Peg Plunkett's Memoirs - CHAP. XXXV.

Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson


IN THIS hopeless, helpless situation I remained 'till towards night, when my faithful friend, Mrs. Edmonds came to me with a supply of cakes, wine, tea and sugar, which the honest soul procured by the impawnment of all the little remains of her wearing apparel. That evening a very pretty little woman was shown into our apartment, who though a married woman and even a femme couverte (such is the glorious uncertainty of the law,) was arrested for about eleven pounds; and to aggravate her misfortune, she was arrested by a ruffian of the name of Mooney, who with the look of a hangman, and the manners of a Yahoo, took her into custody; and with the most dreadful imprecations threatened to drag her through the streets to his own villainous lock-up house, if she did not immediately give him five guineas: this mode of extorting money, and which is his constant custom, she was well acquainted with; but knew it was contrary to law [see note]; and absolutely refused to go to his house, where she knew every imposition was put in practice against the unfortunate prisoners; however as this miscreant found she was firmly determined not to go to his infamous dirty and loathsome house, sooner than put her into the sheriff's goal, committed her to the care of one of his own tribe, Mr. Matthews, who if it is possible to be respectable in such a profession, is so in a very high degree: and I am proud to pay a tribute of acknowledgment to his worth and humanity, as I had an opportunity of witnessing his, and his worthy family's tenderness to a number of unfortunate prisoners.
[Note: This despicable CATCHPOLE had been convicted for a practice of this kind, and suffered three months' imprisonment besides a fine.]

This debt was incurred by obtaining necessaries for her infamous husband, in the Fourcourts-marshalsea. On our beginning to cotton together, to use a vulgar expression; for I could not help taking a liking to her, as she was a beautiful little woman: she told me her father was steward to the Right Hon. Mr. C覧, and a man of much wealth; that at the age of fourteen she was married to one Mulligan, who conducted business for an eminent brewer in this city;葉hat Mulligan (who was old enough to be her father,) by extravagance and dissipation of every kind, was thrown into the Four-courts Marshalsea before they had been married two years, where they both got acquainted with a counsellor S覧, who was married to an old lady, a Mrs. E覧, who in order to preserve her jointure (particularly circumstanced,) never acknowledged her marriage; the consequence of which was, she was also a prisoner as well as her spouse; both for very considerable sums. That as the counsellor and his lady, to save appearances, had separate apartments in the Marshalsea, and never were known to sleep together; he, as a person will, "kiss the child for sake of the nurse," became seemingly very much attached to her husband, had him every day, and consequently herself to breakfast, dine and sleep; and at last for, and in consideration of his giving up all his right and title of her, and a house of hers near Mount Brown, S覧 gave him two hundred pounds, but not before Mulligan formally put the lawyer in full and ample possession of the premises. She told me her nefarious husband had frequently put S覧 and her to bed together, tucked them in, and upon taking away the candle wished them"a pleasant night."祐he also informed me, that the cause of her present imprisonment, which certainly was illegal in the extreme, was for groceries, and other things which she had taken up to support her vile husband and self, before she had got under the patronage of S覧. She also acknowledged she never loved or esteemed S覧, no more than she did her husband; as she really might be the grand-daughter of either of them, being then but two-and-twenty; that revenge (what wont an injured woman do,) was the cause of her succumbing to the vile adulterous bargain. In fact she told me both her husband and Cicisbeo had been liberated by an Insolvent act; and her husband being applied to for payment of the goods she had procured for his use when in durance vile: and he not only refused payment, but denied her to be his wife; she was in consequence arrested by virtue of a writ marked against her, by an infamous fellow one J. B覧, who had been a brother prisoner with her husband; and had also like him, been enlarged by virtue of the Insolvent act. I could not help pitying, and admiring this poor artless creature, who was plunged into every complicated misery by her base husband.涌ur society was farther enlivened by the company of an agreeable girl, Miss F覧, who had been seduced and brought from England by a nobleman, who soon cast her off when she was reduced to the necessity of turning common street-walker for subsistence; and having ran a bill with a Milliner to a considerable amount, at the time she was in keeping by his lordship.祐he was, poor creature, a stranger and desolate,葉hrown into the very same Sponging-house with us.輸s was also a very fine gay fellow, an English lad, one Jessop, who held a genteel appointment in the castle, immediately under the secretary;預nd he being much smitten with the charms of his country woman, married her in the prison; in consequence of which, she was at liberty to go where she pleased: and very shortly afterwards through the dexterity and influence of an amorous judge, obtained his liberty, and returned with him to England:謡here I was told he was shortly afterwards executed, for swindling a merchant out of a considerable sum of money. Poor Mrs. Mulligan, also, did not remain with us more than a week, when her honest father hearing of her distressed situation, procured bail for her,謡ith an intent to litigate the debt, and bring her husband if possible to condign punishment.優uring all these transactions, my poor friend (who never quit me but to bring me relief,) and I, spent our time in extreme misery; often times being obliged to our friendly keeper and his wife for a breakfast and dinner: a breakfast and dinner:擁ndeed, I must acknowledge Matthews's civility, who relaxed much from the severity of the character of the keeper of a lock-up-house with regard to me: suffering my poor friend to share my bed, without any extra charge, and inviting us to dine, sup or breakfast, whenever he observed us in want of cash.邑hile I remained there, the widow of a captain P覧d also joined our society, a beautiful sentimental woman, who soon connected herself with one of the first Portrait-painters in Europe, a Mr. W覧 R覧n, by whom she proved pregnant. It may not be incurious here, to inform my readers, of some anecdotes of this celebrated artist, who once kept his carriage and suite of servants, and lived in the greatest style. A Mrs. M覧 a married lady, and one of the most beautiful of women, sat to him for her portrait; which when finished, he refused giving her, saying,"He could not think of parting with it, as like another Pygmalion he had absolutely fallen in love with the work of his own hands.""That is something strange," replied the lady, "when you might so easily gain possession of the original.""Why madam," said the painter, "I always understood you had been married to Mr. M覧?" "So I was," said she, "but our marriage was never consummated, nor never will, for he is totally impotent; we have been married now upwards of five years, and he never had any more connection with me than you had."裕he painter took the lady at her word; a separation legally and immediately took place, and thy were indissolubly joined in Hymeneal fetters, to both their satisfaction. She soon after the birth of her first child, shared her favours with a certain judge, long since defunct; to the no small grief of Mr. R覧n, who perfectly adored her:妖uring his confinement at Matthews's, his lady never paid him a visit, however he retaliated upon her, for her indifference, by his close attachment to the agreeable widow, who afterwards died in child-bed, in consequence of that amour;預nd R覧n and his wife, her paramour the judge, being dead, as I mentioned before, are gone to Philadelphia, where by what I can learn, they live in happiness and splendour. As Mrs. R覧n never had any connection with any person but her husband, save the honourable judge, with whom she appeared publicly about from place to place, and sometimes to the knowledge of poor R覧n; sleeping with him at his lodgings, and entertaining him for days and nights together in R覧n's own houses, both in town and country; for he had built many elegant houses, and was in the receipt of near two thousand pounds a year, when he married her.悠 need not depict to my fair readers my dreadful situation; though at the same time I must premise that had I not reformed, I would not have been thus abandoned and distressed. While I led a vicious course of life I had friends in abundance, but the moment I turned my thoughts to virtue, I was deserted by all, except a few of the worthy citizens of Dublin, with whom I had honestly dealt for a number of years, and indeed I must own that Providence, in whom I put my entire confidence did not totally desert me:涌ne evening as Mrs. Edmonds and I were drinking tea with our landlady, a prisoner was introduced, at first I took no sort of notice of him, not even lifting up my eyes at his approach; and as for my part, I was so entirely altered both in dress and appearance, that it was impossible for him to distinguish the gay, the volatile Peg Leeson, in wretchedness, misery and rags, in a lock-up-house:預t last upon Mrs. Matthews pressing me to take another cup: I ventured to look up, and to my inexpressible astonishment, beheld in the person of the prisoner my friend Purcell, with whom I had spent so agreeable, so ecstatic a day on Plummer's Island;葉he instant I recollected him our guilty commerce flashed on my senses like an electric shock, and I fainted away, when he running to my assistance, at last recollected the features of the woman, with whom not many years since he had spent such agreeable days; he also remembered Edmonds, whom he had often seen with me at Killarney; and after recovering me from the fit, and kindly embracing me, and saluting Edmonds, he gave us to understand, how sorry he was to meet us in that situation: assuring me I should never want a shilling, while he had one, and that he would divide his last guinea with me.輸fter making him a suitable return for his kind enquiries, good wishes and offers; I made him a low distant courtesy, and retired: but I was not long in my apartment, when he followed me and taking me aside, hoped I had no objection to give him part of my bed; which I peremptorily refused, but not with any degree of resentment; as how could I be displeased with such a request from a man who had so often enjoyed all my charms unrestrained? A man whose caresses I met more than half way; no, I argued with him in a mild manner, I told him my resolution had been fixed as fate, and that for the remainder of my wretched life, no man should ever take the smallest liberties with me:葉hat I was really a thorough penitent, and should die so.邑hen he found I was determined, he dropped his suit with the proviso, that as I would not share my bed with him, I must at least submit to suffer him to share his purse with me. With which proposal, with great reluctance I complied:熔n which he reckoned the contents of his purse, which amounted to twenty-five guineas; thirteen of which he threw into my lap. The next morning I sent Edmonds out to redeem some necessaries of ours, that she had pawned since our incarceration, and which indeed we could very badly do without.裕he addition of Mr. Purcell's company much enlivened our society, as he was a very agreeable entertaining man, who abounded with anecdotes; he also sung very pleasingly, and had a pretty taste for poetry; which he proved by the following impromptu;謡hich he sung upon receiving a visit from a Miss Dorothea A覧g of the county Clare, to the tune of the well known song, of the




"Welcome, welcome sweet Dorinda,
To this gloomy dismal place;
You illumine more than window,
By the bright'ning ray, your face.


Grieve not at my situation,
Nor repine at Heaven's decree;
Providence, my preservation,
Will me from this prison free.


Breathe to him a fervent prayer,
Innocence does claim regard;
Heaven will grant your boon sincere,
And your friendly aid reward.

I feel the aid, implored already,
Comfort sent me from the skies;
Such as charm'd my heart sweet lady,
When I first beheld your eyes.


Smile on charmer, since in smiling
You can happiness diffuse;
Stranger to the art beguiling,
Smile on Purcell and his muse."

And so she did, for in a few days the dear man was liberated, and finding me inexorable (as I am certain his attachment to me prevented him from entering into any matrimonial engagement,) he seriously paid his addresses to the divine Dora, as he called her, who had a large independent fortune, and led her to the altar of Hymen:預fter which he went down with his charming bride to Ennis in the county Clare; where they are settled for life: but not before he made me another very liberal present with solemn assurances of future protection, and assistance; with an offer of an asylum in the county Clare, if I could be prevailed upon to accept of one; he also behaved very genteely to poor Edmonds, and promised her, she should not want a friend while he lived, on account of her fidelity to me and my ruined fortunes.

After his departure I employed one John F覧 a scoundrel, who had been several years a prisoner at Matthews's and elsewhere, and had been indulged by Matthews to walk out, in consequence of becoming a setter for him, and upon occasion a bailiff: but this nefarious wretch, than whom a greater does not exist, served me as he did the unfortunate proprietor of the Phoenix, who unwittingly took him into his employment as a clerk, and in consequence was destroyed by his art and practices. This fellow after receiving several sums of my money, had himself removed by Habeas Corpus into the Four-courts Marshalsea; obtained the benefit of the late Insolvent act, and now with my property figures away as an eminent Pawn-broker, under pretence of having being left a fortune by a relation of his in the county of Kilkenny: worthless fellow, who was bred up a shoe-boy, and a pot-boy to a paltry ale-house;預nd has lived upon rapine and plunder ever since.


"An upstart miscreant fit for any job,
To tuck a felon, or to head a mob."

In vain was it that I sent about to all those who were indebted to me, and wrote melancholy letters to them descriptive of my deplorable situation; not one of them would deign to send even an answer to any of my supplicating epistles:預nd I must have inevitably perished had it not been for (as I said before) the humanity of my keepers, and the benevolence of certain persons whom I had formerly dealt with; Mr. Kennedy, of the Waterford glass-house, Mr. Tinkler paper-stainer, and Mr. Corbet, of Great Britain-street: I also received some assistance from many of my old friends, Mr. T. Swords, Mr. Courtney and Mr. Frank Higgins, Mr. David Weir, the two Mr. Marsh's, Mr. Lefavre, Messrs Blackwoods, Mr. Stanley, all the Beresfords, &c. &c.葉he humanity of these gentlemen to me was beyond praise, and which I acknowledge with heart felt gratitude, and I am sure I,


"Can plead no title to their favours past,
And only wish for worth to make them last."

Mr. Henegan of Mount Brown, Mr. Manders of James's-street, the worthy captain Ormsby, governor of the Four-courts Marshalsea, the Rev. Mr. K覧 and Doctor McD覧 of the Meeting-house, Doctor T覧, counsellors V覧 and McN覧, with those great luminaries of the law counsellors Egan and Curran: Mr. John Magee of Swift's hospital; and all the principal gentlemen in the Printing and Bookselling trade, who not only encouraged the sale of my Memoirs, but greatly contributed by their exertion and recommendation to get the whole impression sold. These gentlemen also, were so kind as to set a subscription afloat for me, which produced a tolerable sum (great indeed,) in my present situation.


Qui nunc prescribere longum est.

Some weeks after to add to my misfortune of imprisonment, which was with this blow advanced to the very zenith, my amiable friend, the good, the kind, the humane Betsy Edmonds, breathed her last in my arms; she died of a decline in the thirty fifth year of her age, in consequence of the severe usage she met with; and had it not been for the humanity of Captain Eyre, then a prisoner in the Four-courts Marshalsea, I should not have known how to accomplish the interment, being again reduced to want: but I was determined this noble minded generous creature, should have every respect and attention paid to her remains; the kindness of the humane Captian enabled me to do so, and very handsomely.

Sweet Betsy, "whose like I never shall behold again猶eace to her gentle manes祐he is gone to that country from whose bourne no traveller returns."

After the loss of my Betsy, no human misery could equal mine, I gave myself up entirely to despair and often invoked the Almighty to take me to himself.柚y spiritual comforter frequently called to see me, and in his discourses I found my only consolation. In this situation I was meditating on my past life, when I was told a gentleman wished to see me in the parlour, and what was my surprise when on coming down I perceived my friend Falvey, who had kindly undertaken to settle my affairs without my knowledge and had compounded with all my creditors for about forty guineas, which he had collected, and above thirty more from the Whig-club.輸s he had undertaken my deliverance, he declared he would never quit me, till he brought me out, and accordingly, after settling with my kind keepers, who behaved very generously on the occasion, he called a coach, and ordering the driver to proceed to the Rock, where he had taken apartments for a month; to my inexpressible rapture; (for all was surprise to me, in fact like a dream,) he led me into an apartment where the first object that struck me, was his sweet, affectionate, affable, unassuming wife, who received me in the most friendly manner:耀he informed me they had been in town (on law-business, which was happily terminated in their favour,) for near three months, that Mr. Falvey had made many enquiries about me and poor Mrs. Edmonds to no purpose, till at length he luckily called to see a friend of his, who was in the same sponging-house with me, where he heard of the death of Mrs. Edmonds, of my melancholy situation and exemplary life; and immediately came to the resolution of having me liberated, though obliged to do it at his own expense:預nd accordingly the next day after dining with a member of the Whig-club, he introduced my story, and immediately collected from these worthy characters upwards of sixty guineas:揺is next object was to go among my creditors, and compound my debts, which was easily done, as they had given up all hopes of receiving anything, thinking I must be shortly relieved by an Insolvent act, or by a wooden habeas, i.e. a coffin, as they were by no means unacquainted with my ill state of health. And here I must say that very few knew of my imprisonment, as it was generally rumoured and believed in the city, that I had paid the great debt of Nature; which circumstance was even mentioned in the public papers, this report I by no means contradicted, as it was more flattering to my pride (and I still possessed a share notwithstanding my misfortunes,) that the idea of my death got abroad, than that the public should be acquainted with the true cause of my sequestration from the world.柚y dear friend detained me at the Rock, but quite incog. for about three weeks, when they were obliged to set off in the Limerick stage, on their way to Kerry, but not before they had settled me in a comfortable lodging in Clarendon-street, and had taken care I had money sufficient, to serve me in a moderate manner for a month or two; at the same time advising me by all means to publish the third volume of my Memoirs without loss of time, assuring me they would use their endeavours to procure me a number of subscribers in the counties of Limerick, Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary and Clare;預nd desired I would as soon as possible send them a number of my proposals, with proper receipts annexed.


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