Memoirs of Mrs. Margaret Leeson
TO EDWARD J——, Esq.
My dear, dear friend,
I am now to inform you, that my poor dear companion Mrs. Leeson, is in the last stage of a decline, and not expected to live: two or three of the most eminent of the faculty, who have attended her these three months past have all given her over, they said her strength was entirely exhausted, and she was in that state from a decay of nature, that all human art could not recover her, and desired I would prepare for her speedy dissolution.—Poor dear woman! a greater penitent never left this world; she has this three weeks past never been easy except when the good and worthy Doctor L——d is by her side, and indeed the humane man pays her the greatest attention;—oh! my dear Mr. J——, we have experienced the greatest distress, and had it not been for the humanity of the medical and clerical gentlemen, who attended; and the goodness of our kind hostess, she antl I must have perished, —must have died for want! — But hark I am called; adieu for the present, Heaven preserve the poor dear penitent.
March 18th 1797.
From the Same to the Same.
My dear friend,
THIS morning at about four o'clock, my poor friend paid the great debt of nature, she died without the smallest evident pain, nature being completely exhausted;—with a firm reliance (from her unfeigned penitence, great trials and resignation to the divine will,) of salvation, notwithstanding the irregularity of the last forty years of her life; her last words were taken from Rochester's Elegy, whose works, and works of the sort, no doubt in her time she made too great use of,
"All Nature's works, now from before me fly,
Live not like Leeson,—but like Leeson die."
Poor creature, she made a will, leaving all her property, amounting to upwards of three thousand pounds in the bonds, notes and I.O.'s of a parcel of Black legs, Wh——s, Swindlers, and unprincipled men (who shamefully borrowed money with an intention of never paying,) in legacies, among her particular friends, after paying all her just debts, giving me for my life sixty pounds a year; poor mistaken creature, all the effects she has left on earth would not be sufficient to bury her, exclusive of her apothecary's bill, the sum due to Mrs. T——, and which she felt particularly uneasy about in her last moments, and her rent to poor Mrs. W——, where she died; exclusive of a number of Grocers' and Hucksters' bills, which I was obliged to contract on her account, or she might have perished;—Mr. H—— of St James's-street, the worthy man, gave me credit to a large amount, for teas, sugars, wines, &c. and yet he did not, like citizen D——, with poor Moll Hall, place keepers on the house the moment the breath parted from her body; on the contrary, he generously offered his assistance towards her burial, as did many other friends, Mr. T——r of Great George's-street, and little M——y the cheese-man, Billy W——n the facetious and luxurious printer, Miss Love the protégée of little Harry H——, with many other friends; in short though she has so much money due to her, I would not know how to accomplish her interment, but for the kind assistance of the above humane individuals.
I remain your ever faithful
March 22d 1797.
From the Same to the Same.
My dearest friend,
ALL is over; poor Leeson was this morning genteelly interred in St James's church-yard,—many respectable citizens attended the funeral obsequies, which was conducted in the most regular manner, and though quite private yet it was simplex munditiis, what the Romans called, "plain and neat."—As for my part I am thrown upon the world without a friend on earth, or even a recommendation; for you know to have lived with Mrs. Leeson, would be but an indifferent introduction to a discreet family, and notwithstanding for the time I was in her service, I never met with a more exemplary, pious, worthy, charitable woman. Could I have the pleasure of seeing you at the Old Kennel in Thomas-street, I want much to consult you about my future hopes and pursuits, and am in every situation of life
Your very grateful
March 25th 1797.