Peg Plunkett's Memoirs - CHAP. XXIV.

Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson

CHAP. XXIV.

 

As in their faces, so in mind and heart,
Men differ from each other庸ew alike.
BEN JOHNSON

I WOULD now resume my narrative, but for some few years there was an entire sameness in my way of life; the change of which, will be the subject of my next volume: The remainder of this will be occupied with a set of anecdotes, which have no absolute connection with each other, though singularly amusing.

I had formed an acquaintance with Lord G覧d, son of a noble Earl, he called on me one evening, in company with a noted attorney (who, at that time had the management of my Lord's family affairs in his hands, had since got into Parliament, and very lately paid an intrusive visit to the dominions of Neptune, whence he never returned alive.) His lordship complained he was very thirsty, and desired I would send for a pot of porter. It was brought and they both drank of it. When they were going Lord G覧, threw a guinea on the table, and desired the attorney to put down another. He replied, "Not I indeed, my Lord! I think your guinea is sufficient to pay for fifty pots of porter! What! two guineas for a pot of porter! I have not such a fortune as you have, to throw away my guineas in such a way."邑hy M様, said my Lord, I thought you would give five guineas for sitting in that lady's company. But I suppose you have no change about you. Come, come, I'll pay one for you謡hich he did. His lordship went away laughing, and the man of the law scolding, muttering, and grumbling as he went along.

What a contrast between the two. The one sordid and mean, the other noble and generous. Many pleasing parties have I had with his lordship, Captain M覧ws, and young D覧d L覧, who all frequently visited me. Young D覧 indeed, used generally to employ the time he was at my house, in admiring himself in my large looking-glass. He would contemplate his person with a great degree of complacency and self-approbation, then would turn round to me, cut three or four capers, and cry out,"Well Leeson, ar'n't I a damn'd handsome fine fellow?' Whatever I thought, it was my business to praise him, in order to coax him out of something genteel, and therefore, my constant reply was, that there was not a handsomer man in town; nor in my opinion a finer dancer.

One of the drollest characters I ever knew, was a gentleman who lived not far from the Linen-hall. He was a mean looking ugly old fellow, and the dirtiest wretch I ever sat in company with. He was one of my danglers for a time, but had no chance of pleasing me. He teased me to leave my house, and he would take a very elegant one for me, and settle one hundred pounds a year upon me for life. I coaxed him and fed him up with hopes till he gave me the first year's allowance in advance; and then told him I would give him a definite answer in three days. The interval seemed tedious to him, and he came to me at the expiration of it. I then told him, that he could doubtless get ladies enough, but as for me, I was too fond of a public life, to bear confinement. I thanked him for the hundred pounds he had so generously given me, to buy a horse, which I would certainly do. I would use the beast well, for his sake, and the first time I mounted it I would ride by his door, that he might see, that his present was not ill bestowed.

A little before Sally Hayes died; I was called into the parlour to a handsome young lad of about seventeen or eighteen years. We had a short conversation, but he would not tell me who he was. I went into the next room where Sally, and Mrs. Hall sat, and desired one of them would go and know who and what he was. Mrs. Hall went to him, but returned back no wiser than she was before. Sally then went, saying she should soon know him, if he was anybody worth knowing; but she could not make him out. I then approached him, and said, Sir, I have not the pleasure of knowing you, nor can either of the ladies I sent in. I therefore must wish you a good night; and desire whenever you shall do me the favour of another visit, that you will bring some gentleman with whom I am acquainted to introduce you, for I never admit any strangers unless they are properly recommended. This seemed to displease him very much: he danced about the room, and pulling out a handful of guineas which he threw on the sofa (but I must observe, he threw them where he could easily pick them up again; which he did, without leaving a loose one for the servants) asking me if I did not think he was a gentleman. I answered, I could not tell whether he was or not邑hat, said he, does not my appearance look like one? I replied, why really, Sir, your scarlet frock, in my opinion, seems rather against you; as, I assure you when I first came into the parlour, I took you for some English flashman, such as the ladies in London have about them. They are commonly hair-dressers, or waiters, dressed every Sunday in just such another frock and small clothes, as you have on now My gentleman now became like a madman. He gave me half a score hearty curses, calling me every opprobrious name he could recollect, and picking up his guineas went away swearing he would never enter the house again. However, about two years afterwards, he thought proper to come again, and then I knew him to be a Mr. B覧r, of Kilkenny. Then I and Mrs. Hall were his particular favourites. He shortly after came to be Lord T覧s, by his father's obtaining a very ancient earldom. However, though advanced in rank, that was the only point in which he was more respectable, and we resigned his lordship, for others of more consequence.

After the death of Sally Hayes, I became acquainted with a lady on Summer-hill, of the name of Wynne, I believe she had been formerly of the sisterhood, but was then married to an Englishman. This Mrs. Wynne was constantly applying to me to let a young lady of her acquaintance live with me: for as at that time I had no one, she thought it a pity such a large house as was mine, should be so totally disengaged. This young lady was a Miss Kitty Gore. I mentioned this circumstance to a Miss Ross for whom I had a sincere regard. She warned me against taking Miss Gore into my house; which, if I did, I would soon have occasion to repent it. I asked the reason; when Miss Ross assured me, that Kitty Gore had a most infamous character, and that she had a mother who was ten times worse, who would be constantly coming after her; and who had never lodged in any house, but had been turned out of doors, for the usage she gave her daughter.

On hearing this, I sent my answer of refusal to Mrs. Wynne, relating what I had heard. Thus, properly forewarned, it was natural to think I would have persisted in my refusal, and have kept the promise I made to Miss Ross, never to let Kitty Gore into my house. But, in truth, I was always an easy fool, who suffered myself to be over-persuaded. Mrs. Wynne called on me, assured me that Miss Gore's mother was quite another character, and said so many fine things of the daughter, that I consented to receive her.

The next evening the mother called on me, and desired to know when her daughter, the young lady Mrs. Wynne had recommended as a lodger, might come to me. I told her next night. But the next morning the old woman came again, and said her daughter had lodged two months at Mrs. Burnett's, No. 22, Whitefriar-street, where she owed seven guineas, and could not get her clothes out, till she had paid that sum. She requested me to advance the money, which I immediately did. At night the mother and daughter came; but no clothes, no trunks, no one kind of baggage. I enquired when her clothes would be sent; they said to-morrow傭ut alas! to-morrow never came, and her whole wardrobe might have been comprised in a comb-case; and the very cloak Miss Gore had on had been borrowed, and the mother, when she saw her daughter housed, took it back to the person who lent it.

Well, Miss Gore was now with me; and proved such a shocking creature as to baffle all description. But, I anticipated;預s soon as the mother was gone, I asked again about her clothes, when she owned she had not a shred more than was on her back, but what was in pawn. I desired to know the cause of her poverty; she answered, she had lived with a very great scoundrel, a surgeon, a Mr.覧, who had made her pledge everything she had; that she had left him three several times, but he had found her out, and brought her back. And so (said I) I suppose he will do here. Not, replied she, if he thinks I am poor; but if he thinks I am in cash, he certainly will傭ut I won't go with him again.

Well, child, said I, you are a likely girl, and may do very well, if you take care of yourself; and behave properly; but you can't keep my company, without making an elegant appearance. If I should take up proper things for you, will you be honest, and repay me? She swore a hundred oaths that she would, and that she would never forget my humanity, but be always grateful for my kindness. The next day, I took her to the several shops, at which I usually dealt, and let her have as much as she pleased, of everything she wanted, to nearly the value of a hundred pounds.

Being dressed in a genteel style, next day her mother came in the morning, to see what she could get from her. She denied she had any money (though she had then a twenty pound note,) and begged I would say the same, or else the old woman would beat her till she got all, or, at least, what she had got. At length, after much altercation, as we were tired of her company, I made her daughter give her ten pounds, with which she went off, and we were rid of her for about a fortnight.

Miss Gore had not been long with me, but I got a thorough knowledge of all her past transactions. She had lived a long time in the Four Courts Marshalsea, with her father and mother; and then, in the same place, with a gentleman who was confined for a very considerable sum, till he detected her in doing some very improper things. He caught her in another gentleman's room; and when he looked into his chest, he found the mother had made free with it for a long time. He then turned her off to look for new friends. She and her mother went into town every night, till the girl made connections with some ladies who kept convenient houses, and lived successively with several of them; particularly with Mrs. Dillon, in Fishamble-street; Mrs. Sterling, in Jervis-street; Mrs. Wynne, on Summer-hill; Mrs. O'Brien, in Longford-street; Mrs. Burnet, in White-friar's-street; and, at length, with me, to my great misfortune.

In about a fortnight after Miss Gore came to me, she paid forty pounds out of what she owed me; which money, with much more, and several genteel presents, she got from a Mr. Palmer, who was very kind to her: She might have continued to receive his favours, had not her old acquaintance, the surgeon, concluded she was rich, from seeing her riding out every day with me, elegantly dressed; and on visiting her, hearing that she had clothes sufficient to serve her for at least two years, if she bought no other. He now resolved to get what property she had into his clutches; he therefore came and requested she would come and live with him again; and to induce her to comply, trumped up a story that he had been left some money at his father's death, and would do everything in his power for her. He told me if I would send her clothes to his lodgings, he would pay me what she then owed me (which amounted to fifty-two pounds). Relying on his promise, I, very weakly, gave the security for my debt out of my own hands, and delivered all her clothes to the messenger she sent for them; taking neither note or bond from her or her friend, the surgeon.

After waiting three or four months, and no money coming, I sent to the gentleman for payment. The answer he sent me was, that he would never pay me a farthing, and that I might send for it to Mr. Palmer. I then took out a writ, and arrested Miss Gore; the surgeon got bail for her, and defended the suit. After a short time, her attorney came, and offered to pay me the half; but I thought it too bad to loose twenty-six pounds, for my foolish good nature, refused, and the case came to trial.

In one point I was very deficient, and wanted law-cunning. There was a counsellor, as eminent for his talents and abilities as for his scurrility and grossness of language; him I should have engaged, and then, right or wrong, I might have got my cause. But, failing in that prudential step, he was retained against me; and though I had three very respectable counsellors (one of whom returned a fee of ten guineas, and politely assured me he would do all he could for me;) yet, the gentleman against me, uttered such a volley of abusive language, as influenced the Jury against me. I had all the tradesmen, from whom I had taken up things for Miss Gore, as evidences for me; and their bills and receipts were produced, insomuch that the Judge himself said, the case was so clear, there was no occasion for any more evidence; and gave a charge to the jury accordingly; notwithstanding which they found a verdict against me; influenced more by the clever counsels' wit, satire, and abuse, than by justice. But it must be remarked, they were not a jury of honest respectable citizens; but a set of picked-up fellows, hired, like hackney coaches, for a shilling fare each, who valued neither soul nor body; and probably had not the price of a dinner, till they received their hire from Kitty Gore's honest friend and protector.

I have now continued my narrative, and the corresponding anecdotes, to the end of this volume. I shall proceed, in my next, to those of a later date, even down to the present period; which, I doubt not, will prove still more entertaining to the reader than the past; as many now, living characters, will be produced, and my own conduct related with the same fidelity I have hitherto done, without concealing my defects, or striving to palliate my errors. I shall also, for the sake of Justice, enumerate those, of what rank soever, who have been so ungenerous as to continue in my debt, for money truly and lawfully due; that those who have defied justice, may not escape shame.

 

Prev Next