224 Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
Another romantic incident — and of a more touching character—unstained, too, by any associations of crime, is furnished by the local history of Maresfield, and is told so unaffectedly by the late rector of that parish, the Rev. E. Turner, that we give it in his language. When touching on the family mansion, at Maresfield, of the Relphes, of " Marshalls," he says :—
"The melancholy circumstances attending the death of a female of this family, resident in Buxted, and of a gentleman named Atkinson, to whom she was affianced, was deemed by Mr. Mitchell, the then rector of Maresfield, of sufficient interest to merit more than a mere formal register of their burial. He has therefore recorded them in a Latin note; and they are certainly, as Mr. Mitchell commences by saying, worthy of being delivered down to posterity. The entries of their burial are :—
" 1742. Dec. 14th, buried Mrs. Mary Relfe, of Buxted. " 1742. Dec. 15th, Mr. James Atkinson, of London."
"A mutual attachment, he continues, had for some time existed between them, and the day fixed for their marriage was close at hand, when a special messenger unexpectedly arrived in London, where Mr. Atkinson appears to have held some public appointment, for the purpose of announcing the sad intelligence of the dangerous illness of the lady. He hastened to Buxted, and found the object of his dearest affections at the point of death. Gratified by the sight of her lover, and at this proof of his sincere attachment to her, she revived a little at the sight of him, and lived, contrary to all expectations, two days after his arrival, during which time he continued by her bedside, administering to her wants, and refusing to take food, or to be in any way comforted. She died on the evening of Sunday, on which day, sick in body, but much more sick in mind, he took to his bed, and there lay, overpowered by the intensity of his grief, and praying continually for relief by death, until the following Sunday, when he died, at the very same hour in the evening