Peg Plunkett's Memoirs - CHAP. XVIII.

Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson



Each change and excess have thro' life been my doom
And well I can speak of its joys and its strife.
The bottle affords us a glimpse thro' the gloom,
But Love's the true sun-shine that gladdens our life.
Thus a long time I thought, but not think so no more,
For usage and time will diminish the store.

            ALTHOUGH I had been at very great expense in fitting up my house in Wood-street, yet, in about a year, I found I should be necessitated to leave it. The under-waters had so penetrated to the foundation, that I not only thought the house unwholesome to live in, but even unsafe. I therefore sought for another house, and met with one that was building in Pitt-street, but not quite finished. I liked the situation and took it, and till it was completed, which was not till the end of two months, I removed my furniture to different places, and resided with a lady, who kindly offered me the use of her house. At length, Sally Hayes and I took possession of my new house, and for some time lived in our usual manner.

            Since some time after Mr. Lawless's departure for America, I had not known what love was. I used frequently to sing the song that so well expressed my disposition.


My pride is to hold all mankind in my chain
The conquest I prize, though the slaves I disdain.
I tease them, and vex them;
I plague and perplex them;
Since men try their arts our weak sex to betray,
I'll show them that woman's as cunning as they.

            But behold! after several years of apathy and indifference, I was again entangled in the nets of Love, and became as infatuated, with my second, as ever I had been with my first Love, Lawless.

            I became acquainted with a Mr. Robert Gorman, I thought him the only man worth my notice, and fell in love with him to a most extravagant degree. Whether he had an equal passion for me I know not; he said he had, and I believed him. He was extremely handsome. He was almost constantly with me, and then I despised all the rest of mankind, they became odious in my eyes, which could not look with pleasure or complacency on any but my dear Bob.

            His father had a country house, near Black-rock, and insisted on his son's coming to live with him; having, as I suppose, got some intelligence of his attachment to me. I was much dissatisfied; and could not sleep one night without him; he therefore, used as soon as ever his father went to bed, to slip out of the house and come to town to me, and get back again the next morning, before the old gentleman was up: soon after, I arose and drove to Booterstown, or the Rock, where we met and dined together; he then returned to his father's house, and I went home expecting him at night.

            This course went on uninterruptedly for some time, till some busy devil, envious of our happiness, told old Mr. Gorman, how his son had deceived him: therefore, he always stayed up till he saw his son in bed, and then locking all the doors, took the keys up with him. This prevented our nightly meetings for a while; but Love, fertile in stratagems, put one into Bob's head, and enabled him to elude his father's vigilance. He went down into the kitchen; and established an ascendency over the servants, by a few bottles of wine, and some money, till they became devoted to him.—It has been well observed, that there is but one road to the heart of a domestic, and whoever is generous cannot miss it. He made one of the men, after the doors were locked, stand in the area, he mounted on the man's shoulders, and so clambering over the rails got at liberty, and scampered off to me. This stratagem succeeded, night after night, for several weeks, to our mutual satisfaction. At length, whether the old gentleman suspected something, or Bob had been betrayed by somebody, is uncertain; but one night he went into his son's room, and found there was the nest, but the bird had flown. This put him into a kind of quandary. His son was out, the doors were all fast, and all the keys were in his pocket. The chamber-windows were too high for him to get out of them; but out he was, and which way he got out he could not guess. But he reflected that however Bob got out, he must come in the same way, as he was always in the house before the doors were open; and therefore, resolved to watch his coming home; this he did and espied Bob, come over the rails and drop into the area.

            The mystery being thus unravelled, the old man found it would be in vain to attempt the keeping his son from me; if he remained in the kingdom; therefore, he determined to send him to the East-Indies, where he would be far enough from me. Bob, having received a severe lecture from his father, left the house, and came to me, where he kept himself secreted for three weeks. The family was distracted, and Bob's brother came to me every day to enquire after him, but he would not be seen. At length, I persuaded him to see his brother; and accordingly, he wrote that he would meet him next day at Durham's tavern, which he did, and went home with him. But the father would not see him till he consented to go abroad, as he had dissipated some hundreds of his father's property, by gambling and other means. Everything was got ready for his departure to England in one day, and his brother was to go with him, to equip him properly there, and to see him off. When all this was settled, Bob called on me in the morning, told me he was going to England, for a little time with his brother, as he then was ignorant whither he was to be sent. He laid before me the necessity of obeying his father, in order to be restored to his good graces, as he had been very expensive to him; and depended entirely upon him for his future establishment in life: and that he would write to me from the Head, and from London.

            The departure of the second man I ever loved (whatever affection I pretended to others, to hum and deceive them) was an object of grief to me. I fretted exceedingly, and kept my room for some days. Bob was faithful to his promise, and we continually corresponded, till his brother had got everything ready for his voyage. He then wrote to entreat me to come to him, on the receipt of a letter from him by his brother; who, having received his solemn promise to go abroad, and given him a handsome sum of money, was to be in Dublin in a few days.

            Short absences, it is said, fan the fire of love, whilst long ones put it out, so I found. The short time I had lost my darling Bob, made me only the more eager to see him again. I therefore, without the least hesitation, set out for England, the very day after I had received the expected letter, and soon joined the man of my heart. After a short stay in London, we went to Portsmouth, where the ship lay in which he was to embark. However, it was near six months before it sailed, during which time we lived happily, and went to every public amusement.

            The last fortnight was indeed very gloomy, as every day's approach to his sailing, made us anticipate our grief for our separation. He had indeed, another cause of discontent, of which I was totally ignorant; he had spent above one hundred pounds of the money, he had received to bear the charges of his voyage. Had I known his want, he should not have suffered a moment's uneasiness at it; for though I had but little money with me, I had many things of value, which I would have gladly pawned or sold for his supply. But his noble soul, scorned the very idea of being under such a compliment to a woman. He formed a plausible story in a letter to his father, and drew upon him for this deficiency. His bill was accepted and paid, and then, and not till then, did he acquaint me of his past embarrassment. Many a man would, like a mean wretch, have taken the advantage of a woman's fondness, had the opportunity offered. With many such I have met: some have actually robbed me, others have borrowed my money, and to this hour have never paid me. (But I shall, in my next volume, lay before the public a list of all who are in debt to me, with the sum, and how long owing.) Two or three days before Bob was to sail, he came with me to London, put me safe into the stage-coach, that was to bring me towards the Packet, and we parted with great grief and the utmost reluctance.


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