London: Printed by H. Goreham in Fleet-street; and sold by T. Cooper, [1741?]. First edition. 8vo, recent period half calf and marbled boards by Philip Dusel, 40 pages. Engraved frontispiece, “The Murder of Jane Mew, by Hen. Smyth whom she was with Child by.”. Some dust soiling to a few leaves and some minor wear; a very good copy. Item #19517
A sensationalist and no doubt highly dramatized account of the seduction young Jane Mew (only daughter of a poor illiterate widowed farmer) at the hands of the dashing Smythee (or Smyth or Smith, depending on the source), supposedly down to Hampshire from London and lost in the woods on a shooting expedition when he stumbled upon Jane’s cottage and subsequently laid siege to her charms. An exchange of verses, promises of marriage, and a pregnancy ensue, though Smythee soon returns to his wife in Dorset; Jane is cast out by her father (who dies of a broken heart) and when she lands on Smythee’s doorstep in Poole, looking for support, she is instead turned out by his wife, which “brought a Crowd about her, and made a great Hubbub in the Town, so that the Thing was perfectly blown all over the Place where they lived, and all the good Women, rather than relieve Jane, reproach’d her for a Strumpet and Whore.” Despairing, Jane takes to the woods and slashes her own throat (or so this account would have it) and her death is laid at Smythee’s feet. The account of the trial (including a speech from Smythee) is given in detail, and much is made of his respectability and temperance and his fortitude in meeting his end at the gallows. Given Jeremiah Clark’s name on the title page and at the foot of the preface, this account is likely from his pen. With the discreet violet ink stamp of the New York Bar Association Library to the title page.