and bitterness of
feeling, even after she had gone from there.

Fourthly, that he was in the habit of keeping
very late hours; being out without his wife; and
giving no satisfactory account of himself, not even
to the family in the house, whose rest he often disturbed,
by obliging them to sit up for him, as they
did not feel safe to retire and leave the front door
unfastened: that on one occasion, after returning
from their own prayer meeting, at nine o’clock,
(the time such meetings usually close,) and setting
up Nothing of this sort is credited by the author, or mentioned,
without sufficient proof. Should it be necessary, those proofs can
be coming forthwith.
for Avery until after eleven, they retired, and
he behaved with must unbecoming passion, beating
and banging the door as though he would stave it
in, and that the owner of the house hurried to let
him in as quick as possible, and then retreated; F F1v 92
when Avery entered, flung the door too, and snatching
the key from the lock, carried it to his chamber.
The master of the house followed him, and
made him return the key. These things, together
with others of an aggravating nature determined the
family not to reside any longer under the same roof,
but having a chance to sell the house, they removed
and left him in it. That it was not wholly on account
of his late hours, so unbecoming in a clergyman,
but on account of other things which they disliked;
one of which was the frequent closetings with
young women in the study, which stood at the head
of the stairs and contained a bed; and was rather
remote from the sitting room and lodging room of his
wife, having to pass through the front entry and
front room, and a passage way, to get to the kitchen
where Mrs. Avery usually staid and lodged.

We do not place so much confidence in other
things coming from a child, as they did, children
being so prone to exaggerate and misrepresent; yet
it appears the little boy of Avery, after having accompanied
him on one of his rides, said on his return,
“Pa kissed Sarah Maria Cornell on the road”:
and that the feelings of the gentleman in the house
were considerably tried upon observing at one time
a wonderful alteration in the horse usually rode by
him. His little boy accounted for it, by saying,
that “the horse kicked his father, and he drove two
spikes into the floor and tied his heels down, and
kept him there two days without anything to eat or
It appears that Avery is still famous for his treatment of
horses. Few of his cloth would be seen to stop in the open street,
get out, take his coat off, and beat a horse in the manner he has
recently done in Bristol. “The merciful man is merciful to his
Though the story of the boy might not be correct, yet it
was said the appearance of the horse warranted the conclsuusion
that it was so.
Of course, much was said respecting this
man which was false: there is no one so base but F2r 93
may, after all, be slandered. For instance, the story
of the mysterious and sudden death of his first
wife must have been altogether false, for we cannot
find that he ever had but one wife. There is
enough of what justly belongs to this unhappy man,
without any effort of imagination to add to it.

We have but one remark to make respecting the
intimacy at the house, which is, that if an intrigue
commenced at his own house, at that time; that if
it was indeed true she used to send for him at that
hour of the night to come to her room to pray with
her, she courted destruction, and might almost be
said to deserve the fate it is supposed she met with
at his hands. If, on the contrary, he stole into her
room, without an invitation, the case might be a little
different. That he was there, I suppose to be
a fact. That she cherished an uncommon regard
for him, criminal as that affection was in her case,
was evinced, as Doct. Wilbour observed, “by the
absence of resentful feelings.”
It was strange indeed,
if she had suffered the injury she complained
of, at the Camp Meeting, without manifesting any
resentment afterwards, she should, on the contrary,
uniformily speak of him and his family with tenderness,
and above all things seem not to desire to expose
him. It may be enquired, if this were the case,
why did she leave that little bit of paper to direct, “if
she was missing to enquire of him?”
To that we
answer, that our heavenly Father has implanted a
something within us, that never fails to warn us of
approaching danger: some call it “a presentiment F2v 94
of evil.”
But in her case there was something to
fear exclusive of any resentment; that was, if her
tale was true—if she had once had poison recommended
her, and been warned by him who told her
not to take it, neither to go to Bristol, nor to put
herself in his power, but to have him come to her
fairly and honourably, and settle it—if she had received
this warning, she could not but have some
fear. It was neither fair nor honourable in the first
place, to ask a female to go to that cold, lonely place
on a dark evening. She knew, probably, it was a
fearful thing under such circumstances, or indeed
under any, to go there to an assignation. The dark,
deep waters of Mount Hope bay rolled below, and
it would have been as easy to give one a plunge
there, as to have poured down a dose of tansy oil.

That she had peculiar feelings of regard for this
man may be inferred from the speech she made to
Benjamin H. Saunders also. It does not appear
there was any positive proof of any thing criminal
in her conduct while at Lowell, by any testimony
on the trial, if we except the testimony of the physician
before named.

It seems S. M. Cornell was expelled from meeting
while absent at a Camp Meeting on Cape Cod;
and Avery tells, that he “advised her to go away
while the process was going on against her”
: but
if the complaint was made against her previously, it
was the height of impudence, to say no more of it,
to suffer her to go to such a place, where the facilities
for vice are so great. There cannot be, perhaps,
exhibited, a greater proof of superstition, than
the offer of this girl to make an acknowledgment
to the meeting of what she, at the same time, solemnly
declares herself to be innocent of, merely for F3r 95
the sake of being in church membership: for it was
upon those conditions she offered it. As though to
be out of the pale of the church was to be excluded
from salvation. Her own words were said to be
these, in a letter to Avery, where she gives a circumstantial
and satisfactory account of her interviews
with the physician:—“yet I will confess all,
if I can only be continued in the church.”
suppose that the desire to be near a certain minister
of that church was the great inducement, and
that for his sake, or for the sake of being near him,
she was willing to endure any disgrace, and would
have signed any thing but her death warrant. There
is one anecdote, which has been related to the writer
of this, which proves she could not have been
the abandoned creature represented previous to this.
S. M. Cornell, at one of the places where she lived,
worked in the employ of two brothers, partners in
an establishment. Something had been said in
their hearing about her not being prudent; and the
oldest formed the resolution to find out how far her
imprudence extended. He accordingly put himself
repeatedly in her way, and at last insulted her with
the declaration of his passion, which she resented
firmly, and with some bitter reproaches. (They
were both married men.) The older confided the
affair to the younger, who felt piqued to try himself.
He accordingly commenced a regular siege: but in
the moment when he thought himself sure of success,
met with a still more severe repulse than his
brother. Upon comparing notes, they agreed it was
only because they were married men; but as they
felt somewhat in her power, concluded that it was
not prudent to have her there. They accordingly
gave her a hint her services were no longer wanted F* F3v 96
after which, being questioned with respect to her
departure, said “she was rather too fond of young
: though, as the gentleman said who related this
and who, being in their employ, overheard the conversation
between them, when they agreed to get rid
of her, “he did not know what proof they had of
her being fond of young men, except that she did
not like old ones.”

Various anecdotes too have been related to the
author respecting the charity, kindness of heart and
gentle disposition of S. M. Cornell: but they would
swell this volume beyond the bounds allotted to a
work of this kind. Suffice it to say, that from all
accounts, it appears her hand was ever open to the
suffering poor, according to her slender means; that
she was liberal to the society of which she was a
member, and who did not disdain to receive of the
pittance which her labour produced, towards promoting
Methodism, whatever they may have thought of
her character; that she was kind to the sick and
afflicted; and retained a most affectionate regard
towards her relatives, through the whole of her long
absence from them. One woman, who has been very bitter against S. M. Cornell,
and helped, it appears, to injure her at Lowell, gave as a reason
to the author for thinking her bad, that she used to go up to Boston,
sometimes, of a Saturday afternoon, on pretence of attending
meetings “to hear good preaching,” as she called it, and return
Monday morning, “looking completely exhausted and worn out.”
I was amazed to hear such a reason given, knowing it must be
great exertion, after tending three or four looms through the week
to ride twenty-five miles Saturday evening, or afternoon, and then
attend four or five meetings on the Sabbath and ride back again
next morning. That, I have no doubt, was the fact; and if there
is any female able to endure it, without feeling fatigue and exhaustion,
and shewing it too, they must be hardy indeed.

From Lowell she went to Great Falls, N. H. and F4r 97
here the same contradiction occurs with respect to
what was said of her. A very decent and respectable
young man who boarded with her the whole
time of her residence there, has testified to the author,
that he never knew of any thing being said or
thought there, to her disadvantage; that her conduct,
and he saw her daily, was as as becoming as
that of any female he ever was acquainted with.
Two respectable females too, who saw much of her
during that time, testify to the same. Likewise at
Taunton, where she next went, and where she had
a place of considerable trust, having to keep the
books of the weaving room, her character and conduct
was respectable. So persons, who boarded
and worked in the same room, with her, testified
that “she was much made of,” as he expressed it,
and visited in very respectable company in the

While on a visit to her brother Rawson’s in
Woodstock, it was remarked that her conduct was
strickly proper by the young men working with her
brother, as well as by other members of the family;
by customers at the shop and visiters at the house;
and especially by Mr. Cornell, the Congregationalist
clergyman, who, living quite near, was often in,
and held frequent dialogues with her upon the subject
of Methodist principles and discipline, for which
she, of course, was a great stickler, and they observed,
defended the cause with considerable skill. A paper, containing a certificate from the Rev. Mr. Cornell is
mislaid; but I recollect it testifies to the above fact, and to his
opinion of her being a christian previous to the communication
made to him by the family, after the Camp Meeting.

Previous to the fatal Camp Meeting, at Thompson,
it seems her conduct there was without suspicion; F4v 98
and could she have rested content without another interview
with Avery, it is probable this last final work
of destruction might have been avoided. We have
however the charity for her to believe, her intentions
at this time to lead a new life were sincere, and that
the interview, if planned by her, was only to obtain
the letter of acknowledgment which it seems she
had been influenced to write. That letter, she
found was having a fatal effect upon her character,
and what was of more consequence in her own view,
was depriving her of her communion with the church;
to secure which privilege she seems to have written
it, expecting that the command of scripture to forgive
all who confess and ask forgiveness, would be
literally obeyed. By the testimony of Benjamin
, who lived there and was in the habit of
going to the post office for her, it appears she corresponded
with a minister in Bristol, previous to the
Camp Meeting; who the minister was admits not
of a doubt, especially as she requested him to keep
it a secret, and by no means to let her sister know.
He recollected the circumstance by a speech from
her highly characteristic; on occasion of carrying
one of them to the office, said he, “I would not pay
postage for a minister, should think he was able to
pay it himself.”
She answered, “I want to help
the minister all I can.”

Through all the vicissitudes of life woman will be
woman still. Of the tenderness of woman’s heart
man can seldom form an idea; here was an instance.
There can be no doubt that this girl had great
cause of resentment towards the person she had
been writing to, and very possibly she wrote in harsh
terms, requiring him to come, and bring that letter
of acknowledgment with him; but come to the trial, F5r 99
that resentment could not even enable her to lay
upon him the burthen of paying the postage of a
letter. No wonder she made so many objections to
naming a large sum as the settlement with her,
which the benevolent physician of Fall River recommended;
she could not endure the causing him
inconvenience. That fatal tenderness too, doubtless
betrayed her at the camp ground; perhaps, and let
us in charity suppose it, she meant from henceforward
to leave the path of sin, and walk in that narrow
one that leads to life, and trusted to her resolutions
to meet and part with him without any actions
that virtue could condemn; the sight of him
put all her good resolutions to flight, and that beguileing
tenderness again plunged her into misery and
irremediable distress. Her only road to safety
would have been in not seeing him at all. Gone
was the look of cheerfulness she was wont to wear;
it was evident something pressed heavy on her heart.
The sense of her crime and the dread of its consequences
at length impelled her to yield to the solicitations
of her affectionate sister, and confide to her
the humiliating cause of her grief and anxiety; that
sister who had but one heart and mind with her
husband, immediately sought counsel of him. What
to do, or how to conduct themselves in such a strange
case they scarce knew, and the brother finally resolved
to ask counsel of his pastor, and subsequently
of another friend, an attorney in the neighborhood.
They advised her immediate removal into the State
of Rhode-Island where Avery resided; and the
brother feeling a delicacy about her remaining in
the shop where his young men were, willingly acceded
to the plan. She herself proposed to go to Fall
and work there in a factory while able to work, F5v 100
and until he should make some provision for her.
Here she lived for about two months without reproach
or suspicion, being perfectly correct, as every
one supposed who saw her, in her conduct. In the
respectable house where she boarded, and where
there was a small family consisting of females, she
was much beloved, having won their regard by the
gentleness of her manners and the apparent amiability
of her temper. To the daughter of this family
in particular, she was in the habit of speaking
with some confidence, when she showed those celebrated
letters of different colors mentioned in the
trial. This young lady remarked the pink and yellow
ones appeared to be written by different hands,
and that one looked like a lady’s hand—and that
S. M. Cornell answered, “but they are both written
by one hand, by a gentleman in Bristol.”
This answer
the witness was about to repeat in court, when
she was stopped by the prisoner’s counsel. She
(S. M. C.) told them several times that she was only
waiting for some money she was expecting to receive,
when she should leave Fall River. The flutter
of spirits, which made her on the last day of her
life more cheerful than usual may be easily accounted
for. She came out of the mill early and changed
her clothes, and then probably wrote that little strip
of paper, “If I am missing enquire of Rev. E. K.
Her habitual politeness never deserted
her; even then while drinking tea, which was got
early for her at her request, she said, “It is not
very polite for me to be drinking tea here alone I
know, before the rest, but I am in such a hurry,”

and turning to the oldest sister, she said as she went
out, “I think I shall be back as soon now, as Lucy
returns from the factory.”
Alas! she returned no


Chapter VI.

Of the birth, parentage and early life of E. K.
, we know nothing, except that we are informed
he was the son of a revolutionary soldier; if that
be the case every one must rejoice he was spared
the fate that threatened him in 1833-05May, 1833. It would
indeed be a kind of blot upon the history of the
brave defenders of our soil, that one of their children
should come to such an ignominious punishment,
since it is the disgrace that constitutes the evil with
men, though with God it is the sin. We are sorry
to say we have so little account of the early years of
a man who has made so much noise in the world;
but from the time we can get any thing of his history,
there seems to be something in almost every
place that goes to prove him a bad tempered, daring
and unprincipled man. As to his person and address
we know nothing of them, but we conclude
they must be extremely imposing, at least to the
people he is among, since he seems to have been
approbated and upheld by them on all occasions, except
one; it seems he has been baffled once, and
that was by a woman. Report says he studied the
science of medicine, previous to his becoming a
preacher, but whether he ever commenced practice
previous to the 1832-12-2020th of December is not known; we
have not heard of any of his performances since
that date.

F6v 102

The first we know of E. K. Avery he is preaching
in Duxbury, Mass. and from thence he removed
to Scituate, Mass. in 18271827, and took charge of the
methodist society in that place. Among the people
who now sat under his ministry was a maiden lady
of about five and forty, who sustained a very high
reputation for piety as well as for what they style
her gifts. She was one of those active, useful women
whose exertions were always called in, and always
freely bestowed, wherever distress of mind or
body required relief of any kind. The young resorted
to her for counsel, and the established christian
for encouragement. She was as report said,
not only a woman active in meetings and by the side
of the sick and the dying, but what is extremely
difficult, she supported on all occasions, a character
for consistency that went far to make her labors successful.
Of course the new minister soon discovered
the real character of this lady; he not only heard
her praises from every quarter, and witnessed her
zeal, but he was also enabled to appreciate her excellence
by personal acquaintance. She was evidently
a woman of great spirit naturally, but so
humble and subdued by the influence of real piety,
that the very belief that this was the case could
not fail in a sensible and candid person to increase
respect for her. She was not a woman in dependant
circumstances by any means, so there was
no way to torture her or try her disposition that way;
she was past the bloom of youth if not the mereidian
of life, and thought not of conquests—of rivalship
and admiration; so there was no way to pique her
in those—but humbled she must be, something must
be done to try her temper until she proved herself G1r 103
mortal and no better than other folks. The new
minister took a terrible dislike to her from the
very first. He thought “the people put too much
confidence in her,”
and averred “that he would see
she was not made a goddess of.”
Whether her
deportment was such as to shame some—a standing
reproach to some others, who ought at least to be as
consistent, or whether he thought others would rise
higher if she fell, or whether she was one of those
provoking women who have the faculty of reading
characters at a glance, or from whatever cause we
cannot say, but certain it is the Rev. E. K. Avery
labored from the first of his going to Scituate to destroy
this woman’s good name, and thereby lessen
her influence; at first the dislike was only vented
in a few sneering remarks to her disadvantage,
which she immediately heard of; those remarks being
wholly unprovoked could not fail to create a degree
of resentment in the object of them. During
this frame it so chanced that the minister met her
one evening at a prayer meeting, where he happened
to call just after visiting the house of a parishioner
who had lately lost his wife. In the course
of the conversation he observed that “the husband
(who was somewhat intemperate) will soon drown
his sorrow.”
The lady upon returning to her lodgings,
which was with a niece of this bereaved husband,
repeated the remark; it was again repeated
and created some little unpleasant feeling towards
Avery for what they judged rather unfeeling and
ill timed. His (Avery’s) resentment against the
woman was now at its height; he had something
to seize upon, and although she blamed herself
exceedingly for her own imprudence in mentioning G G1v 104
his random speech, and with much humility asked
his forgiveness, &c. yet it nothing mollified his ire.
His hatred had now broke out into acts of hostility,
and he commenced writing letters to various persons
in Duxbury and elsewhere, to try to get her expelled
from the church, but all to no purpose. The woman,
nothing daunted stood her ground manfully, and
defied him to the proof of what he had asserted,
viz. “that she had been guilty of lying and unchristian
conduct, and exercising ungodly and unholy
&c. The matter was before the parent
church at Duxbury, a long time, many letters passed
between Avery and Mr. Mudge, as well as with others
on the subject, but nothing could be proved
against the woman, and it finally resulted in her
coming off with honor, and with a certificate of her
good standing. How they managed to retain Avery
in his standing after his failing to substantiate his
charges we cannot tell, but that was their business.
The certificate made no mention of the recent trial
and its result, but merely stated what they could not
avoid stating, that she was in good standing in the
meeting.—It was as follows:

This may certify, that Fanny Winsor, the bearer,
is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church in
Duxbury, and is recommended as such by me the
Enoch Mudge,
Minister in charge of said Church.”

The church now located in Scituate has since had
a recommendation of Miss Winsor, from that in
Duxbury, signed by Daniel Fillmore, in behalf of the
church in Duxbury. Report said that the friends G2r 105
of the lady were not satisfied with the proceedings
of the meeting altogether, inasmuch as he had no
censure passed on him for bringing those false charges,
and that they wished her to go to law for redress,
as they thought what he had said was calculated
to injure not only her religious but moral character
—and from a letter to Avery which she wrote
in 1830, it appears she then threatened some such
remedy, that is as we understand her language—
The letter was as follows:

“To the Rev. E. K. Avery. Sir—I address you from the purest motives of my
heart, and under circumstances peculiarly aggravating.
Your conduct towards me urges me to use
my pen, which otherwise would have remained silent
—this I do in my own defence. The charges
against me, in writing from you to brother Mudge,
he informs me are three. The first relates to a circumstance
that happened three years ago this
This persecution of Miss Winsor actually continued upwards
of four years.
respecting Benjamin James. The person who Avery mentioned would drown his sorrow.” Now look at
it candidly and see if you have experienced the right
spirit. As respects the case, did I not confess at
the time you brought up the accusation against me
in the presence of my sister Susan—that I repeated
your words inconsiderately, and was sorry, and said
‘any compensation you requested I was willing to
make, even at your feet,’
and you would not Nothing can exhibit in stronger colors the ridiculous veneration
in which they hold their ministers—at his feet truly!!
reconciled—does not this bespeak that you would G2v 106
not forgive. Reflect—what does the gospel you
profess to preach say: ‘If we offend seventy times,
and repent and ask forgiveness we should be forgiven.’
Are not these the words of our Savior, whose
image we ought to bear.
The second charge I think brother Mudge tells
me, was ‘indulging unholy and ungodly temper.’
This I am confident was a false charge, as I know of
no time whatever that I had any conversation with
you, after that in my shop, in the presence of Susan,
and I leave it to her if there was any thing of that
manifested at that time—no, I was too much wounded
in soul to indulge unholy temper. Your conversation
towards me was like barbed arrows. What
past God was a witness to, and his justice will be
satisfied; for he judgeth impartially. I can say in
his presence and his spirit accompanying me, I do
feel clear of this charge. I know not what you
have been informed by unholy people, that are plotters
of mischief—they must see to it.
The rest I think was a charge of ‘talking to
your disadvantage.’
This charge is as empty of
truth as the other: The most I have said is this.
When tale-bearers have brought to me, what they
say, you have said, I have replied, ‘how can I hear
such a man preach? that bears such a spirit? No
I cannot! No nor will not—under existing circumstances.’
And I say so now, unless I view the subject
differently. Sir the many times you have been
to this place, you have not so much as changed a
word with me on the subject since the time first
mentioned, but if I am rightly informed, said behind
my back, what you had ought to have said to my
face. I am sure there has not been any time since G3r 107
the first awful moment but what I should have been
glad to have settled the affair and buried it in oblivion.
But sad to relate, you seem to lay the axe at the
root of my moral and religious character by this last
move. This prompts me to take proper steps to
vindicate my own cause, and clear up my character.
I am ready to settle it upon any consistent terms
short of the law, that you are willing to. But if I
hear no more of you, I shall put it into the hands of
one authorized to do justice to you and me.
Take away our good name from among men, and
you strike a death blow to all we hold dear in this life.
Take away our good name from among our brothers
and sisters in the Church, and then this world
will be a barren wilderness. But one thing—no
weapon formed against the child of God, can take
away our name from the book of life.
I think defamation of character is an evil not to
be overlooked or passed by unregarded—therefore
I feel justified in putting myself in the way to have
justice. “Justice,” indeed—if this injured woman and the Rev. Thomas
F. Norris
have not been amply avenged by a righteous God,
they never can be. “Surely there is a God that judgeth the
Fanny Windsor.”

Abraham Merrill, one of those who swore in court
at Newport that he knew nothing against the character
or temper of Avery, was knowing to all this
transaction; we must suppose there were others who
had like knowledge; and with how much truth or
propriety could any one say they knew nothing
against his moral character or his temper, that knew
of such a diabolical persecution of an unoffending female,G* G3v 108
a defenceless woman, who probably was guilty
of no real offence against him, or any one; and if
she had been, who is to set examples of forbearance
and forgiveness of injuries, if preachers of the gospel
are not? If ministers were to commence a general
dealing with all in their communions who exercise
unholy tempers, it is presumed they would have
their hands full, though in this case there would
have been one innocent. There was testimony sufficient
that she endured the bitter things so often
repeated to her without manifesting any thing but
sorrow. That she could not consent to hear him
preach may be attributed to principle rather than

The character of Avery for revengeful, angry
feelings, may be gathered from the circumstances of
the prosecution, by a brother clergyman. This was
in the town of Saugus, Mass. and the circumstances
are related thus. The Congregational Society in
that place were at that time destitute of a settled
minister, and Avery, who was then stationed near
over the Methodist one, offered to preach for them
occasionally. The offer was politely accepted, and
some little time after, a Mr. Norris, who was esteemed
as a very amiable and pious man, and who
was then preaching there to the Reformed Methodists,
as they are called, (a sect of christians who
have separated themselves from the others,) offered
likewise. He too was accepted, and preached there
much to the acceptance of the congregation, who
were delighted with the unassuming piety and evangelical
sentiments of Mr. Norris, and asked him to
continue his labors among them, whenever opportunity
offered. The next Sunday that Avery preached
there he took for his text the passage in Job G4r 109
“I also will declare mine opinion,” and commenced
an attack from the pulpit upon the character of
his brother, whom he called a thief, and some other
very bad things; and getting in a passion as he
proceeded, went on to charge him with individual
sins, which he undertook to particularize. A part
of this discourse, as related, the writer has forgotten,
but one was that he had been employed once in
a glasshouse, and stole ware to furnish his own
sideboard. His hearers who relate the story, remark,
that “all this time his face was violent red,
and he appeared to be in a great passion.”
whole story was immediately related to Mr. Norris,
who proceeded to put his character in the care of
the law, and prosecuted Avery for defamation of
character. It was tried, and Avery was found guilty,
and sentenced to pay a fine, but he appealed, and
it came to the second trial, when Avery appealed it,
arresting judgment, and taking it out of court, by
paying a sum of money, the amount of which we
did not learn, but our informant says several hundred
dollars. The Ecclesiastical Council, as they
style themselves, then took him under their protection,
and issued a manifesto declaring him entirely
blameless, and clearing him of all censure.

After the examination at Bristol, some of the history
of this transaction got to Fall River, and a copy
of the examination was forwarded by some one to
Rev. Mr. Norris, asking for the copy of the trial at
East-Cambridge. The amazement and indignation
of Mr. Norris and his friends, at finding the Merrills
had sworn his character was unsullied, &c.
&c. together with the belief that the public ought
to have the facts, induced them to publish the following
manifesto, which was forwarded to Fall River, G4v 110
without the copy of the trial. That document
he states was sent to the Governor of this State.
No Governor of this State has received it, and by
what means it miscarried is not known, but it is
something that our public functionaries ought to
look into. Could it have been taken out of the mail
between here and East-Cambridge? If this book
should fall into the hands of Mr. Norris, we hope he
will himself see to it. The manifesto is as follows:

“To the PublicFellow-Citizens—, I have frequently been solicited
for a copy of the trial and verdict in the action before
the Supreme Court, at its session in Cambridge,
last winter, against E. K. Avery, but have hitherto
denied.—Those solicitations becoming more numerous
and pressing, on seeing the strange testimony
of the Messrs. Merrills, at Avery’s examination before
justices Howe and Hale, I have permitted some
of the friends of justice to publish a few statements
on the case, with some animadversion on the evidence
given by the Merrills, at Avery’s examination
as published by L. Drury.
I feel no resentment towards E. K. Avery, and I
write more in sorrow than in anger—sheer necessity
compelled me to shield myself from his aspersions
behind the strong arm of the law. And what
appears like an attempt to cover crime and screen
the guilty, by men in holy office, seems to render it
proper the community should have facts.
The verdict of the jury with their names, signed
by the clerk of the judiciary, has been forwarded to
the Governor of Rhode-Island. Avery has paid me
one hundred and ninety dollars on the verdict, and G5r 111
paid his own costs, which probably amounted to as
much more, as he summoned many witnesses. His
friends offered in consideration of the abatement
made him, to obtain his confession and retraction,
to one of whom I returned the following written answer:
—In respect to a confession from Mr. Avery,
it would be highly dishonorable in me to extort one
from him. The verdict of the jury fully shields me
from all possible harm from the slander of his tongue,
completely nullifying its utmost poison;—rather
ought he to humble himself before that church of
which he is a member and minister, upon whose
escutcheon he has brought a stain, which the good
conduct of a long life can never wipe off. I respectfully
asked justice of Mr. Avery, and when tauntingly
refused, I notified his superior, the Rev. Bishop
, but obtained no redress, until I appealed
to a jury of my countrymen. Should these facts be
denied by responsible authority, the public shall
have the trial and correspondence.
The following piece was prepared by a highly respectable
member of the Middlesex bar, for and at
the instance of several gentlemen of the counties of
Suffolk, Middlesex, Worcester, &c. and is published
by them;—some expressions of commendation
of the writer are thereby accounted for.
Fellow-Citizens, your very obedient and humble
servant,Thomas F. Norris.”

A pamphlet purporting to contain a report of the
evidence given on the recent examination of the
Rev. E. K. Avery, for the murder of Miss Cornell,
is before the public, and much of it is clearly not
legal evidence, and has no more to do with the question
under examination than the history of Meg-Merilles. G5v 112
This is our opinion,—others may view it differently.
But not careing to quarrel about mere
matters of opinion, or rules of evidence, upon which
even lawyers differ, let us notice a few facts.

On page 30 of this pamphlet the Rev. J. A. Merrill
is made to swear that he had known Avery for
about 11 years, and that as far as his moral, christian,
and ministerial character was concerned, it is
unspotted and unblemished. True it is on a cross
examination, the Rev. gentleman is forced to confess
(which he seems to have done reluctantly enough)
that Avery, while at Saugus, got into a difficulty
which resulted in a prosecution against him, a verdict
against him, an arrest of judgement,— buissiness
settled, and an ecclesiastical council after the civil
trial, acquitted Avery, and gave him a certificate.
On page 45, Rev. A. D. Merrill is made to testify
that he had heard the evidence of the Rev. J. A.
, and concurred with him as to the unspotted
and christian character of Avery, and that the prosecution
against him at Saugus resulted in nothing
to impeach his conduct.

Now to us it is to the last degree surprising that
these Rev. gentlemen should have testified in this
wise about Avery’s character and conduct. The
prosecution against Avery was a civil action, in
which he was charged with publishing a most false,
malicious and wicked slander against a peaceable,
unoffending citizen and minister of religion. This
charge was made in a variety of forms. Avery denied
the truth of it, but notwithstanding this denial,
a jury of his countrymen, after a long and labored
defence, in which he was aided by the most eminent
council, and a host of clerical and lay brethren,
and the supposed sanctity of his own profession, G6r 113
declared on oath that he was guilty. This verdict
was rendered upon the evidence of Avery’s own religious
and personal friends; and we have higher
and better authority than the assertion of the Rev.
Messrs. Merrills
for saying it was a “most righteous
It is true, that after this verdict was
pronounced by the jury, the council for Mr. A.
made a motion in arrest of judgment, on a point of
special pleading, but even this ground was abandoned,
and the matter settled before the time arrived
for a hearing on the motion,—the object of it therefore
was clearly to gain time.

The slander charged upon Mr. Avery was proved
to be wanton, malicious, false, and wholly unprovoked.
No circumstances appeared at the trial to
justify, excuse, or even palliate this dastardly and
wicked attack upon the character of one who was
an utter stranger to Mr. Avery, and whose only offence
was that of seceding from the great body of
Episcopal Methodists and organizing an Independent
Methodist church and society in Mr. Avery’s
neighborhood. The object of Mr. Avery seems
clearly to have been to prostrate and ruin his opponent,
and thereby to destroy the christian society he
had laboured to unite and build up. The Rev.
Messrs. Merrills
were present at this trial, heard
the evidence, and knew the result; and yet have taken
upon themselves to swear that this prosecution
“resulted in nothing to impeach his conduct.” Has
it then come to this, that it is no stain upon a christian
minister’s moral character to be convicted of
uttering falsehood and groundless calumny, and of
propagating malicious slander against his brother?
Is it not robbery to take from an innocent man the
dearest and best of his earthly possessions? Is he, G6v 114
whose business it is to enforce the precepts of the
peaceable religion of the Holy Jesus, and to preach
charity and all long-suffering, to gratify his own
malignant passions, in traducing a brother and
neighbour? Let these Reverend gentlemen look
into that holy religion which they profess to teach,
and see what St. Paul says of the slanderer, and
what St. Peter says of the “man that bridleth not
his tongue.”
Can that man’s moral, christian and
ministerial character be truly said to be unspotted
and unblemished, when the records of our highest
Judicial Tribunal show that he has been accused
and convicted of an offence against the peace and
laws of the land; against the rights of individuals,
(an offence originating in malice,) and designed to
blight the fair fame of an unoffending man? Let
these Rev. gentlemen settle this question for themselves.
Their consciences are in their own keeping.
The slanderer, in the estimation of all good
men, is no better than a robber or an assassin, and
it will require something more than the ipsedixit of
two “holy men in holy office” to overrule public
opinion, the verdict of a jury or the laws of the land.
And before the bar of public opinion, we leave the
Rev. gentlemen, and Mr. Avery also, to receive such
judgmentjudgment as their respective cases may deserve.

Thus far the manifesto. We will now go back
to the history of Sarah Maria Cornell.


Chapter VII.

There is a wonderful mystery in the fact, if it be
so, that this unfortunate girl should be constantly
betraying herself to the Methodists, by confessions
of guilt and self-accusations of sins of a most outrageous
kind, while at the same time she was endeavoring
to keep in the society, and be in fellowship
with the members, and respected by them, striving
as though her very salvation depended upon it.
The trial has been published, and the evidence is
before the public. Those who wished to make her
appear a monster of wickedness, have continually
said all that is possible to say against any individual,
and said it as a certain preacher once said
(when he was planning to abuse his neighbour from
the pulpit)—from a place “where she cannot answer
them back again.”
It is however no more than fair
that her letters should speak for her, and the author
has been at the trouble to collect all of her correspondence
that can be found, consisting of sixteen
letters written to her mother and sister, all, except
one, between the year 18191819 and 18321832. It will be
seen by these that there is a period of more than a
year when only one letter was written. This was
the period immediately succeeding her troubles at
Lowell, and may be accounted for by the agitation
of mind which such a punishment or persecution,
(call it which we please,) must have occasioned. It
appears however that she was not entirely unmindful
of her friends during this period, as by her last
letter, dated 1832-03-10March 10th, 1832, she speaks of a
pamphlet sent to Mr. Rawson. And by a letter from H H1v 116
him to her it appears the family received one on the
1831-01-1111th of Jan. 1831. Other letters, written at different
times may have been lost or mislaid, but not by
design. Her sister’s family informed me that they
were all of a like character, and, resembling her
conversation, full of Methodism, and relating mostly
to her religious feelings. The papers were all given
up without reserve. Both hers and theirs were found
among the few things at their house. The letters
of her brother-in-law, Mr. Rawson, to her, are in
themselves a complete refutation of any scandal
propagated against him. They prove him to be
what every one acquainted with him esteems him to
be, a humble, plain dealing, and practical christian.
They gave her excellent advice about her disposition
to rove from place to place, and cautioned her
of the danger, and expressed great satisfaction at
her continued assurance of loving God and religion,
and endeavoured faithfully to point out to her the
necessity of giving herself up wholly in a life of good
works, and not to rest in a mere profession. There
is also among her papers letters from some of her
Methodist sisters, expressing fellowship and christian

One of these letters, written in 18271827, from, as it
appears, a pious and quite intelligent young lady,
styling her worthy sister, &c. struck me very forcibly
as being the year after what they term her “disgraceful
expulsion from the meeting at Smithfield.”

It appears they had lived together, and been for
some time in habits of intimacy, and expresses great
desire to have Sarah Maria follow her to the place
where she then was. One from another sister, dated
18291829, also addresses her as a “worthy sister,”
and feelingly asks an interest in her prayers, and H2r 117
dwells upon the seasons of religious enjoyment they
have had together. One was directed to her at Dorchester
and another Lowell. Her letters here follow,
copied verbatim. The originals are now in the
hands of the author of this book, and can be seen by
any one who has the curiosity to see them in her
own hand writing. The first is dated at Norwich.
(One letter, No. 1, is omitted simply because it is a
child’s letter, written at 12 years old.)

“Letter No. 2. My dear sister—Having an opportunity to send
directly to you I thought I could not let it pass without
improving it. My sister, the time is coming
when we shall prize time better than we do now,
when we shall improve every moment of the short
space allotted us. I have this afternoon received
the parting hand of our dear cousin Harriet, aunt
Lathrop’s eldest daughter, she lately married Mr.
a missionary—and is to embark for Ceylon,
never expecting to see her beloved parents in
this world; but she is an example of christian piety,
she has left her native home to go to instruct the
ignorant Heathen who sit in darkness worshiping
wood and stone. The late Mrs. Winslow, wife of the Missionary of that name,
who died lately at Ceylon, was first cousin to S. M. Cornell.
and know not the God that made
them. Let us inquire my dear sister who made us
to differ? We have the Bible and are taught to read
it. Let it be our daily prayer that God would send
more missionaries to the heathen, to spread the gospel
to those who know it not.
I am learning the Tailors trade, I have been here
seven months, and expect to stay 17 more. I hope
when my time is out I shall come and see you, I expected H2v 118
to have come last fall—but was disappointed.
Mother is well and sends her love to you, likewise
Granma—Uncles, aunts, and cousins. But where
is our beloved brother, I have not seen or heard from
him these twelve months, May God Almighty help
guide and direct him and us, and bring us safe to
heaven. Give my best love to all my friends, and
you must write me as soon as you receive this—
either by public or private conveyance. We have
been so long separated that we should not know
each other by sight, but surely we might have the
pleasure of corresponding. You must excuse this
scrawling and I hope the next will be better. Adieu
my dear sister.
I remain your ever affectionate and loving sister, Sally Maria Cornell.”
“No. 3 My dear sister—I received your letter about
three weeks since but have not had time to answer
it till now, being very much hurried in the shop.
Mother has had two letters from our brother since I
wrote you last. He was then in Natches, but has
gone to Fort Gibson, and says he has very good
business, and shall be at home next summer if possible.
Your sister M. with all your friends rejoice at the
change the Lord has wrought in your heart. O that
he would condescend to visit your poor sisters heart
also. There has been quite a revival here, about
twenty I believe is going to join the Church next
Sabbath. Our cousin Leffingwell aunt Lathrop’s
youngest son is very serious, a year since they could
hardly persuade him to go to meeting on the Sabbath,
but now he is one of the Sabbath school teachers H3r 119
a young lady who has had a consumption for
about a year, dropt away suddenly yesterday. When
we see one and another of our friends dropping into
eternity it ought to remind us, that this is not our
home or abiding place. It naturally leads us to enquire
was they prepared to meet death and the judgment?
The young lady I mentioned that died yesterday
was resigned and took leave of all her friends,
and said she hoped to meet them all in a better
world, she said she could bid defiance to death, and
meet Jesus with a smile. O that my feelings were
like hers, but alas my heart is hard, and I am as
prone to sin as the sparks that fly upward. Oh my
sister pray for me, that God in his infinite mercy
pour the sweet refreshings of his grace on my soul.
I have almost finished my trade, my time will be
out in October, and mother is making preparations
for our coming to Providence this fall. Oh shall
I behold the face of my beloved sister which I have
never seen—or have no recollection of.
Although we are strangers we ought not to be
deprived of the privilege of writing to each other.
Only think we are only forty-five miles apart and
we dont hear from each other more than once or
twice a year—and our cousin Harriet is three or
four thousand miles from her parents and they have
heard from her four or five times, she is well and has
never regretted devoting her life to a missionary
cause, she says if she is a means of helping bring the
heathen out of idolatry she shall be doubly rewarded.
Mother Grandma Aunts and cousins send their
love to you, and would be very happy to receive a
visit from you. Give my love to all my friends in
Oh that you and they may be useful in H* H3v 120
this world, and happy in the world to come is the
prayer of your affectionate sister. Sally Maria Cornell.”
“No. 4.
My dear sister—I with pleasure resume my pen
to inform you of my pleasant and happy situation.
I have been at Deacon Abels all winter and have
just been able to pay my board, I am now situated
in a pleasant village near the factory, and
between the town of Bozrah and Goshen, four miles
from mother, and three from the meeting-house, we
have meetings in the factory every Sabbath, and
when it is unpleasant I attend. I am the only Tailoress
for two miles each way, you may of course
conclude I shall be somewhat hurried with work. I
wish you were here. I desire to be thankful to God
for placing me in so pleasant a situation.
The solemn bell has just summoned another fellow-mortal
into eternity but what is to be his fate in
another world God only knows. It is just four weeks
since death entered Deacon Abel’s family and deprived
them of a servant—a tall stout robust negro
whom they had brought up from the age of two
years, twenty years he lived with them, and never
associated with any but respectable people, as there
was but one other negro in the place. Deacon
family took his death very hard, he was in
the vigor of health, often boasting of his strength—
but when he came to be laid on a bed of sickness
and the cold hand of death was upon him all his
strength could not save him. hHe had just finished his
years work, and engaged for another year, and wanted
one week for relaxation, and two weeks from the
day that his year was up he was carried to his grave. H4r 121
tThe family did not consider him dangerous until just
before he died, but he was imprest with the idea
he should not recover and regretted that his life had
not been better, and thought if it should please a
just God to spare him he should live a different one.
it is not for us to say whether he is happy or miserable
in another world, but his death has very solemnly
impressed my mind. Sometimes I think why am I
perhaps it is to commit more sin, perhaps
for some usefulness. sSometimes I think I am no
worse than others what have I to fear but God
says be ye also ready for ye know not what hour
your Lord will come. How will ye escape if ye
neglect so great salvation. Yesterday I heard a
discourse from these words ‘Why halt ye between
two opinions, choose you this day whom you will
serve, if the Lord be God serve him, if Baal then
serve him.’
I have thought seriously about this
You will perceive by the date of this letter that it
is my birth day. Nineteen years has rolled round
my head and what have I done for God? If I were
summoned before his judgment bar could I answer
with a clear conscience to having performed my duty?
I fear I could not.
I have resolved this year, to leave the world and
all its glittering toys, and devote the rest of my life
to the service of God. I have searched this world
for happiness, but alas I have searched in vain; it
is all a mere show—a broken cistern that can hold
no water.
In your last letter I recollect you harbored the
idea that I was offended with you. Far be it from
me to be offended with my sister—you took my letter
very differently from what I intended it. I received H4v 122
a letter a few days ago from James; he has
changed his situation and will not come to Connecticut
this year, therefore I shall give up the idea of
visiting you this summer—a year from this time if
God permits, I shall anticipate the pleasure of visiting
you, but it is very uncertain. I had forgotten
to mention I am boarding with one of the best of
families, a pious woman and steady man. Please
direct your letters to Bozrahville, to the care of David
L. Dodge
; there is a post office here and it will
be more convenient for me to get the letters; write
immediately on the receipt of this. I am so far
from mother that it will not be convenient for her
to write any more.
Give my love to uncles, aunts,
cousins, and all who inquire after your affectionate
sister Maria.
P. S. Don’t exhibit this scribbling to any one. S.M.C”
“No. 5. Dear Sister—I received a letter from you soon
after I came to this place, in which you murmured
at my coming to the factory to work; but I do not
consider myself bound to go into all sorts of company
because I live near them. I never kept any but
good company yet, and if I get into bad it is owing
to ignorance.
I have been away from home now about one year,
and have found as many friends as among my own
family connexions. I have learned in whatsoever
situation I am in to be content, though I have not
been so contented here, being far from any friend
or connexion.
You wrote me you thought I had better return to
Norwich as soon as possible, and that you should H5r 123
not come to Killingly as long as I staid at this factory.
You must remember that your pride must
have a fall.
I am not too proud to get a living in
any situation in which it pleases God to place me.
Remember that you have expressed a humble hope
in God, and bear the christian name; learn then to
imitate the example of Him whose name you bear,
and never let it be said of you that you were too
proud to follow your Saviour’s steps—who was meek
and lowly and went about doing good—suffering the
scoffs and indignation of wicked men, and finally
spilled his precious blood that you might be saved.
I do not expect to find the society here that I did
in Bozrahville. I have got some acquainted with
Mr. A—’s family and like them very well. I miss
Mr. Dodge and his family, and some other friends
I left there; shall never enjoy myself so well in any
other place as I did there. No my dear sister, there
is no revival of religion here, and I have no class in
the Sunday school here, and it cannot be expected
I can enjoy myself so well.
If you do not come to Killingly until I go to Norwich
you may not come this year, and I assure you
I will never come to Providence first.
I had a letter from our dear brother a few weeks
since; he is in New-Orleans, and he writes that he
don’t know when he shall return to Connecticut. I
should be pleased could we all meet once more, but I
don’t expect we ever shall.
My dear sister, may God
be your guide—and may his holy spirit refresh and
comfort you, and that we may both meet in heaven
is the prayer of your affectionate sister, Sally Maria Cornell. ”
H5v 124 “No. 6. My dear brother and sister—Almost two years
has elapsed since I have written a letter or hardly a
line to any one, and I scarce know what to say to my
dear parent—but through the goodness of Divine
Providence I am alive and in a comfortable state of
health. I enjoy all the necessaries of life and many
of its enjoyments. I can truly say my dear mother,
that the year past has been the happiest of my life.
I have lived in this village almost nineteen months,
and have boarded in a very respectable family. My
employment has been weaving on water looms; my
wages have not been very great, yet they have been
enough to procure a comfortable living, with economy
and prudence. I feel as though I had done with
the trifling vanities of this world—I find there is no
enjoyment in them and they have almost been my
While I am writing perhaps you have long since
forgotten you have a daughter Maria—but stop dear
mother, I am still your daughter and Lucretia’s only
sister. God in mercy has shown me the depravity
of my own wicked heart—and has I humbly trust,
called me back from whence I had wandered. Although
I had professed religion, and have turned
back to the beggarly elements of the world, and
brought reproach upon the cause of God—and have
caused Jesus to open his wounds afresh, and have
put him to an open shame—and have followed him
like Peter afar off—and even denied that I ever
knew him. When I look back upon my past life it
looks dreary, and I feel like a mourner alone on the
wide world without one friend to cheer me through
this gloomy vale—but when I look forward it bears
another aspect. I have been made to rejoice in the H6r 125
hope of the glory of God. I feel that I have an evidence
within my own soul that God has forgiven
me, and I have an unshaken trust in God that I
would not part with for ten thousand worlds. I find
there is nothing in this vain world capable of satisfying
the desires of the immortal mind. But the religion
of Jesus is a fountain from whence joys of the
most exalted kind will for ever flow. I have enjoyed
some precious seasons since I have been in this
place. Though destitute of any natural friends, yet
God has raised up many christian friends of different
orders—all united heart and hand, bound to
one home.
We have a house for worship and have preaching
every Sabbath.
Sister Lucretia, by the best information I can obtain,
since I saw you last you have become a wife
and a mother. I want to see the dear little babe;
I hope the cares of a married life has not separated
your heart from God. I believe there is something
in religion that is durable; it is worth seeking and
worth enjoying I feel as though I could enjoy myself
in this life while blest with the presence of Jesus,
I have found that a form of godliness will never
make me happy but I can praise God for the enjoyment
of every day’s Religion—it is that which
will do to live by—and will prepare us for a dying
May God bless you and your companion, and if
I never meet you in this world, may we be prepared
to spend a never ending eternity together in the
bright mansions of glory. I want to see Mother
and if any of you desire to see me—write and let
me know and I will try to come and spend a few
days with you before long—but whether I ever see H6v 126
you again or not, I want you should forgive me Alluding to the affair at Mr. Richmond’s and Mr. Hodges’.
and bury what is past in oblivion and I hope my future
good conduct may reward you. I heard that
brother James past through Providence, if he is with
you give my love to him. I should like to see him but
never expect to.
Farewell in haste yours Maria S. Cornell.” When baptized by the Methodists, she took the name of Maria,
but having been accused of changihng her name, afterwards
resumed the old manner of signing it.

The kind of self-accusation contained in the second
paragraph of this letter is very common among
enthusiastic people when making their confessions
of sin. I have heard men of integrity—and young
innocent girls, get up in meeting and roundly accuse
themselves of crimes—the least of which, if
any other had accused them of, would have been a
mortal offence. Some very sensible and intelligent
persons have done this in reference to the spirituality
of the law of God which makes, they say, “an
angry word murder, and a wanton look adultery.”

(Vide INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that regMe is unmatched.Matthew v. 28.) We ought however to deprecate
the custom, as it is most generally made a very
bad use of.

“No. 7. My dear sister just before the bell rung, I heard
of an opportunity to send to Killingly tomorrow by
Frederic Dean, who is going to carry his sister
home. I was truly pleased with my visit at your
house, to see you thus happily situated, with your
family around you. I hope dear sister you will I1r 127
never have cause to grieve again on my account
if I know my own heart, I desire to live so that
none may reproach me, or say ‘what doest thou
more than others?’
I have enjoyed some precious
seasons, since I returned from camp meeting. Sometimes
when I think of leaving Slatersville, it strikes
a dread upon me. Can I ever leave this delightful
spot, where I have enjoyed so many delightful
seasons and privileges, it seems to be a place
highly favoured by God. Elder Tailor preaches
here half the time, he is a powerful preacher, reformation
follows him, wherever he goes he draws
about as many hearers as ever John N. Maffitt
did, some came eighteen miles last Sabbath to
hear him. I wish you would send me word whether
James has gone or not. Give my love to mothther,
tell her there is no small darning needles
in the store. William and Eliza Nanscaven is
coming up christmas, I shall send mothers gloves
by them. Remember me to Mr. Rawson, I can
never be thankful enough to him for all his kindness
to me.
It is growing late and I must bid
you farewell in haste, your affectionate sister. Sally Maria Cornell. ”
“No. 8. To Mrs. Lucretia Cornell. My dear Mother—Once more I take my pen in
hand to answer a letter which I received from you
not long since, in which you informed me my brother
was gone. William and Eliza Nanscaven is going
to Killingly next Saturday. I have been making
calculations all the fall of coming up with them, but
I am disappointed I have lost so much time, I have
been out sick a week—and last Saturday I went to I I1v 128
Douglass to quarterly meeting—and Mr. Osterhold
is not very willing I should stay out of the factory
so soon again.
Dear Mother we have good times in Slatersville
Meeting almost every evening. There are still many
inquiring the way to Zion, I have seen this summer
and fall past nearly 30 persons own Jesus by
following him down into the water in the ordinance
of baptism, I have seen the aged, the middle aged,
and the blooming youth, the drunkard the profane
and the profligate all bow to the sceptre of King Jesus
and say though I have been a great sinner I
have found a great Saviour.
I have reason to praise God that ever I was redeemed
by the blood of Christ, and that I was made
an heir as I humbly trust of the grace of God. Join
with me my dear parent in supplication at the throne
of grace that I may be kept in the way—that I may
never return to the beggarly elements of this vain
world—but that I may adorn the profession I have
made by a well ordered life and conversation. I expect
the Lord willing to spend my days in Slatersville
She left the factory in Slatersville in consequence of its burning
down, and went to the Branch Factory. Not being contented
there, she removed after some little time to Mendon Mills.
I dont want great riches nor honours—but a
humble plain decent and comfortable living will suit
me best.
You mentioned you had some yarn you would let
me have I should have been very glad of it, if I could
have got it—but they bought some at the store, and
I have got as much as I need at present. I wish
you would send me word by William if you have
heard from James, and where he is, that I may
know where to write to. I received a letter since I2r 129
I saw you from our good friend David Austin. Remember
me to brother and sister Rawson. I think
my friends never seemed so near to me as they do
at present. I want to see little Edward very much.
I expect if it is good sleighing in February to come
and spend one night with you if nothing prevents.
I have no more to write but remain your affectionate
child. Sally M. Cornell.
P.S. Excuse the blots I am in a great hurry.”
“No. 9. My dear Mother—I left the Branch Factory, and
came to this place about three weeks since, and am
weaving blue Sattinet. The water was so low and
filling so scarce, the weavers could not do much
during the warm weather. The factory that is rebuilding
at Slatersville is going up slowly. I anticipate
much in returning to that delightful village
and seeing it assume once more that lustre that
shone so brilliantly.
I received a letter from you some weeks since, in
which you thought you should not probably be at
home until September. I think some of going to
Camp Meeting at Woodstock where I went last year,
and if I thought you and Lucretia would be at home
I should come that way and spend one night with
you. Camp Meeting is appointed the 1826-08-2929th of this
and holds four days, some of my Methodist
friends from the village will probably go with me.
I am boarding at a very still boarding house of about
twenty boarders. I enjoy myself very well most of
the time. I meet my brethren and friends at the
village about once a week.
I think much of my dear brother and sister Rawson I2v 130
in the afflicting dispensation with which God
has been pleased to visit them. May they bear it
with christian fortitude, and that it may be sanctified
to their eternal good is the prayer of their sister.
Give my best love to them and I should be
much gratified to receive a letter from them.
My own dear brother—where is he? I have sat
down several times with the intention of writing to
him, but my heart has failed me I know not what
to say. If you are still at uncle M’s remember me
to them and tell them I am still enjoying that happiness
which is the privilege of God’s dear children
to enjoy—feeling a desire to spend the remainder of
my days in the service of Him who has done so
much for me. Tell cousin Polly and my other friends
in Providence, that I hope they will forget and forgive
what is past, and I should feel very happy to
receive a letter from them. I wish you would let
me know when you expect to return to Killingly.
In haste your affectionate daughter. Maria Cornell. William and Eliza Nanscaven are going to Camp

[During the period between this letter and the
preceding one, S. M. C. made a visit to her friends
in Providence, meeting by appointment with her
mother in that place. Whether the factory in Slatersville
to which she proposed to return, had gone
into operation at this period, we do not know, but
when she left Millville or Mendon mills it had not,
and a young lady of that village had agreed to go
with her to work at Dedham. The difference between
weaving cotton and woollen cloth is very
great, and few persons accustomed to work on the I3r 131
former like the latter. No other reason is known
for the removal. The following letter was written
to her mother and friends about six months after
parting with her, at Providence.]

“No. 10. My dear Mother Brother and Sister—After waiting
nearly six months for a letter in vain, I take up
my pen to address those of my dear friends who are
near and dear to me by the ties of nature. After
leaving you at Providence I came in the stage to
Dedham where I found the young lady as I expected
from Slatersville. I went to weaving the next
day at Dedham, where I staid about four weeks. I
immediately wrote, as I supposed before you left
Providence, but as I have received no answer I have
reason to suppose you have never received it. There
was no meeting at Dedham that I wished to attend,
and I had to board where there was sixty boarders,
and after four weeks I removed to this place, which
is about four or five miles from the city of Boston.
It is a pleasant thick settled village. There is one
Unitarian, two Congregational or Calvinistic, and
one Methodist meeting in this place. I have spent
some time in Boston of late. I frequently attend
meeting there, at the Bromfield Lane Chapel. The
Rev. Mr. Maffitt and Merrill are stationed preachers
there. Mr. Sias preaches here occasionally and
I have every thing to make me contented and happy
but natural connexions, I have been expecting
all summer to visit you this month on my tour to
Ashford Camp Meeting—and had engaged a passage
in the stage, but I found it would be so expensive
—and I could stay so short a time—that I concluded
to give it up—and go to Lunenburg with my I* I3v 132
Boston brethren. We started for that place 1827-08-28August
, forty in number, in six private carriages. It
is a distance of fifty miles. We had good weather
all the time. Between 20 and 30 ministers were
present, and about five thousand people. Nearly
forty persons professed to have past from death unto
life. Friday which was the last day of the meeting
between five and six hundred professors partook of
the symbols of our Saviour’s dying love. It was a
circle formed within the tents. The scene was truly
affecting—it will no doubt be remembered by hundreds
through time and eternity.
I reside about half a mile from Mr. Oathman’s father’s
that used to preach in Providence, he is frequently
here and preaches. The good people of
Dorchester have ever treated me with the greatest
respect. But it is uncertain whether I spend the
winter here or in Boston. I have had several opportunities
to work at my trade there, in shops where
the tailors hire fifteen or twenty girls to make coats
and nothing else. I should like to come and work
a month with Mr. Rawson if I could—but I cannot
this winter, it would cost all of eight dollars to go
to Killingly, and back again—and my health has
been very poor this summer, and I have not been
able to work all the time, but through the goodness
of God I am comfortable—though much has been
said, and I have suffered very much from false reports
in time past.
I enjoy myself as well as I could expect among
strangers, as I have never seen but three faces since
I left Pawtucket She had stopped in Pawtucket on her way down, to see some
connections residing there.
that I ever recollect of seeing before,
viz. Mr. Maffitt, Mr. Oathman and Lydia I4r 133
, from Smithfield. After all that is past I
have been sustained and upheld by the mighty power
of God, and still retain a respectable standing in
the Methodist Episcopal Church—and enjoy a comfortable
degree of the presence of God. Dear Mother
if you have any regard for me do write if it is only
two lines, and direct to Maria Cornell, Milton
as the Post Office in Dorchester is several
miles from me, and I should not get it in some time.
Milton office is only across a bridge—I shall come
and see you another summer if I live and do well.
Yours affectionately, Maria Cornell.”
“No. 11. To Mrs. Cornell, 12:00Sunday noon. My dear Mother—Once more I take up my pen
to write a few lines to my parents, as nearly six
months have again elapsed since I have heard from
you. I dont hardly feel reconciled to think so many
connections and friends as I have in Connecticut
and Rhode Island, that 1I cannot hear from any of
them oftener than once in six or seven months.
Sometimes I think they have lately forgotten me,
but 1I have no reason to complain, I have cause to
be thankfull that it is as well with me as it is. I
am tolerably well and in good spirits—though I have
never been well enough to work one whole month
since I have been here. My work has been very
hard the winter past, and I have got almost beat out,
I have been weaving on four looms at the rate of
120 or 30 yds. per day, at 1 half cent per yard, my
board and other expences are considerable here, I
feel a good deal attached to the people in this place,
being surrounded by some very dear friends, I have
a very pleasant boarding house, and every thing I4v 134
around me to make me contented and happy. It is
about one year since I have seen any of you, though
to me I trust it has not been altogether an unprofitable
one; my enjoyment has been great—and my
privileges very many. I long to see my brother and
sister, and the dear little babe, and I have been seriously
thinking of visiting Connecticut the summer
coming, if Mr. Rawson expects to stay in Killingly
another year and it should be agreeable to you all, I
think I shall come and spend a week with you some
time in the course of the summer. You will please
to let me know before 1828-04-01the first of April, as I want
to know how to make my arrangements.
There has been several shocking cases of suicide
within a few months here, one of which a man about
30 cut his throat yesterday a few rods from me, he
is to be buried this afternoon, he was intoxicated.
I have not yet felt as though I could see him it brings
so fresh to mind the murder at Smithfield I felt as
though I had rather not see him.
About 1828-02-01the first of February a young man shot himself
before my face and eyes, I was looking out of
my window. He tied himself to a tree and placed
the gun to his breast, and before any one could get
to him, made way with himself. A girl belonging
to this establishment threw herself into the river, after
remaining two days in the water she was found,
the most awful sight I ever beheld. How short and
uncertain life is, it vanishes like the early cloud and
the morning dew. It is time to go to meeting and I
must close. Give my last love to Grindall and Lucretia,
and tell dear little Edward aunt Maria wants
to see him very much.
Adieu, I am your affectionate though unworthy
child, Maria Cornell. ”
I5r 135 “No. 12. I received yours dated 1828-03-18March 18th and was glad
to hear you was all well, my health is pretty good
at present, you mention you expect to visit Norwich
this summer, I wish it was so that I could come
and go with you, but I do not think it will be possible,
as I have lately given five dollars for the purpose
of erecting a new Methodist meeting house in this
town, which is to be built by subscription, and you
had better make your calculations to go to Norwich
early as you can as you will probably stay
some time. I expect to be in Killingly somewhere
about the 1828-08-2020th of August and I should be sadly disappointed
if you was gone.
You will please present my best respects to uncle
and aunt Lathrop tell them that I long to see
them, and if it is my aunt’s wish to see me I should
be pleased to have her write by you. I desire likewise
to be remembered to the Rev. David Austin,
tell him I wrote to him some months since, but as
he has not answered my letter I conclude he has
forgotten or wishes to forget me. I likewise desire
to be remembered to Deacon Abel and his wife, Mr.
and his wife, and particularly to Lucy
, and all others who enquire after your daughter
Maria. I wish you to write me immediately on
your return to Norwich, and if you cannot be at
home the time I have set, you must let me know.
Adieu, with my best love to all—your affectionate
daughter, Maria Cornell.”
“No. 13. To Mrs. Cornell. My dear Mother—It seems a long time since I
have heard from you, and I almost begin to think I5v 136
you have forgotten me or you would have written
before this. I have written two letters and sent
two papers since I have resided in this place, and
not received a line from any of you. I hope you
will consider I am a stranger in a strange land, exposed
to sickness and death. Last Saturday night
about twelve o’clock I was called a second time to
witness a five story factory with all its machinery
enveloped in flames. It was a bitter cold night
and with great difficulty they made out to save the
others which stood on each side—there were five of
the same bigness in the yard. The middle one
caught at the furnace and in less than three hours
it was burned to the ground. I expected to have
seen the whole thirteen, with the whole Corporation
swept by the flames. But through the goodness of
that God who rules the elements—although the air
was keen and cold—it was still as in midsummer.
The damage is great, but the distress is nothing to
what it was in Slatersville—as each factory supported
itself. No one was personally injured. It was
my lot to remove on the other side the river, about
half a mile distant.
I feel measurely happy and contented, but do
long to return to Connecticut to see my friends—
but when I shall is unknown at present—think I
shall never set any time to come, but hope I shall
next summer if health and strength permits.
I want you should write as soon as you receive
this—if you never do again—and inform me how
they all do at Norwich. My best respects to my
brother and sister—I hope they are doing well—and
the children, with the sincerest affection I am your
unworthy daughter,
Maria Cornell.”
I6r 137 “No. 14. Mrs. Lucretia Rawson. Dear Sister and friends—I take up my pen once
more to inform you, that through the mercy and
goodness of God, I am spared to see one more anniversary
of my birth. Twenty-seven years of my
short life has rolled on to eternity, and I am still on
the shores of time, a probationer of hope, and enjoy
the day and the means of grace. More than two
years have past by since I have seen any of you, or
indeed scarce seen one individual that I ever saw
before, but still I am contented and happy. I am
surrounded by many dear friends who are near and
dear by the ties of friendship and grace, and I feel
much attached to the place and people here, and
the religious privileges I enjoy are much greater than
they have ever been before. But still I often look
back and think of my natural connections in Connecticut
and Rhode-Island, and long to be with
you. I have been thinking of coming to see you
for two summers—I feel a greater desire to see you
now than I ever have done. I begin to think
if I do not come to Killingly this summer I never
shall. I received a letter from mother about four
months since in which she mentioned she thought
I was a moving planet, but I would tell my dear
mother that I do not think I have moved much for
two years past. I staid in Dorchester more than a
year, and it will be a year 1829-05-17the 17th of this month
since I came to Lowell—and more than all this tell
mother she must remember that I am connected
with a people that do not believe in tarrying in any
one place longer than a year or two years at most
at any one time—and I am with them in sentiment
believing with the Apostle that we should be as I6v 138
strangers and pilgrims having here no continuing
city or abiding place, but seek one to come.
With regard to my views and feelings respecting
religion, they are the same as they have been for
two years past. I was a great sinner but I found a
great Saviour. Tis true I had made a formal profession
of religion, but when I was brought to see
and feel the necessity of being deeply devoted to
God, my views and feelings were vastly altered. I
am satisfied for one that a form of godliness will
never prepare a soul for the enjoyment of heaven.
For ‘great is the mystery of godliness. God manifest
in the flesh—justified in the spirit—believed on
in the world, and received up into glory.’
my friends may think strange that I chose a people
different in their views and opinions from that which
any of my friends have embraced. But let me tell
you my dear sister that the Methodists are my people
—with them by the grace of God I was spiritually
born—with them I have tried to live, and if ever
permitted to enjoy the happiness of the blest in
heaven shall probably praise God to all eternity. I
see my beloved sister a fulness in the Saviour, and
I believe it is the privilege of the child of God to
enjoy all the depths of humble love.
It seems inconsistent to me for the profest followers
of the meek and lowly Jesus, who have said by
their profession that they have bid farewell to the
world to follow its customs and fashions. It has
appeared to me some time that it was good for the
proud heart to be adorned with the modest livery of
God’s dear children, and to have a daily evidence
that our witness is in heaven and our record on high.
The bell rings for meeting and I must draw my letter
to a close. If nothing more than what I know K1r 139
of prevents I shall be in Killingly some time between
the middle of 1829-08August and 1829-09-01first of Sept. I do not
know why you or Mr. Rawson have not written to
me. I want one of you to answer this previous to
the 1829-06-01first of June and let me know what your wishes
are, and I shall act accordingly.
I am affectionately
your sister, Maria Cornell.
P. S. I am obliged to write where there are 30 or
40 boarders a gabbling—so excuse mistakes.”
“No. 15. To Mrs. Cornell, My dear Mother—After waiting for more than
eight long months for an answer to a letter that I
wrote you last spring, I once more take up my pen
to address you. You wrote me then you were going
to visit your friends at Norwich, and that you
would write me immediately on your return, but as
I have never received a line from that time, I have
concluded that you were there or were sick or dead,
for it appears to me if you were in the land of the
living and possest a parent’s feelings you would have
written before this. When I last wrote to you that
if the Lord spared my life and health I should visit
Connecticut in 1829-08August last past. A long time I
waited for your return from Norwich, thinking you
would write and let me know, but at length concluded
it was neither your wish nor that of my brother
and sister that I should visit Killingly—but enough
of this—I will cease to trouble your minds with
such painful feelings. Not a day has rolled over my
head since I left you but what I have thought of
home, and the dear friends I have left many miles
from this. I can tell you that although deprived of
every earthly connexion or even of a correspondence K K1v 140
with them, and one hundred miles lies between me
and the friends of my youth, still I am contented,
still I am happy, the present witness of an indwelling
God fills my soul, and I am walking hand in
hand with a large circle of dear friends to Mount
the city of the living God.
My situation is as pleasant as I could expect. I
have daily blessings heaped upon me. I am fed
from day to day like the ravens, and I can say to
you to day I am happy in the enjoyment of the love
of God and I anticipate one day though separated
from the society of my friends here below, meeting
them in the kingdom of God. Glory to God for religion
that makes the soul happy, a religion that
brings peace and tranquility will prepare the soul
in the language of the Psalmist to say—‘Though I
walk through the valley of the shadow of death I
will fear no evil—for thou art with me, thy rod and
thy staff comfort me.’
I left Lowell 1829-05last May on
account of my health and staid until 1829-10Oct. in Boston
and worked at my trade, except what time I was
gone down on the water to Cape Cod. I went to
Camp Meeting in 1829-08August, as usual was gone ten
days, cast anchor three days—went ashore three
miles from where we set sail, having in company
upwards of two hundred, fourteen of which were
Methodist Ministers. Had about twelve sermons
preached on board, and one on the shore—dug
clams—had plenty of good codfish, crackers and
coffee—and on the eleventh day reached Boston
in better health and better spirits than when
I left—having had but about six good hours sleep in
ten nights. Just at this moment one of brother
Rawson’s Camp Meeting stories has popt into my
head and methinks I hear him say, ‘Well Maria K2r 141
this is one of your Camp Meeting scrapes.’
Let me
tell you my dear brother I love them now as well as
I did five years ago. Yea far better—for I have
known real good produced by them.
Time reproves me and I must draw to a close by
saying dear mother do write to me immediately—
dear brother and sister do write and let me know
whether you are in the land of the living, whether
you live in Killingly—whether you prosper in spiritual
and in temporal things. As to myself I have
enough of the good things of this life. I brought
nothing into this world, and I expect to carry nothing
out, a stranger and a pilgrim here.
My best wishes and most fervent prayers will ever
attend my dear parent. Once more I say dear mother
write to me, direct to Lowell, Massachusetts.
Your daughter, Maria Cornell. ”
“No. 16. To Mrs. Cornell. My dear Mother—I take this opportunity to acknowledge
the reception of two letters, one of which
I received last week. You say you should like to
have me come to Killingly this summer. Last summer
I made my calculations to visit you, and should
have done so if you had written—but I have not
thought very seriously of visiting you this summer,
until I received your last letter. I then thought I
should come immediately, but finding my engagements
such that I could not be absent from here
more than a week or ten days at most—I have concluded
that the time I should stay would be so short
—the expence would be more than it would gratify
either of us. I am now preparing to go down on
the water to camp meeting where I went last year. K2v 142
My health is tolerably good for the season, I never
enjoyed my health better than after I went on the
salt water, although I was very sea-sick. It is my
intention now to spend two or three weeks with you
in the spring, if life, health, and strength are spared
I have been in Lowell so long that I should feel
lonesome any where else. My love to my sister, tell
her I long to see her and the children. I shall write
to Mr. Rawson as soon as I return from the Cape,
though I never received a line from him or Lucretia
since they were married, but I expect my sisters
time is pretty much taken up with her children.
You will please inform me in your next if you
have heard any thing from my brother James. The
bell is ringing for meeting and I must close. I will
send this piece of paper, it was thought it resembled
me when it was taken—but I wear my hair in my
neck short now, and it does not look so natural.
I am your affectionate though absent child. Maria Cornell.”
“No. 17. To Mrs. Cornell. My dear Mother—I sent a little pamphlet to Mr.
a few days since but I dont know as he will
understand what I meant, I pitched my tent in
Taunton last fall, about the time of the riot in Providence,
I should have written before, but I knew I
could not make you a visit in the winter, for this reason
I kept still. I am now in very good buissiness,
and I do not want to lose my place, which I must
do if I come to Killingly at present. You will probably
wish to know what buissiness I am in, I am hooking
up, and folding cloth and keeping the weaving K3r 143
room books, I have the whole charge of the cloth
and my employer is unwilling I should be absent
even for one day, though I sometimes have two or
three hours leisure in the course of the day, I think
however I shall get leave to come and see you at
Providence, if you could come there and meet me at
uncle M—s, I will set a time, and I wish you to
write me immediately—whether it will be convenient
for you to come, I want to see Mr. Rawson and
Lucretia, I hope I shall some time in the course of
the present year. I will meet you in Providence
the 1830-05-1818th of May, or 1830-06-1515th of June, just which will
be the most convenient for you, I cannot leave the
first or last of a month.
Your daughter in haste. S. M. Cornell. ”
K* K3v 144

Chapter VIII.

The circumstances detailed in the life of Avery,
need little comment; every one must see in the
persecution of Miss Winsor, and the slander of Rev.
Mr. Norris
, that Avery was a man of wicked, and
revengeful, and persecuting temper; and his frequent
closetings in the famous study with females,
and the sad and grieved appearance of his wife,
speak volumes. When apprehended for the slander
against Mr. Norris, he was taken from the desk
during a prayer meeting, by Mr. Kimball, a sheriff
at Lowell, and was so much frightened as to faint,
and several persons then made the remark, that he
probably feared it was for some very different offence
he was apprehended. But when put under
arrest at Bristol for the alleged murder of Miss Cornell,
it was said he exhibited great firmness, and
during his trial discovered no signs of fear and but
little agitation.

To pass any comments upon that trial after the
able Strictures published by Aristides, would
look like vanity indeed, yet a few facts which have
come to the knowledge of the author it may not be
amiss to mention, particularly as many who read
this may not have seen the ingenious and masterly
criticisms of the trial referred to. Preliminary to
the facts we are about to state, we will just make a
short extract from that work.

“Never was a criminal trial instituted and carried K4r 145
through in this country in which so much
baseness was manifest, so much chicanery practised,
the public, the government, the court and the
jury, so deeply insulted, nor an accused man acquitted
with such a chain of circumstances against
him. The whole machinery of the methodist church
has been brought into operation and its artillery
made to bear on the battlements of the hall of justice.
Perjury, base and foul has been committed
on the stand, under the sanction of a religious garb
to protect a wretch from punishment.”

How much of perjury was practised on the stand
we are unable to say, but certain it is there was
great exertion made to prevent witnesses testifying
against the prisoner, by his friends the methodists;
most unwarrantable means used to prevent the truth
coming out. The circumstance related by Aristides
respecting a sheriff of Newport having to run a race
with a methodist minister, of nine miles, to see who
would get there first, the sheriff to summon her or
the preacher to prevent her, is strictly true, and that
after all the vigilance of the sheriff the parson won
the day and arrived there first, and when the sheriff
came, the woman (a Mrs. Brownell if we recollect
right) pretended to be too sick to go; what her testimony
would have been if let alone we do not
know, but if we are to judge of its importance by
the violent efforts made to stop her going, we must
presume it to have had great bearing upon the case.
A similar instance occurred in Thompson, (Conn.)
A Mrs. Patty Bacon, a witness for the prisoner, stated
some circumstances which she said occurred at
the Thompson Camp Meeting, of a very different
complexion from the story told by her in Court. Mrs.
daughters, thinking it of some importance K4v 146
to the case communicated it immediately to the
friends of the deceased, but before they or the counsel
for the government could have a chance to converse
with her, she had had a conversation with
some of the methodist clergy, and when she was
afterwards interrogated upon the subject, denied every
word of it, and that she had ever said so, the
testimony of her two daughters and son-in-law to
the contrary notwithstanding, and was afterwards
found on the stand testifying that “she had suspicions
of the situation of S. M. Cornell at the Camp
to the amazement of her own family,
who had never heard any suspicions mentioned from
her before. The statement she made to her two
daughters and son-in-law, was this: “That a very
tall man with a dark frock coat, and broad brimmed
hat whom she took to be a methodist minister, (she
did not then know Avery) came to the Muddy Brook
tent three times, Thursday, enquiring for Sarah Maria
, and that she afterwards saw the same
man conversing with her without the tent.”
All this
she stoutly denied after the abovementioned conference.
This woman was a member of the methodist
church. Again a Mr. Windsor, a respectable innkeeper
in Dudley, was standing on the west side of the
camp ground on the memorable Thursday afternoon
near the time of the blowing of the horn, with a Mr.
or Judson Phipps, and a gentleman and
lady passed them, when Windsor enquired who they
were, and was answered by Phipps that it was a Mr.
and Miss Cornell, and added “I am watching
Phipps afterwards in Windsor’s bar
room recalled the circumstance to mind, and in
presence of several persons said, “that man was
Avery and the woman Miss Cornell, I know them K5r 147
It got out of course that he had said so, and
when the gentlemen in search of evidence for the
government called on him, the following dialogue
took place.

Question.“Did you tell Mr. Windsor those persons
walking together were Mr. Avery and Miss

Answer.—“I might and I might not.”

Question.—“Did you or did you not say in answer
to the question of Windsor, ‘who are those?’
say it is a Mr. Avery and Sarah Maria Cornell, and
I am watching them.”

Answer.—“I might and I might not.”

The same answer was invariably returned, and it
was all they could get out of him, until the gentlemen
were obliged to give it up in despair. Nothing
could be drawn from him.

Mr. Asa Upham, a sober industrious man, said to
be a man of property and respectability, said he saw
and knew Avery and S. M. Cornell, and saw them
walking arm and arm together, in the woods near
the camp ground. This person went to testify at
the trial, and found the methodists had procured
three persons to swear him down, and having no
means there to testify to the character of these witnesses,
he would not stay. Being an inhabitant of
another State they could not detain him. What
sort of persons the methodists had employed to testify
against the veracity of this man may be gathered
from the fact, that two of them were so intoxicated
before they got half way from Providence to
Thompson, as to be scarce able to continue their
journey. We can state this fact without quoting

The attempts to brow beat witnesses in Court, K5v 148
to confuse and perplex them, so as if possible to
cause them to falter or contradict themselves on the
stand, was another most ungentlemanly, unmanly
and unchristian proceeding, and was probably carried
to a greater extent by the prisoner’s counsel
than has ever been attempted in any criminal case
in this country, at least it is believed so by nineteen
twentieths of the persons who attended the trial;
and when the witnesses chanced to be persons of
so much firmness that this was deemed impossible,
either some one was brought up to impeach their
character for truth, generally, or to swear that they
had stated different to them at some other time.

Among the witnesses tampered with, there was
none perhaps who underwent a more fiery trial than
Mrs. Sarah Jones. As her name is mentioned several
times in the trial, she will be readily recollected,
but as the whole story cannot be perfectly understood
from that that is told, and the whole is not
related, we will give the narrative as she has given
it to us, accompanied with her certificate to the
truth of it.

The Rev. Mr. Drake, while enquiring in that
neighborhood if any body had seen Avery, heard
her say she saw a man in the morning; he wanted
to know why it was not as easy for her to say it was
in the afternoon as morning. By this means Avery
and his counsel became possessed of the fact that
Mrs. Jones had seen a stranger pass their house in
the neighborhood of the coal mines, Perhaps there is not a set of people in New-England more
primitive in their manners than some on this part of the island.
The following lines were composed it is said by an old lady over
eighty years of age, in the neighborhood of the coal mines. We
do not know when we have taken up any thing that sounded so
much like olden time; if it amuses the readers of this book as
much as it did the author, it will well repay them the trouble of
reading it. “Young virgins all a warning takeRemember Avery’s knot [spelt not.]Enough to make your heart to ache,Don’t let it be forgot.You mothers that have infantsTo sympathize and mourn,Such murder never was done hereOr ever yet was known.He killed the mother and the child,What a wicked man was he;The devil helped him all the while,How wicked he must be.He dragged her around upon the groundTill she no noise could makeContrived a lot—tied Avery’s knotAnd hung her to a stake.The devil he was standing byA laughing in his sleeve,It is so plain he can’t denyHe must not be reprieved.He preached the gospel night and day;What a wicked man was he;The devil helped him to preach and pray;How wicked he must be.How could he stand to preach and prayWith murder in his heart;The devil helped him day by day,And he will make him smart.Methodism he did professFor that was his belief,How can he ever take his rest,He must not be reprieved.Hang him, hang him on a treeTie around him Avery’s knotForever let him hanged beAnd never be forgot.”
or rather on
the route to it, in a very early state of the business, K6r 149
directly after he was put under arrest, and previous
to the examination at Bristol, and they sent for her
to come to his house. When arrived there, she was
very cordially greeted by Mr. Avery, who introduced
her to the presiding Elder as “one of his witnesses,
who saw him on the Island,”
and she was
asked to relate the circumstances in presence of his
attorney and the others. This she did. She had
been looking out all the morning for the return of a
brother who had been living at the eastward, and
was expected back on that day. Between 11 and
12 o’clock she saw a man come through the white
gate, and come within ten or fifteen rods of her.
She described his course by answers to questions,
gave an account of his route, and of the country, K6v 150
which the counsel traced by chalk marks on the
floor as fast as she described it. Thus did the simplicity
of this woman furnish a pretty correct map
of the country. But unfortunately, the man she
persisted she saw in the forenoon; and when she
came out, Avery, who went with her to the door,
said in passing the entry, laying his hand on Mrs.
shoulder, and looking imploringly in her face,
“My life is worth more to me than a thousand
worlds, and my life depends upon my witnesses—
can’t you recollect Mrs. Jones that it was in the afternoon?”
but, “say nothing,” he added, to which
Mrs. Jones answered she would not, and as she says
kept her word until circumstances made it imperiously
necessary she should disclose this interview,
and the conversation that took place.

On the day that Mrs. Jones’ testimony was required,
at the examination of the prisoner in Bristol,
she was brought over and was stopped at the house
of a Mr. Tilley in Bristol; where a Reverend
gentleman met her, she says, at the door, exclaiming, L1r 151
“now Mrs Jones, you must remember it
was in the afternoon
when you saw the man, for Oliver
has just sworn he saw the same man,
and it was in the afternoon.”
For a moment she
said she felt almost bewildered, but the firm conviction
that she had stated nothing but the truth, and
that if there were ever so many men of that description
seen in the afternoon, the one she saw was in
the morning. Directly some one came up to her
and shook hands, saying, “we have been to tea,
and Mrs. Jones here has not: you will be so good
as to get her some, will you not—as soon as possible?”
and the good sisters hurried to get her tea,
overwhelming her with civilities. The tea was already
on the table, and the lady about to partake of
their hospitality, when she was called for to the
court. Two of the daughters of mine host volunteered
to accompany her, thinking she would feel
intimidated to go without any female, and on the
way, short as it was, endeavoured to influence her
to say it was in the afternoon. One says, “well
you saw brother Avery, it seems, on the island?”

“No, I don’t suppose it could have been him,” said
Mrs. Jones, “the man I saw was in the morning.”
“Oh, it must have been him,” said one, “it could
not have been any body else; and you must try to
remember it was in the afternoon.”
By this time
the trio had arrived at the scene of action, where
the matter was put upon oath; and Mrs. Jones described
the stranger, who really, from her description,
must have borne some faint resemblance in
person to the prisoner. But alas! the stubborn witness
would not say it was in the afternoon: after all
the examining, cross examining, and twisting of evidence,
nothing could be got out of her but the L L1v 152
same old story, “it was in the forenoon.” Was
there ever such obstinacy heard of? that so many
civilities should have been thrown away! But so it
was: and the woman was conducted back to the
house of Mr. Tilley, where she had engaged to return
to tea, hurt and abashed by the altered looks of
her now silent guides. Nothing was said except as
one looked mournfully upon her, and, as she thought,
reproachfully, and said “we were in hopes you
would have remembered it was in the afternoon.”

Poor Mrs. Jones went in with a heavy heart, feeling
that she had disappointed the hopes of the prisoner’s
friends, but (unable by any sophistry she could
imagine, to make out that between eleven and twelve
o’clock was in the afternoon) with an approving
conscience. She said the young ladies passed into
the other room and were followed by one and another.
There was a whispering conversation going on
there, and each, upon returning, would eye her
with scornful and angry looks. It seemed, she
said, as though the tea never would be ready, but
at length she was called. “Never,” said the poor
woman, “did I eat a meal before that I thought
was begrudged to me.”
But at length, she said,
she took courage, and feeling tired and faint, resolved
to “drink as much tea, and eat as much as
she wanted to:”
directly after which she took leave
of her now ungracious hosts and went to a tavern,
and staid all night, and rose early on the following
morning and returned home:—a distance of four
miles including the ferry, which she had to give
eight cents to cross. From this time until after
Avery’s flight, and his being taken again, nothing
could exceed the scornful and supercilious manners L2r 153
of the Methodists to this woman, by her description,
whenever she met any of them. Her own expression
was, “they turned up their noses at her, and
would not speak.”
But when Avery, after his flight,
was pursued and taken again, to her amazement,
all at once their manners changed. Whether they
had pouted it out till their resentment had worked
itself off, or whatever was the cause, they now began
to relax the muscles of their faces, and not only
to give her the time of day, but even to shake
hands very cordially and enquire after her health.
Behold a polite letter arrived from Bristol, dated --03-2828th
, enclosing three dollars; the letter states that
it encloses the fee for travel and attendance in the
case of the State against E. K. Avery, but does not
mention the sum—the sum enclosed was three dollars,
she states, and it appears she opened it in the
presence of another person. When the trial came
on at Newport, she was again summoned by the
prisoner to testify. She was in the State and was
obliged to go. The person, a methodist, who
went to carry her, and she said to him, “what
did you come for me for my evidence can do Mr.
no good, for the man I saw was in the morning.”
“Why we were in hopes Mrs. Jones, you
would remember it was in the afternoon,”
was the
answer. Arrived at Newport she was conveyed to
the house where the Lowell witnesses were quartered,
where she was again hampered to say it was in
the afternoon when she saw the man on the island.
She said the witnesses were shut up together in the
front room of the house, and practising most of the
evening to try to make the clove hitch, the Whitney
girl and all, and that they asked her to show them. L2v 154
“I cannot for I never saw one made in my life,”
she answered. “I did not state this circumstance
to the court,”
she said in her narration, “because
I did not then think it of any importance, but when
I found one of those very girls came forward in court
and swore she had been used to seeing it in making
harnesses, and showed how it might have been used
by the deceased to hang herself, I then regretted
extremely I had not told that this very girl had been
drilling to practice that manœuvre all the evening,
and that they did not, when I was with them, appear
to understand how to make it, and asked me to
shew them.”

Unable to twist the evidence of this woman to
suit their purpose, the friends of the prisoner endeavoured
to make it appear, on the stand, that she
had contradicted herself once or twice in conversation:
but they did not make it out very clearly; although
it was a subject of amazement to many that
she had not done it repeatedly, placed, as she had
been, in circumstances of such embarrassment and
temptation. Since writing the narrative the author
has been warned by some of Avery’s friends not to
place any reliance upon any thing this woman
should tell, as there would not be a word of truth
in any of it. But when we wished to see the letter
from Bristol, in confirmation of that part of her story,
and she produced it; and after ascertaining from
the people of the house, that she was not only on
that evening, at the house, with the Lowell witnesses
and the girls named; but that they were “shut up
by themselves in the front room,”
the very words she
used; and that those girls were repeatedly seen practising
upon that knot while there; we could not but L3r 155
believe it: particularly, as we have never in all our
travels been able to find any one who used the clove
hitch in harnesses, and have seen at least hundreds

Mr. John N. Smith, who testified to the cord being
different from that used in factories, was urged
to go as a witness for the prisoner, which he refused
because he knew his evidence must be against him,
of course. One person, a Methodist, and if we recollect
right a deacon in the meeting, urged him to
go to Newport to testify for the prisoner. Said he,
“you will be at no expense—and here is a five dollar
bill, if you will go.”
We asked leave of Mr.
to state this fact, saying such things ought to
be exposed. He objected, saying he was ashamed
to have it known that any man should dare to offer
him a bribe.

It must be evident to every candid observer, that
the testimony for the prisoner in many instances
was overdone. For instance, had two or three respectable
persons of good standing in society stated
that the character of S. M. Cornell was not good,
and that she was plotting, revengeful, &c. it would
have gone farther toward convincing the minds of
the public than all this array of questionable evidence;
a great deal of it was entirely irrelevant
to the case; a vast deal appeared to have no object
but to blacken the character of one as we observed
before, who was “where she could not answer them
back again,”
and injured in a very material manner
the credit of a society who could tolerate such a
character (allowing that she was so,) so much as
to retain her among them, to be on any terms at
all with her. To receive again a woman upon probation,
who had once been expelled upon such a L* L3v 156
as Doctor Graves made against her. Gracious
heaven! the idea is monstrous—the thing incredible,
if they had not stated it themselves about
themselves. Who that reads and believes such a
statement can be willing their young and innocent
daughters should be followers of a meeting proverbial
for their familiar and social habits, where they
would be liable to associate with such characters.

We do not know but a part of the charges against
her may be true, because we have no means of
positively knowing; some of them we know cannot
be; for instance, we know she could not have been
sinning and playing the hypocrite in four different
places at once, as is found to have been stated in
one part of the trial. She could not have been at
Dover, Great Falls, Lowell and Waltham, at one
and the same time, without possessing one of the
attributes of omnipotence—that of ubiquity.

We scarcely think she could have been the writer
of these letters, which we know she was, if as
vile as represented. “Oh” exclaims the scoffer who
reads them, and believes the account given of
her at the trial, “what a caricature they are upon
talking, canting, whining christians.”
But to those
who hope better things, what a different aspect will
they wear. To those who believe that “out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,”
will not appear like hypocrisy. Ignorant and enthusiastic
we allow her to have been. Ignorant as
she was though, we observe her letters are much better
spelt than those of Avery which we have seen.

We are sorry to say that what we have stated respecting
the treatment of the witnesses, together
with much more, generally known, which our limits
will not permit us to state, goes far towards contradicting L4r 157
the assertion made in the report of the Conference,
who sat upon Avery’s last examination, viz.
that while the trial was pending they remained perfectly
quiet, not even undertaking to clear their
brother from any of the ridiculous and exaggerated
reports daily circulated against him, or to contradicting
their reports. It is apparent it was no time to
stand up in his defence in that way—but as to remaining
quiet, it will be seen by every body that
they were as busy as moles, all the time. It is
amazing that Avery should not have had the politeness
to publish a card afterwards thanking his
reverend brethren generally, for it would have been
hard to have particularized names, where so many
deserved the meed of thanks, for their great exertions
and important services!!! Have the proceedings
of these reverend gentlemen resembled those of a religious
association? Has it not rather looked like a
combination of men for secular and political purpose
—a league offensive and defensive? Has it appeared
their object is to elicit truth, or suppress it? How
is a charge against one of them treated? Is there
a candid examination of facts gone into, or is not
every movement directed to break down the character
of the accuser in the first place, or to invalidate
his testimony some way or other? Is this the way
to come to truth?

We come now to the last remark except one
we have to make on this painful subject, viz. the
subject of those letters found in the possession of S.
M. Cornell
, designated as the yellow letter, the pink
letter, and the white one. (The original letters now
in the custody of the court, have been kindly and politely
submitted to our inspection.) The view of the
author in seeking to see them was simply to ascertain L4v 158
for a certainty, whether the deceased had any
hand in them, as insisted upon by the friends of E.
K. Avery
. To some of them, honest, though prejudiced
people, we had pledged ourselves if possible to
obtain a sight of them. Having been employed for
many days in transcribing her letters into this work,
we felt perfectly confident, that if she had any hand
in them we should at once detect it, however disguised.
Among the papers found in her possession
we discovered nothing in her hand, however, except
her letter to Mr. Bidwell, and the slip of paper containing
those words—“If I am missing,” &c. The
three other letters were written by one person, although
the pink one was written very fine, and disguised
to make it resemble a woman’s. But oh when
they were compared with the acknowledged letters
of Avery to Mr. Bidwell, Mr. Drake, The methodist minister preaching in Portsmouth. There is
something worthy of notice about this letter. It is dated the 1832-12-2222d,
and consequently was written on Saturday after the murder, and
before Avery knew that he was suspected of it, and most urgently
requests Mr. Drake to come to him immediately, and without
delay; to come horse back or in carriage, or any way—and all
expenses should be paid, but to come without fail. This Mr. Drake
was remarkably busy during the whole trial. Nothing could exceed
his zeal in serving the cause.
and Mr. Storrs,
the conviction which they brought to my mind was
absolutely overwhelming. We thought we had fully
believed in Avery’s guilt before, but we feel we
never had, until then, a gush of feeling which we
could not prevent, choaking utterance for some moments.
We do not wonder that his friend Mr. Bidwell
could not help saying that one of them evidently
was his hand writing. That one of them was the
plainest, but they all discovered one common hand,
all the peculiaraities, the turn of the letter, the dash L5r 159
stops, the breaking of some and the leaning of others,
the spelling—of folding and sealing, even to the
most minute particulars, was exact in accordance,
one thing too as jJudge——, observed—was very convincing.
“If any one had forged these letters intending
to have them attributed to him, would they
not have put his name, or, at least the initials of it?”

but instead of that they were signed “B. H.” for
Betsey Hill, probably, though it seemed the writer
lost his recollection in one place, where he says,
“direct your letters to Betsey Hills, and not to me.”

The fact is it was confidently anticipated by the
author of these letters, they would never come to
light, she had been directed so positively to burn
them. One said, however, “you may keep the letter
till I come and bring them and I will bring mine.”

It was thought no doubt she had them with her in
the pocketbook or wallet which she always carried
in her pocket, and in which she had generally carried
these letters. It was stated to the author that
when found the pocketbook was not about her, and
that from that day to this it has never been discovered.
It is amazing this circumstance has never
been commented on before, for if true undoubtedly
the author of those letters, whoever he was, took it
from her, expecting it contained the letters, which
it seems she had taken out and put in her bandbox.
In her pocket was found a silver pencil case, and
some other trifles—we have forgotten what—but no
pocketbook. It would appear singular, if we did
not recollect that the finding of the vial of tansy
oil was not testified to in Court, or much said
about it until within a few months past, although
the women who laid her out and found it among her L5v 160
things, talked about it at the time. Mrs. Nancy
testified to the author that she was the first
person who saw it in the trunk, where it lay with a
teaspoon beside it, and that from the quantity she
could not believe it to be oil of tansy—but such it
afterwards proved. We believe there is one person
who knows who sold this vial. We have ascertained
she did not procure it herself at Fall River, nor
carry it there with her. There is a peculiarity about
the vial, which we believe would cause any person
who sold it to recognise it again.

It is almost equally strange so little should have
been said respecting the wounded hand of the prisoner.
At the time of the murder a woman in the
vicinity of the place, dreamed that the murdered girl
appeared to her and told her that the person who
killed her, might be recognised by the marks of
her teeth upon his hand, for that during the struggle
he put his hand over her mouth to stifle her
shrieks, and she bit it. This woman determined
to see the prisoner, and know whether there were
any such marks on his hand or not. Whether it
was owing to her entreaties or not we cannot say,
but at the Bristol examination the prisoner was
ordered to unglove. He had kept one glove on,
previous to this. He pulled off his glove and his
hand was found to be wounded. The counsel for
the government wanted a physician called to examine
it, which the justices who sat on the examination
declined to do, when Avery offered to account
for the wound by relating the manner in which it
was done. He was silenced by the government counsel,
who did not wish to hear his story. And thus the
affair of the wounded hand was dropped.

In conclusion, we would observe, that however L6r 161
strong the presumption of the guilt of E. K. Avery
may be on the public mind, we fervently hope he
may remain unmolested, and we would wish unnoticed.
If he is guilty, the avenger of blood is behind
him. That is sufficient. If innocent, he ought
not to preach. Still, silent contempt and utter neglect
would do more towards putting down such persons
than clamour. Mobbings never ought to be
known in a civilized community; besides that they
are calculated to make even merited chastisement
appear in the eyes of the world like persecution.
They have another horrible tendency, which is to
give men in power who are fond of the exercise of
authority a pretext for the most shocking severities.
Those who set out to inflict chastisement in this
way generally get the worst of it before it is over.
Besides, who knows that in this case that is not the
very point aimed at? Who knows that the outrageous
insult of thrusting this man into the pulpit in
every place where he is most obnoxious is not intended
to produce this very result? Should a meeting-house
be pulled down, or preacher torn from the
pulpit, who knows what fearful war cry might be
raised. There is nothing whets the sword like false
zeal. The battles of the Cavaliers and Round
might be fought over again in our country,
experience has once demonstrated there is no quarter
to be expected from men who would march to battle
singing psalms, and wield the battle axe with the
covenant in their bosoms. From all such contests
may the God of peace deliver us.

L6v 162

To return to Fall River, that place from which
sin and sorrow and contention have kept us away
so long in story. Though its natural beauties, as
we observed before, are obscured by improvements,
it is, and ever will be, beautiful in situation. The
waters of Mount Hope bay still roll on in their natural
course. “The waves still wash the peaceful shores aroundWhere the poor wanderer a grave has found.”

Internal improvement is going on, and wealth
flowing in. But there is a change there—and oh,
how great a one! There are two classes of people
who once lived in friendly intercourse, between
whom, now, nothing but frozen civilities are exchanged.
The great body of the inhabitants must
feel, as every one of our republican states would
have felt, if opposition had been enabled to palm
upon us the curse of a people, within our own borders,
having a seperate and independent government
within themselves. Can nothing be done to
heal the breach? Children of the same heavenly
Father, redeemed by the same power, can no compromise
be effected? Alas! we fear not. Fanaticism,
aided by self-will and obstinacy, has drawn
the sword and thrown away the scabbard. The
minority have nailed the flag to the mast, and are
determined to surrender only with life. Ah! foolish
and perverse generation; something may yet
happen, to convince you of your error: but your
conviction may come a day too late. How mournful
it is to see people, who once exchanged a friendly
greeting whenever they met, even in the streets, M1r 163
with a cordial “good morning,” or a friendly shake
of the hand, now pass each other without any salutation,
and perhaps even with looks of coldness and
contempt, of estrangement and aversion.

Yet the hospitable and benevolent inhabitants of
Fall River, as a body, are not in fault in this case;
they have only sought to do their duty towards a
helpless stranger who perished by lawless violence
within their precincts. And for this, their reward
shall be the eternal hatred of one particular class
of people, and the esteem of every honest, candid
and impartial person.

If Fall River was once an object of interest to the
traveller, it is doubly so now, from the associations
connected with it. For months after the tragical
affair detailed in the preceding pages, it formed the
entire topic of conversation in every steam boat that
plied the river; though time has effected a change
in this respect, yet ever as the boat nears the bay
is the stranger heard to enquire the situation of Gifford’s
house, of the road to the ferry, of Howland’s
bridge, and of Durfee’s farm. It is in vain for the
peace professing part of the community to say “it
is time this subject was dropped—this excitement
To get out of the way of it we must go as
a certain writer says, “where a hay stack was never
heard of.”

M M1v M2r


So much has been said of late of Camp Meetings,
and such intense curiosity excited on the subject,
that the author of these sheets feels called upon to
give a history of one of which she was an eye and
ear witness, i. e. for the time she passed there. The
meeting was held in R. I. and was I should say
some ten or twelve years ago. It is said that the
regulations of those places have been much more
strict of late years, and that the disorders in the immediate
vicinity of a Camp have lessened since.
That their moral tendency is better than it was before
is however doubtful. Witness the affair of the
unfortunate girl who perished at the stackyard.—
That her latest misfortune was occasioned by her
attendance there, cannot be doubted. The testimony
of her sister and one other respectable female
fully proves that; even by the testimony of her enemies
it appears she had made resolutions of amendment,
which the temptations and facilities of a Camp
overcame. In fact it is asserted by many
that no certain proof exists that her first criminal
offence was not perpetrated there: that might have
been the beginning—the end no one disputes was
death. Nothing can be more imposing than the
first view of a camp, and a superficial observer, a
person who entered and just walked through, or
was so fortunate as to be seated in some safe place
while listening to a sermon or a prayer, might see
no harm in one. But we think no person could pass M2v 166
much time in one, if a person of any observation and
not blinded by fanaticism, without deprecating the
practice. I am fully aware I shall make no friends
by an exposure of all I saw and heard there, but I
hope no enemies. I hope, fervently hope, that no
order of men have become so depraved, as to hate
or persecute any one who dares to avow a difference
of opinion, or for speaking the truth, however repugnant
to their own views or feelings. Should it
be asked, where has this history been all this time?
I answer, safe locked up in my desk. Why has it
never been published before? because it has never
been called for: the occasion which has called it
forth has never been so pressing. Men’s eyes are
now partially open to the great evils of fanaticism
generally, and of Camp-Meetings in particular; and
every thing known on that subject ought to come
out. The following diary or memorandum, or
whatever it may be called, was taken at the time,
except a very little added from memory. Were it
necessary, I could give the names of many of the
characters mentioned: but it is not with a view of
injuring individuals, or dragging before the public
names of persons known only for their modesty and
domestic virtues, that this is brought before the
world; but with the hope that it may have a tendency
to assist in putting down a great evil, a sore affliction
in the land, a pestilence walking in darkness,
an enormity that calls loudly for the strong arm of
the law, in the opinion of many good judges. A
thing much more to be dreaded than even theatrical
entertainments, inasmuch as it goes under
the name of religion; whereas the former is
called by all sorts of evil names that can serve to
warn people. When people go to the theatre they M3r 167
know where they are going. They go with
their eyes open. They know it is at best but a
profane entertainment, and they go against the
warnings of the pious of all denominations. But
when they go to a Camp ground, they do not
know of the dangers that lurk there and menace
them at every step: they do not know who or
what mingles with the motley assembly that surrounds
them. They are told that by going there
they may find religion, (a most absurd phrase by
the way) as though religion could only be imbibed
in certain places and situations. They are taught
that the spirit of God, whose still small whispers
may be heard at all times when the soul is disposed
to retire within itself and listen to its heavenly
breathings, that the spirit of God is in a very
peculiar manner dispensed at those scenes of noise
and confusion, even without measure, if we may
credit their often uttered expressions of “I’m full,”
“I’m running over,” &c. Many really honest people
are induced by the hope of being converted there,
without any trouble of their own, to attend frequently,
to the great detriment of their families
who too often are suffering for their care at home.

The feelings of the really pure and pious and
intellectual among these assemblies must often be
outraged—though they endure it thinking they
are doing God service, and it must be right because
their councils permit or decree it.

Mistaken beings, there is a way that seemeth
right to a man, but the end thereof is death. I
am fully aware of all the arguments made use of
to defend Camp-Meetings—but they are futile; and
fully aware as will be seen by this of their imposing
effect at first sight.

M* M3v 168

Who can contend that this free intermingling of
society is not dangerous, this tumbling and falling
about not indecent. That the familiar habit of life
practised there is not full of temptation; to prove this
would be to prove that the persons who frequent
them are not made of flesh and blood, a thing that
abundantly proves itself.

Who can prevent the neighborhood of a Camp
from swarming with drunkards and gamblers,
and horse jockies and pickpockets, and offenders
of every other description, who go about
seeking whom they may devour. It is said now,
that “bad people are driven off the ground,” but if
so where do they go to? it is certain that hack loads
and wagon loads of very bad people are always seen
following a Camp Meeting as regular as to a field of
battle. If it is purposely to call sinners to repentance
that these out door meetings are held, why not
have a place assigned them, where they may hear
and be profited by the preaching of the word—and
kept in sight that people may know what they are
about, rather than be driven into the bushes to pollute
the place with all sorts of enormities. I am
not however contending for their admission at all, if
their presence could be avoided, for in my opinion
the best place to preach to these people is at home,
and admire the plan of domestic missionaries to
seek out the abodes of vice. But if the vilest sinners
are not to be benefitted by these meetings why
not hold them in places of worship where no facilities
for crime exist?

But leaving the out-door evils of Camp Meetings
entirely out of the question, it still remains to be
asked, are their in-door evils not to be dreaded? is
their effect upon the religious society who frequent M4r 169
them less pernicious? are not habits of idleness and
dissipation (spiritual dissipation though it be) promoted
by it? among fanatics especially—among
those whose business is at home—among those whose
feet ought to abide in their own house? If we were
like the wandering Arabs or Tartars whose home is
in the fields, in every green spot whereon they
may chance to light, it would be a different affair,
but in a country like ours where domestic industry
and sobriety are of such importance, wandering, idle
habits among females are absolutely ruinous. Add
to this the exposure of health. There can be no
doubt that the lives of many delicate females have
been sacrificed to the absurd custom of sleeping on
the ground, with no covering but a tent to those
who have been accustomed to the walls of a house.
The want of rest, of sleep, which all who attend
these meetings must suffer more or less, must be
great. And last but not least, the low and dishonoring
thoughts of religion which the constant hearing
of such familiarity with Deity must unavoidably
create. Why it is impossible people can know what
they are saying, when they use such expressions as
are frequently used at these places. They frequently
speak of the Almighty, and speak to him too, as
though he were an equal, and even an inferior; for
people very seldom address an equal in the imperative.

We have one thing to hope, however, if people
will not submit to be reasoned with; that as the light
of science breaks upon their minds, bigotry, superstition
and fanaticism will vanish. Unless, indeed,
it be a combination for civil purposes, as in the case
of the Romish Church, where, as her clergy became
more enlightened, they only became more accomplished M4v 170
to do evil; and in proportion to their knowledge,
so did their tyranny, and extortion, and oppression
of their simple hearers, increase.

It is possible that some very hard thoughts and
still harder speeches may be the reward of the writer
from those who differ in opinion, but why?
How many have we heard of the Methodist denomination
inveighing against Masonry—not because
Masonry ever did them any injury, but merely because
it had become so obnoxious to so large a proportion
of the people—and contending that Masons
ought to give up their charters, if it was only in
compliance with public prejudice and to restore
general harmony. This was certainly sound and
correct reasoning: but it applies equally well to
Camp Meetings, and to the case of E. K. Avery.

“Extracted from a Journal of a Camp Meeting, held
in Smithfield, R. I.
The long expected time at length arrived, the
meeting was to be held in an extensive wood about
nine miles from the town of — several very respectable
young ladies had agreed to stay at a house
within two miles of the meeting, where they could
ride backwards and forwards as often as they chose
through its continuance. The weather was excessively
warm and the season unusually dry, and from
dust and heat, most uncomfortable riding. For my
own part I felt determined to endure all hardships
rather than be disappointed in this opportunity of
seeing and hearing. So many stories had been told
me of Camp Meetings, and such various and contradictory
ones, that I felt determined to see and M5r 171
hear for myself. The meetings had not commenced
upon our arrival, but the Camp was said to be in order,
and so great was our impatience to see it, that
we accepted of a ride with a company of friends
who were going from the house where we staid, and
proceeded to the camp ground.
There was an avenue opened through the wood
from the road to the camp, perhaps of about a quarter
of a mile in length, but as it had just been cleared,
was exceedingly dangerous riding. However,
we arrived safe at the entrance, and dismounting,
passed the barrier, and found ourselves within the
circle of the camp. I was never more amazed than
by the scene before me. It was a beautiful spot in
a pine wood. The trees were felled here and there
with a sufficiency left for shade, and had the appearance
of a fine grove within an impenetrable
wood. The spot prepared was entirely round in
shape, and its circumference I do not know, but it
was quite extensive. The setting sun lent its last
bright beams to the scene, while the snowy tents
stretched far and wide, discovered many happy faces
peeping from beneath their white curtains. Here
and there an old man or woman was setting in the
door enjoying the refreshing odour from the pines,
or rapt in contemplation of the scene before them,
upon which they appeared to gaze with much pleasure.
I was lost in admiration: a holy calm took possession
of my soul: I thought of the camp of Israel
—of Abraham sitting in his tent door in the cool of
the day—of the patriarchs of old, who, as the inspired
historian informs us, were ‘plain men dwelling
in tents.’
My imagination ran through the
whole scene of sacred history, from Adam down to M5v 172
Moses—the plains of Mamre—the desert of Sinai
was before me—I heard in imagination ‘the trump
of God, and witnessed the proclamation of the law.’

In short it was some time before I could descend to
earth and seriously consider the object that brought
me there.
The plain dress of the people was very pleasant
to me, and about the place there was an air of quiet,
inviting to heavenly contemplation. And is this, I
asked, a Camp Meeting? I do not believe a word
about the confusion. Ill natured world that it is,
what can be more proper than to retire into the desert
to pray? What more likely to keep in mind
that we are strangers and pilgrims here, than to become
the inhabitant of a tent for a certain season?
They came doubtless to recollect that ‘here we
have no continuing city—to remember that we have
no certain habitation but that house eternal in the
heavens, whose builder and maker is God.’
here too, doubtless, they came to mourn for the sins
that made us pilgrims and exiles in a world that but
for our disobedience would still have been man’s
Paradise. In this state of exile, of humiliation, they
‘eat their bread with tears, and mingle their drink
with weeping.’
What can be more useful? what
more proper? what more salutary? Surely my God
must look with complacency upon a scene like this.
With a heart too full for conversation, I walked
around the ground. My companions too were not
very loquacious. I imagine the scene struck them
something as it did me, except one who was not so
ignorant as myself. To her I made the remark,
‘it is very quiet here.’ She answered, ‘the meetings
have not began.’
Upon re-entering the avenue our wagon had to M6r 173
turn out often for companies of rude young men,
who, though the pass was so extremely dangerous,
drove Jehu-like, unmindful of stumps or stones, and
appeared in a high frolic. I inquired the meaning
of this. The landlord’s son who was driving us,
answered, ‘They were professional gamblers and
horse jockies, who followed a Camp Meeting as regularly
as crows aund vultures followed an army.’
was amazed, but I soon forgot the circumstance and
relapsed into my former pleasing reverie.
Tuesday, we rode into the camp ground immediately
after breakfast. Upon arriving in sight of the
tents, I remarked to one of my companions, we had
never seen an army encamped, and I hoped we
never might, but this must resemble it in appearance
except in warlike preparations. ‘But here,’ exclaimed
I with enthusiasm, ‘they wage a holy war. These
are engaged in a warfare that must never end, and
their vigilance must exceed that of those whose sentence
is death for slumbering at their post. Their
foes are from within as well as from without; but
they fight under a powerful leader, and be their foes
ever so numerous, the banner of the cross will finally
Under the impression of such feelings, I entered
the circle ready to join the people in their holy work.
The ground is what is called an inclined plane, that
is of rather gradual descent, and towards the lower
part was erected a small platform, intended for the
pulpit, called familiarly ‘the preacher’s stand.’ A
man was standing there when we entered and loudly
calling upon the people to repent: there was little
sense or connection in what he said, but he seemed
to be very earnest and sincere, and had I think, the
loudest voice I ever remember to have heard, but M6v 174
his exertions seemed thrown away, for except a strolling
party occasionally halted near him, he had no
auditors. We agreed to take a walk round and see
what had become of the good people. They were
mostly in their tents, cooking and eating, and in
another apartment (for they were usually divided
into two or three) reclining on the straw—men and
women promiscuously chatting and laughing, and
sometimes casting a furtive glance towards the
preacher, whose extreme earnestness apparently excited
little interest. After a time he was succeeded
by another, equally vehement; and one old man
began to cry aloud for mercy, which seemed to encourage
them very much. Being fatigued, we retired
to one of the tents where we had some acquaintance,
to rest. They informed us that none of their
best speakers had appeared yet, and that the evening
was the time for powerful meetings. Towards
noon, we observed people gathering round one of
the tents, and following the multitude we entered.
Curiosity had been excited by the falling of a
young woman on the ground near the stand. She
had been conveyed into this tent, and was now lying
on the straw, while the people who brought her
returned to the stand, and seemed to take no further
thought of her. We approached the young woman
and felt her pulse, and believing she was in a hysteric
fit, and that it would be highly injurious to let
her remain so any time, begged permission to employ
restoratives; but to all applications for them,
and remonstrances, they turned a deaf ear. The
people within smiled scornfully at my ignorance—
told me she was happy and it would be a sin to revive
her if they could. She was very pale and her
pulse very low; but upon my persisting in rubbing N1r 175
her and calling for restoratives, backed as I was by
a skillful physician who now entered the tent, and
was remonstrating in not very gentle terms upon trifling
thus with human life, they ordered us out of
the tent, and fastened down the curtain, which excluded
every breath of air, in an intense hot day,
with orders for no one to disturb her until the Lord
chose to dissolve her trance.
From this spectacle we retreated towards the African
tent, which was filled with coloured people,
but there was so much talking there at once, and
they were so thick, we were obliged to pass on. A
very old man now took his place on the stand, whose
hoary head and stooping gait proclaimed that time
with him would soon cease to be. I observed to the
young lady who had my arm, that ‘this old man
who stands upon the borders of eternity, will certainly
feel what he says,’
and we descended again
to the stand.
He commenced his discourse by saying—‘he
was a very old fashioned Methodist, and he should
not be put out if they should groan, or say amen or
hallelujah—that he had seen nothing that looked
like zeal among them yet—no efforts to take the
kingdom by force,’
&c. &c.—and he exhorted
them with a degree of violence, which soon exhausted
him and compelled him to yield the pulpit, i. e.
the stand, to another. It had seemed the preacher’s
object in this discourse to bring his audience to
a certain temperature, and I was lost in reflection,
thinking if the man could mean that the Lord was
not worshipped with acceptance where he was worshipped
in silence. But I had little time for reflection
on the subject, for a very devout looking person
now advanced and requested his brethren to join N N1v 176
him in prayer for the multitude. Being hemmed in
in such a manner it was impossible for many of us
to kneel, and many doubtless were afraid to. It is
true if we had been engaged just as we ought to
have been, we should not have seen what we did
see. But this was impossible without absolute danger
to ourselves. We had just been warned not only
against pickpockets, but told women were often
grossly insulted there, even in the thickest of the
camp. Our eyes were therefore about us, and several
young ladies afterwards told us that whenever
they closed their eyes, and tried to engage in prayer,
they were aroused by some of the men pressing
so near, they could almost feel the pulsation of their
hearts, and sometimes press their arms, &c.
But our greatest astonishment was to see the
Methodists themselves wandering about in all directions,
and some that were kneeling near us did not
in the least appear to be engaged in what they were
professedly about. One young woman, who knelt by
our side, was busily employed in trying to fit a piece
of bark to a log, with a countenance that expressed
anything but devotion. One of our companions,
who was watching her, burst into a violent fit of
laughter, which she seemed unable to restrain, although
we gave her very severe looks and shook our
heads at her. She was not a professor of religion,
though a most amiable person and a sincere well
wisher to the cause; and she appeared to be very
much mortified upon being told of it afterwards,
though she assured us, with tears in her eyes, that
if her existence had depended upon her suppressing
it, she could not have done so.
The excessive heat and fatigue drove us back to
our lodgings at noon; but towards night we rode N2r 177
again to the Camp. We observed, as we came near
the wood, the recent erection of stalls to sell liquors
and refreshments; and around many were congregated
people notorious for dissolute morals and disgraceful
conduct. The wood appeared to be swarming
with people of all descriptions, and it looked as
though it might be extremely hazardous for any one
to venture there alone and on foot.
The first object that met our eyes upon coming
within the barrier was a young woman of extreme
beauty, who was staggering through the Camp, with
her clothes torn and her locks dishevelled, wringing
her hands and mourning that the people were not
more engaged. She was a girl of about middling
height, rather fat, with large, languishing black
eyes, and a profusion of raven hair which floated on
her shoulders and reached below her waist, with
the fairest complexion that could be imagined. She
appeared to excite great attention wherever she moved
through the crowd. We observed, as she passed
along, that the young men exchanged winks and
jogged each others elbows. We subsequently saw
the same young woman lying in a tent, apparently
insensible, i. e. in a perfect state of happiness, as
they assured us. There was a great deal of joggling,
pinching and looking under bonnets, which was
extremely annoying. We met a young lady from
our town, who showed us her arms pinched black
and blue by she could not tell who, while she was
listening to the preaching of a woman at the stand.
She was quite enraged about it, and protested she
would get home as soon as she could get her party
to go, and that no persuasion should induce her to
come again. Her arm really appeared in a swollen,
bad state. She was a woman of very correct deportment, N2v 178
and the conviction that no impropriety
on her part could have been the provocation to insult,
rendered the circumstance rather alarming; and we
resolved to keep very near our friends and return
home at an early hour: though various persons of
the meeting tried to prevail on us to stay, saying
‘the work of the spirit was much more powerful after
There appeared to be a great deal of
uncivil amusement going on, not only in a sly way,
in the Camp, but throughout the ground. The narrow,
dark avenue was exceedingly hard to pass; dissolute
and drunken people were frequently in the
rear of the carriages, swearing and talking in the
most profane and indecent manner. Upon retiring
for the night, I had a most serious time of self-examination
whether it was right to go again; but the
desire to know the extent of the evil or good prevailed,
and I resolved to see it out, as the phrase is.
Wednesday, however, I did not go at all, being confined
with a violent head-ache. There was no rest
in the inn; constant quarrelling in the road; the men
very profane, talking every thing. The Landlord of
the house where we were, a very quiet man, appeared
exceedingly annoyed.
In the course of the day, we heard often from the
Camp. It waxed warmer there. Many were struck
down, they said, with conviction of their sins, throwing
themselves in the dirt and calling loudly for mercy;
and many more ‘lost their strength’: the state
of exhaustion described in the preceeding pages.
The people without, we were informed, became
more noisy and obstreperous. ‘Oceans of rum,’ as
it was often expressed, were drank in the neighborhood.
All that night we slept but little. Some
of the profane lodgers, on the other side of the building, N3r 179
were continually singing hallelujahs and shouting
‘Amen! Glory!’ &c. It was in vain the landlord
exerted himself; before he could get to one
room, a louder call from the other end of the building
would draw him there, until he gave the matter
up in despair, and suffered his obstreperous lodgers
to sing themselves to sleep.
Thursday afternoon, rode again to the Camp,
saw the most drunken people in the road I ever saw
on any other occasion. Many of them, I was told,
had families at home destitute, even in this land of
plenty, of the common necessaries of life. I could
not help groaning in spirit all the way, which was
literally perfumed by the odour of the spirit which
they had drank. Of course they, the mob, were dreadfully
impudent; not to us to be sure—the gentleman
who always carried us was uncle to two of the
ladies of our party and well known in that part of
the country; with him, therefore, we always felt
perfectly safe. But he told us he had to dismount,
the day before, from his wagon, to rescue some females
from insult, two or three times; and that the
Methodists had sent for two or three sheriffs to
come and keep order.
When we entered the Camp, there was what
they called a powerful preacher, on the stand. He
was exhorting the people to repentance with great
vehemence and gesticulation. The bad English he
used provoked many a smile from his hearers, while
another class of his hearers seemed to listen with
profound attention, and expressed their approbation
by many an exclamation of delight, accompanied
with groans and amens. One man fell down near
us in strong convulsions; the crowd pressed around
him, but the brethren, pushing them back, drew N* N3v 180
him into a tent, saying he was ‘full of the spirit,’
&c. We now got crowded between a woman of
most infamous character and some young men, who
were holding a whispering dialogue over our shoulders:
—astonishing impudence! We removed to
another part of the ground as soon as possible; and
having regained our escort, proceeded to a bench
near the upper end of the Camp. Here, seated beneath
some trees, we could look down upon the
crowd, though out of its immediate vicinity. Here,
too, we could hear most of what the preacher said
who was then speaking. One of our acquaintance
now advanced from one of the tents, and informed
us there had been ‘quite a riot there’ the preceding
evening, but that there was ‘no danger now,
as there were several officers on the ground, hired
to keep the peace.’
But there was no solemnity
now—all was hubbub and confusion. A sister
came up and asked if we intended to stay in the
evening, saying they had ‘such powerful meetings
in the evening, it was heaven below.’
I could not
but express to her and several others, that I was
about tired of it, and should go away with very
strong prejudices against Camp Meetings. They
assured me ‘it was only because I had not seen
enough of them, and that if I should remain with
them one evening, they doubted not my prejudices
would vanish; and that I should witness such
a display of the power of God, as I never saw before;’

said I was cold, ‘but she would insure me I should
get warmed, if I would only attend their evening
prayer meetings.’
I told her it was not possible
for me to stay that evening, as we expected the wagon,
to carry us back, before sunset, and I had engaged
to return with my party; but that both they N4r 181
and I intended to pass the last night in the Camp,
which would be the next, as we understood they
kept up the meetings through the whole of the last
night, and we were determined, having heard so
much of their evening meetings, to be present one
night; and if there was any good to be obtained, to
be in the way of it. She appeared to be much
pleased, and we separated. Our conveyance now
arrived for us and we departed; again past the dark
avenue, upon which the shades of twilight were now
fast gathering. The brutal intoxication and profanity
visible on the road home was truly shocking;
and as we went past the stalls, the thought struck
me, that these buyers and sellers were after all perhaps
the smallest sinners on the ground; that they,
who were the means of bringing this tumultuous
assemblage together, unless there was some redeeming
merit about it that I had not yet discovered, had
much to answer for. Dismissing such thoughts
however, I resolved not to make a final decision
against them, until I had witnessed those meetings
upon whose influence they counted so much.
This evening I overheard some ladies, (of whom
there was and had been, a respectable number, and
a very respectable company at the inn,) teazing their
husbands to carry them to the Camp. Their husbands
positively refused, saying it was not a proper
place for females in the evening, and that they could
not engage to protect them from insult while passing
through the wood and its environs; that they themselves
should go but begged the females to remain
contented where they were. Children of Eve! I
heard them afterwards resolving at all hazards to
know where the danger lay, and threatening if their
husbands went without them to hire a conveyance N4v 182
and go by themselves. Whether they carried their
point or not I did not ascertain. I saw them all depart
from the inn in company together.
A number of young men now repaired to the inn,
from the Camp, to get supper, intending to go back
again. They appeared in a high frolic, but one of
them was taken alarmingly ill. Directly after he
was seized with a bleeding at the nose, so violent as
to induce the belief that it proceeded from the rupture
of a blood vessel. Though at some distance from
the apartments of the family, the ladies all volunteered
to his assistance. It was a shocking scene, and
with the greatest difficulty the effusion of blood was
stopped by the variety of applications used. He
appeared quite grateful for our kindness, and particularly
to the landlord, who immediately after had
him carried to a cool room and put into bed; but
the effect of the scenes he had just witnessed, had
such an effect upon his brain that nothing could
keep him silent. As soon as he was comfortably in
bed he commenced singing hallelujah, and kept it
up for the greater part of the night.
Friday was the last day of the meeting, and I who
had now firmly resolved to see it out, and be a judge
myself how far it was a work of the Spirit, went prepared
to spend the day and night in the Camp. We
carried refreshments, and all of our party agreed to
keep together; and to ensure our safety, we contrived
to go in the suite of an officer of justice, who with
his family had stopped at the inn on their way. By
the way, we had only occasional glimpses of him
after we got there, for being employed by the meeting
people to keep order, he was obliged to be on
the alert. It was a scene of dreadful confusion to
get there in the first place, the road was so full of N5r 183
people, the dust (for the earth had been fairly ploughed
up by the multitude of feet) blowing and blinding
one. It was a fact that we not half the time could
see our horses heads, as we rode on. In the Camp
there was great confusion. The crowd had very
sensibly augmented. There was a woman exhorting
at the stand, and one of our townsmen, who recognized
me, and knew I was a great stickler for
women’s preaching, immediately came up and invited
me to go down and hear her. Accordingly we
all went down to the stand. A young female whose
appearance bespoke her to be under twenty, was exhorting.
The first words we distinguished were
these, that she ‘did not want a copper of their money
—No I dont want your money,’
she repeated, ‘not
a copper of your money, only the salvation of your
and she exhorted the ‘young Ladies’ and
the ‘dear young Gentlemen’ to repent, with all the
energy she was capable of. Now I who abominate
the epithet of Ladies and Gentlemen in christian exhortations,
was turning off, when some one whispered,
Mrs. T— is going to preach. This lady whom
I had once before heard upon a most interesting
occasion, was a great favourite with me, and I had
inquired several times if she was there. I therefore
took my station on a log, and with my companions
heard her discourse. The woman speaking was of
very mild and pleasing manners—a woman of plain
good sense, and exceedingly graceful and winning
in her manner, when speaking in a house where her
voice could be heard without exertion; but although
her discourse which was short, was now, as it always
was, good, yet the evidently great exertion she now
used, destroyed much of its effect with most of the
hearers; the blood looked as though it would burst N5v 184
through her face, the veins of her forehead and temples
as well as those of her neck, ‘swelled up like
whip cords,’
and her mouth, usually of sweet and
placid expression, from her efforts to speak loud,
was absolutely disfigured.
‘Is this the Mrs. T—,’ whispered one to me,
‘I have heard you praise so much? Why, I never witnessed
such contortions of countenance before.’

Such remarks proved the woman in my mind to be
out of her place, for I had no doubt her discourse
was better than any that had been heard there, but
the great effort of retaining such a masculine attitude
entirely destroyed the effect. She was succeeded
by a very bold and uncouth looking young female,
whose language was as coarse as her look and manner.
She called upon the people loudly to repent
‘to-day and save their souls.’ Some very singular
expression she made use of appeared to have an irresistible
effect upon a part of her auditors, who laughed
aloud; upon which she said she ‘did’nt care
who laughed, she cared for nobody not a snap of her
(snapping her fingers in great style.) Another
loud laugh. My faith in woman’s preaching
began to waver, and I was glad to walk off. We
observed an African upon a stump at some distance,
near the upper part of the camp, collecting a great
crowd around him, who were listening with open
ears and gaping mouths. Some were wiping their
eyes, many shouting, and others grinning. Thither
then we bent our course, willing to hear the truth
from whatever quarter it might proceed. The first
words that met my ear were—‘Deble fader of lies;
he be liar from beginnin. Some say poor niger hab
no shoule
. Vel dat I dont know, but dis I know, I
got something in my body make me feel tumfortable,’
N6r 185
(clapping his hands vehemently upon his huge
chest). A peal of laughter, long and loud from the
profane rabble, was the response. While nothing
daunted he continued to go on in the same strain,
not in the least interrupted or annoyed by the continued
shouts of the mob, who, clapping their hands,
kept crying, ‘go on brother, that’s your sort, glory,
&c. with all such sort of encouragement.
I need not say we did not stay there long; and as
no interesting preacher now occupied the stand, we
resolved to stroll round and look up some of our
friends from the neighboring towns, many of whom
we doubted not were there. In passing one of the
tents we could not forbear stopping to look at a
young woman reclining on the straw in a very languishing
attitude, and apparently quite helpless: two
or three young men had seated themselves near her
and were enquiring how she felt? Upon closely observing
her I discovered she was the same young
woman whose disordered appearance and extraordinary
beauty had struck me so forcibly, and invited
so much observation a few day before. It was she,
but oh how changed! even in the brief space of time
that had intervened since we saw her before. Her
bloom was entirely gone, and her haggard look and
tangled hair gave her the appearance of something
that had recently escaped from a mad house. I shuddered
with horror, and thought oh! if you were a sister
or daughter of mine how should I feel. Humanity
towards the poor victim induced me to draw near
and ask her if she had no mother to take care of
her? She turned a look of scorn and anger upon
me, and then exchanged a look with each of the
young men, and they all three laughed, and I walked
off convinced I had been mistaken. I afterwards N6v 186
mentioned the case of this young woman to some of
the persons on the ground, who undertook to explain
to me her situation by telling me she had just come
to. Their language I have forgotten, but I understood
it to mean that she had gone through a process
which they considered as perfecting the work of
sanctification, and I afterwards was told by some
people at the house, that she was probably the same
young woman who had lain two full days in a state
of stupor, an unusual long time, and that it was possible
her intellects might be affected. Be that as it
might, the image of the fair sinner, or saint (for she
was no half way character) haunted me for some
time. We afterwards looked into another tent
where we saw a girl from our own immediate neighborhood,
in much the same situation, having just recovered
from a state of torpor, and rejoicing with
great appearance of happiness. My heart sickened
at the sight of her, for I believed her a most accomplished
hypocrite, and the end justified my suspicions.
In the course of a few months she destroyed
the peace effectually of a worthy family, who had
taken her from a state of great poverty several years
before, and cherished her with all the tenderness of
parents. She had previous to this been a Baptist by
profession, but after this attached herself to the people
through whose ministry she professed to have
been recovered from her backslidings, and continued
with their society until put out of all society.
Being exceedingly fatigued we were now obliged
to give up our plan of remaining in the Camp; the
wagon in which we came having arrived with some
other persons, we concluded to go home and recruit
before the services of the evening. The ride home
was no more annoying than when we came; a certain O1r 187
sharp-looking set of fellows seemed to be prowling
about the woods, and dodging at every corner—
whose very look was sufficient almost to curdle
one’s blood, but it was now so generally understood
that the camp was protected by the officers of justice
that none dared to show their colors.
Before it was quite dark we returned, and by the
time we arrived, the camp was lighted. I could
easily imagine that embellishment added much to the
scene. The disposal of the lights which exhibited so
many different groups, and displayed the paraphernalia
of the tents with such a different aspect from
what it appeared in the glare of day, was altogether
imposing, or rather witching. For a time we walked,
until our protectors returned to the inn to take
back the conveyance. We avowed our determination
to pass the night in the Camp; the gentlemen
remonstrated, urged the fatigue, the exposure to
health, the danger, unless we kept close under the
wing of some person or persons able to protect us—
but all to no purpose, we determined to remain.
They promised to return and stay until ten or eleven
o’clock, and then they said we must take care of
ourselves; and leading us to one of the seats at the
upper end of the ground, departed. There were four
of us, nevertheless we experienced some little sinking
of heart when we saw our protectors depart. From
the place where we sat we could see the whole
ground; there was a preacher on the stump speaking
loudly and vehemently; a black man also on
the stand, and nobody attending to either; the noise
could not have been exceeded by the confusion of
Babel. I could not compose my mind to realize it
was a place of worship, although the songs of praise
and the voice of exhortation mingled with the groans O O1v 188
of despair, and blending in strange confusion with
the various dialogues going on, rose each moment on
the ear. Prayer meetings had commenced in the
different tents, yet there was a continual travelling
from place to place—nobody except the immediate
actors in the scene seemed stationary for a moment
at a time; crowds of people passing and repassing all
the time. One woman flew past, throwing her
arms abroad, and shouting ‘there are grapes here
and they are good, heavenly times! heavenly times!’

A few moments after our ears were assailed with
the most piercing shrieks of a female voice, which
proceeded from behind one of the neighboring tents.
Two of us sprang up and almost involuntarily ran to
the place—the other two rather hung back as they
afterwards told us from fear, thinking it might be
some one murdered, or some terrible assault, a few
moments brought us to the spot, and beheld two
young women stretched upon the ground, no human
creature touching them, screaming with all their
strength. Some females from the neighboring tents
rushed out to them, and sinking down by their side,
began to talk to them all at once. ‘Sink right into
said one, ‘and you will hbe happy in a minute.’
I enquired of an old lady standing by ‘what the matter
she said ‘they were slain, sand there was a
great many slain there every night.’
Several persons
now raised them to carry them into the tent, and we
in a whisper agreed to follow close in the rear, which
by keeping hold of each other’s clothes and following
close upon the heels of those who had borne in the
slain, we succeeded in getting into the centre of the
tent, where, within a circle formed by the meeting
they were laid upon the straw. They, the meeting
people, were singing a hymn, which rose to deafening O2r 189
uproar upon our approach. After the hymn, the
women commenced praying over them, using many
strange expressions and the most violent gesticulation,
the power of which was acknowledged by many
a groan, shout, and interjection, intermingled with
the agonizing shrieks of the slain, which still continued.
The loud Amen, the cries for mercy, the groans
of distress, (either real or imaginary) resounded
from every quarter, while the triumphant exclamations
of those who shouted ‘I’m full—I’m running
over—I’m eating heavenly manna—glory! hallelujah!’
&c. &c. were as distinctly heard: and this,
this scene of discordant noise and unseemly riot (as
it appeared to me) was what they called ‘the power
of God.’
Forgive, thou insulted Being, the use I
am here obliged to make of thy great and dreadful
name! Occasionally some of the young men who
were within the circle would draw near the young
women, whose shrieks gradually changed to groans,
and ask, in a low voice, ‘do you feel any better?’
I could not hear that they made any answer. One
young man, while the prayer was going on, began
to shake violently, and then falling flat upon the
straw, exclaimed ‘God, I’m willing—I will own
my Saviour—I will, I will’
: at the same time, his
feet kicking at such a rate, that the dust from the
straw nearly suffocated us all. His feet chancing to
lodge, in his fall, just between me and another
young lady, we endured no small share of inconvenience.
The young lady actually received several
smart blows; when a man leaning over our
heads (we were seated on a bench) put his cane
over and fenced his feet from her, by planting it
firmly in the ground.
O2v 190 A few people from our town sat near, and, as I
thought, seemed to survey the scene with mournful
interest; at least they exhibited none of the animation
I have described. ‘Lord,’ said one of the
women in prayer, ‘what ails the Providence people?’
One young woman uttered a sentence in prayer that
seemed to fill the audience with inexpressible delight.
It was in allusion to a sentence in the sister’s
prayer that spoke before, wherein she asked for the
crumbs that fell from her master’s table. ‘Give us,’
said the last one, ‘not only crumbs, but loaves, good
and slapping her hands with great violence.
The effect was electric, the Amen was echoed in
all the different notes of the gamut, while the expressions
of ‘Come Lord Jesus, come quickly,’ were
heard from different parts of the tent. My soul was
momently shocked by those familiar addresses to
the Deity, ‘God, come down here—Jesus come
this minute—we want you to-night—we want you
&c. &c. &c. The din and confusion increased
every moment. Stamping, slapping hands,
and knocking fists together, formed altogether a
scene of confusion that beggars description, and really
terrified us. We looked at each other in despair,
and then at the door, which was completely
wedged up with faces, one above another; no way
to get out, and no one to help us; when fortunately
the uncle of two of the young ladies, (who had returned
to the Camp on foot, after putting up his
horses, and who was now standing at the door of
the tent,) descried us, and in a moment comprehending
our distress, opened a passage to the circle,
by saying ‘a lady faint! a lady faint!’ which was
echoed by several, either to aid in getting her out,
or to increase the confusion, and thus we escaped O3r 191
from the crowd. There was now a general begging
among us to return home; but the uncle protested
there was no way at present, and we must stay all
night where we were. However, as we begged so
hard, he despatched a man round the barriers to see
if any carriage or wagon could be procured. While
search was making, he advised us to walk around
the ground; as hundreds, probably thousands, were
then doing, thinking we should be safer to be moving
with the crowd, than to sit down any where outside
the tents. As we passed one of the tents, where the
confusion could only be equalled by the one we had
left, we distinguished in prayer that remarkable sentence,
‘the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the
earth keep silence before him.’
What a place for
its repetition!! One young man began to pray, who
got so animated that he kept asking to die; exclaiming,
‘Lord, I want to die. I’m ready to die and
fit to die, and Lord, I want to die to-night.’
shouting and clapping of hands followed.
We now passed a tent entirely closed, fastened
down, and dreadful groans within: they appeared to
proceed from one voice, and that of a woman, and
evidently betokened great bodily distress. One of
the gentlemen just behind us said he was determined
to see what was the distress, and began unfastening
the curtains: we had been forbidden to raise it,
by a brother who stood outside, but after the young
man had got it part way up, a minister from within
called out ‘come in and see the power of God.’
Thus invited we entered, and behold, a young woman
laying flat upon the straw, in great apparent
agony, calling in frantic terms for the coming of the
‘Holy Ghost.’ I saw no other inmate of the room,
except the minister just mentioned, but upon our O* O3v 192
coming out, several methodists passed in, and we
heard them a moment after singing around this distressed
creature, ‘Die in the arms of Jesus, Die in
the arms of Jesus &c.’
That woman had every
appearance of being in strong hysterics.

We had just met with a party of friends from the
village of C――― who learning our distress, kindly offered
a seat for me to return with them to the inn,
where they were to pass. It was now eleven o’clock,
and my companions consented I should leave them
upon the promise that I would not rest until I had
found some wagon or carriage of some kind to come
after them: while passing to the barrier where the
wagons were stationed, we passed a tent where a
young female, apparently quite gone, was supported
in the arms of a worthless fellow, who had lately
gone from our neighbourhood, no one knew whither:
they were just without the tent door, and he was
trying to bear her in. A fear for the safety of the
girl induced me to ask some one near to rescue her,
which they attempted, when out burst two or three
men to the relief of their brother, as they called
him, and forbade any interference. I learned afterwards that this young man went at the opening
of the camp, with a small bundle, into one of the tents, and
there continued through the whole meetings. This singular character
was once a regular member of a church (not Methodist) in
P. and was thought too simple to be set aside, though known to
be a most inveterate liar. On one occasion, while travelling
through the country, he passed himself off as the grandson of a venerable
clergyman of the Episcopal Church, well known in that
vicinity, and was entertained at the tables of some of the most
respectable people in the town—invited to read prayers in the
church, as he professed to be a candidate for the ministry. This
he did, and escaped undiscovered. He then proceeded to one of
our western settlements, where, chancing to hear some inquiry
made respecting a good old lady in his town, lately deceased, he
told them she had left an immense fortune, which she amassed by
keeping a hotel. This family, who chanced to be heirs at law,
entertained him with cordial welcome, and actually came a journey
of many hundred miles to claim the property, and found the
whole a falsehood. The author of that story, and of many other
similar deceptions, is among the Shaking Quakers in New-Lebanon,
where he has at last, as he says, “made his principles bend
to his temporal interests.”
O4r 193

We felt rejoiced that this was the last night of
the meeting, for the camp began to smell very offensive.
Many were remarking that the danger to
health would be very great should the meetings continue
twenty-four hours longer. The people who
conveyed me out, got along very well, through a
road used for a cart path, and which appeared much
more safe and quiet than the great entrance. We
saw a good deal of dodging about, though upon
comparing notes with others I discovered I was not
solitary in hearing and seeing strange things. One
lady who had been invited to drink tea in one of
the tents, observed she had been much shocked by
a man coming in and inviting her to stay the evening.
He went in shaking violently and saying ‘we
shall have the Holy Ghost here to-night!’
and said
a little niece of hers who stood by, ‘do stay aunt
Polly, for I want to see him.’
These kind of anecdotes
were long rehearsed, but I met with no solitary
being who appeared to have got any good by
going. Heaven grant there might have been some.
With a great deal of difficulty I persuaded a man to
go down with a carriage for the other ladies. At
last, after finding two men to go and assist him, he
went. He said there had been one carriage just
before which had all the harness cut off of it at the
entrance of the wood. I could not rest until the
whole company were safely housed. They returned
about one o’clock in the morning. The inhabitants O4v 194
of the neighbourhood long had cause to remember
that meeting. The effects of it were distinctly
visible. Fences torn to pieces, and fields of
grain wantonly trod down and destroyed, with other
excesses, absurd and unnecessary, bear witness to
the little reformation in morals the meeting had occasioned;
but over and above all, the haggard and
jaded looks of those people, when they commenced
their homeward march on the following day. A
rain, the first the earth had been blest with for some
time, fell on that day, and many of them must have
been caught without a shelter—some with little infants
in their arms. One I saw at the camp which
the mother told me was three weeks old!
It must be obvious to every person, of common
sense, that if camp meetings exhibit such scenes to
moral persons, to those who penetrate the recesses
in their neighbourhood the view must be still more
revolting. Stories have been told and still are, that
almost stagger credulity itself, and they carry with
them this proof of their authenticity, that the most
depraved and abandoned of the human species, are
always fond of resorting to them. If the writer of
this true sketch can be a means of opening the eyes
of any well disposed persons, who have hitherto been
disposed to uphold them, it will be a source of lasting
satisfaction, and a full reward for all the resentment
which ignorance and fanaticism may

Observations on the foregoing Narrative.

Upon looking over the preceding pages the author
has not been able to discover any mistakes, though
there are many things which may be liable to misinterpretation,
and some things omitted which the
limits of the book would not permit her to discusss.
Of the first of these, the reflection upon spreading
the report in Providence, which proved so disastrous
in the after life of Miss Cornell, is not meant to be
attributed to the merchants spoken of—the scandal
we know was transmitted to the public through other
organs. And with respect to the letter from Bristol
to one of the witnesses, containing three dollars,
and which is said to be the sum actually due her,
dating from the time she was summoned, it is due
that witness to state, that in her narration to the
author of this, she did not say it was not due her,
because she was totally ignorant on that head, but
she expressed some surprise that they should have
“left it until after Avery was taken again”—particularly
as no recompense had been tendered her for
her attendance at Newport where she had been
“summoned by the prisoner and detained much

There is one subject upon which we wished largely
to have descanted in this work, but upon which a
few words must suffice: that is, the great injury and
injustice which the publication of the life and character
of Sarah M. Cornell, has done to that class of
young women whose lot in life has compelled them
to labor in a manufactory. Many have taken the
liberty to say that if all those disgusting particulars O5v 196
were true, it proved to demonstration that “vice was
not regarded among that portion of society as it was
in any other community; that there was little regard
to morals among them, or that persons could not
have been tolerated and associated with as we know
she was—and finally that it ought to be a warning
to parents not to let a daughter go to those places,
which was going to certain ruin.”
Now nothing
can be more unjust than this. There is no person
who deprecates the practice of sending little children
into a cotton manufactory more than the author;
she avers with truth that she has often been affected
to tears at the sight of the little innocents,
compelled to leave their beds before the rising of
the sun and labor until long after its going down in
those establishments, and that perhaps to support
some idle, drunken father, or miserable, unfeeling
mother; but when she has again seen healthy,
sprightly and well educated girls, laboring to assist
some widowed mother, or to give education to some
half dozen little brothers and sisters, her feelings
have received a different impulse. There is no way
that grown up girls in the present state of society
can get better wages—nor where their payment is
so sure. And the privilege of working in manufactories
to such is a great one. That these girls are
careless of their conduct or their company is scarce
ever the case—and the author has known numbers
despised and shunned, and hunted from the manufacturing
villages, upon a charge of a much less serious
nature than any of those brought against S. M.
, that is, where they had no meeting to shelter
them—where backslidings and recoveries, expulsion
and reinstation, were a common thing. In such
a case perhaps it might not be known out of the O6r 197
meeting. Why, if it were publicly known, as it ought
to be, a girl guilty of half the offences she is charged
with, in the state of Massachusetts or Connecticut,
would at once find herself in the House of Correction.

The publication of this matter however has had
one good tendency which is obvious. It has generated
a suspicion of those noisy, ranting professors,
who go about interrogating every one they meet, to
know “if they love the Lord? if they enjoy religion?
if they are not ashamed of Jesus?”
&c. &c.
which none but grossly ignorant or hypocritical people
ever think of asking. We hope and trust it has
not lessened the respect felt for those modest, practical
and retiring christians, who mind their own
concerns, and pursue the even tenor of their way,
without seeking to obtrude themselves or their religion,
except where propriety sanctions, and principle
and duty authorize them to do it; and these occasions
are not rare. There are daily and hourly
opportunities for the real christian to shew forth the
beauties of holiness, without disgusting people with
impertinent interrogations, discovering an impudence
and boldness inconsistent with their sex and

Since writing this book we observe there has been
a great hue and cry among a certain class—that
religion was in danger from dwelling upon this subject
—that it was better to have it smothered, or in
their language, “dropt,” and that every christian
who lent his aid to keep it in memory, was strengthening
the hands of infidelity. To such we would
say, we view the subject in a very different light,
and we consider it as a very suspicious circumstance
in professors or ministers of the gospel when they O6v 198
wish to smother “spiritual wickedness in high
We firmly believe that religion is not so
inseparably connected with E. K. Avery, so identified
with him, that it must rise or fall with him, or
indeed with any other preacher. We have always
believed that the existence of counterfeits, was itself
a proof there was real coin somewhere, and have
been accustomed to consider the Christian Church
as a net cast into the sea which gathered fish of every
kind, both bad and good. Our Bibles tell us
“there will be deceivers in the last days.” We
consider the scripture as fulfilling, and that these
enormities being foretold and now accomplishing,
proves them true; but we are not warned to spare
such offenders because of their professions, but on
the contrary, “that judgment must first begin at
the house of God.”
And we believe whoever is able
to assist in this and in pointing out the difference
between true and false religion, is doing society and
religion itself a great service; and though men may
mistake our motives, we can appeal to the Searcher
of all hearts for the purity of them, and we look with
hope and confidence for his approbation at the resurrection
of the just.