Peg Plunkett's Memoirs - CHAP. XII.

Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson



There was a time in the gay spring of life
When ev'ry note was as the mounting lark's
Merry and cheerful to salute the morn:
When all the day was made of melody.
But it is past, that day is spent and done,
And it has long been night, long night with me.
I have been happier, you have known me so.

            SOME short time after, the postman came early to the door with a letter. I soon recognised Mr. Lawless's hand. The letter indeed, was from him, the first I had received for the space of four years. It informed me that he was returned from America, that he had landed at Cork, and desired I would come to him there. But I was greatly changed. The time was past in which I would almost have given one of my eyes for a letter from him. Now I received it with the utmost indifference, and read it with disgust. I was irritated with his four years total silence, and therefore had not the least inclination to meet him. However, I communicated this epistle to such of my female friends as had known us both. They all argued strongly in his favour, but to them I replied, "that his maltreatment of me, for nearly the last two years we had lived together, notwithstanding my exemplary conduct and fidelity to him; my saving and domestic way of life; my having cheerfully parted with every article of finery, so precious to most women, for the support of him and his children, and my constancy for a long time after he was gone, ere I would admit another lover; had all met with no return but ungrateful neglect; for which reasons, I could not possibly have any inducement or inclination to see him." lb be sure in this detail, however true, I quite forgot to urge the provocation I had given him by my jealousies, turbulence, and constant altercation.—My eloquence was fruitless, my friends pleaded much in his behalf; especially Sally Hayes, who said the expense would be but trifling, for I had a carriage, it was only adding two horses to my own two, and four would trundle us to Cork, in a little time. She also joined another argument, that perhaps he had saved some money, which I should certainly lose if I did not meet him. This consideration was more prevalent than every other. I was arrived to the same character, which I had heard some of my learned College friends ascribe to the famous Cataline, in a Latin line, which I remember was—Appetens alieni, profusus sui, which they told me meant—Covetous of the property of others, lavish of that which was his own.—The thoughts of getting Lawless's money turned the scale, and determined me to set out for Cork.

            Accompanied with my little friend, Sally Hayes, we arrived in that city, quite in style. I met Mr. Lawless, but not with my wonted ardour. I thought I never beheld any object more disagreeable. Not that he was either disfigured, or deformed in his absence, as he had hazarded no wounds in battle, nor any change from want, or climate. But I did not look upon him with the same eyes as formerly; his neglect (a crime which no woman can bear) had penetrated deep into my heart. I soon let him know I was entirely my own mistress, and was accountable to no one for my conduct or actions; and as I was come to Cork, I would see everything there that merited attention, and partake of every pleasure and amusement that city afforded.

            I then went into a lodging Mr. Lawless had taken for me, where Sally and I dwelt. It was on Hammond's-marsh, at the house of an old stiff Puritan; who had he known who we were, would have thought his habitation would have taken fire of itself, and have burnt down to the ground. There we lived a month, making daily excursions to Cove, Glanmire, the Rock, &c.: dressed with a flaming elegance, that dazzled everyone, and remained quite unknown, till the Sunday before we left the place.

            On that day, we had driven to Sunday's-well, when I sent the carriage back, and resolved to cross in the ferry-boat, and walk home. The boat had about twenty persons in it, amongst whom there happened to be a whiffling, impertinent cox-comb, such puppies as infest every public place. He had seen me in Dublin, and knew who I was. He spoke to me, but I made him no answer, as I did not know him. Piqued at my silence, he buzzed my name and that of my companion, which drew the eyes of above twenty directly upon us, and peeped under our bonnets; some said it was Peg Plunket, with Sally Hayes. Others that it was not. Mr. Lawless was very prudently silent, but I really thought from the behaviour of these people, as I had been told that Cork was a lawless place, that they would have pushed our man from between us, and have carried us where they pleased. However, when we landed many of them dispersed, only a few followed us, and dogged us; but we tired their patience, and they could not trace us to our lodgings; in which we stayed but two days longer and then sat out for Dublin, accompanied by Mr. Lawless on horseback.


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