Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson
Another, and another still succeeds
And the last fool as welcome as the former.
MY next particular acquaintance was the charming Captain St Leger, and charming indeed he was, far exceeding all I ever knew. He visited me very frequently whilst he was in this kingdom. I next was acquainted with J—— W——, Esq; who was then very young, and had very little money, but what he had, young as he was, he knew very well how to keep; for very trifling were my gains from him, though he was ten times more troublesome, than many gentlemen from whom I derived ten times the advantage. He would often break my windows, and pull the rails out of the kitchen stairs, whenever he could not meet with me at home. I bore with this behaviour for some time, till meeting him one night in the box-room, I asked him for money; he replied, he had none for himself; an altercation ensued, at the end of which, finding I could get no money, I gave him a severe slap on the cheek, and left him to pay his next debts of honour better; nor would I receive him ever after.
I still increased in celebrity, and was esteemed the first woman in Ireland in my line. I was visited by nobles and gentlemen of the first rank in the kingdom; for it became quite the fashion to be acquainted with me. Miss Sally Hayes was my constant companion whilst she lived, and the woman I loved best, as she had a spirit congenial with my own. But alas! I lost her; for, as I mentioned before, she contracted some bilious complaints from vexation, at the loss of a favourite captain who went abroad, which carried her off.
Though I greatly regretted the loss of poor Sally, it did not occasion any change in my mode of life. I was ever particularly fond of music, I engaged Isaacs, the dulcimer player, at fifty guineas a year to play for me once a week; but after two years, I found that did not answer; therefore I continued to send for him when I wanted him, and take my chance of his being disengaged. Often I had him to parties at all the different outlets round Dublin, particularly at the Dargle, or the Glen of the Downs. I used to have my groom, with the dulcimer tied on his back Isaacs playing on it, and another man on the violin, to play through all the walks; and when on the road, I had a coach or a gig for them to play as we went; or sitting on the banks at the Salmon Leap, at Leixlip, at Carton, or the neighbouring demesnes.
Although in general, my life went on in a circle of amusements, yet, I sometimes met with very disagreeable adventures. At the earnest desire of Mr. Henry Monck, I dressed myself in his uniform, and went in it to the Rotunda. I was there accosted by an officer of the name of Hunt, with How are you, Peg. I thought that salutation as very unmannerly, walked on and made no reply. He still kept following me, and calling me Peg, and being piqued at my not vouchsafing to speak to him, he asked me aloud, how I dared to wear an uniform, and threatened to pull it off my back. Much chagrined, I left the room, and resolving to have satisfaction for the rude and unmanly affront, I wrote an account of the treatment I had received, and sent it next morning to the committee of officers. They took it into consideration, and thought it so ungentleman-like, that a court-martial was held on him, and he was dismissed from the corps. This disgrace had such an effect on Mr. Hunt, that he died a few weeks after.
A little before Sally Hayes died, a set of young officers, the Captains Boyle, Hanger, Freemantle, Monck, Cradock and M'Guire, paid a visit at my house. Not finding me at home (as I was then at the barrack) they made a great riot in the street; they wanted to get in but got no admittance, they then broke every window in my drawing-room, not leaving a single pane of glass whole. Luckily it was just daylight, or Sally Hayes would not have been able to recognise them; but she knew them all and would not admit one of them. The next morning, she came to me to the barracks, and told me the whole affair, and the treatment of those Castle heroes. I sent for an attorney, and lodged examinations against them all but Captain Boyle, as he was a kind of favourite with Sally and me, which saved him from the scandal that fell upon the rest. The bills were all found, and then I had incessant visits from their friends, to beg I would not bring them to trial. I, at last, forgave them on each coming down handsomely, and paying my attorney, and all the charges.