Tit-Bits, March 8, 1902


One very curious example took place during the operations of Lovat’s Scouts round Jagersfontein. One of the soldiers fell violently in love with one of the refugees, and, having proposed and been accepted, he persuaded the regimental chaplain to perform the ceremony at the first halt. Scarcely, however, had the service come to an end when fighting began again, and at half-past nine on the following morning the hero of this romantic story fell dead with a Boer bullet through his heart, his honeymoon having lasted considerably less than twenty-four hours.

Some thirty years ago the theatrical world was profoundly stirred by the suicide of a well-known actor, on the day after his marriage to a lady whom he had wooed and won on board the steamer which had brought him back from a tour in Australia. As the unfortunate man was gifted with well-nigh everything the heart could wish—handsome, rich, and eminently successful in his profession—the cause of his rash act was for a long time a profound mystery. But it has since come to light that he had previously been engaged to a charming Australian heiress, from whom he had been separated by her father.

Out of pique he had married the lady whom he met on board the steamer, and a few hours after the ceremony he received a letter from the father of his true sweetheart, saying that his daughter was dying of a broken heart and begging him to hasten back to Australia to claim her. So great were his remorse and despair upon receiving this news that he rushed to his room and shot himself through the head with a revolver.

A pathetic case took place some time ago at a town near Bristol. A gentleman of the town, who had long been in love with a lady living in the neighbourhood, had at last contrived to amass sufficient fortune to enable them to marry. The ceremony was accordingly performed, and the pair left the church to start on their honeymoon. On the very first day, however, of his wedded life he happened to be obliged to cross a crowded street, and, losing his presence of mind in the midst of the traffic, was run over by a cart. Owing to his advanced age the accident proved more severe than was at first expected, and on the following afternoon he expired, after having been married just one day.

Hardly less melancholy was the case of another bridegroom, who actually breathed his last during the course of the wedding-breakfast on the morning of the marriage. A song had just come to an end, and he was joining in the applause which followed, when those near him observed that he turned suddenly pale. A moment later he fell back in his chair, a dead man.

It is notorious that many murderers while under sentence of death receive offers of marriage. In the case of an American murderer named Colt the prison authorities actually permitted the service to be read in the condemned man’s cell. Directly it was completed the bride was led out, but when the warder came to visit the prisoner an hour later he was found on his plank-bed with a gaping wound in his throat. He had committed suicide with a knife which his wife had, at his request, brought with her into the cell, hidden beneath her dress.



Printed unsigned in Tit-Bits; entered by Wodehouse in Money Received for Literary Work.



How in the world P.G. came to write of a 1842 murder case and ensuing suicide, I haven’t a clue. (John Colt was convicted of the murder of a printer named Samuel Adams, to whom Colt owed money. Colt killed Adams with a hatchet in what he claimed was self-defense, but afterwards covered up the crime by disposing of the body. Colt was sentenced to hang in 1842, but committed suicide on the morning of his execution. One publication alleged that a family member smuggled the knife used in the suicide into his cell. Herman Melville alluded to the case in his short story ‘Bartleby the Scrivener.’)


John Dawson