Peg Plunkett's Memoirs - CHAP. XXX.

Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson


ONE NIGHT as Mrs. M'Clean, Fanny Beresford, Miss Grove and myself were playing a sober game of whist, we were interrupted by four inebriated bloods, who swore we must leave off playing and retire with them to another game: They were very young handsome fellows, and so urgent, that we complied on certain conditions, that they should deposit with us ten guineas each, and we agreed on our part that for every perfect enjoyment, one should be returned; our sparks closed the agreement with a burning smack each, and thus coupled we retired to our respective apartments, under promise of a disclosure of particulars the next morning at breakfast; when lo! my gallant, was the only person who was able to draw a single guinea; the other girls retained ten guineas each, and I nine, and that, I must confess, was owing to my own wonderful exertions, as I wished to lose a guinea or two if possible; as our beaux were so deadly drunk, that they, as soon as they got into bed, dropped instantly into the arms of Morpheus. This whimsical affair caused great laughter, and poor a figure as my hero cut in the groves of Venus, yet he certainly was the conqueror by a chalk, in consequence of which, being part of the agreement the night before, he was exempted from any club or expense in my house, and came off Scot free, except the nine guineas; the three other gentlemen looked rather blue upon the occasion; however it all ended with a laugh, and placed to the score of immoderate intoxication, for we all know that Bacchus and Venus never yet agreed.

That morning two of our sparks, with Mrs. M'Clean and I, agreed to take an excursion to the divine Lake of Killarney, and in our way to touch upon Youghal, Mallow, Limerick, &c. &c. and pass as married people; accordingly, the gentleman who drew the guinea the night before fell to my lot, and I was not sorry for it, as he was a fine dashing fellow, and was, and had the means to be as generous as a prince; he was well acquainted in the country, and knew almost everybody; M'Clean's friend, whose name was O'Brien, was also well acquainted in many parts of the country we were to pass through, and accordingly on the very next morning, early, we set off in my coach, attended by two footmen in laced liveries (belonging to our beaux) very well mounted, and without meeting with any accident, or any extraordinary occurrence, Mr. and Mrs. Purcell, Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien, for these were the names we went by, and their suite, after remaining some days in Limerick, Youghal, Mallow, &c. &c. (in all which towns we went into public, and received the visits of some of the first people of consequence, for our characters escaped totally unknown) arrived in Killarney on the first day of June, 1789, and putting up at the best inn, and a remarkable good one it was, built for the accommodation of visitors, by Lord Ken-mare; my friend sent to a Mr. Walter Eager, an acquaintance of his, to request his company to sup, and with him everything was settled for our next day's entertainment; Lord Kenmare's barge was bespoke, as was also her worthy coxswain Mr. Barry; a band of music was also provided, with patteraroes, and every requisite to render the excursion as delightful as possible; and while these matters were adjusting, I privately stepped out, having first enquired for the house, to see my fair and amiable friend, Mrs. O'Falvey, formerly Bennett, and have some chat with her; 'tis impossible for me to describe the ecstasy she was in at meeting me, she clasped me round the neck and perfectly cried on my bosom; at length, however, when she was a little calm, we both agreed to be totally secret, with respect to what we knew of each other, and resolved that after my return, Mrs. Falvey should pay me a visit, and represent me to her Kerry friends, as a lady who had once been a great friend to her; and she was to give the same instructions to her husband, who was a gentleman of great worth and honour, and in whom any confidence might be reposed; however, upon due consideration, Mr. Falvey was totally averse to the matter, "My dear Peg," said he, "Mrs. Falvey's reputation would be totally ruined, amidst a circle of respectable acquaintance with whom she must always reside, if your story should be blasted, which may be the case, considering the variety and extent of your connections, and the number of people who visit this place at this season of the year; whereas, my dear woman, if you should be found out to-morrow, you can return to your own house at will, and the only consequence that might result from the discovery, would be a few tilting matches, which your supposed cara sposa might be engaged in, in consequence of his introducing a lady of your complexion, under the character of a wife, to the hospitable and genteel inhabitants of this village;揺ad Purcell been married to you, though a whole camp, pioneers and all, had tasted your sweet body, it would not have signified; Mrs. S覧e of Cork, was never thought the worse of, though a common prostitute, after S覧e made her his wife; nor was Mrs. D覧e, who was visited by the Countess of S覧 and the first people in the county, after she had become the wife of her fool; but your case is widely different葉herefore I would humbly submit to your better judgement, whether it would not be better for you and my sweet Betsy, to appear as total strangers to each other, except what may arise from your intercourse here; especially as Betsy is looked upon as a girl who never made a slip in her life, except in her marriage with the pedlar, as any indiscretion she might have been guilty of, in order to recover her India goods, never came to light, her friend being more the man of honour, and the man every way, than to kiss and tell; no doubt suspicions went abroad, as his conduct on the trial was thought most extraordinary; but it never went farther than bare surmise"; Falvey's arguments were deemed so good, that everything he advanced was thought unanswerable, and the ladies parted, to meet the next morning as utter strangers, of which I was to apprize M'Clean. On the morning following, we accordingly took boat at Ross Castle, M'Clean and I, and our two male friends; Falvey and his wife, who had been invited by O'Brien, Mr. and Mrs. Eager, and Mrs. C-様l, the latter of whom I must recollect to give some account of (as her memoirs are most curious) Mr. and Mrs. McGillicuddy, Mr. and Mrs. B覧n覧h覧tt, Sir B覧 D覧 and his Lady, a Miss Chute, the grand-daughter of one Paradine, a slater, of Tralee, who was married to a Captain in the army, whose name I totally forget; a Mr. and Mrs. S覧al覧y, and a Mr. John Lewis Fitzmaurice, Beaucoup de Tournack, and our worthy coxswain Mr. Barry.裕he morning was remarkably fine, and as we took boat at five o'clock, we sailed through the lower and upper lakes, shot the bridge, fired our patteraroes at the Eagle's Nest; purchased salmon of the haul; bought filberts from pretty little naked wood nymphs of the several islands we passed; enjoyed the delight of the chase on the water, with the melodious notes of the stag hounds, re-echoed a thousand times over; and at about five o'clock dined in the beautiful and romantic island of Innisfallen, where I left my name, and the names of the whole company, on one of the windows of the banquetting room, with my diamond ring: Heavens! what a place was here for love!!! I heard a gentleman of my acquaintance declare, "If he had enjoyed the pleasures of the Lake, for a day, with the ugliest old hag of four score, and that there was no other object near him, to satiate his desires, he could not possibly help being enamoured with her, nor could he avoid enjoying her, if enjoyment could be obtained by force or otherwise." Our salmon were divided in large cuts, and roasted on wooden skewers, round a fire of wood, and so delectable a treat I never partook of in my life: When the fishermen hauled in their nets, they permitted the gentlemen to pick three of the largest for half a crown, and I was informed they would have been perfectly satisfied with a shilling; exclusive of the salmon we had ham and fowls, a cold sirloin of beef, cold neat's tongue, a cold mutton pie, an apple pie, some cheesecakes, a parcel of the finest cack-a-gee cider I ever smacked, with porter, Madeira, perry, sherry, port, claret, and some very excellent Nantes brandy, that never was contaminated by the odious dip of a revenue rule, as also a bottle of the real North Country native, got on purpose for my companion M'Clean, for which she had the most unconquerable partiality. After we had dined, we were regaled with some of the finest gun-powder tea I ever tasted; 'twas most delicious, and procured for us by Mr. Eager, who was a revenue officer; he told me he bought a large parcel of it on board the Lord Holland, a few years before, for about five shillings a pound, and generously gave M'Clean and I a couple of pounds each, at the same price. Towards dusk we rambled about the charming island of Innisfallen; and Purcel and I could not resist the temptation of enjoyment under a lofty oak, and miraculously escaped detection, as the instant we were missed the whole island resounded with the names of Mr. and Mrs. Purcell耀tole away耀tole away揺ark away, &c. &c. When it became quite dark we returned to town, and ended the bewitching regatto with an elegant supper, and a dance at the inn. The next morning, early, the same party, with the addition of a Mr. and Mrs. Gunn, betook ourselves to our boat, and after visiting all the islands, a whimsical motion was made by Mr. Gunn, i.e. that each married couple should be landed on different islands, and left there to amuse themselves in the best manner they could for three or four hours, after which our coxswain, Mr. Barry, was to sail round the several islands with any of the company who would wish to remain in the boat, and pick the different couples up, at the same time smilingly saying, that each lady and gentleman might personate an Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; the motion was seconded, and almost unanimously agreed to; Mr. and Mrs. Gunn, Mr. and Mrs. McGillicuddy, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzmaurice, Mr. and Mrs. B覧tt, and Mrs. O'Brien, alias M'Clean, and her admirer; Mr. and Mrs. Eager, Miss Chute, and a Mr. Fitzgerald her admirer; Mr. and Mrs. Falvey, Mr. and Mrs. C覧ll, my friend Purcell and I were landed on ten separate islands; the most beautiful our coxswain could hit upon amidst the heavenly variety, was appropriated to me; indeed the only person who appeared a little squeamish on the occasion, and did not receive the proposal with pleasure, was Mrs. C覧ll, but more of this lady hereafter: Purcell and I were landed on Miss Plummer's Island, where the arbutus, the geranium, the jasmine, and all the evergreens that ever nature formed, grew majestically spontaneously from solid rocks; and here, just when the sun was in its highest meridian, did we refine upon ecstatic luxuries, like our first parents in the Garden of Eden; we sauntered through this beautiful paradise, where the charming Plummer, once left her fragrant stream, from whence it borrowed its name; we also took refreshments with us, as did every other couple; and with great regret, after spending upwards of three hours in this divine place, we left the island, but not until Purcell carved upon a venerable oak, with his pen-knife, the following inscription, being determined to leave Killarney the next morning.


"Be it remembered, that on the third day of June, 1789, the divine Margaret Leeson of Pitt-street, in the city of Dublin, with her lover, enjoyed every pleasure the most refined love could imagine, in this luxurious spot, with her own Purcell; her enraptured lover, humbly presumes to alter the name of this enchanting island from Plummer to that of Leeson."

After our return to our Inn, we all supped together, when Betsy Falvey took an opportunity of letting me know that C覧notwithstanding her prudery was no better than she should be, that she was the daughter of one Attwood, a blind brogue-maker, of Tralee, and had when on a visit with an uncle of hers in Cork, one Anthony Gumble Croneen, given her fair hand to a married man, though warned of the consequences, and assured from the very best authority, that Mrs. Maudsly was living, for Maudsly the man whom she espoused, gave out that his wife was dead; but notwithstanding all these warnings, and the many letters she received on the business, the guilty wretch married John Cavendish Maudsly; the consequence of which was, he was prosecuted for bigamy in about a month after his marriage, by his real wife's friends, who were people of the first respectability, and sentenced to transportation for life. A few years after which Mr. C覧 took her for better for worse, without connections, beauty, fortune, sentiment, wit or reputation: and now my dear Purcell, said my agreeable Betsy, don't you think my Falvey made a much better choice? on which I told her, he certainly had, that C覧 had not only been guilty of gross prostitution and adultery, but had been the cause of separating man and wife, and of ruining the wretch she had unlawfully married. After spending a most agreeable night, and taking leave of our Killarney friends, we separated, and the next morning at the first dawn began our journey to the little village, and breakfasting at Shine's before eight o'clock, we dined at Macroom, and lay that night at Cork, where we spent a week; and Daly's company of comedians being then there, we exhibited our charms every night in the boxes; however I was too well known in Cork not to be immediately recognized, in consequence of which, and the visits of some buckeens there, that became troublesome, we resolved to shift the scene, and return to Pitt-street as soon as possible, but not as Mrs. Purcell and Mrs. O'Brien, but in our own proper characters,預s the identical Leeson and McClean; this frolic had however like to turn out very serious, as our sparks were called out two or three times, by some spirited gentlemen in the county of Kerry, for presuming to introduce women of our description under the colour of their wives, into their families; and poor Purcell in particular, was wounded in the right shoulder very desperately, though I must do him the justice to say, he behaved as brave as any man in his situation possibly could;擁ndeed upon mature deliberation, I do not think we carried the joke too far, though at the same time, I solemnly declare I never spent my time more agreeably in my life, particularly the scenes in Plummer's Island shall never be forgotten, "whilst memory holds a seat in this distracted globe."


"Killarney Lake, how sweet its smiles,
With verdant hills and stately isles,
And buildings, many lofty piles,
And ever blooming Berry.
Of all the seats give me Dunlow,
Where gaiety smiles, and bumpers flow,
And heavenly scenes divinely show,
A paradise in Kerry."

While I was on this party, I by chance met with my old acquaintance, Mr. Ned T覧ns覧d, who some years before made a noise in that part of the country, from the following circumstance.輸t the time of our glorious Volunteers, those real disinterested saviours of their country, when 'twas deemed dishonourable not to be accoutred a la militare; this gentleman, by way of jest, formed a corps of his own choice, consisting of a few eccentric men of fortune and fashion, who called themselves JOLLY DOGS, wearing white coats faced with green, with white waistcoats and breeches, all embroidered with silver, and most curious epaulets, extremely rich, of black and silver, each resembling the p覧vi覧s of a man, beautifully executed, and this passed so well that they went into every public place, and mixed with all companies with these b覧wd覧y epaulets, totally unnoticed, except by a few intimates in the male line, who to be sure, could not keep the joke from their wives;庸or this curious corps were all married men of avowed gallantry; to make therefore some eclat, as they never appeared under arms, they gave a splendid regatta, to which all the quality in the neighbourhood were invited; and when the boat-race, and the amusements of the water were over, we were regaled in a beautiful island belonging to Mr. Thomas Green, with every viand and beverage the East and West Indies, and Europe could produce, and in the midst of this hilarity, the ladies began to admire the uniforms of the JOLLY DOGS; one in particular, a Miss F覧m覧g, declared she'd purchase a uniform, and become a Jolly Dog, "That you can't, Betty, by G覧,' said Ned T覧ns覧d, 'but I'll tell you what will answer the same purpose and you'll be up to it to a shaving, you may purchase the uniform, and call yourself a proud b覧tch." The young lady, who was an innocent good creature, was so incensed that she burst into tears傭ut as for my part, I actually bought a riding dress, made up after the same fashion, epaulets and all, and on my return to town sported it at the play house, on the Circular Road, and everywhere I went, for the remainder of that summer, telling everyone I had joined a corps of proud b覧tches in the barony of West Carberry.


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