Lamb To The Slaughter

On Friday afternoon the Coroner and a respectable Jury sat on the body of a Lady in the neighbourhood of Holborn, who died in consequence of a wound from her daughter the preceding day. It appeared by the evidence adduced, that while the family were preparing for dinner, the young lady seized a case knife laying on the table, and in a menacing manner pursued a little girl, her apprentice, round the room; on the eager calls of her helpless infirm mother to forbear, she renounced her first object, and with loud shrieks approached her parent.

The child by her cries quickly brought up the landlord of the house, but too late – the dreadful scene presented to him the mother lifeless, pierced to the heart, on a chair, her daughter yet wildly standing over her with the fatal knife, and the venerable old man, her father, weeping by her side, himself bleeding at the forehead from the effects of a severe blow he received from one of the forks she had been madly hurling around the room.

For a few days prior to this the family had observed some symptoms of insanity in her, which had so much increased on the Wednesday evening, that her brother early the next morning went in quest of Dr Pitcairn – had that gentleman been met with, the fatal catastrophe had, in all probability, been prevented.

It seems the young Lady had been once before, in her earlier years, deranged, from the harassing fatigues of too much business. – As her carriage towards her mother was ever affectionate in the extreme, it is believed that to the increased attentiveness, which her parents’ infirmities called for by day and night, is to be attributed the present insanity of this ill-fated young woman.

The above unfortunate young person is a Miss Lamb, a mantua-maker, in Little Queen-Street, Lincoln’s-inn-fields. She has been, since, removed to Islington mad-house.

The Jury of course brought in their verdict, Lunacy.

Mary_Lamb-4Morning Chronicle, 26 September 1796, reproduced as the prologue to A Double Life : A Biography Of Charles And Mary Lamb by Sarah Burton (2003)

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