Peg Plunkett's Memoirs - CHAP. XXVIII.

Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson


IN A few days after this never to be forgotten masquerade, my old friend P覧 H-様l and Barry Y覧, of whom I have made mention before, called to my house, when the latter gentleman, of whose abilities in every way I entertained a very poor opinion, "popp'd the question" to me in form; for I had before from the detestation I held him in, absolutely refused to have any connection with him, or suffer him to take the smallest freedom; in consequence of which, the poor lovelorn swain, for he was absolutely enamoured, offered to marry me; this was a matter too serious to be refused, I knew to a certainty his father from his great legal abilities, would be very shortly created a peer, and the very sound of the Honourable Mrs. Y覧's coach, the Honourable Mrs. Y覧's chair, so tinkled in my ears, that I absolutely took him at his word, and a couple-beggar being sent for by my friend Phil, we were tacked together that very night, but not 'till the marriage articles were properly ratified, signed, sealed and delivered, in the presence of my friends H覧tch覧l, Le F覧, and the late worthy James W覧n, of whom I have already made honourable mention.


"Thus the happy knot is tied;
Peg became a virtuous bride:
Ring the bells and fill the bowl,
Revel all without control.
Who so fair as lovely Peg,
Who so blithe as Barry Beg.
Who so blithe," &c. &c.

All the impures in town (the noted ones I mean) came formally to congratulate me on my marriage, which was very handsomely announced in all the public prints, and many beautiful epithalamiums and songs were written on the joyful occasion; the very ballad singers caught the infection, and sung about the praises of "the gallant B覧y and his charming Peg", and blind Charley O'Gallagher in particular, and his little father-in-law Mr. Kinselagh, were chanting madrigals upon us, much longer than the honeymoon lasted; for alas! the hard-hearted man, no sooner was he surfeited of very imperfect enjoyment indeed, than he grew as cool as a cucumber, and had the impudence to say, "he could not bear to kiss my lips they being always so plastered with salve or spermaceti ointment," which I really must acknowledge I used every night to lay on, to prevent them from chipping; and you'll say my poor lips, so often smacked, had a right to be the worse for wear.

Our nuptials made such a noise, that at last the C覧 B覧 came to hear of them with astonishment and regret, and accordingly sent for me to demand an explanation; when I produced him my well authenticated certificate, at the same time assuring him, I looked upon the connection with such loathing, that for a very trifling consideration I was ready to relinquish every claim I had on young hopeful; whereupon the C覧 B覧 taking me at my word gave me five hundred guineas, and I gladly released his pretty boy from every conjugal tie, executing whatever papers he laid before me; which was very well for me, as in a few months afterwards he was arrested for a variety of peddling debts, and lodged in the Sheriff's Prison, where he remained in the most profligate course of life, 'till liberated by the benefit of an insolvent act; after which he called frequently to see me, but I was always denied to him. Some time after I got rid of my graceless spouse, I had the honour of being waited on by a deputation from the "States of Castle-Kelly," commonly called, the Anecdote Club of Free Brothers, with an able spokesman, the great and powerful Stoneybatter king at arms, at their head, vulgarly yclept the Tomlinson; who in the name of that most respectable community, amounting to above five hundred members, presented the freedom of their commonwealth to me and my nymphs and nymphlings, elegantly engrossed on parchment enclosed in a beautiful silver box, with all the emblems of the beggars' benison handsomely carved on it, and a delectable poem, called the Guide to Joy, or pleasures of imagination realised, written by the amiable Mrs. H. now of Drumcondra; that once happy favourite of that prince of good fellows, whose birth-day was so elegantly celebrated, by the La-bra Pleasura of honest well-meaning Magee, with his racing-pigs, dancing-girls, grinning-hags, cudgelling-blades, &c. &c. &c. at the famous Fiat-hill, near this city. I accordingly received Stoneybatter and the deputies with my usual affability, treating them with cake and wine, and returning a proper answer to their very polite and civil address; at the same time sending them their freedom of Pitt-street, and constituting and appointing that divine Sappho, so very fat and so very fair, to a seat in conclave, with all the adults of my female menagerie. Mrs. H. is an authoress of much estimation, and as for a roguish poem of any kind I give her the BUSH, as no doubt her Guide to Joy, now in the possession of a friend of mine, and which I will give my readers in due course;{see note] this charming effusion of fancy, beats any production for high colouring, brilliancy of style, and luxuriance of imagination, in that line now extantRochester's Poems, Fanny Hill, the Cabinet of Love, or Kitty and Amynter, being all mere trifles, when put into competition with that famous and unequalled poem.


[Note: This very elegant Poem, (as we would not wish to offend the chastest ear, or tinge the cheek of blushing modesty with any indelicacy) will be printed by itself, and delivered gratis to such of the purchasers of these volumes, as would wish to be supplied with it.]

Mrs. H覧 was formerly a prodigious favourite of the P覧 of W覧, her face was beautiful, her person rather too much in the embonpoint order, more than his own dear injured F覧t; she was a lady of an amorous complexion, as will appear by her poem, and knew the outs and the ins as well as any lady in Europe; when she came to this city, she advertised to read a poem of her own composition at the Exhibition-room in William-street, at opera price, half-a-guinea admission; however when the night appeared, and she had expended, in advertising, posting bills, puffs, &c. &c. five or six pounds, no person attended the curious exhibition, of seeing a fat lady with a parcel of tow under her jaws, read her own productions very inelegantly傭ut three or four printer's devils, whom their employers had given the lady's eleemosynary tickets to, as they could prevail on no other persons to accept of them. "Sic transit Gloria Mundi:" thus terminated mother H覧's exhibitions in this kingdom, since which, she has scarcely been heard of; but that my fair friends and I know she lives retired upon her princely pension, opposite Broadhead's in Drumcondra, where we have paid her frequent visits, and often had the pleasure of meeting with several literary characters both male and female.

A Mrs. H覧y in particular attracted my attention, she was the lady of an eminent attorney, was a pretty little smart Brunette, had a vast deal to say for herself, and had a pretty turn for poetry; romantic girl! 'twas that talent and her propensity to novel writing brought her upon the town; were it not for that, she might have enjoyed much domestic felicity with poor Tom, who was passionately fond of her. In one of my visits there, I also had the pleasure of meeting with the charming H覧g覧s, who after having squandered away near two thousand pounds a year, real estate, in debauchery and dissipation of every kind, was at length, to eke out a wretched existence, obliged to betake herself to the stage, where she cut but a very la la figure, 'till at length she went into keeping with H覧l覧n, who after having had three children by her, not only basely deserted her, but published her infamy in all the public prints of England, Ireland, and Scotland.


"Were you, you fair, but cautious whom ye trust;
Did you but know how seldom fools prove just,
So many of your sex would not in vain,
Of broken vows and faithless men complain.

And again,

"Trust not to man, they are by nature false,
Dissembling, subtle, cruel and inconstant;
If a man talks of love, with caution hear him,
But if he swears,揺e'll certainly deceive you."

As H覧n deceived poor H覧s,預nd apropos, now I have introduced that lady, I must inform my readers of a circumstance not generally known:洋y heroine's father married her mother who was a beautiful woman, at a very advanced time of life, and during a term of eighteen years never had a child by her; 'till an unexpected visit from that celebrated genius Buck English (who remained at Mr. 覧 H覧's hospitable mansion near Thurles, for upwards of two months) worked the happy effect; for in less than eight months after the departure of the Squire, who was also a senator of Ireland, Mrs. H覧s was safely delivered of that paragon of beauty, wit and bravery, Miss H覧s, who as she grew up, gave strong intimations of her real parent, lascivious, passionate, vindictive, aspiring, cruel, determined, and quarrelsome, blended with a pusillanimity and meanness, which was better suited to the daughter of the Buck, who was merely foster-brother to poor Tom Cook of begging memory, than to the child of the poor innocent doating H覧s; Cook having being nursed and suckled by the Buck's mother, who was the wife of a common unlettered hind near Tipperary, who fortunately found, when trenching potatoes, a large crock of money, on the strength of which, he cunningly and gradually advanced himself in life, by taking cheap farms, &c. &c. &c. which enabled him to give his children good education, and leave the sanguinary Buck upwards of five thousand pounds a year!!! Such events as these happen frequently in the lottery of life, which put me in mind of those expressive lines:


"Thus equal crimes unequal fates have found,
And whilst one villain swings, another's crown'd."

So by poor Tom Cook, heir to Kiltinan, and a man of the first connections; whilst he is begging from door to door, his foster brother, the son of a Munster peasant, is rolling about in his gilt chariot, gambling at Daly's, or quaffing Champagne and Burgundy with some of the finest impures that Ireland or England can afford, either in Pitt-street or Johnson's-court; which brings forcibly and painfully to my feeling mind, the exit of my poor friend Moll Hall, in that court; a few days before she took ill, her word would go for any sum, nor was there a wine-merchant, a grocer, a mercer, a milliner, or a haberdasher in Dublin, who would refuse her any credit she desired; when lo! no sooner had the last breath quit the body of my friend, when citizen D覧, as he calls himself, and every creature she was indebted to (following his infamous example) came down upon the house, and seized even upon the very bed she lay waking on幼arrying all off without any legal authority whatever, leaving poor Hall upon the bare ground with three or four of her girls sitting weeping over her body, not knowing how to dispose of it; until at length this melancholy transaction reached my ears, when I sent a kitchen table and some oak chairs for the wake, as also candles, cake, wine, pipes and tobacco, together with cold meat and some of honest Hutton's good bottled porter; who would not have served any of God's creatures after such a barbarous manner: and in two days after her demise, I had her decently interred in St Anne's Church-yard, with this whimsical triplet engraved on her tombstone:


"Here lies honest MOLL HALL,
Who once had a great call,
And a fig for you all.
She departed this Life the 22d of July, Anno Domini 1792, in the 49th year of her Age; and in remembrance of her many Virtues, for she was in the actual Possession of all but ONE, and how many great Ones retain that alone; her steadfast Friend and Compeer, Margaret Leeson, of Pitt-street Nunnery, caused this Stone, after being at the Expense of her Wake and Funeral, and many Masses for her Soul's Repose, to be placed over her.
Requiescat in Pacem."

I had this poor woman's funeral conducted with great taste, having hired six mourning coaches, in each of which sat four of the sisterhood as deep mourners, with scarfs, &c. &c. amounting in the whole to twenty-four, exclusive of which, my own carriage, and several others belonging to very respectable people attended the funeral procession. Peace to her manes, she's no more; but in case of my own dissolution, and that I died as poor as Hall, would any human being do the like for my remains? indeed without vanity, I must say, there are very few possessed of a greater portion of the milk of human kindness, than I have ever been; and if charity covers a multitude of sins揺onest Peg, thy only failing, of making use of what God gave, must be forgiven.


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