Wednesday, June 14, 2006

"She did it the hard way" (Bette Davis)

The famous last words post/game below reminded me of my favorite epitaph, evah. Yes, it's possible to have one. No, this doesn't make me weird. Of course there's always Spike Milligan's famous, "I told you I was ill" (in Gaelic). But for sheer relish, language and content it has to be the one I came across in the church of St. Andrew's, Bramfield, Suffolk on a quick trip to that corner of England about a year or so ago. The church is noted for its detached tower, but even better, it's graced by the memorial stone of one Bridgett Applewhaite.

According to the venerable church historian, D.P. Mortlock, (now that's a proper name, none of this Bluebell Madonna twaddle for him), the Ecclesiological Society magazine of 1846 refused to print the full text of the memorial as it was "so very revolting and profane that we shall not defile the pages of our publication by reproducing it…"

On the other hand, I fully intend to sully the pages of this publication at any possible opportunity, so here's the full text, verbatim.

Between the Remains of her Brother EDWARD,
And of her Husband ARTHUR,
Here lies the Body of BRIDGETT APPLEWHAITe
Once BRIDGETT NELSON.
After the Fatigues of a Married Life,
Born by her with Incredible Patience,
For four Years and three Quarters, baring three Weeks;
And after the Enjoiment of the Glorious Freedom
Of an Easy and Unblemisht Widowhood,
For four Years and Upwards,
She Resolved to run the Risk of a Second Marriage-Bed
But DEATH forbad the Banns -.
And having with an Apoplectick Dart
(The same Instrument with which he had
Formerly Dispatcht her Mother)
Toucht the most Vital part of her Brain;
She must have fallen Directly to the Ground
(as one Thunder-strook,)
If she had not been Catcht and Supported
By her Intended Husband.
Of which Invisible Bruise,
After a Struggle for above Sixty Hours,
With that Grand Enemy to Life,
(But the certain and Mercifull Friend to Helpless Old Age,)
In Terrible Convulsions Plaintive Groans, or Stupefying Sleep,
Without Recovery of her Speech, or Senses,
She Dyed, on the 12th day of Sep in ye Year of our Lord 1737 and of her own Age 44.

5 comments:

azteclady said...

*giggling* Oh please, continue sullying!!!

(You think it was the "glorious freedom of widowhood" bit that so scandalized them? or her lying between her brother and her husband?)

jmc said...

Azteclady and I are on the same page: what was so sullying? The perv in me snickered about lying 'twixt brother and husband. Reminded me of a kinky Lora Leigh novella...

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Hello and thanks for stopping by, jmc.

The brother/husband thing makes me giggle too, but I reckon thoughts of what she might have got up to in her "easy and unblemisht Widowhood" and the way it disses her marriage really gave the Victorian scholars palpitations. I hope she enjoyed every single day of glorious freedom.

The whole thing is so vivid I love to speculate on who wrote it and the full story behind it. But my favorite bit? How the length of her first marriage is noted so precisely - like she counted off every single day.

azteclady said...

And she was in hurry to brave the marriage bed again, either *chuckling*

(see how I regrained from speculating on her late husband's performance? see? I'm all ladylike and everything today)


(must be getting a fever or something)

EvilAuntiePeril said...

Yes. Wonder what magic persuasion was wielded by prospective husband no.2?

Believe me, azteclady, I speculate. No need to worry about lady-like behaviour here.