Convicted of stabbing a gentleman in a brothel
Sally Salisbury stabbing a gentleman in a brothel
THERE is no state in human nature so wretched as that of the prostitute. Seduced, abandoned to fate, the unhappy female falls a prey to want; or she must purchase existence at a price degrading, in the last degree, to the mind of sensibility. Subject to the lust and debauchery of every thoughtless blockhead, she becomes hardened in shame. Hence modesty is put to the blush by the obscenity of those, once pure as our own darling daughters. Every public place swarms with this miserable set of beings, so that parents dread to indulge their children with even the sight of a moral stage performance. The unhappy prostitute, heated by drink, acquires false spirits, in order to inveigle men to her purpose; and, in so doing, she too often takes apparent satisfaction in annoying, by looks and gestures, often by indecent words, the virtuous part of the audience. The law, while it assumes the guardianship of youth by suppressing immorality, still permits these wantons to rove, uncontrolled, among the virtuous as well as the profligate. There ought, in public at least, some bounds to be set -- some check to the pernicious example. They may surely be restrained, at least to the outward show of decency, when in mixed company.
Yet, says the philanthropist, they demand our pity. They do indeed! The cause, while nature progresses, cannot he removed; but the legislature might do more to regulate the evil than is done in this country. It is by some held a necessary evil, tending, in its utmost extent, even to the benefit of the yet virtuous female; but a mind once formed by precept and good example will ever repel a liberty attempted by a profligate man; they are cowards when reproved by virtuous indignation.
We can only accord our tribute of pity to them, though about to give the effects of prostitution in its greatest extent, by quoting the words of the poet, as applied to the miseries of the unhappy Jane Shore:
When she was mine, no arm came ever near her;
I thought the gentlest breath of heaven
Too rough to blow upon her.
Now, sad and shelterless, perhaps she wanders,
And the rain drops from some penthouse
On her wretched head, drenches her locks,
And kills her with the cold.'
On the 24th of April, 1723, Sarah Priddon was indicted at the Old Bailey, for making a violent assault on the Hon. J-- F--, and stabbing him with a knife in his left breast, and giving him a wound of which he long languished, with an intent to kill and murder him.
Mrs. Priddon, or rather Salisbury (for that was the name by which she was best known), was a woman of the town, who was well acquainted with the gentleman whom she wounded. It appeared on the trial that Mr. F. having gone to the Three Tuns tavern in Chandos Street, Covent Garden, about midnight, Sally followed him thither soon afterwards. The drawer, after he had waited on Mr. F. went to bed; but at two in the morning he was called up, to draw a pint of Frontiniac for Mrs. Salisbury. This he did, and carried it to her with a French roll and a knife. The prisoner was now in company and conversation with Mr. F. and the drawer heard them disputing about an Opera ticket, which he had presented to her sister; and, while they were talking, she stabbed him; on which he put his hand to his breast, and said, 'Madam, you have wounded me.'
No sooner had she committed the fact than she appeared sincerely to regret what she had done: she sent for a surgeon, who finding it necessary to extend the wound, that the blood might flow outwardly, she seemed terrified, and, calling out 'O Lord! what are you doing?' fainted away.
On her recovery, she asked Mr. F. how he did; to which he answered, 'Very bad, and worse than you imagine.' She endeavoured to console him in the best manner she could, and, after some time, the parties went away in separate chairs; but not till the wounded gentleman had forgiven her, and saluted her as a token of that forgiveness.
The counsel for the prisoner endeavoured to prove that she had no Intention of wounding him with malice prepense; and that what she did arose from a sudden start of passion, the consequence of his having given an Opera ticket to her sister, with a view to ingratiate her affections, and debauch her.
The counsel for the Crown ridiculed this idea, and insinuated that a woman of Mrs. Salisbury's character could not be supposed to have any very tender regard for her sister's reputation. They allowed that Mr. F. had readily forgiven her at the time; but insisted that this was a proof of the placability of his temper, and no argument in her favour.
They said that, if the gentleman had died of the wound, she would have been deemed guilty of murder, as she had not received the least provocation to commit the crime; and that the event made no difference with respect to the malignity of her intentions.
The jury, having considered the circumstances of the case, found her guilty of assaulting and wounding Mr. F. but acquitted her of doing it with an intent to kill and murder him. In consequence hereof she was sentenced to pay a fine of one hundred pounds, to be imprisoned for a year, and then to find security for her good behaviour for two years; but, when she had suffered about nine months' imprisonment, she died in Newgate, and was buried in the church-yard of St. Andrew, Holborn.