Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson
'Tis a pitiful piece, like a farce in a fair
Where show, noise and nonsense misrule,
Where tinsel paradings make Ignorance stare
Where he who acts best is the fool.
LIFE IS CHEQUERED, good and bad fortune alternately arise. So it is with the actions of those who do not derive them uniformly from principle, but solely from the impulse of the moment. My heart was naturally good, and thence arose the conduct I held in the above instances. But on the other hand, that natural good was frequently perverted by evil examples, by the love of pleasure, and from want of reflection. I must therefore, depict myself as I really was, and now having related some worthy actions, I shall return to some other anecdotes, not so deserving of commendation.
A noble Lord, of my own name, but to whom I had not the honour of being in the least related, expressed a great regard for me, and was one of my constant visitors. He often urged me to name what I particularly wanted, that he might make me a present of it. Knowing him to be both rich and generous, I was frequently inclined to ask for a gold watch, set with diamonds, a diamond necklace, or a pair of diamond bracelets; yet, I could never muster up courage to request anything so valuable, lest I should be refused. At length, he so teased me to ask something, that I hastily replied, Then my Lord, I want a good Palliasse for my bed. My Lord directly said, Egad then I will fit you, I have a Frenchman, who was the greatest connoisseur in Paris, in that very article, and I will send him to take measure of your bed. Monsieur came accordingly, and having got the dimensions, about three days after, brought me in his lordship's coach, the most elegant palliasse I had ever seen, made quite in the French taste. I gave the Frenchman a guinea, and slept very comfortably on it that night, and indeed ever since; having had it cleaned or new covered, whenever soiled or time had injured it in the least; and whilst I live I shall ever have a remembrance of Lord M——, about me.
Much about the same time, I had invited a smart select party to a ball and supper. The company was all met by twelve, every lad had his lass and were dancing merrily. Sally Hayes and I were setting out the supper in the dining-parlour, when a most violent rap came at the door as if it would beat it down. I ordered my man not to admit any person, for as the whole company was come, there was not room for any more. When the door was opened, in rushed Captain F——e, of the Castle, with Mr. Dicky D——n, and two more sparks, with whom I was unacquainted. These bucks wanted to be of the party, and to be admitted where they were dancing. I told them it was a select party, if it were not I should be as glad of their company as of any others; but as that was not the case I begged they would depart, as the supper was ready to come up, and I wanted the room clear. The Captain returned a very rude, impertinent answer, and put out one of the candles. Sally Hayes seeing this behaviour, seized a horse-whip, with a long lash, which lay on the chimney-piece, whipped the Captain round, and round the table, which was pretty large; and then turned him and his comrades out and locked the street door. The supper was brought in, the company came down, and the night was spent in mirth, to which Captain F——'s merry go round, did not contribute a little.
The very first week of the establishment of the police guard, I had been at the play and had returned home full dressed, it was turned of eleven, and I was engaged that night to sup at Mrs. Hall's, in Johnson's Court, and it being a light night, I thought I could walk from Pitt-street, it being so short a distance. I went out with my footman, but had not got out of sight of my own house, when a police-man came running up to me as hard as he con trot, and asked where I was going? I answered, what's that to you where am going? and my servant asked what assurance he had to stop his mistress. I will let you know that replied, the police-man, she and you to must come to the watch-house. I asked for what, he said I should go,—I answered, well my good fellow! Remember you will pay for this, and advise you to be quiet. The man was peremptory, so in my way I called at my own house, and got a pair of coloured shoes, that I might not spoil those I had on. All this while I reasoned with the man, and assured him he was doing wrong. No said he, I am doing my duty. Do you know me?—he said he did not, nor did he care who I was, go I should—Well, my fine fellow, I replied, I am Peg Plunket, and this is my house, and I don't think you can have any orders to take me up. But come, let us go to the watch house, and you shall pay dearly for your conduct. All this time, I suppose he thought to squeeze half-a-guinea or a guinea out of me, but he was taken: I went with him to the watch-house in Aungier-street, and asked the guard there to show me the best apartment they had; and sent a servant to either Captain Carleton, or Captain Atkinson, to let them know where was. The two gentlemen came directly, to my great comfort, who was no very well pleased with my curious situation, they put me in a chair and sent me home, and put the fellow who took me into the black-hole. It being Saturday night, he lay there till Monday, when I attended and made my complaint, on which he was broke. I then went home and mounted my horse for a ride, from which when I returned, I found my police gentleman on his knees at my door, begging I would get him his bread again. I pitied the poor fellow, bad as he had behaved, and wrote to Alderman Warren and the rest of the gentlemen, thanking them for their politeness to me and requesting they would pardon and restore the man, as I had heartily forgiven him, which they did.