Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson
A thousand oaths, an ocean of his tears,
And instances as infinite of love,
Warrant me welcome.—But indeed
All these are servants to deceitful man.
SOON after my victory over the head of the Pinking-dindies, Mr. Lawless's father died, but what he left him was scarce worth mentioning; and having no farther expectations here, his friends advised him to go to England. With their advice he found it necessary to comply; and requested me to sell all the property I had in Dublin, and live with him in London for the remainder of my life. However, I begged to be excused. I thought it much better to stay where I was, immersed in all the pleasures of the world, and to be entirely my own mistress, than to go with him, and pinch upon his pittance; or to expend what I had saved in inching it out. He went off by himself, not thoroughly satisfied with me; and I saw him depart, with emotions far different from those with which I beheld his going to America. My love was not then in such a state as formerly. Time, his neglect whilst abroad; and the dissipated life I had led for some time, had blunted my sensations in respect to him.
When Mr. Lawless was in London, he kept continually writing to me to urge my coming to him; but Sally Hayes and I lived in Drogheda-street, in an endless round of pleasures, or at least what seemed such to me, till my dear little girl died, in consequence of the riot I have already mentioned. The loss of her seemed the greatest affliction with which I had ever been attacked. I was really frantic for some weeks, and could receive no consolation. The house in which I lived, kept up my grief by continually presenting objects to my eyes, that by reminding me of my dear child, momentarily renewed my regret. I therefore determined to quit, not only my house, but even the kingdom itself. Hoping that a variety of new objects, and new scenes of dissipation might lessen, if not entirely put an end to my sorrow.
I wrote to Mr. Lawless to London, told him my resolution, and that I should shortly be with him. Accordingly I arrived in London, and went directly to his lodgings, but was told he was out. I then drove to a Coffee-house, that I had heard he frequented, and left a note announcing my arrival, and whither I had gone; which was to an Irish lady, with whom I had been well acquainted in Dublin, and who received me in a very cordial manner. I had not been there long when Mr. Lawless came. He seemed overjoyed at my arrival, appeared to be as fond as ever; and took me home to his own apartments.
O Man! Man! sex of deceit! However glad Mr. Lawless was at my coming, I since found that when I called first on him, he had a girl with him, which made him be denied to me till he could dispose of her; which he did directly, by taking lodgings for her in a distant part of the town. It is true, he spent both his days and nights with me, but a portion of every forenoon was dedicated to his visits to her.
I very naturally wished to see some of my Irish old acquaintance; but this he constantly opposed, under some pretence or other; well knowing that as most of them were well acquainted with his having kept this girl, for some months before my arrival; his deceit would be soon detected if they saw me. I was therefore, always denied to any of them when they called at our lodgings, for he represented them as company totally unfit for me to keep.
For some time I remained his dupe; but one forenoon, when my spark was gone on his morning tour, I went to the lady I had first seen on my coming to London, who indeed, was the only one Mr. Lawless was willing I should see. She had well known his connection with this girl, but was unwilling to tell me of it, as he had sworn her to secrecy in that point, as soon as I came. However, we went together to take a walk, and I requested she would bring me to some of my old acquaintance; assuring her that I would not let him know that it was by her I was directed to where they lived. We accordingly, visited one of them, who had some more of them with her. In the course of our conversation, one of the ladies asked what Mr. Lawless had done with the girl he had kept. Another winked at her, which I observing, asked what Lawless? and what Girl? They all sat silent for some minutes, when one of them said, "why should she be deceived?" it's your Lawless. He keeps a Miss Sharman, he has kept her a long time, and drives her about every day in a phaeton.
I was much shocked at this intelligence. To think, that he had formed such a connection at a time, when he was continually writing in the most affectionate terms, and urging me to come to him, hurt me greatly; in my pride at least, if not in my love, for that was nearly extinct. However, I was happy I had made that discovery in time; as without this intelligence, I might have continued to live with him amidst scenes of ill-usage and distress.
I directly formed my resolution what to do. I resolved that I would put an immediate stop to all farther connection with Lawless for ever. I took a house from one of the ladies present; then returning to the lodgings, I packed up all my trunks and boxes, and carried them to my own house, leaving my gentleman to dine by himself when he returned from his Miss Sharman, and to think what he pleased about me. Where to find me, after he came home and missed, me he could not conceive. My having taken all my baggage with me, assured him that I had quitted him, and that I was not out on any excursion. The servant knew nothing of where I had gone; and he was ignorant of the cause of my so sudden elopement. Conscious indeed, to himself of his duplicity, he conjectured I must have found it out. He then went to seek me at every house where he thought I might possibly be, saying at each, that he was sure I could not be long absent, as he knew I was so very fond of him, that doubtless he would have forty letters left for him at different Coffee-houses, before to-morrow night. But he soon found his mistake. The reign of Love was over, as was also that of Jealousy, though resentment kept its place. The day passed, but not one of his forty expected letters was left for him.
Enraged at his disappointment, he then thought that my friend whom he had sworn to secrecy had betrayed him; he flew to her, and threatened he would murder her if she did not tell him where I was; upbraiding her with her treachery to him, and calling her by every opprobrious name his malice could suggest, or passion cause him to utter. She protested she had never told me of his connection with Miss Sharman; but, being really terrified at his threats, she confessed who gave me that information, and that I was in the house of her who gave me an account of his duplicity, which I had taken ready furnished, for a year certain. My sole motive for this step was, that having told all my friends in Dublin, that I was going to London, to spend the rest of my life with Lawless, I was really ashamed to return so soon, lest I should be laughed at, and the consequence I had so long assumed should be let down, which would have considerably wounded my pride.
Mr. Lawless having gained intelligence of my residence, came the next evening to pay me a visit, when he came into the drawing-room, I went to the looking-glass, and began to settle the diamonds in my head-dress; at his entering I turned my head round, and with a look of ineffable contempt, asked him what he wanted. His reply was, "what do you think I want? I want you, ungrateful woman! what have I done to cause you to leave me in the manner you did?"—O nothing at all, my good man (said I,) I want no altercation with you, and only desire you would go about your business. This is my house, and I insist on never seeing you here again. He then began to offer some apology, but I cut him short, by telling him I required none; and looking out of the window, said I should neither listen to, nor mind anything he said, and then began to sing. He then went away almost mad, at my distant behaviour.
The next morning came a letter from him, containing a deal of fulsome nonsense, endeavouring to clear himself of his villainy. I told the bearer it required no answer. The day after, Mr. Beg, an intimate of Lawless, came to me with another letter, which I took and threw on the fire, and then opened it with the poker, without reading a word, and thrust it into the flames. I told Mr. Beg that I wished the fellow who sent it was in its place, till he was burnt to ashes, for enticing me to a strange country, wherein I had not a single friend. In short, he kept teasing me with letters and messages for some time; but I continued inflexible, would never forgive him, and he finding all his efforts totally in vain, desisted from the fruitless pursuit, and here ended all connection with Mr. Lawless.