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Major Edward Blakeney, and Captain James Murray of the same Regiment.]
"At fourteen, Marguerite began to enter into the society of grown-up persons; an event which afforded her no small satisfaction, as that of children, with the exception of her brothers and sisters, especially Ellen, from whom she was almost inseparable, had but little charm for her. Ellen, who was somewhat more than a year her junior, shared the beauty of her family, a fact of which Marguerite, instead of being jealous, was proud, and the greatest affection subsisted between the sisters, though there was but little similarity in their dispositions or pursuits. In order that they might not be separated, Ellen, notwithstanding her extreme youth, was permitted to accompany her sister into the society of Tipperary, that is to say, to assemblies held there once a week, called Coteries. These, though music and dancing were the principal amusements, were not considered as balls, to which only girls of riper years were admitted. Here, though Ellen's beauty at first procured her much more notice and admiration than fell to the lot of her sister, the latter, ere long, began to attract no inconsiderable degree of attention. Her dancing was singularly graceful, and the intelligence of her conversation produced more lasting impressions than mere physical beauty could have won.
"About this period the 47th Regiment arrived, and was stationed at Clonmel, and, according to the custom of country towns, particularly in Ireland, all the houses of the leading gentry were thrown open to receive the officers with due attention.
"At a dinner given to them by her father, Marguerite was treated with marked attention by two of them, Captain Murray and Captain Farmer, and this attention was renewed at a juvenile ball given shortly after.
"The admiration of Captain Murray, although it failed to win so very youthful a heart, pleased and flattered her, while
that of Captain Farmer excited nothing but mingled fear and distaste. She hardly knew why; for young, good-looking, and with much to win the good graces of her sex, he was generally considered as more than equal to Captain Murray in the power of pleasing.
"An instinct, however, which she could neither define nor control, increased her dislike to such a degree at every succeeding interview, that Captain Farmer, perceiving it was in vain to address her personally, applied to her parents, unknown to her, offering his hand, with the most liberal proposals which a good fortune enabled him to make. In ignorance of an event which was destined to work so important a change in her destiny, Marguerite received a similar proposal from Captain Murray, who at the same time informed her of the course adopted by his brother officer, and revealed a fact which perhaps accounted for the instinctive dread she felt for him."
[Captain Farmer was subject to fits of ungovernable passion, at times so violent as to endanger the safety of himself and those around him; and at all times there was about him a certain wildness and abruptness of speech and gesture, which left the impression on her mind that he was insane.]
"Astonishment, embarrassment, and incredulity, were the feelings uppermost in the girl's mind at a communication so every way strange and unexpected.
"A few days proved to her that the information of Captain Farmer's having addressed himself to her parents was but too true; and the further discovery that these addresses were sanctioned by them, filled her with anxiety and dismay. She knew the embarrassed circumstances of her father, the desire he would naturally feel to secure a union so advantageous in a worldly point of view for one of his children, and she knew, too, his fiery temper, his violent resistance of any attempt at opposition, and the little respect, or consideration, he entertained for the wishes of any of his family when contrary to
his own. Her mother, too, gave but little heed to what she considered as the foolish and romantic notions of a child, who was much too young to be consulted in the matter. Despite of tears, prayers, and entreaties, the unfortunate gir was compelled to yield to the commands of her inexorable parents; and at fourteen and a half, she was united to a man who inspired her with nothing but feelings of terror and detestation."*
[Captain Maurice St. Leger Farmer entered the army February, 1795; he had been on half pay in 1802, and obtained his company the 9th of July. 1803, in the 47th Regiment of Foot. In 1805 he continued in the same regiment, but in 1806 his name is not to be found in the Army List, neither of officers on full, or on half pay.]†
"The result of such a union may be guessed. Her husband could not but be conscious of the sentiment she entertained towards him, though she endeavoured to conceal the extent of her aversion; and this conviction, acting upon his peculiarly excitable temperament, produced such frequent and terrible paroxysms of rage and jealousy, that his victim trembled in his presence. It were needless to relate the details of the period of misery, distress, and harrowing fear, through which Marguerite, a child in years, though old in suffering, passed. Denied in her entreaties to be permitted to return to the house of her parents, she at last, in positive terror for her personal safety, fled from the roof of her husband to return no more."
[There is a slight mistake in the passage above referred to. On Lady Blessington's own authority, I am able to state, that she did return to her father's house, though she was very
* The groomsman of Captain Farmer was a Captain Hardinge, of the 47th Regiment. The Captain became a General, and is now Commander in Chief.
↑ Vide Army Lists for 1804, 5, 6.
reluctantly received there. The particulars of this unhappy marriage had best be given in the words of Lady Blessington, and the following is an account of it furnished me by her Ladyship, on the 15th of October, 1843.
"Her father was in a ruined position at the time she was brought home from school, a mere child, and treated as such. Among his military friends, she then saw a Captain Farmer for the first time; he appeared on very intimate terms with her father, but when she first met him, her father did not introduce her to him; in fact, she was looked on then as a mere school-girl, whom it was not necessary to introduce to any stranger. Her father told her, after some time, she was not to return to school-he had decided that she was to marry Captain Farmer. This intelligence astonished her; she burst out crying, and a scene ensued in which his menaces and her protestations against his determination terminated violently. Her mother unfortunately sided with her father, and eventually, by caresses, entreaties, and representations of the advantages her father looked forward to from this match with a man of Captain Farmer's affluence, she was persuaded to sacrifice herself, and to marry a man for whom she felt the utmost repugnance. She had not been long under her husband's roof when it became evident to her that her husband was subject to fits of insanity, and his own relatives informed her that her father had been acquainted by them, that Captain Farmer had been insane; but this information had been concealed from her by her father. She lived with him about three months, and during this time he frequently treated her with personal violence; he used to strike her on the face, pinch her till her arms were black and blue, lock her up whenever he went abroad, and often had left her without food till she felt almost famished. He was ordered at length to join his regiment, which was encamped on the Curragh of Kildare. Lady Blessington refused to accompany him there, and was even
tually permitted to return to her father's house, to remain there during his absence. Captain Farmer joined his regiment, and had not been many days with it, when in a quarrel with a brother officer, he drew his sword on the former (who was his superior), and the result of this insane act (for such it was allowed to be) was, that he was obliged to quit the service, being permitted to sell his commission. The friends of Captain Farmer then prevailed on him to go to India (I think Lady Blessington said in the Company's service); she, however, refused to go with him, and remained at her father's."
Such is the account given to me by Lady Blessington, and for the accuracy of the above report of that account I can vouch; though, of course, I can offer no opinion as to the justice of her conclusions in regard to the insanity of Captain Farmer. But it must be stated, fully and unreservedly, that the account given by her Ladyship of the causes of the separation, and those set forth in a recent communication of a brother of Captain Farmer, to the editor of a Dublin evening paper, are in several respects at variance.*
Mr. John Sheehy, now residing in Clonmel, a cousin of Lady Blessington, informs me that "he has a perfect recollection of the marriage of Marguerite Power with Captain Farmer. His father considered it a forced marriage, and used to speak of the violence done to the poor girl by her father, as an act of tyranny. It was an unfortunate marriage," says Mr. Sheehy," and it led to great misfortunes. It was impossible for her to live with Captain Farmer. She fled from him, and sought refuge in her father's house.
"She refused to return to her husband, and a separation was agreed on by the parties. Mrs. Farmer found herself very unhappily circumstanced in her former home. Her father was unkind, and sometimes more than unkind to her. She was looked on as an interloper in the house, as one who See Appendix for Report of Inquest.