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Title: Mrs. Mary Robinson, Written by Herself, - With the lives of the Duchesses of Gordon and Devonshire
Author: Robinson, Mary, 1758-1800, Wharton, Philip, 1834-1860, Thomson, A. T., Mrs., 1797-1862
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mrs. Mary Robinson, Written by Herself, - With the lives of the Duchesses of Gordon and Devonshire" ***

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The Attempted Abduction
Original painting by B. Wesley Rand]

Beaux & Belles of England

Mrs. Mary Robinson

Written by Herself

With the Lives of the Duchesses of Gordon
and Devonshire by Grace and Philip Wharton




The following brief memoirs of a beautiful, engaging, and, in many
respects, highly gifted woman require little in the way of introduction.
While we may trace same little negative disingenuousness in the writer,
in regard to a due admission of her own failings, sufficient of
uncoloured matter of fact remains to show the exposed situation of an
unprotected beauty--or, what is worse, of a female of great personal and
natural attraction, exposed to the gaze of libertine rank and fashion,
under the mere nominal guardianship of a neglectful and profligate
husband. Autobiography of this class is sometimes dangerous; not so that
of Mrs. Robinson, who conceals not the thorns inherent in the paths
along which vice externally scatters roses; For the rest, the
arrangement of princely establishments in the way of amour is pleasantly
portrayed in this brief volume, which in many respects is not without
its moral. One at least is sufficiently obvious, and it will be found in
the cold-hearted neglect which a woman of the most fascinating mental
and personal attractions may encounter from those whose homage is merely
sensual, and whose admiration is but a snare.


The author of these memoirs, Mary Robinson, was one of the most
prominent and eminently beautiful women of her day. From the description
she furnishes of her personal appearance, we gather that her complexion
was dark, her eyes large, her features expressive of melancholy; and
this verbal sketch corresponds with her portrait, which presents a face
at once grave, refined, and charming. Her beauty, indeed, was such as to
attract, amongst others, the attentions of Lords Lyttelton and
Northington, Fighting Fitzgerald, Captain Ayscough, and finally the
Prince of Wales; whilst her talents and conversation secured her the
friendship and interest of David Garrick, Richard Brinsley Sheridan,
Charles James Fox, Joshua Reynolds, Arthur Murphy, the dramatist, and
various other men of distinguished talent.

Though her memoirs are briefly sketched, they are sufficiently vivid to
present us with various pictures of the social life of the period of
which she was the centre. Now we find her at the Pantheon, with its
coloured lamps and brilliant music, moving amidst a fashionable crowd,
where large hoops and high feathers abounded, she herself dressed in a
habit of pale pink satin trimmed with sable, attracting the attention of
men of fashion. Again she is surrounded by friends at Vauxhall Gardens,
and barely escapes from a cunning plot to abduct her,--a plot in which
loaded pistols and a waiting coach prominently figure; whilst on another
occasion she is at Ranelagh, where, in the course of the evening, half a
dozen gallants "evinced their attentions;" and ultimately she makes her
first appearance as an actress on the stage of Drury Lane, before a
brilliant house, David Garrick, now retired, watching her from the
orchestra, whilst she played Juliet in pink satin richly spangled with
silver, her head ornamented with white feathers.

The fact of her becoming an actress brought about the turning-point in
her life; it being whilst she played Perdita in "The Winter's Tale"
before royalty that she attracted the Prince of Wales, afterward George
IV., who was then in his eighteenth year. The incidents which follow are
so briefly treated in the memoirs that explanations are necessary to
those who would follow the story of her life.

The performance of the play in which the prince saw her, probably for
the first time, took place on the 3d of December, 1779. It was not until
some months later, during which the prince and Perdita corresponded,
that she consented to meet him at Kew, where his education was being
continued and strict guard kept upon his conduct. During 1780 he urged
his father to give him a commission in the army, but, dreading the
liberty which would result from such a step, the king refused the
request. It was, however, considered advisable to provide the prince
with a small separate establishment in a wing of Buckingham House; this
arrangement taking place On the 1st of January, 1781.

Being now his own master, the prince became a man about town, attended
routs, masquerades, horse-races, identified himself with politicians
detested by the king, set up an establishment for Mrs. Robinson,
gambled, drank, and in a single year spent ten thousand pounds on
clothes. He now openly appeared in the company of Perdita at places of
public resort and amusement; she, magnificently dressed, driving a
splendid equipage which had cost him nine hundred guineas, and
surrounded by his friends. We read that: "To-day she was a _paysanne,_
with her straw hat tied at the back of her head. Yesterday she perhaps
had been the dressed belle of Hyde Park, trimmed, powdered, patched,
painted to the utmost power of rouge and white lead; to-morrow she would
be the cravated Amazon of the riding-house; but, be she what she might,
the hats of the fashionable promenaders swept the ground as she passed."

This life lasted about two years, when, just as the prince, on his
coming of age, was about to take possession of Carlton House, to receive
£30,000 from the nation toward paying his debts, and an annuity of
£63,000, he absented himself from Perdita, leaving her in ignorance of
the cause of his change, which was none other than an interest in Mrs.
Grace Dalrymple Elliott.

In the early fervour of his fancy, he had assured Mrs. Robinson his love
would remain unchangeable till death, and that he would prove
unalterable to his Perdita through life. Moreover, his generosity being
heated by passion, he gave her a bond promising to pay her £20,000 on
his coming of age.

On the prince separating from her, Perdita found herself some £7,000 in
debt to tradespeople, who became clamorous for their money, whereon she
wrote to her royal lover, who paid her no heed; but presently she was
visited by his friend, Charles James Fox, when she agreed to give up her
bond in consideration of receiving an annuity of £500 a year.

She would now gladly have gone back to the stage, but that she feared
the hostility of public opinion. Shortly after, she went to Paris, and
on her return to England devoted herself to literature. It was about
this time she entered into relations with Colonel--afterward Sir
Banastre--Tarleton, who was born in the same year as herself, and had
served in the American army from 1776 until the surrender of Yorktown,
on which he returned to England. For many years he sat in Parliament as
the representative of Liverpool, his native town; and in 1817 he gained
the grade of lieutenant-general, and was created a baronet. His
friendship with Mrs. Robinson lasted some sixteen years.

It was whilst undertaking a journey on his behalf, at a time when he was
in pecuniary difficulties, that she contracted the illness that resulted
in her losing the active use of her lower limbs. This did not prevent
her from working, and she poured out novels, poems, essays on the
condition of women, and plays. A communication written by her to John
Taylor, the proprietor of the _Sun_ newspaper and author of various
epilogues, prologues, songs, etc., gives a view of her life. This
letter, now published for the first time, is contained in the famous
Morrison collection of autograph letters, and is dated the 5th of
October, 1794.

"I was really happy to receive your letter. Your silence gave me no
small degree of uneasiness, and I began to think some demon had broken
the links of that chain which I trust has united us in friendship for
ever. Life is such a scene of trouble and disappointment that the
sensible mind can ill endure the loss of any consolation that renders it
supportable. How, then, can it be possible that we should resign,
without a severe pang, the first of all human blessings, the friend we
love? Never give me reason again, I conjure you, to suppose you have
wholly forgot me.

"Now I will impart to you a secret, which must not be revealed. I think
that before the 10th of December next I shall quit England for ever. My
dear and valuable brother, who is now in Lancashire, wishes to persuade
me, and the unkindness of the world tends not a little to forward his
hopes. I have no relations in England except my darling girl, and, I
fear, few friends. Yet, my dear Juan, I shall feel a very severe
struggle in quitting those paths of fancy I have been childish enough to
admire,--false prospects. They have led me into the vain expectation
that fame would attend my labours, and my country be my pride. How have
I been treated? I need only refer you to the critiques of last month,
and you will acquit me of unreasonable instability. When I leave
England,--adieu to the muse for ever,--I will never publish another line
while I exist, and even those manuscripts now finished I will destroy.

"Perhaps this will be no loss to the world, yet I may regret the many
fruitless hours I have employed to furnish occasions for malevolence and

"In every walk of life I have been equally unfortunate, but here shall
end my complaints.

"I shall return to St. James's Place for a few days this month to meet
my brother, who then goes to York for a very short time, and after his
return (the end of November), I depart. This must be secret, for to my
other misfortunes pecuniary derangement is not the least. Let common
sense judge how I can subsist upon £500 a year, when my carriage (a
necessary expense) alone costs me £200. My mental labours have failed
through the dishonest conduct of my publishers. My works have sold
handsomely, but the profits have been theirs.

"Have I not reason to be disgusted when I see him to whom I ought to
look for better fortune lavishing favours on unworthy objects,
gratifying the avarice of ignorance and dulness, while I, who sacrificed
reputation, an advantageous profession, friends, patronage, the
brilliant hours of youth, and the conscious delight of correct conduct,
am condemned to the scanty pittance bestowed on every indifferent page
who holds up his ermined train of ceremony?

"You will say, 'Why trouble me with all this?' I answer, 'Because when I
am at peace, you may be in possession of my real sentiments and defend
my cause when I shall not have the power of doing it.'

"My comedy has been long in the hands of a manager, but whether it will
ever be brought forward time must decide. You know, my dear friend, what
sort of authors have lately been patronised by managers; their pieces
ushered to public view, with all the advantages of splendour; yet I am
obliged to wait two long years without a single hope that a trial would
be granted. Oh, I am tired of the world and all its mortifications. I
promise you this shall close my chapters of complaints. Keep them, and
remember how ill I have been treated."

Eight days later she wrote to the same friend:

"In wretched spirits I wrote you last week a most melancholy letter.
Your kind answer consoled me. The balsam of pure and disinterested
friendship never fails to cure the mind's sickness, particularly when it
proceeds from disgust at the ingratitude of the world."

The play to which she referred was probably that mentioned in the sequel
to her memoirs, which was unhappily a failure. It is notable that the
principal character in the farce was played by Mrs. Jordan, who was
later to become the victim of a royal prince, who left her to die in
poverty and exile.

The letter of another great actress, Sarah Siddons, written to John
Taylor, shows kindness and compassion toward Perdita.

"I am very much obliged to Mrs. Robinson," says Mrs. Siddons, "for her
polite attention in sending me her poems. Pray tell her so with my
compliments. I hope the poor, charming woman has quite recovered from
her fall. If she is half as amiable as her writings, I shall long for
the possibility of being acquainted with her. I say the possibility,
because one's whole life is one continual sacrifice of inclinations,
which to indulge, however laudable or innocent, would draw down the
malice and reproach of those prudent people who never do ill, 'but feed
and sleep and do observances to the stale ritual of quaint ceremony.'
The charming and beautiful Mrs. Robinson: I pity her from the bottom
of my soul."

Almost to the last she retained her beauty, and delighted in receiving
her friends and learning from them news of the world in which she could
no longer move. Reclining on her sofa in the little drawing-room of her
house in St. James's Place, she was the centre of a circle which
comprised many of those who had surrounded her in the days of her
brilliancy, amongst them being the Prince of Wales and his brother the
Duke of York.

Possibly, for the former, memory lent her a charm which years had not
utterly failed to dispel.

J. Fitzgerald Molloy.


The Attempted Abduction

Lady Lyttleton

William Brereton in The Character Of Douglas

The First Meeting of Mrs. Robinson and the Prince of Wales

Mrs. Robinson

The Prince of Wales

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire


At the period when the ancient city of Bristol was besieged by Fairfax's
army, the troops being stationed on a rising ground in the vicinity of
the suburbs, a great part of the venerable minster was destroyed by the
cannonading before Prince Rupert surrendered to the enemy; and the
beautiful Gothic structure, which at this moment fills the contemplative
mind with melancholy awe, was reduced to but little more than one-half
of the original fabric. Adjoining to the consecrated hill, whose antique
tower resists the ravages of time, once stood a monastery of monks of
the order of St. Augustine. This building formed a part of the spacious
boundaries which fell before the attacks of the enemy, and became a part
of the ruin, which never was repaired or re-raised to its former Gothic

On this spot was built a private house, partly of simple, and partly of
modern architecture. The front faced a small garden, the gates of which
opened to the Minster Green (now called the College Green); the west
side was bounded by the cathedral, and the back was supported by the
ancient cloisters of St. Augustine's monastery. A spot more calculated
to inspire the soul with mournful meditation can scarcely be found
amidst the monuments of antiquity.

In this venerable mansion there was one chamber whose dismal and
singular constructure left no doubt of its having been a part of the
original monastery. It was supported by the mouldering arches of the
cloisters, dark, Gothic, and opening on the minster sanctuary, not only
by casement windows that shed a dim midday gloom, but by a narrow
winding staircase, at the foot of which an iron-spiked door led to the
long gloomy path of cloistered solitude. This place remained in the
situation in which I describe it in the year 1776, and probably may, in
a more ruined state, continue so to this hour.

In this awe-inspiring habitation, which I shall henceforth denominate
the Minster House, during a tempestuous night, on the 27th of November,
1758, I first opened my eyes to this world of duplicity and sorrow. I
have often heard my mother say that a mare stormy hour she never
remembered. The wind whistled round the dark pinnacles of the minster
tower, and the rain beat in torrents against the casements of her
chamber. Through life the tempest has followed my footsteps, and I have
in vain looked for a short interval of repose from the perseverance
of sorrow.

In the male line I am descended from a respectable family in Ireland,
the original name of which was MacDermott. From an Irish estate, my
great-grandfather changed it to that of Darby. My father, who was born
in America, was a man of strong mind, high spirit, and great personal
intrepidity. Many anecdotes, well authenticated, and which, being
irrefragable, are recorded as just tributes to his fame and memory,
shall, in the course of these memoirs, confirm this assertion.

My mother was the grandchild of Catherine Seys, one of the daughters and
co-heiresses of Richard Sey's, Esq., of Boverton Castle, in
Glamorganshire. The sister of my great-grandmother, named Anne, married
Peter, Lord King, who was nephew, in the female line, to the learned and
truly illustrious John Locke--a name that has acquired celebrity which
admits of no augmented panegyric.

Catherine Seys was a woman of great piety and virtue--a character which
she transferred to her daughter, and which has also been acknowledged as
justly due to her sister, Lady King.[1] She quitted this life when my
grandmother was yet a child, leaving an only daughter, whose father also
died while she was in her infancy. By this privation of paternal care my
grandmother became the _élève_ of her mother's father, and passed the
early part of her life at the family castle in Glamorganshire. From this
period till the marriage of my mother, I can give but a brief account.
All I know is, that my grandmother, though wedded unhappily, to the
latest period of her existence was a woman of amiable and simple
manners, unaffected piety, and exemplary virtue. I remember her well;
and I speak not only from report, but from my own knowledge. She died in
the year 1780.

My grandmother Elizabeth, whom I may, without the vanity of
consanguinity, term a truly good woman, in the early part of her life
devoted much of her time to botanic study. She frequently passed many
successive months with Lady Tynt, of Haswell, in Somersetshire, who was
her godmother, and who was the Lady Bountiful of the surrounding
villages. Animated by so distinguished an example, the young Elizabeth,
who was remarkably handsome,[2] took particular delight in visiting the
old, the indigent, and the infirm, resident within many miles of
Haswell, and in preparing such medicines as were useful to the maladies
of the peasantry. She was the village doctress, and, with her worthy
godmother, seldom passed a day without exemplifying the benevolence of
her nature.

My mother was born at Bridgwater, in Somersetshire, in the house near
the bridge, which is now occupied by Jonathan Chub, Esq., a relation of
my beloved and lamented parent, and a gentleman who, to acknowledged
worth and a powerful understanding, adds a superior claim to attention
by all the acquirements of a scholar and a philosopher.

My mother, who never was what may be called a handsome woman, had
nevertheless, in her youth, a peculiarly neat figure, and a vivacity of
manner which obtained her many suitors. Among others, a young gentleman
of good family, of the name of Storr, paid his addresses. My father was
the object of my mother's choice, though her relations rather wished her
to form a matrimonial alliance with Mr. S. The conflict between
affection and duty was at length decided in favour of my father, and the
rejected lover set out in despair for Bristol. From thence, in a few
days after his arrival, he took his passage in a merchantman for a
distant part of the globe; and from that hour no intelligence ever
arrived of his fate or fortune. I have often heard my mother speak of
this gentleman with regret and sorrow.

My mother was between twenty and thirty years of age at the period of
her marriage. The ceremony was performed at Dunyatt, in the county of
Somerset. My father was shortly after settled at Bristol, and during the
second year after their union a son was born to bless and
honour them.[3]

Three years after my mother gave birth to a daughter, named Elizabeth,
who died of the smallpox at the age of two years and ten months. In the
second winter following this event, which deeply afflicted the most
affectionate of parents, I was born. She had afterward two sons:
William, who died at the age of six years; and George, who is now a
respectable merchant at Leghorn, in Tuscany.

All the offspring of my parents were, in their infancy, uncommonly
handsome, excepting myself. The boys were fair and lusty, with auburn
hair, light blue eyes, and countenances peculiarly animated and lovely,
I was swarthy; my eyes were singularly large in proportion to my face,
which was small and round, exhibiting features peculiarly marked with
the most pensive and melancholy cast.

The great difference betwixt my brothers and myself, in point of
personal beauty, tended much to endear me to my parents, particularly to
my father, whom I strongly resembled. The early propensities of my life
were tinctured with romantic and singular characteristics; some of which
I shall here mention, as proofs that the mind is never to be diverted
from its original bent, and that every event of my life has more or less
been marked by the progressive evils of a too acute sensibility.

The nursery in which I passed my hours of infancy was so near the great
aisle of the minster that the organ, which reechoed its deep tones,
accompanied by the chanting of the choristers, was distinctly heard both
at morning and evening service. I remember with what pleasure I used to
listen, and how much I was delighted whenever I was permitted to sit on
the winding steps which led from the aisle to the cloisters. I can at
this moment recall to memory the sensations I then experienced--the
tones that seemed to thrill through my heart, the longing which I felt
to unite my feeble voice to the full anthem, and the awful though
sublime impression which the church service never failed to make upon my
feelings. While my brothers were playing on the green before the
minster, the servant who attended us has often, by my earnest
entreaties, suffered me to remain beneath the great eagle which stood in
the centre of the aisle, to support the book from which the clergyman
read the lessons of the day; and nothing could keep me away, even in the
coldest seasons, but the stern looks of an old man, whom I named Black
John from the colour of his beard and complexion, and whose occupations
within the sacred precincts were those of a bell-ringer and sexton.

As soon as I had learned to read, my great delight was that of learning
epitaphs and monumental inscriptions. A story of melancholy import never
failed to excite my attention; and before I was seven years old I could
correctly repeat Pope's "Lines to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady;"
Mason's "Elegy on the Death of the Beautiful Countess of Coventry," and
many smaller poems on similar subjects. I had then been attended two
years by various masters. Mr. Edmund Broadrip taught me music, my father
having presented me with one of Kirkman's finest harpsichords, as an
incitement to emulation. Even there my natural bent of mind evinced
itself. The only melody which pleased me was that of the mournful and
touching kind. Two of my earliest favourites were the celebrated ballad
by Gay, beginning, "'Twas when the sea was roaring," and the simple
pathetic stanzas of "The Heavy Hours," by the poet Lord Lyttelton.
These, though nature had given me but little voice, I could at seven
years of age sing so pathetically that my mother, to the latest hour of
her life,' never could bear to hear the latter of them repeated. They
reminded her of sorrows in which I have since painfully learned to

The early hours of boarding-school study I passed under the tuition of
the Misses More, sisters to the lady of that name whose talents have
been so often celebrated.[4] The education of their young pupils was
undertaken by the five sisters. "In my mind's eye," I see them now
before me; while every circumstance of those early days is minutely and
indelibly impressed upon my memory.

I remember the first time I ever was present at a dramatic
representation: it was the benefit of that great actor[5] who was
proceeding rapidly toward the highest paths of fame, when death, dropped
the oblivious curtain, and closed the scene for ever. The part which he
performed was King Lear; his wife, afterward Mrs. Fisher, played
Cordelia, but not with sufficient _éclat_ to render the profession an
object for her future exertions. The whole school attended, Mr. Powel's
two daughters being then pupils of the Misses More. Mrs. John Kemble,
then Miss P. Hopkins, was also one of my schoolfellows, as was the
daughter of Mrs. Palmer, formerly Miss Pritchard, and afterward Mrs.
Lloyd. I mention these circumstances merely to prove that memory does
not deceive me.

In my early days my father was prosperous, and my mother was the
happiest of wives. She adored her children; she devoted her thoughts and
divided her affections between them and the tenderest of husbands. Their
spirits now, I trust, are in happier regions, blest, and reunited
for ever.

If there could be found a fault in the conduct of my mother toward her
children, it was that of a too unlimited indulgence, a too tender care,
which but little served to arm their breast against the perpetual arrows
of mortal vicissitude. My father's commercial concerns were crowned with
prosperity. His house was opened by hospitality, and his generosity was
only equalled by the liberality of fortune: every day augmented his
successes; every hour seemed to increase his domestic felicity, till I
attained my ninth year, when a change took place as sudden as it was
unfortunate, at a moment when every luxury, every happiness, not only
brightened the present, but gave promise of future felicity. A scheme
was suggested to my father, as wild and romantic as it was perilous to
hazard, which was no less than that of establishing a whale fishery on
the coast of Labrador, and of civilising the Esquimaux Indians, in order
to employ them in the extensive undertaking. During two years this
eccentric plan occupied his thoughts by day, his dreams by night: all
the smiles of prosperity could not tranquillise the restless spirit, and
while he anticipated an acquirement of fame, he little considered the
perils that would attend his fortune.

My mother (who, content with affluence and happy in beholding the
prosperity of her children, trembled at the fear of endangering either),
in vain endeavoured to dissuade my father from putting his favourite
scheme in practice. In the early part of his youth he had been
accustomed to a sea life, and, being born an American, his restless
spirit was ever busied in plans for the increase of wealth and honour to
his native country, whose fame and interest were then united to those of
Britain. After many dreams of success and many conflicts betwixt
prudence and ambition, he resolved on putting his scheme in practice;
the potent witchery possessed his brain, and all the persuasive powers
of reason shrunk before its magic.

Full of the important business, my misguided parent repaired to the
metropolis, and on his arrival laid the plan before the late Earl of
Hilsborough, Sir Hugh Palliser, the late Earl of Bristol, Lord Chatham
(father to the present Mr. William Pitt), the chancellor Lord
Northington, who was my godfather, and several other equally
distinguished personages; who all not only approved the plan, but
commended the laudable and public spirit which induced my father to
suggest it. The prospect appeared full of promise, and the Labrador
whale fishery was expected to be equally productive with that of
Greenland. My parent's commercial connections were of the highest
respectability, while his own name for worth and integrity gave a
powerful sanction to the eccentric undertaking.

In order to facilitate this plan, my father deemed it absolutely
necessary to reside at least two years in America. My mother, who felt
an invincible antipathy to the sea, heard his determination with grief
and horror. All the persuasive powers of affection failed to detain him;
all the pleadings of reason, prudence, a fond wife, and an infant
family, proved ineffectual. My father was determined on departing, and
my mother's unconquerable timidity prevented her being the companion of
his voyage. From this epocha I date the sorrows of my family.

He sailed for America. His eldest son, John, was previously placed in a
mercantile house at Leghorn. My younger brothers and myself remained
with my mother at Bristol. Two years was the limited time of his
absence, and, on his departure, the sorrow of my parents was reciprocal.
My mother's heart was almost bursting with anguish; but even death would
to her have been preferable to the horrors of crossing a tempestuous
ocean and quitting her children, my father having resolved on leaving my
brothers and myself in England for education.

Still the comforts, and even the luxuries of life distinguished our
habitation. The tenderness of my mother's affection made her lavish of
every elegance; and the darlings of her bosom were dressed, waited on,
watched, and indulged with a degree of fondness bordering on folly. My
clothes were sent for from London; my fancy was indulged to the extent
of its caprices; I was flattered and praised into a belief that I was a
being of superior order. To sing, to play a lesson on the harpsichord,
to recite an elegy, and to make doggerel verses, made the extent of my
occupations, while my person improved, and my mother's indulgence was
almost unexampled.

My father, several years before his departure for America, had removed
from the Minster House, and resided in one larger and more convenient
for his increased family. This habitation was elegantly arranged; all
the luxuries of plate, silk furniture, foreign wines, etc., evinced his
knowledge of what was worth enjoying, and displayed that warm
hospitality which is often the characteristic of a British merchant.
This disposition for the good things of the world influenced even the
disposal of his children's comforts. The bed in which I slept was of the
richest crimson damask; the dresses which we wore were of the finest
cambric; during the summer months we were sent to Clifton Hill for the
advantages of a purer air; and I never was permitted to board at school,
or to pass a night of separation from the fondest of mothers.

Many months elapsed, and my mother continued to receive the kindest
letters from that husband whose rash scheme filled her bosom with regret
and apprehension. At length the intervals became more frequent and
protracted. The professions of regard, no longer flowing from the heart,
assumed a laboured style, and seemed rather the efforts of honourable
feeling than the involuntary language of confidential affection. My
mother felt the change, and her affliction was infinite.

At length a total silence of several months awoke her mind to the
sorrows of neglect, the torture of compunction; she now lamented the
timidity which had divided her from a husband's bosom, the natural
fondness which had bound her to her children; for while her heart bled
with sorrow and palpitated with apprehension, the dreadful secret was
unfolded, and the cause of my father's silence was discovered to be a
new attachment--a mistress, whose resisting nerves could brave the
stormy ocean, and who had consented to remain two years with him in the
frozen wilds of America.

This intelligence nearly annihilated my mother, whose mind, though not
strongly organised, was tenderly susceptible. She resigned herself to
grief. I was then at an age to feel and to participate in her sorrows. I
often wept to see her weep; I tried all my little skill to soothe her,
but in vain; the first shock was followed by calamities of a different
nature. The scheme in which my father had embarked his fortune failed,
the Indians rose in a body, burnt his settlement, murdered many of his
people, and turned the produce of their toil adrift on the wide and
merciless ocean. The noble patrons of his plan deceived him in their
assurances of marine protection, and the island of promise presented a
scene of barbarous desolation. This misfortune was rapidly followed by
other commercial losses; and to complete the vexations which pressed
heavily on my mother, her rash husband gave a bill of sale of his whole
property, by the authority of which we were obliged to quit our home,
and to endure those accumulated vicissitudes for which there appeared
no remedy.

It was at this period of trial that my mother was enabled to prove, by
that unerring touchstone, adversity, who were her real and disinterested
friends. Many, with affected commiseration, dropped a tear--or rather
seemed to drop one--on the disappointments of our family; while others,
with a malignant triumph, condemned the expensive style in which my
father had reared his children, the studied elegance which had
characterised my mother's dress and habitation, and the hospitality,
which was now marked by the ungrateful epithet of prodigal luxuriance,
but which had evinced the open liberality of my father's heart.

At this period my brother William died. He was only six years of age,
but a promising and most lovely infant. His sudden death, in consequence
of the measles, nearly deprived my mother of her senses. She was deeply
affected; but she found, after a period of time, that consolation which,
springing from the bosom of an amiable friend, doubly solaced her
afflictions. This female was one of the most estimable of her sex; she
had been the widow of Sir Charles Erskine, and was then the wife of a
respectable medical man who resided at Bristol.

In the society of Lady Erskine my mother gradually recovered her
serenity of mind, or rather found it soften into a religious
resignation. But the event of her domestic loss by death was less
painful than that which she felt in the alienation of my father's
affections. She frequently heard that he resided in America with his
mistress, till, at the expiration of another year, she received a
summons to meet him in London.

Language would but feebly describe the varying emotions which struggled
in her bosom. At this interesting era she was preparing to encounter the
freezing scorn, or the contrite glances, of either an estranged or a
repentant husband; in either case her situation was replete with
anticipated chagrin, for she loved him too tenderly not to participate
even in the anguish of his compunction. His letter, which was coldly
civil, requested particularly that the children might be the companions
of her journey. We departed for the metropolis.

I was not then quite ten years old, though so tall and formed in my
person that I might have passed for twelve or thirteen. My brother
George was a few years younger. On our arrival in London we repaired to
my father's lodgings in Spring Gardens. He received us, after three
years' absence, with a mixture of pain and pleasure; he embraced us with
tears, and his voice was scarcely articulate. My mother's agitation was
indescribable; she received a cold embrace at their meeting--it was the
last she ever received from her alienated husband.

As soon as the first conflicts seemed to subside, my father informed my
mother that he was determined to place my brother and myself at a school
in the vicinity of London; that he purposed very shortly returning to
America, and that he would readily pay for my mother's board in any
private and respectable family. This information seemed like a
death-blow to their domestic hopes. A freezing, formal, premeditated
separation from a wife who was guiltless of any crime, who was as
innocent as an angel, seemed the very extent of decided misery. It was
in vain that my mother essayed to change his resolution, and influence
his heart in pronouncing a milder judgment: my father was held by a
fatal fascination; he was the slave of a young and artful woman, who had
availed herself of his American solitude, to undermine his affections
for his wife and the felicity of his family.

This deviation from domestic faith was the only dark shade that marked
my father's character. He possessed a soul brave, liberal, enlightened,
and ingenuous. He felt the impropriety of his conduct. Yet, though his
mind was strongly organised, though his understanding was capacious, and
his sense of honour delicate even to fastidiousness, he was still the
dupe of his passions, the victim of unfortunate attachment.

Within a few days of our arrival in London we were placed for education
in a school at Chelsea. The mistress of this seminary was perhaps one of
the most extraordinary women that ever graced, or disgraced, society;
her name was Meribah Lorrington. She was the most extensively
accomplished female that I ever remember to have met with; her mental
powers were no less capable of cultivation than superiorly cultivated.
Her father, whose name was Hull, had from her infancy been the master of
an academy at Earl's Court, near Fulham; and early after his marriage
losing his wife, he resolved on giving his daughter a masculine
education. Meribah was early instructed in all the modern
accomplishments, as well as in classical knowledge. She was mistress of
the Latin, French, and Italian languages; she was said to be a perfect
arithmetician and astronomer, and possessed the art of painting on silk
to a degree of exquisite perfection. But, alas! with all these
advantages, she was addicted to one vice, which at times so completely
absorbed her faculties as to deprive her of every power, either mental
or corporeal. Thus, daily and hourly, her superior acquirements, her
enlightened understanding, yielded to the intemperance of her ruling
infatuation, and every power of reflection seemed lost in the unfeminine

All that I ever learned I acquired from this extraordinary woman. In
those hours when her senses were not intoxicated, she would delight in
the task of instructing me. She had only five or six pupils, and it was
my lot to be her particular favourite. She always, out of school, called
me her little friend, and made no scruple of conversing with me
(sometimes half the night, for I slept in her chamber), on domestic and
confidential affairs. I felt for her a very sincere affection, and I
listened with peculiar attention to all the lessons she inculcated. Once
I recollect her mentioning the particular failing which disgraced so
intelligent a being. She pleaded, in excuse of it, the immitigable
regret of a widowed heart, and with compunction declared that she flew
to intoxication as the only refuge from the pang of prevailing sorrow. I
continued more than twelve months under the care of Mrs. Lorrington,
during which period my mother boarded in a clergyman's family at
Chelsea. I applied rigidly to study, and acquired a taste for books,
which has never, from that time, deserted me. Mrs. Lorrington frequently
read to me after school hours, and I to her. I sometimes indulged my
fancy in writing verses, or composing rebuses, and my governess never
failed to applaud the juvenile compositions I presented to her. Some of
them, which I preserved and printed in a small volume shortly after my
marriage, were written when I was between twelve and thirteen years of
age; but as love was the theme of my poetical fantasies, I never showed
them to my mother till I was about to publish them.

It was my custom, every Sunday evening, to drink tea with my mother.
During one of those visits a captain in the British navy, a friend of my
father's, became so partial to my person and manners that a proposal of
marriage shortly after followed. My mother was astonished when she heard
it, and, as soon as she recovered from her surprise, inquired of my
suitor how old he thought me; his reply was, "About sixteen." My mother
smiled, and informed him that I was then not quite thirteen. He appeared
to be skeptical on the subject, till he was again assured of the fact,
when he took his leave with evident chagrin, but not without expressing
his hopes that, on his return to England,--for he was going on a two
years' expedition,--I should be still disengaged. His ship foundered at
sea a few months after, and this amiable gallant officer perished.

I had remained a year and two months with Mrs. Lorrington, when
pecuniary derangements obliged her to give up her school. Her father's
manners were singularly disgusting, as was his appearance; for he wore a
silvery beard which reached to his breast; and a kind of Persian robe
which gave him the external appearance of a necromancer. He was of the
Anabaptist persuasion, and so stern in his conversation that the young
pupils were exposed to perpetual terror. Added to these circumstances,
the failing of his daughter became so evident, that even during school
hours she was frequently in a state of confirmed intoxication. These
events conspired to break up the establishment, and I was shortly after
removed to a boarding-school at Battersea.

The mistress of this seminary, Mrs. Leigh, was a lively, sensible, and
accomplished woman; her daughter was only a few years older than myself,
and extremely amiable as well as lovely. Here I might have been happy,
but my father's remissness in sending pecuniary supplies, and my
mother's dread of pecuniary inconvenience, induced her to remove me; my
brother, nevertheless, still remained under the care of the Reverend Mr.
Gore, at Chelsea.

Several months elapsed, and no remittance arrived from my father. I was
now near fourteen years old, and my mother began to foresee the
vicissitudes to which my youth might be exposed, unprotected, tenderly
educated, and without the advantages of fortune. My father's
impracticable scheme had impoverished his fortune, and deprived his
children of that affluence which, in their in fancy, they had been
taught to hope for. I cannot speak of my own person, but my partial
friends were too apt to flatter me. I was naturally of a pensive and
melancholy character; my reflections on the changes of fortune
frequently gave me an air of dejection which perhaps etched an interest
beyond what might have been awakened by the vivacity or bloom of

I adored my mother. She was the mildest, the most unoffending of
existing mortals; her temper was cheerful, as her heart was innocent;
she beheld her children as it seemed fatherless, and she resolved, by
honourable means, to support them. For this purpose a convenient house
was hired at Little Chelsea, and furnished, for a ladies'
boarding-school. Assistants of every kind were engaged, and I was deemed
worthy of an occupation that flattered my self-love and impressed my
mind with a sort of domestic consequence. The English language was my
department in the seminary, and I was permitted to select passages both
in prose and verse for the studies of my infant pupils. It was also my
occupation to superintend their wardrobes, to see them dressed and
undressed by the servants or half-boarders, and to read sacred and moral
lessons on saints' days and Sunday evenings.

Shortly after my mother had established herself at Chelsea, on a
summer's evening, as I was sitting at the window, I heard a deep sigh,
or rather a groan of anguish, which suddenly attracted my attention. The
night was approaching rapidly, and I looked toward the gate before the
house, where I observed a woman evidently labouring under excessive
affliction; I instantly descended and approached her. She, bursting into
tears, asked whether I did not know her. Her dress was torn and filthy;
she was almost naked; and an old bonnet, which nearly hid her face, so
completely disfigured her features that I had not the smallest idea of
the person who was then almost sinking before me. I gave her a small sum
of money, and inquired the cause of her apparent agony. She took my hand
and pressed it to her lips. "Sweet girl," said she, "you are still the
angel I ever knew you!" I was astonished. She raised her bonnet--her
fine dark eyes met mine. It was Mrs. Lorrington. I led her into the
house; my mother was not at home. I took her to my chamber, and, with
the assistance of a lady who was our French teacher, I clothed and
comforted her. She refused to say how she came to be in so deplorable a
situation, and took her leave. It was in vain that I entreated, that I
conjured her to let me know where I might send to her. She refused to
give me her address, but promised that in a few days she would call on
me again. It is impossible to describe the wretched appearance of this
accomplished woman! The failing to which she had now yielded, as to a
monster that would destroy her, was evident even at the moment when she
was speaking to me. I saw no more of her; but to my infinite regret, I
was informed some years after that she had died, the martyr of a
premature decay, brought on by the indulgence of her propensity to
intoxication, in the workhouse of Chelsea!

The number of my mother's pupils in a few months amounted to ten or
twelve, and just at a period when an honourable independence promised to
cheer the days of an unexampled parent, my father unexpectedly returned
from America. The pride of his soul was deeply wounded by the step which
my mother had taken; he was offended even beyond the bounds of reason:
he considered his name as disgraced, his conjugal reputation tarnished,
by the public mode which his wife had adopted of revealing to the world
her unprotected situation. A prouder heart never palpitated in the
breast of man than that of my father: tenacious of fame, ardent in the
pursuit of visionary schemes, he could not endure the exposure of his
altered fortune; while Hope still beguiled him with her flattering
promise that time would favour his projects, and fortune, at some future
period, reward him with success.

At the expiration of eight months my mother, by my father's positive
command, broke up her establishment and returned to London. She engaged
lodgings in the neighbourhood of Marylebone. My father then resided in
Green Street, Grosvenor Square. His provision for his family was scanty,
his visits few. He had a new scheme on foot respecting the Labrador
coast, the particulars of which I do not remember, and all his zeal,
united with all his interest, was employed in promoting its
accomplishment. My mother, knowing that my father publicly resided with
his mistress, did not even hope for his returning affection. She devoted
herself to her children, and endured her sorrows with the patience of
conscious rectitude.

At this period my father frequently called upon us, and often attended
me while we walked in the fields near Marylebone. His conversation was
generally of a domestic nature, and he always lamented that fatal
attachment, which was now too strongly cemented by time and obligations
ever to be dissolved without an ample provision for Elenor, which was
the name of my father's mistress. In one of our morning walks we called
upon the Earl of Northington, my father having some commercial business
to communicate to his lordship. Lord Northington then resided in
Berkeley Square, two doors from Hill Street, in the house which is now
occupied by Lord Robert Spencer. We were received with the most marked
attention and politeness (I was presented as the goddaughter of the late
Chancellor Lord Northington), and my father was requested to dine with
his lordship a few days after. From this period I frequently saw Lord
Northington, and always experienced from him the most flattering and
gratifying civility. I was then a child, not more than fourteen years
of age.

The finishing points of my education I received at Oxford House,
Marylebone. I was at this period within a few months of fifteen years of
age, tall, and nearly such as my partial friends, the few whose
affection has followed me from childhood, remember me. My early love for
lyric harmony had led me to a fondness for the more sublime scenes of
dramatic poetry. I embraced every leisure moment to write verses; I even
fancied that I could compose a tragedy, and more than once
unsuccessfully attempted the arduous undertaking.

The dancing-master at Oxford House, Mr. Hussey, was then ballet-master
at Covent Garden Theatre. Mrs. Hervey, the governess, mentioned me to
him as possessing an extraordinary genius for dramatic exhibitions. My
figure was commanding for my age, and (my father's pecuniary
embarrassments augmenting by the failure of another American project) my
mother was consulted as to the propriety of my making the stage my
profession. Many cited examples of females who, even in that perilous
and arduous situation, preserved an unspotted fame, inclined her to
listen to the suggestion, and to allow of my consulting some master of
the art as to my capability of becoming an ornament to the theatre.

Previous to this idea my father had again quitted England. He left his
wife with assurances of good-will, his children with all the agonies of
parental regret. When he took leave of my mother, his emphatic words
were these,--I never shall forget them--"Take care that no dishonour
falls upon my daughter. If she is not safe at my return, I will
annihilate you!" My mother heard the stern injunction, and trembled
while he repeated it.

I was, in consequence of my wish to appear on the stage, introduced to
Mr. Hull,[6] of Covent Garden Theatre; he then resided in King Street,
Soho. He heard me recite some passages of the character of Jane Shore,
and seemed delighted with my attempt. I was shortly after presented by a
friend of my mother's, to Mr. Garrick;[7] Mr. Murphy,[8] the celebrated
dramatic poet, was one of the party, and we passed the evening at the
house of the British Roscius in the Adelphi. This was during the last
year that he dignified the profession by his public appearance. Mr.
Garrick's encomiums were of the most gratifying kind. He determined that
he would appear in the same play with me on the first night's trial; but
what part to choose for my début was a difficult question. I was too
young for anything beyond the girlish character, and the dignity of
tragedy afforded but few opportunities for the display of such juvenile
talents. After some hesitation my tutor fixed on the part of Cordelia.
His own Lear can never be forgotten.

It was not till the period when everything was arranged for my
appearance that the last solemn injunction, so emphatically uttered by
my father, nearly palsied my mother's resolution. She dreaded the
perils, the temptations to which an unprotected girl would be exposed in
so public a situation; while my ardent fancy was busied in contemplating
a thousand triumphs in which my vanity would be publicly gratified
without the smallest sacrifice of my private character.

While this plan was in agitation, I was one evening at Drury Lane
Theatre with my mother and a small party of her friends, when an officer
entered the box. His eyes were fixed on me, and his persevering
attention at length nearly overwhelmed me with confusion. The
entertainment being finished, we departed. The stranger followed us. At
that period my mother resided in Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane,
for the protection which a venerable and respectable friend offered at a
moment when it was so necessary. This friend was the late Samuel Cox,
Esq., the intimate friend of Mr. Garrick, and an honour to those laws of
which he was a distinguished professor.

It was Mr. Garrick's particular request that I would frequent the
theatre as much as possible till the period fixed on for my appearance
on the stage. I had now just completed my fifteenth year, and my little
heart throbbed with impatience for the hour of trial. My tutor was most
sanguine in his expectations of my success, and every rehearsal seemed
to strengthen his flattering opinion.

It happened that, several evenings following, the stranger officer,
whose name, for motives of delicacy toward his family, I forbear to
mention, followed me to and from the theatre. It was in vain that he
offered his attentions in the box; my mother's frown and assiduous care
repulsed them effectually. But the perseverance of a bad mind in the
accomplishment of a bad action is not to be subdued. A letter was
written and conveyed to me through the hands of a female servant; I
opened it; I read a declaration of the most ardent love. The writer
avowed himself the son of Lady----, and offered marriage; he was
graceful and handsome. I instantly delivered the letter to my mother,
and, shortly after, he was, by an acquaintance, presented with
decorous ceremony.

The idea of my appearing on the stage seemed to distract this
accomplished suitor. My mother, who but half approved a dramatic life,
was more than half inclined to favour the addresses of Captain ----. The
injunction of my father every hour became more indelibly impressed on
her memory; she knew his stern and invincible sense of honour too well
to hazard the thought of awakening it to vengeance.

After a short period, the friend who had presented Captain----, alarmed
for my safety, and actuated by a liberal wish to defend me from the
artifice of his associate, waited on my mother, and, after some
hesitation, informed her that my lover was already married; that he had
a young and amiable wife in a sister kingdom, and that he apprehended
some diabolical stratagem for the enthralment of my honour. My mother's
consternation was infinite. The important secret was communicated to me,
and I felt little regret in the loss of a husband when I reflected that
a matrimonial alliance would have compelled me to relinquish my
theatrical profession.

I had, also, at this period, another professed admirer, a man of
splendid fortune, but nearly old enough to be my grandfather. This suit
I never would listen to; and the drama, the delightful drama, seemed the
very criterion of all human happiness.

I now found myself an object of attention whenever I appeared at the
theatre. I had been too often in public not to be observed, and it was
buzzed about that I was the juvenile pupil of Garrick,--the promised
Cordelia. My person improved daily; yet a sort of dignified air, which
from a child I had acquired, effectually shielded me from the attacks of
impertinence or curiosity. Garrick was delighted with everything I did.
He would sometimes dance a minuet with me, sometimes request me to sing
the favourite ballads of the day; but the circumstance which most
pleased him was my tone of voice, which he frequently told me closely
resembled that of his favourite Cibber.[9]

Never shall I forget the enchanting hours which I passed in Mr.
Garrick's society; he appeared to me as one who possessed more power,
both to awe and to attract, than any man I ever met with. His smile was
fascinating, but he had at times a restless peevishness of tone which
excessively affected his hearers; at least it affected me so that I
never shall forget it.

Opposite to the house in which I resided lived John Vernon, Esq., an
eminent solicitor. I observed a young inmate of his habitation
frequently watching me with more than ordinary attention. He was
handsome in person, and his countenance was overcast by a sort of
languor, the effect of sickness, which rendered it peculiarly
interesting. Frequently, when I approached the window of our
drawing-room, this young observer would bow or turn away with evident
emotion. I related the circumstance to my mother, and from that time the
lower shutters of our windows were perpetually closed. The young lawyer
often excited my mirth, and my mother's indignation; and the injunction
of my father was frequently repeated by her, with the addition of her
wish, that I was "once well married."

Every attention which was now paid to me augmented my dear mother's
apprehensions. She fancied every man a seducer, and every hour an hour
of accumulating peril! I know what she was doomed to feel, for that
Being who formed my sensitive and perpetually aching heart knows that I
have since felt it.

Among other friends who were in the habit of visiting my mother there
was one, a Mr. Wayman, an attorney of whom she entertained the highest
opinion. He was distinguished by the patronage of Mr. Cox, and his
reputation required no other voucher. One evening a party of six was
proposed for the following Sunday; with much persuasion my mother
consented to go, and to allow that I should also attend her. Greenwich
was the place fixed on for the dinner, and we prepared for the day of
recreation. It was then the fashion to wear silks. I remember that I
wore a nightgown of pale blue lustring, with a chip hat trimmed with
ribands of the same colour. Never was I dressed so perfectly to my own
satisfaction; I anticipated a day of admiration. Heaven can bear witness
that to me it was a day of fatal victory!

On our stopping at the "Star and Garter," at Greenwich, the person who
came to hand me from the carriage was our opposite neighbour in
Southampton Buildings. I was confused, but my mother was indignant. Mr.
Wayman presented his young friend,--that friend who was ordained to be
my husband!

Our party dined, and early in the evening we returned to London. Mr.
Robinson remained at Greenwich for the benefit of the air, being
recently recovered from a fit of sickness. During the remainder of the
evening Mr. Wayman expatiated on the many good qualities of his friend
Mr. Robinson: spoke of his future expectations a rich old uncle; of his
probable advancement in his profession; and, more than all, of his
enthusiastic admiration of me.

A few days after, Mr. Robinson paid my mother a visit. We had now
removed to Villars Street, York Buildings. My mother's fondness for
books of a moral and religious character was not lost upon my new lover,
and elegantly bound editions of Hervey's "Meditations," with some others
of a similar description, were presented as small tokens of admiration
and respect. My mother was beguiled by these little interesting
attentions, and soon began to feel a strong predilection in favour of
Mr. Robinson.

Every day some new mark of respect augmented my mother's favourable
opinion; till Mr. Robinson became so great a favourite that he seemed to
her the most perfect of existing beings. Just at this period my brother
George sickened for the smallpox; my mother idolised him; he was
dangerously ill. Mr. Robinson was indefatigable in his attentions, and
my appearance on the stage was postponed till the period of his perfect
recovery. Day and night Mr. Robinson devoted himself to the task of
consoling my mother, and of attending to her darling boy; hourly, and
indeed momentarily, Mr. Robinson's praises were reiterated with
enthusiasm by my mother. He was "the kindest, the best of mortals!" the
least addicted to worldly follies, and the man, of all others, whom she
should adore as a son-in-law.

My brother recovered at the period when I sickened from the infection of
his disease. I felt little terror at the approaches of a dangerous and
deforming malady; for, I know not why, but personal beauty has never
been to me an object of material solicitude. It was now that Mr.
Robinson exerted all his assiduity to win my affections; it was when a
destructive disorder menaced my features and the few graces that nature
had lent them, that he professed a disinterested fondness; every day he
attended with the zeal of a brother, and that zeal made an impression of
gratitude upon my heart, which was the source of all my
succeeding sorrows.

During my illness Mr. Robinson so powerfully wrought upon the feelings
of my mother, that she prevailed on me to promise, in case I should
recover, to give him my hand in marriage. The words of my father were
frequently repeated, not without some innuendoes that I refused my ready
consent to a union with Mr. Robinson from a blind partiality to the
libertine Captain----. Repeatedly urged and hourly reminded of my
father's vow, I at last consented, and the banns were published while I
was yet lying on a bed of sickness. I was then only a few months
advanced in my sixteenth year.

My mother, whose affection for me was boundless, notwithstanding her
hopes of my forming an alliance that would be productive of felicity,
still felt the most severe pain at the thought of our approaching
separation. She was estranged from her husband's affections; she had
treasured up all her fondest hopes in the society of an only daughter;
she knew that no earthly pleasure can compensate for the loss of that
sweet sympathy which is the bond of union betwixt child and parent. Her
regrets were infinite as they were evident, and Mr. Robinson, in order
to remove any obstacle which this consideration might throw in the way
of our marriage, voluntarily proposed that she should reside with us. He
represented me as too young and inexperienced to superintend domestic
concerns; and while he flattered my mother's _armour propre_, he rather
requested her aid as a sacrifice to his interest than as an obligation
conferred on her.

The banns were published three successive Sundays at St. Martin's
Church, and the day was fixed for our marriage,--the twelfth of April.
It was not till all preliminaries were adjusted that Mr. Robinson, with
much apparent agitation, suggested the necessity of keeping our union a
secret. I was astonished at the proposal; but two reasons were given for
his having made it, both of which seemed plausible; the first was, that
Mr. Robinson had still three months to serve before his articles to
Messrs. Vernon and Elderton expired; and the second was, the hope which
a young lady entertained of forming a matrimonial union with Mr.
Robinson as soon as that period should arrive. The latter reason alarmed
me, but I was most solemnly assured that all the affection was cherished
on the lady's part; that Mr. Robinson was particularly averse to the
idea of such a marriage, and that as soon as he should become of age his
independence would place him beyond the control of any person

I now proposed deferring our wedding-day till that period. I pleaded
that I thought myself too young to encounter the cares and important
duties of domestic life; I shrunk from the idea of everything
clandestine, and anticipated a thousand ill consequences that might
attend on a concealed marriage. My scruples only seemed to increase Mr.
Robinson's impatience for that ceremony which should make me his for
ever. He represented to my mother the disapprobation which my father
would not fail to evince at my adopting a theatrical life in preference
to engaging in an honourable and prosperous connection. He so powerfully
worked upon the credulity of my beloved parent that she became a decided
convert to his opinions. My youth, my person, he represented as the
destined snares for my honour on a public stage, where all the
attractions of the mimic scene would combine to render me a fascinating
object. He also persuaded her that my health would suffer by the
fatigues and exertions of the profession, and that probably I might be
induced to marry some man who would not approve of a mother's forming a
part in our domestic establishment.

These circumstances were repeatedly urged in favour of the union. Still
I felt an almost instinctive repugnance at the thought of a clandestine
marriage. My mother, whose parental fondness was ever watchful for my
safety, now imagined that my objections proceeded from a fixed
partiality toward the libertine Captain----, who, though he had not the
temerity to present himself before my mother, persisted in writing to
me, and in following me whenever I appeared in public. I never spoke to
him after the story of his marriage was repeated to my mother; I never
corresponded with him, but felt a decided and proud indignation whenever
his name was mentioned in my presence.

My appearance on the stage had been put off from time to time, till Mr.
Garrick became impatient, and desired my mother to allow of his fixing
the night of important trial. It was now that Mr. Robinson and my mother
united in persuading me to relinquish my project; and so perpetually,
during three days, was I tormented on the subject, so ridiculed for
having permitted the banns to be published, and afterward hesitating to
fulfil my contract, that I consented--and was married.

As soon as the day of my wedding was fixed, it was deemed necessary that
a total revolution should take place in my external appearance. I had
till that period worn the habit of a child, and the dress of a woman, so
suddenly assumed, sat rather awkwardly upon me. Still, so juvenile was
my appearance, that, even two years after my union with Mr. Robinson, I
was always accosted with the appellation of "Miss" whenever I entered a
shop or was in company with strangers. My manners were no less childish
than my appearance; only three months before I became a wife I had
dressed a doll, and such was my dislike to the idea of a matrimonial
alliance that the only circumstance which induced me to marry was that
of being still permitted to reside with my mother, and to live
separated, at least for some time, from my husband.

My heart, even when I knelt at the altar, was as free from any tender
impression as it had been at the moment of my birth. I knew not the
sensation of any sentiment beyond that of esteem; love was still a
stranger to my bosom. I had never, then, seen the being who was destined
to inspire a thought which might influence my fancy or excite an
interest in my mind, and I well remember that, even while I was
pronouncing the marriage vow, my fancy involuntarily wandered to that
scene where I had hoped to support myself with _éclat_ and reputation.

The ceremony was performed by Doctor Saunders, the venerable vicar of
St. Martin's, who, at the conclusion of the ceremony, declared that he
had never before performed the office for so young a bride. The clerk
officiated as father; my mother and the woman who opened the pews were
the only witnesses to the union. I was dressed in the habit of a
Quaker,--a society to which, in early youth, I was particularly partial.
From the church we repaired to the house of a female friend, where a
splendid breakfast was waiting; I changed my dress to one of white
muslin, a chip hat adorned with white ribbons, a white sarsnet
scarf-cloak, and slippers of white satin embroidered with silver. I
mention these trifling circumstances because they lead to some others of
more importance.

From the house of my mother's friend we set out for the inn at
Maidenhead Bridge, Mr. Robinson and myself in a phaeton, my mother in a
post-chaise; we were also accompanied by a gentleman by the name of
Balack, a very intimate acquaintance and schoolfellow of my husband, who
was not apprised of our wedding, but who nevertheless considered Mr.
Robinson as my avowed suitor.

On his first seeing me, he remarked that I was "dressed like a bride."
The observation overwhelmed me with confusion. During the day I was more
than pensive,--I was melancholy; I considered all that had passed as a
vision, and would scarcely persuade myself that the union which I had
permitted to be solemnised was indissoluble. My mother frequently
remarked my evident chagrin; and in the evening, while we strolled
together in the garden which was opposite the inn, I told her, with a
torrent of tears, the vouchers of my sincerity, that I was the most
wretched of mortals! that I felt the most perfect esteem for Mr.
Robinson, but that, according to my ideas of domestic happiness, there
should be a warm and powerful union of soul, to which I was yet totally
a stranger.

During my absence from town, a letter was written to Mr. Garrick,
informing him that an advantageous marriage (for my mother considered
Mr. Robinson as the legal heir to a handsome fortune, together with an
estate in South Wales) had induced me to relinquish my theatrical
prospects; and a few weeks after, meeting Mr. Garrick in the street, he
congratulated me on my union, and expressed the warmest wishes for my
future happiness.

The day after our marriage, Mr. Robinson proposed dining at
Henley-upon-Thames. My mother would not venture in the phaeton, and Mr.
Balack occupied the place which was declined by her. On taking his seat
between Robinson and myself, he remarked, "Were you married, I should
think of the holy anathema,--Cursed is he that parteth man and wife." My
countenance was suddenly suffused with the deepest scarlet; I cautiously
concealed the effect which his remarks had produced, and we proceeded on
our journey.

Descending a steep hill, betwixt Maidenhead Thicket and Henley, we met a
drove of oxen. The comic opera of the "Padlock" was then in high
celebrity, and our facetious little friend a second time disconcerted me
by saying, in the words of Don Diego, "I don't like oxen, I wish they
had been a flock of sheep!" I now began to discover the variety of
unpleasant sensations which, even undesignedly, must arise from
conversation, in the presence of those who were clandestinely married. I
also trembled with apprehension, lest anything disgraceful should attach
itself to my fame, by being seen under doubtful circumstances in the
society of Mr. Robinson.

On our return to London, after ten days' absence, a house was hired in
Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields. It was a large, old-fashioned
mansion, and stood on the spot where the Freemasons' Tavern has been
since erected. This house was the property of a lady, an acquaintance of
my mother, the widow of Mr. Worlidge, an artist of considerable
celebrity. It was handsomely furnished, and contained many valuable
pictures by various masters. I resided with my mother; Mr. Robinson
continued at the house of Messrs. Vernon and Elderton, in Southampton

The stated time of concealment elapsed, and still my husband was
perpetually at chambers in Lincoln's Inn. Still he was evidently under
the control of his articles, and still desirous that our marriage should
be kept a secret. My mother began to feel a considerable degree of
inquietude upon the subject; particularly as she was informed that Mr.
Robinson was not exactly in that state of expectation which he had
represented. She found that he was already of age, and that he had still
some months to serve of his clerkship. She also heard that he was not
the nephew and heir, but the illegitimate son of the man from whom he
expected a handsome fortune; though he had an elder brother, now
Commodore William Robinson, who was then in India, reaping the fruits of
industry under the patronage of Lord Clive.

It was now for the first time that my mother repented the influence she
had used in promoting our union. She informed Mr. Robinson that she
apprehended some gross deception on his part, and that she would no
longer consent to our marriage being kept a secret. The reputation of a
darling child, she alleged, was at stake; and though during a few weeks
the world might have been kept in ignorance of my marriage, some
circumstances that had transpired, now rendered an immediate disclosure
absolutely necessary.

Mr. Robinson, finding my mother inexorable, resolved on setting out for
Wales, in order to avow our marriage, and to present me to his "uncle,"
for such he still obstinately denominated his father. My mother wished
to avail herself of this opportunity to visit her friends at Bristol,
and accordingly we set out on the journey. We passed through Oxford;
visited the different colleges; proceeded to Blenheim, and made the tour
a tour of pleasure, with the hope of soothing my mother's resentment,
and exhilarating my spirits, which were now perpetually dejected. I
cannot help mentioning that, shortly after my marriage, I formed an
acquaintance with a young lady, whose mind was no less romantic than my
own, and while Mr. Robinson was occupied at chambers, we almost daily
passed our morning hours in Westminster Abbey. It was to me a soothing
and a gratifying scene of meditation. I have often remained in the
gloomy chapels of that sublime fabric till I became, as it were, an
inhabitant of another world. The dim light of the Gothic windows, the
vibration of my footsteps along the lofty aisles, the train of
reflections that the scene inspired, were all suited to the temper of my
soul; and the melancholy propensities of my earliest infancy seemed to
revive with an instinctive energy, which rendered them the leading
characteristics of my existence. Indeed, the world has mistaken the
character of my mind; I have ever been the reverse of volatile and
dissipated. I mean not to write my own eulogy, though with the candid
and sensitive mind I shall, I trust, succeed in my vindication.

On our arrival at Bristol, Mr. Robinson thought it most advisable to
proceed toward Tregunter, the seat of his "uncle," alone, in order to
prepare him for my cordial reception, or to avoid the mortification I
should experience, should he refuse to sanction our union. Mr. Robinson
left me a few guineas, and promised that his absence should be short,
and his affection increasing.

I had now been married near four months; and, though love was not the
basis of my fidelity, honour, and a refined sense of feminine rectitude,
attached me to the interest as well as to the person of my husband. I
considered chastity as the brightest ornament that could embellish the
female mind, and I regulated my conduct to that tenor which has
principle more than affection to strengthen its progress.

At Bristol my mother experienced the most gratifying reception; all her
former friends rejoiced to see her; I was invited daily to feasts of
hospitality, and I found that fortune was to common minds a never
failing passport. Mr. Robinson was represented as a young man of
considerable expectations, and his wife was consequently again received
as the daughter of Mr. Darby. The house in which I first opened my eyes
to this world of sorrow, the minster, its green, the schoolhouse where I
had passed many days, the tomb of my lost relatives in the church of St.
Augustine, were all visited by me with a sweet and melancholy interest.
But the cathedral, the brass eagle in the middle aisle, under which,
when an infant, I used to sit and join in the loud anthem, or chant the
morning service, most sensibly attached me. I longed again to occupy my
place beneath its expanding wings, and once I went before the service
began to gratify my inclination.

Language cannot describe the sort of sensation which I felt when I heard
the well-known, long-remembered organ flinging its loud peal through the
Gothic structure. I hastened to the cloisters. The nursery windows were
dim and shattered; the house was sinking to decay. The mouldering walk
was gloomy, and my spirits were depressed beyond description: I stood
alone, rapt in meditation, "Here," said I, "did my infant feet pace to
and fro; here did I climb the long stone bench, and swiftly measure it
at the peril of my safety. On those dark and winding steps did I sit and
listen to the full-toned organ, the loud anthem, the bell which called
the parishioners to prayer." I entered the cathedral once more; I read
and re-read the monumental inscriptions; I paused upon the grave of
Powell; I dropped a tear on the small square ground tablet which bore
the name of Evelyn. Ah! how little has the misjudging world known of
what has passed in my mind, even in the apparently gayest moments of my
existence! How much have I regretted that ever I was born, even when I
have been surrounded with all that could gratify the vanity of woman!

Mr. Robinson, on his arrival at Tregunter, despatched a letter informing
me that his "uncle" seemed disposed to act handsomely, but that he had
only ventured to avow an intention to marry, fearful of abruptly
declaring that he had been already some months a husband. Mr. Harris,
for that was the name of my father-in-law, replied that "he hoped the
object of his choice was not too young!" At this question Mr. Robinson
was somewhat disconcerted. "A young wife," continued Mr. Harris, "cannot
mend a man's fortune. How old is the girl you have chosen?"

"She is nearly seventeen!"

I was then only fifteen and a few months.[10]

"I hope she is not handsome," was the second observation. "You say she
is not rich; and beauty without money is but a dangerous sort
of portion."

"Will you see her?"

"I have no objection," said Mr. Harris.

"She is now with her mother at Bristol,--for," continued Mr. Robinson,
with some hesitation, "she is my wife."

Mr. Harris paused, and then replied, "Well! stay with me only a few
days, and then you shall fetch her. If the thing is done, it cannot be
undone. She is a gentlewoman, you say, and I can have no reason to
refuse seeing her."

The same letter which contained this intelligence also requested me to
prepare for my journey, and desired me to write to a person whom Mr.
Robinson named in London, and whom I had seen in his company, for a sum
of money which would be necessary for our journey. This person was Mr.
John King, then a money-broker in Goodman's Fields; but I was an entire
stranger to the transaction which rendered him the temporary source of
my husband's finances.

One or two letters passed on this subject, and I waited anxiously for my
presentation at Tregunter. At length the period of Mr. Robinson's return
arrived, and we set out together, while my mother remained with her
friends at Bristol. Crossing the old passage to Chepstow in an open
boat, a distance, though not extended, extremely perilous, we found the
tide so strong and the night so boisterous that we were apprehensive of
much danger. The rain poured and the wind blew tempestuously. The boat
was full of passengers, and at one end of it were placed a drove of
oxen. My terror was infinite; I considered this storm as an ill omen,
but little thought that at future periods of my life I should have cause
to regret that I had not perished!

During our journey Robinson entreated me to overlook anything harsh that
might appear in the manners of his "uncle,"--for he still denied that
Mr. Harris was his father. But above all things he conjured me to
conceal my real age, and to say that I was some years older than he knew
me to be. To this proposal I readily consented, and I felt myself firm
in courage at the moment when we came within sight of Tregunter.

Mr. Harris was then building the family mansion, and resided in a pretty
little decorated cottage which was afterward converted into domestic
offices. We passed through a thick wood, the mountains at every break
meeting our eyes, covered with thin clouds, and rising in a sublime
altitude above the valley. A more romantic space of scenery never met
the human eye! I felt my mind inspired with a pensive melancholy, and
was only awakened from my reverie by the postboy stopping at the mansion
of Tregunter.

Mr. Harris came out to receive me. I wore a dark claret-coloured
riding-habit, with a white beaver hat and feathers. He embraced me with
excessive cordiality, while Miss Robinson, my husband's sister, with
cold formality led me into the house. I never shall forget her looks or
her manner. Had her brother presented the most abject being to her, she
could not have taken my hand with a more frigid demeanour. Miss
Robinson, though not more than twenty years of age, was Gothic in her
appearance and stiff in her deportment; she was of low stature and
clumsy, with a countenance peculiarly formed for the expression of
sarcastic vulgarity--a short snub nose, turned up at the point, a head
thrown back with an air of _hauteur_; a gaudy-coloured chintz gown, a
thrice-bordered cap, with a profusion of ribbons, and a countenance
somewhat more ruddy than was consistent with even pure health, presented
the personage whom I was to know as my future companion and kinswoman!

Mr. Harris looked like a venerable Hawthorn; a brown fustian coat, a
scarlet waistcoat edged with narrow gold, a pair of woollen
spatter-dashes, and a gold-laced hat, formed the dress he generally
wore. He always rode a small Welsh pony, and was seldom in the house,
except at eating-time, from sunrise to the close of the evening.

There was yet another personage in the domestic establishment, who was
by Mr. Harris regarded as of no small importance: this was a venerable
housekeeper of the name of Mary Edwards. Mrs. Molly was the female
Mentor of the family; she dined at the table with Mr. Harris; she was
the governess of the domestic department; and a more overbearing,
vindictive spirit never inhabited the heart of mortal than that which
pervaded the soul of the ill-natured Mrs. Molly.

It may easily be conjectured that my time passed heavily in this
uninteresting circle. I was condemned either to drink ale with "the
squire," for Mr. Harris was only spoken of by that title, or to visit
the Methodistical seminary which Lady Huntingdon had established at
Trevecca, another mansion house on the estate of Mr. Harris. Miss
Robinson was of this sect; and though Mr. Harris was not a disciple of
the Huntingdonian school, he was a constant church visitor on every
Sunday. His zeal was indefatigable; and he would frequently fine the
rustics (for he was a justice of the peace, and had been sheriff of the
county) when he heard them swear, though every third sentence he uttered
was attended by an oath that made his hearers shudder.

I soon became a considerable favourite of "the squire," but I did not
find any yielding qualities about the hearts of Miss Betsy or Mrs.
Molly. They observed me with jealous eyes; they considered me as an
interloper, whose manners attracted Mr. Harris's esteem, and who was
likely to diminish their divided influence in the family. I found them
daily growing weary of my society; I perceived their sidelong glances
when I was complimented by the visiting neighbours on my good looks or
taste in the choice of my dresses. Miss Robinson rode on horseback in a
camlet safeguard, with a high-crowned bonnet; I wore a fashionable
habit, and looked like something human. Envy at length assumed the form
of insolence, and I was taunted perpetually on the folly of appearing
like a woman of fortune; that a lawyer's wife had no right to dress like
a duchess; and that, though I might be very accomplished, a good
housewife had no occasion for harpsichords and books,--they belonged to
women who brought wherewithal to support them. Such was the language of
vulgar, illiberal natures! Yet for three weeks I endured it patiently.

Knowing that Mr. Harris was disposed to think favourably of me,--that he
even declared he should "have liked me for his wife, had I not married
Tom," though he was then between sixty and seventy years of age, I
thought it most prudent to depart, lest, through the machinations of
Miss Betsy and Mrs. Molly, I should lose the share I had gained in his
affections. My mother was still at Bristol; and the morning of our
departure being arrived, to my infinite astonishment Mr. Harris proposed
accompanying us thither. It was in vain that Molly and Miss interfered
to prevent him; he swore that he would see me safe across the channel,
whatever might be the consequence of his journey. We set out together.

On our arrival at Bristol, Mr. Harris was presented to my mother, and by
her introduced to many respectable friends. He was consequently invited
to several dinner-parties. I was his idol; he would dance with me; when
he had taken the evening draught, he would sing with me, and I was to
him the most delightful of beings. Many embellishments for Tregunter
House were submitted to my taste and choice; and I remember, on his
giving orders for the marble chimney-pieces, he said, "Choose them as
you like them, Mrs. Robinson, for they are all for you and Tom when I am
no more." Indeed, he frequently assured me, while I was at Tregunter,
that the estate should be my husband's.

After passing many days at Bristol Mr. Harris returned to Wales, and our
party set out for London. Mr. Robinson's mind was easy, and his hopes
were confirmed by the kindness of his uncle; he now considered himself
as the most happy of mortals. We removed from Great Queen Street to a
house, No. 13, in Hatton Garden, which had been recently built. Mr.
Robinson hired it, and furnished it with peculiar elegance. I frequently
inquired into the extent of his finances, and he as often assured me
that they were in every respect competent to his expenses. In addition
to our domestic establishment, Mr. Robinson purchased a handsome
phaeton, with saddle-horses for his own use; and I now made my début,
though scarcely emerged beyond the boundaries of childhood, in the broad
hemisphere of fashionable folly.

A new face, a young person dressed with peculiar but simple elegance,
was sure to attract attention at places of public entertainment. The
first time I went to Ranelagh, my habit was so singularly plain and
Quaker-like that all eyes were fixed upon me. I wore a gown of light
brown lustring with close round cuffs (it was then the fashion to wear
long ruffles); my hair was without powder, and my head adorned with a
plain round cap and a white chip hat, without any ornaments whatever.

The second place of polite entertainment to which Mr. Robinson
accompanied me was the Pantheon concert, then the most fashionable
assemblage of the gay and the distinguished. At this place it was
customary to appear much dressed; large hoops and high feathers were
universally worn. My habit was composed of pale pink satin, trimmed with
broad sable; my dear mother presented me a suit of rich and valuable
point lace, which she had received from my father as a birthday gift,
and I was at least some hours employed in decorating my person for this
new sphere of fascination; I say some hours, because my shape at that
period required some arrangement, owing to the visible increase of my
domestic solicitudes.

As soon as I entered the Pantheon rotunda, I never shall forget the
impression which my mind received; the splendour of the scene, the dome
illuminated with variegated lamps, the music, and the beauty of the
women, seemed to present a circle of enchantment. I recollect that the
most lovely of fair forms met my eyes in that of Lady Almeria Carpenter.
The countenance which most pleased me was that of the late Mrs.
Baddeley.[11] The first Countess of Tyrconnel also appeared with
considerable _éclat_. But the buzz of the room, the unceasing murmur of
admiration, attended the Marchioness Townshend. I took my seat on a sofa
nearly opposite to that on which she was sitting, and I observed two
persons, evidently men of fashion, speaking to her, till one of them,
looking toward me, with an audible voice inquired of the other, "Who
is she?"

Their fixed stare disconcerted me; I rose, and, leaning on my husband's
arm, again mingled in the brilliant circle. The inquirers followed us;
stopping several friends, as we walked around the circle, and repeatedly
demanding of them, "Who is that young lady in the pink dress trimmed
with sable?" My manner and confusion plainly evinced that I was not
accustomed to the gaze of impertinent high breeding. I felt uneasy, and
proposed returning home, when I perceived that our two followers were
joined by a third, who, on looking at me, said, "I think I know her." It
was the late Earl of Northington.[12]

We had now to pass the group in order to quit the rotunda. Lord
Northington, leaving his companions, approached me. "Miss Darby, or I am
mistaken," said he, with a bow of marked civility. I replied that my
name was now changed to that of Robinson, and, to prevent any awkward
embarrassment, presented my husband, on whose arm I was still leaning.
Lord Northington continued to walk around the Pantheon with us, made
many inquiries after my father, complimented me on the improvement of my
person, and "hoped that he should be permitted to pay his respects to
Mr. and Mrs. Robinson."

We now entered the tea-room; there was not a seat vacant; I was
considerably fatigued, and somewhat faint with the heat of the rotunda.
I quitted the tea-room, and seated myself on a sofa near the door. In a
few minutes Lord Northington brought me a cup of tea, for Mr. Robinson
did not like to leave me alone, and at the same time presented his two
inquisitive friends, Lord Lyttelton and Captain Ayscough.[13]

I now proposed departing. Mr. Robinson accompanied me to the vestibule,
and while he was seeking the carriage Lord Lyttelton offered his
services. I had never till that evening heard his name, but there was an
easy effrontery in his address that completely disgusted, while his
determined gaze distressed and embarrassed me, and I felt inexpressible
satisfaction when Mr. Robinson returned to tell me that the carriage
was ready.

On the following morning Lords Northington, Lyttelton, and Colonel
Ayscough made their visits of ceremony. Mr. Robinson was not at home,
but I received them, though not without some embarrassment. I was yet a
child, and wholly unacquainted with the manners of the world; yet, young
as I was, I became the traveller of its mazy and perilous paths. At an
age when girls are generally at school, or indeed scarcely emancipated
from the nursery, I was presented in society as a wife--and very nearly
as a mother.

Lord Lyttelton, who was perhaps the most accomplished libertine that any
age or country has produced, with considerable artifice inquired after
Mr. Robinson, professed his earnest desire to cultivate his
acquaintance, and, on the following day, sent him a card of invitation.
Lyttelton was an adept in the artifices of fashionable intrigue. He
plainly perceived that both Mr. Robinson and myself were uninitiated in
its mysteries; he knew that to undermine a wife's honour he must become
master of the husband's confidence, and Mr. Robinson was too much
pleased with the society of a man whose wit was only equalled by his
profligacy, to shrink from such an association.

Fortunately for me, Lord Lyttelton was uniformly my aversion. His
manners were overbearingly insolent, his language licentious, and his
person slovenly even to a degree that was disgusting. Mr. Robinson was
in every respect the very reverse of his companion: he was unassuming,
neat, and delicate in his conversation. I had not a wish to descend from
the propriety of wedded life, and I abhorred, decidedly abhorred, the
acquaintance with Lord Lyttelton.

In the course of a few days his lordship presented me the works of Miss
Aitken[14] (now Mrs. Barbauld). I read them with rapture. I thought them
the most beautiful poems I had ever seen, and considered the woman who
could invent such poetry as the most to be envied of human creatures.
Lord Lyttelton had some taste for poetical compositions, and wrote
verses with considerable facility.

On the following Monday I again visited the Pantheon. My dress was then
white and silver. Again I was followed with attention. Lord Lyttelton
was my _cavaliere servente_ that evening, though, as usual, his chief
attention was paid to Mr. Robinson. During the concert he presented the
Count de Belgeioso, the imperial ambassador, one of the most
accomplished foreigners I ever remember having met with. Lord Valentia
was also introduced, but as his lordship had recently made some _éclat_
by his attentions to the celebrated Mrs. Elliot, I rather avoided than
wished to cultivate his acquaintance.

Mr. Robinson's intercourse with the world was now rapidly augmenting.
Every day was productive of some new association. Lord Lyttelton
presented many of his friends; among others, Captain O'Byrne, and Mr.
William Brereton, of Drury Lane Theatre. In the course of a short time
we also became acquainted with Sir Francis Molyneux, Mr. Alderman Sayer,
and the late unfortunate George Robert Fitzgerald.[15] Lord Northington
was also a constant visitor, and frequently rallied me on what he
thought my striking likeness to his family.

Among my female friends, those for whom I entertained the strongest
esteem were Lady Yea, the wife of Sir William Yea, and the sister of Sir
John Trevellyan. She was a lovely and accomplished woman. Mrs. Parry,
the wife of the Rev. Doctor Parry, and the author of "Eden Vale," a
novel, was also one of my most favourite acquaintances. Mrs. Parry was a
woman of considerable talents, a wit, and of remarkably
pleasing manners.

Of those who frequented our house Lord Lyttelton was most decidedly my
abhorrence; I knew that he frequently led my husband from the paths of
domestic confidence to the haunts of profligate debasement. Toward me
his lordship affected great indifference. He has even in my presence
declared that no woman under thirty years of age was worth admiring;
that even the antiquity of forty was far preferable to the insipidity of
sixteen; and he generally concluded his observations by hoping he had
not made "the pretty child angry."

I soon discovered that his intercourse with Lord Lyttelton produced a
very considerable change in Mr. Robinson's domestic deportment. They
were constantly together, and the neglect which I experienced began to
alarm me. I dedicated all my leisure hours to poetry; I wrote verses of
all sorts; and Mr. Robinson having mentioned that I had proposed
appearing on the stage, previous to my marriage, in the character of
Cordelia, Lord Lyttelton facetiously christened me the Poetess Corry.

It was with extreme regret, and frequently with uncontrollable
indignation, that I endured the neglect of my husband and the tauntings
of the profligate Lyttelton. "The child"--for so he generally called
me--was deserted for the society of the most libertine men and the most
abandoned women. Mr. Robinson became not only careless of his wife, but
of his pecuniary finances, while I was kept in total ignorance as to the
resources which supported his increasing expenses.

Among my other friends, Lady Yea frequently inquired by what means my
husband supported his household disbursements. Our table was elegantly,
though not profusely, served. Mr. Robinson seldom attended to his
profession, and I was too young, as well as too inexperienced, to look
after family affairs. My younger brother George, whom, upon my marriage,
Mr. Robinson and myself adopted as our own, now finding his health
impaired, my mother attended him at Bristol, so that I had no friend to
advise me who felt any real interest in my welfare. Dress, parties,
adulation, occupied all my hours. Mr. Robinson's easy temper was
influenced by the counsel of his friend Lyttelton, and he every hour
sunk more deeply in the gulf of dissipation.

Among the most dangerous of my husband's associates was George Robert
Fitzgerald. His manners toward women were interesting and attentive. He
perceived the neglect with which I was treated by Mr. Robinson, and the
pernicious influence which Lord Lyttelton had acquired over his mind; he
professed to feel the warmest interest in my welfare, lamented the
destiny which had befallen me in being wedded to a man incapable of
estimating my value, and at last confessed himself my most ardent and
devoted admirer. I shuddered at the declaration, for, amidst all the
allurements of splendid folly, my mind, the purity of my virtue, was
still uncontaminated.

I repulsed the dangerous advances of this accomplished person, but I did
not the less feel the humiliation to which a husband's indifference had
exposed me. God can bear witness to the purity of my soul, even
surrounded by temptations and mortified by neglect. Whenever I ventured
to inquire into pecuniary resources, Mr. Robinson silenced me by saying
that he was independent; added to this assurance, Lord Lyttelton
repeatedly promised that, through his courtly interest, he would very
shortly obtain for my husband some honourable and lucrative situation.

I confess that I reposed but little confidence in the promises of such a
man, though my husband believed them inviolable. Frequent parties were
made at his lordship's house in Hill Street, and many invitations
pressed for a visit to his seat at Hagley. These I peremptorily refused,
till the noble hypocrite became convinced of my aversion, and adopted a
new mode of pursuing his machinations.

One forenoon Lord Lyttelton called in Hatton Garden, as was almost his
daily custom, and, on finding teat Mr. Robinson was not at home,
requested to speak with me on business of importance. I found him
seemingly much distressed. He informed me that he had a secret to
communicate of considerable moment both to my interest and happiness.
I started.

"Nothing, I trust in Heaven, has befallen my husband!" said I, with a
voice scarcely articulate.

Lord Lyttelton hesitated.

"How little does that husband deserve the solicitude of such a wife!"
said he; "but," continued his lordship, "I fear that I have in some
degree aided in alienating his conjugal affections. I could not bear to
see such youth, such merit, so sacrificed--"

"Speak briefly, my lord," said I.

"Then," replied Lord Lyttelton, "I must inform you that your husband is
the most false and undeserving of that name! He has formed connection
with a woman of abandoned character; he lavishes on her those means of
subsistence which you will shortly stand in need of."

"I do not believe it," said I, indignantly.

"Then you shall be convinced," answered his lordship; "but remember, if
you betray me, your true and zealous friend, I must fight your husband;
for he never will forgive my having discovered his infidelity."

"It cannot be true," said I. "You have been misinformed."

"Then it has been by the woman who usurps your place in the affections
of your husband," replied Lord Lyttelton. "From her I received the
information. Her name is Harriet Wilmot; she resides in Soho. Your
husband daily visits her."

I thought I should have fainted; but a torrent of tears recalled the
ebbing current of my heart, and I grew proud in fortitude, though
humbled in self-love.

"Now," said Lord Lyttelton, "if you are a woman of spirit, you will be
_revenged_!" I shrunk with horror, and would have quitted the room.
"Hear me," said he. "You cannot be a stranger to my motives for thus
cultivating the friendship of your husband. My fortune is at your
disposal. Robinson is a ruined man; his debts are considerable, and
nothing but destruction can await you. Leave him! Command my powers to
serve you."

I would hear no more,--broke from him, and rushed out of the apartments.
My sensations, my sufferings were indescribable.

I immediately took a hackney-coach, and proceeded to Prince's Street,
Soho,--Lord Lyttelton having given me the address of my rival. Language
cannot describe what I suffered till I arrived at the lodgings of Miss
Wilmot. The coachman knocked, a dirty servant girl opened the door. Her
mistress was not at home. I quitted the coach and ascended to the
drawing-room, where the servant left me, after informing me that Miss W.
would return in a very short time. I was now left alone.

I opened the chamber door which led from the drawing-room. A new white
lustring sacque and petticoat lay on the bed. While I was examining the
room, a loud knocking at the street door alarmed me. I reëntered the
front apartment, and waited with a palpitating bosom till the being
whose triumph had awakened both my pride and my resentment appeared
before me.

She was a handsome woman, though evidently some years older than myself.
She wore a dress of printed Irish muslin, with a black gauze cloak and a
chip hat, trimmed with pale lilac ribbons; she was tall, and had a very
pleasing countenance. Her manner was timid and confused; her lips as
pale as ashes. I commiserated her distress, desired her not to be
alarmed, and we took our seats, with increased composure.

"I came to inquire whether or not you are acquainted with a Mr.
Robinson," said I.

"I am," replied Miss Wilmot. "He visits me frequently." She drew off her
glove as she spoke, and passing her hand over her eyes, I observed on
her finger a ring, which I knew to have been my husband's.

"I have nothing more to say," added I, "but to request that you will
favour me with Mr. Robinson's address; I have something which I wish to
convey to him."

She smiled, and cast her eyes over my figure. My dress was a morning
_déshabille_ of India muslin, with a bonnet of straw, and a white lawn
cloak bordered with lace.

"You are Mr. Robinson's wife," said she, with a trembling voice. "I am
sure you are; and probably this ring was yours; pray receive it--"

I declined taking the ring. She continued, "Had I known that Mr.
Robinson was the husband of such a woman--"

I rose to leave her. She added, "I never will see him more,--unworthy
man,--I never will again receive him."

I could make no reply, but rose and departed.

On my return to Hatton Garden, I found my husband waiting dinner. I
concealed my chagrin. We had made a party that evening to Drury Lane
Theatre, and from thence to a select concert at the Count de
Belgeioso's, in Portman Square. Lord Lyttelton was to join us at both
places. We went to the play; but my agitation had produced such a
violent headache that I was obliged to send an apology for not keeping
our engagement at the imperial ambassador's.

On the following morning I spoke to Mr. Robinson respecting Miss Wilmot.
He did not deny that he knew such a person, that he had visited her; but
he threw all the blame of his indiscretion on Lord Lyttelton. He
requested to know who had informed me of his conduct. I refused to tell;
and he had too high an opinion of his false associate to suspect him of
such treachery.

At one of Mrs. Parry's card parties I met Mrs. Abington.[16] I thought
her the most lively and bewitching woman I had ever seen; her manners
were fascinating, and the peculiar tastefulness of her dress excited
universal admiration. My imagination again wandered to the stage, and I
thought the heroine of the scenic art was of all human creatures the
most to be envied.

About this period I observed that Mr. Robinson had frequent visitors of
the Jewish tribe; that he was often closeted with them, and that some
secret negotiation was going forward to which I was a total stranger.
Among others, Mr. King was a constant visitor; indeed, he had often been
with my husband on private business ever since the period of our
marriage. I questioned Mr. Robinson upon the subject of these strange
and repeated interviews. He assured me that the persons I had seen came
merely upon law business, and that in his profession it was necessary to
be civil to all ranks of people. Whenever I urged a farther explanation,
he assumed a tone of displeasure, and requested me not to meddle with
his professional occupations. I desisted; and the parlour of our house
was almost as much frequented by Jews as though it had been their

Mr. Robinson's mornings were devoted to his bearded friends, his
evenings to his fashionable associates; but my hours were all dedicated
to sorrow, for I now heard that my husband, even at the period of his
marriage, had an attachment which he had not broken, and that his
infidelities were as public as the ruin of his finances was inevitable.
I remonstrated--I was almost frantic. My distress was useless, my wishes
to retrench our expenses ineffectual. Mr. Robinson had, previous to our
union, deeply involved himself in a bond debt of considerable magnitude,
and he had from time to time borrowed money on annuity,--one sum to
discharge the other,--till every plan of liquidation appeared
impracticable. During all this time my mother was at Bristol.

Lord Lyttelton, finding every plan of seduction fail, now rested his
only hope of subduing my honour in the certainty of my husband's ruin.
He therefore took every step, embraced every opportunity of involving
him more deeply in calamity. Parties were made to Richmond and Salt
Hill, to Ascot Heath and Epsom races, in all of which Mr. Robinson bore
his share of expense, with the addition of post-horses. Whenever he
seemed to shrink from his augmenting indiscretion, Lord Lyttelton
assured him that, through his interest, an appointment of honourable and
pecuniary importance should be obtained, though I embraced every
opportunity to assure his lordship that no consideration upon earth
should ever make me the victim of his artifice.

[Illustration: _Lady Lyttelton_ Engraved by Chas. Townley from the
painting by Richard Casway]

Mr. Fitzgerald still paid me unremitting attention. His manners toward
women were beautifully interesting. He frequently cautioned me against
the libertine Lyttelton, and as frequently lamented the misguided
confidence which Mr. Robinson reposed in him. Lord Lyttelton's shameless
conduct toward an amiable wife, from whom he was separated, and his
cruel neglect of a lady of the name of Dawson, who had long been
attached to him, marked the unworthiness of his character. He was the
very last man in the world for whom I ever could have entertained the
smallest partiality; he was to me the most hateful of existing beings.
Probably these pages will be read when the hand that writes them
moulders in the grave, when that God who judges all hearts will know how
innocent I was of the smallest conjugal infidelity. I make this solemn
asseveration because there have been malevolent spirits who, in the
plenitude of their calumny, have slandered me by suspecting my fidelity
even at this early period of my existence. These pages are the pages of
truth, unadorned by romance and unembellished by the graces of
phraseology, and I know that I have been sufficiently the victim of
events too well to become the tacit acquiescer where I have been grossly
misrepresented. Alas! of all created beings, I have been the most
severely subjugated by circumstances more than by inclination.

About this time a party was one evening made to Vauxhall. Mr. Fitzgerald
was the person who proposed it, and it consisted of six or eight
persons. The night was warm and the gardens crowded. We supped in the
circle which has the statue of Handel in its centre. The hour growing
late,--or rather early in the morning,--our company dispersed, and no
one remained excepting Mr. Robinson, Mr. Fitzgerald, and myself.
Suddenly a noise was heard near the orchestra. A crowd had assembled,
and two gentlemen were quarrelling furiously. Mr. R. and Fitzgerald ran
out of the box. I rose to follow them, but they were lost in the throng,
and I thought it most prudent to resume my place, which I had just
quitted, as the only certain way of their finding me in safety. In a
moment Fitzgerald returned. "Robinson," said he, "is gone to seek you at
the entrance-door. He thought you had quitted the box."

"I did for a moment," said I, "but I was fearful of losing him in the
crowd, and therefore returned."

"Let me conduct you to the door; we shall certainly find him there,"
replied Mr. Fitzgerald. "I know that he will be uneasy."

I took his arm and we ran hastily toward the entrance-door on the
Vauxhall Road.

Mr. Robinson was not there. We proceeded to look for our carriage. It
stood at some distance. I was alarmed and bewildered. Mr. Fitzgerald
hurried me along. "Don't be uneasy; we shall certainly find him," said
he, "for I left him here not five minutes ago." As he spoke, he stopped
abruptly. A servant opened a chaise door. There were four horses
harnessed to it; and by the light of the lamps on the side of the
footpath, I plainly perceived a pistol in the pocket of the door which
was open. I drew back. Mr. Fitzgerald placed his arm around my waist,
and endeavoured to lift me up the step of the chaise, the servant
watching at a little distance. I resisted, and inquired what he meant
by such conduct. His hand trembled excessively, while he said, in a low
voice, "Robinson can but fight me." I was terrified beyond all
description. I made him loose his hold, and ran toward the
entrance-door. Mr. Fitzgerald now perceived Mr. Robinson. "Here he
comes!" exclaimed he, with easy nonchalance. "We had found the wrong
carriage, Mr. Robinson. We have been looking after you, and Mrs.
Robinson is alarmed beyond expression."

"I am, indeed!" said I. Mr. Robinson now took my hand. We stepped into
the coach, and Mr. Fitzgerald followed. As we proceeded toward Hatton
Garden, the sky incessantly flashed lightning. I was terrified by the
combination of events, and I was in a situation which rendered any alarm
peculiarly dangerous, for I was several months advanced in that state
which afterward terminated by presenting to me my only child, my darling

I had often heard of Mr. Fitzgerald's propensity to duelling. I
recollected my own delicate situation; I valued my husband's safety. I
therefore did not mention the adventure of the evening, particularly as
Mr. Fitzgerald observed, on our way to Hatton Garden, that he had
"nearly made a strange mistake, and taken possession of another person's
carriage." This remark appeared so plausible that nothing further was
said upon the subject.

From that evening I was particularly cautious in avoiding Fitzgerald. He
was too daring and too fascinating a being to be allowed the smallest
marks of confidence. Whenever he called, I was denied to him, and at
length, perceiving the impracticability of his plan, he desisted, and
seldom called, excepting to leave his name as a visitor of ceremony.

I do not recount these events, these plans for my enthralment, with a
view to convey anything like personal vanity, for I can with truth
affirm that I never thought myself entitled to admiration that could
endanger my security or tempt the libertine to undermine my husband's
honour. But I attribute the snares that were laid for me to three
causes: the first, my youth and inexperience, my girlish appearance and
simplicity of manners; secondly, the expensive style in which Mr.
Robinson lived, though he was not known as a man of independent fortune;
and thirdly, the evident neglect which I experienced from my husband,
whom Lord Lyttelton's society had marked as a man of universal

I was now known by name at every public place in and near the
metropolis. Our circle of acquaintances enlarged daily. My friend Lady
Yea was my constant companion. Mr. Robinson became desperate, from a
thorough conviction that no effort of economy or professional labour
could arrange his shattered finances, the large debt which he owed
previous to his marriage with me having laid the foundation of every
succeeding embarrassment.

The moment now approached when the arcanum was to be developed, and an
execution on Mr. Robinson's effects, at the suit of an annuitant,
decided the doubts and fears which had long afflicted me. I was in a
great degree prepared for this event by the evident inquietude of my
husband's mind, and his frequent interviews with persons of a mysterious
description. Indeed, this crisis seemed rather consolatory than
appalling, for I hoped and trusted that the time was now arrived when
reason would take place of folly, and experience point out those thorns
which strew the pleasurable paths of dissipation.

At this period, had Mr. Harris generously assisted his son, I am fully
and confidently persuaded that he would have pursued a discreet and
regular line of conduct. His first involvement was the basis of all his
misfortunes. The impossibility of liquidating that debt (the motive for
which it was contracted is to this hour unknown to me) rendered him
desperate. Indeed, how could a young man, well educated,[18] subsist in
such a metropolis without some provision? Mr. Harris was a man of
fortune, and he ought to have known that necessity is the most dangerous
associate of youth; that folly may be reclaimed by kindness, but seldom
fails to be darkened into vice by the severity of unpitying natures.

From Hatton Garden we removed to a house which was lent to us by a
friend at Finchley. Here I hoped at least to remain tranquil till the
perilous moment was passed which was to render me a mother. I here
devoted my time to making my infant's little wardrobe; my finest muslin
dresses I converted into frocks and robes, with my lace I fondly trimmed
them. It was a sweetly pleasing task, and I often smiled when I
reflected that only three years before this period I had dressed a waxen
doll nearly as large as a new-born infant.

Mr. Robinson had much business to transact in London, and I was almost
perpetually alone at Finchley. Of our domestic establishment there was
only one who did not desert us, and he was a negro!--one of that
despised, degraded race, who wear the colour on their features which too
often characterises the hearts of their fair and unfeeling oppressors. I
have found, during my journey through life, that the two male domestics
who were most attached to my interest and most faithful to my fortunes
were both negroes!

My mother now returned from Bristol, and I had the consolation of her
society. I divided my time betwixt reading, writing, and making a little
wardrobe for my expected darling. I little regretted the busy scenes of
life; I sighed not for public attention. I felt by this change of
situation as though a weighty load were taken from my heart, and solaced
my mind in the idea that the worst had happened which could befall us.
Gracious Heaven! How should I have shuddered, had I then contemplated
the dark perspective of my destiny!

Mr. Robinson went almost daily to London, and sometimes my brother
George, who was still a boy, accompanied him upon a little pony. One
day, after returning from one of their rides, my brother informed me
that he had been with Mr. Robinson to Marylebone, and that he had waited
and held Mr. Robinson's horse, while he made a morning visit. I had then
no acquaintance that resided at Marylebone. I questioned my brother as
to the place, and he persisted in his original story. "But," added he,
"if you say anything about it to Mr. Robinson, I never will tell you
where we go in future." I promised not to mention what he had said, and
my mind was deeply engaged in a variety of conjectures.

A few days after, Mr. Robinson made another visit, and my brother was
introduced to the lady. From the manner and conversation of both
parties, even a youth scarcely in his teens could draw conclusions of no
favourable nature. By the side of the chimney hung my watch, which I had
supposed lost in the general wreck of our property. It was enamelled
with musical trophies, and very remarkable for a steel chain of singular
beauty. The moment my brother described it my suspicions were confirmed;
and Mr. Robinson did not even attempt to deny his infidelity.

Mr. Robinson, finding his creditors inexorable, and fearing that he
might endanger his personal liberty by remaining near London, informed
me that I must, in a few days, accompany him to Tregunter. I felt a
severe pang in the idea of quitting my adored mother at a moment when I
should stand so much in need of a parent's attentions. My agony was
extreme. I fancied that I never should behold her more; that the
harshness and humiliating taunts of my husband's kindred would send me
prematurely to the grave; that my infant would be left among strangers,
and that my mother would scarcely have fortitude sufficient to survive
me. Then I anticipated the inconvenience of so long a journey, for
Tregunter House was within a few miles of Brecon. I dreaded to encounter
the scornful vulgarity and the keen glances of Miss Betsy and Mrs.
Molly. I considered all these things with horror; but the propriety of
wedded life commanded the sacrifice, and I readily consented to make it.

With tender regret, with agonising presentiments, I took leave of my
mother and my brother. Such a parting would but mock the powers of
language! My delicate situation, my youth, my affection for my best of
mothers, all conspired to augment my sorrow; but a husband's repose, a
husband's liberty were at stake, and my Creator can bear witness that,
had I been blessed with that fidelity and affection which I deserved, my
heart was disposed to the observance of every duty, every claim which
would have embellished domestic propriety.

We set out for Tregunter. On our arrival there, I instantly perceived
that our misfortunes had outstripped our speed. Miss Robinson scarcely
bade us welcome, and Molly was peevish, even to insulting displeasure.

Mr. Harris was from home when we arrived. But he returned shortly after.
His greeting was harsh and unfeeling. "Well! so you have escaped from a
prison, and now you are come here to do penance for your follies? Well!
and what do you want?" I could not reply. I entered the house, and
instantly hastened to my old chamber, where my tears gave relief to that
heart which was almost bursting with agony.

Still Mr. Robinson conjured me to bear his uncle's wayward temper
patiently, I did, though every day I was taunted with idle and inhuman
questions, such as, "How long do you think that I will support you? What
is to become of you in a prison? What business have beggars to marry?"
With many others, equally feeling and high-minded!

The mansion of Tregunter presented but few sources of amusement for the
female mind. Mr. Harris had acquired a considerable fortune in trade,
and, however the art of accumulating wealth had been successfully
practised, the finer pursuits of mental powers had been totally
neglected. Books were unknown at Tregunter, excepting a few magazines or
periodical publications, which at different periods Miss Robinson
borrowed from her juvenile neighbours. There was, however, an old spinet
in one of the parlours. Music had been one of my early delights, and I
sometimes vainly endeavoured to draw a kind of jingling harmony from
this time-shaken and neglected instrument. These attempts, however,
frequently subjected me to insult. "I had better think of getting my
bread; women of no fortune had no right to follow the pursuits of fine
ladies. Tom had better married a good tradesman's daughter than the
child of a ruined merchant who was not capable of earning a living."
Such were the remarks of my amiable and enlightened father-in-law!

One day, I particularly remember, Mr. Harris had invited a large party
to dinner, John and Charles Morgan, Esqrs., members of Parliament, with
an old clergyman of the name of Jones, and several others were present.
I was then within a fortnight of my perilous moment. One of the company
expressed his satisfaction that I was come to give Tregunter a little
stranger; and turning to Mr. Harris, added:

"You have just finished your house in time for a nursery."

"No, no," replied Mr. Harris, laughing, "they came here because prison
doors were open to receive them."

I felt my face redden to scarlet; every person present seemed to
sympathise in my chagrin, and I was near sinking under the table with
confusion. Mr. Robinson's indignation was evident; but it was restrained
by duty as well as by necessity.

The manor-house was not yet finished; and a few days after our arrival
Mr. Harris informed me that he had no accommodation for my approaching
confinement. Where was I to go? was the next question. After many family
consultations, it was decided that I should remove to Trevecca House,
about a mile and a half distant, and there give to this miserable world
my first-born darling.

I removed to Trevecca; it was a spacious mansion at the foot of a
stupendous mountain, which, from its form, was called the Sugar-loaf. A
part of the building was converted into a flannel manufactory, and the
inhabitants were of the Huntingdonian school. Here I enjoyed the sweet
repose of solitude; here I wandered about woods entangled by the wild
luxuriance of nature, or roved upon the mountain's side, while the blue
vapours floated around its summit. Oh, God of Nature! Sovereign of the
universe of wonders! in those interesting moments how fervently did I
adore thee!

How often have I sat at my little parlour window and watched the pale
moonbeams darting amidst the sombre and venerable yew-trees that shed
their solemn shade over the little garden! How often have I strolled
down the woody paths, spangled with the dew of morning, and shaken off
the briery branches that hung about me! How tranquil did I feel, escaped
from kindred tyranny, and how little did I regret the busy scenes of
fashionable folly! Unquestionably the Creator formed me with a strong
propensity to adore the sublime and beautiful of his works! But it has
never been my lot to meet with an associating mind, a congenial spirit,
who could (as it were abstracted from the world) find a universe in the
sacred intercourse of soul, the sublime union of sensibility.

At Trevecca House I was tranquil, if not perfectly happy. I there
avoided the low taunts of uncultivated natures, the insolent vulgarity
of pride, and the overbearing triumphs of a family, whose loftiest
branch was as inferior to my stock as the small weed is beneath the
tallest tree that overshades it. I had formed a union with a family who
had neither sentiment nor sensibility; I was doomed to bear the society
of ignorance and pride; I was treated as though I had been the most
abject of beings, even at a time when my conscious spirit soared as far
above their powers to wound it as the mountain towered over the white
battlements of my then solitary habitation.

After my removal to Trevecca, I seldom saw Miss Robinson or Mrs. Molly;
Mr. Harris never called on me, though I was not more than a mile and a
half from Tregunter. At length the expected, though to me most perilous,
moment arrived, which awoke a new and tender interest in my bosom, which
presented to my fondly beating heart my child,--my Maria. I cannot
describe the sensations of my soul at the moment when I pressed the
little darling to my bosom, my maternal bosom; when I kissed its hands,
its cheeks, its forehead, as it nestled closely to my heart, and seemed
to claim that affection which has never failed to warm it. She was the
most beautiful of infants! I thought myself the happiest of mothers; her
first smile appeared like something celestial,--something ordained to
irradiate my dark and dreary prospect of existence.

Two days after my child was presented to this world of sorrow, my nurse,
Mrs. Jones, a most excellent woman, was earnestly desired by the people
of the manufactory to bring the infant among them; they wished to see
the "young squire's baby, the little heiress to Tregunter." It was in
vain that I dreaded the consequences of the visit, for it was in the
month of October; but Mrs. Jones assured me that infants in that part of
the world were very frequently carried into the open air on the day of
their birth; she also hinted that my refusal would hurt the feelings of
the honest people, and wear the semblance of pride more than of maternal
tenderness. This idea decided my acquiescence; and my little darling,
enveloped in the manufacture of her own romantic birthplace, made her
first visit to her kind but unsophisticated countrywomen.

No sooner did Mrs. Jones enter the circle than she was surrounded by the
gazing throng. The infant was dressed with peculiar neatness, and
nothing mortal could appear more lovely. A thousand and a thousand
blessings were heaped upon the "heiress of Tregunter," for so they
fancifully called her; a thousand times did they declare that the baby
was the very image of her father. Mrs. Jones returned to me; every word
she uttered soothed my heart; a sweet and grateful glow, for the first
time, bespoke the indescribable gratification which a fond parent feels
in hearing the praises of a beloved offspring. Yet this little absence
appeared an age; a variety of fears presented dangers in a variety of
shapes, and the object of all my care, of all my affection, was now
pressed closer to my heart than ever.

Amidst these sweet and never-to-be-forgotten sensations, Mr. Harris
entered my chamber. He abruptly inquired how I found myself, and,
seating himself by the side of my bed, began to converse family affairs.
I was too feeble to say much; and he had not the delicacy to consider
that Mrs. Jones, my nurse, and almost a stranger to me, was a witness to
our conversation.

"Well!" said Mr. Harris, "and what do you mean to do with your child?"

I made no answer.

"I will tell you," added he. "Tie it to your back and work for it."

I shivered with horror.

"Prison doors are open," continued Mr. Harris. "Tom will die in a gaol;
and what is to become of you?"

I remained silent.

Miss Robinson now made her visit. She looked at me without uttering a
syllable; but while she contemplated my infant's features, her innocent
sleeping face, her little dimpled hands folded on her breast, she
murmured, "Poor little wretch! Poor thing! It would be a mercy if it
pleased God to take it!" My agony of mind was scarcely supportable.

About three weeks after this period, letters arrived, informing Mr.
Robinson that his creditors were still inexorable, and that the place of
his concealment was known. He was cautioned not to run the hazard of an
arrest; indeed, he knew that such an event would complete his ruin with
Mr. Harris, from whom he should not receive any assistance. He
communicated this intelligence to me, and at the same time informed me
that he must absolutely depart from Trevecca immediately. I was still
extremely feeble, for my mental sufferings had impaired my corporeal
strength almost as much as the perils I had recently encountered. But
the idea of remaining at Trevecca without my husband was more terrible
than the prospect of annihilation, and I replied, without a hesitating
thought, "I am ready to go with you."

My good nurse, who was a very amiable woman, and under forty years of
age, conjured me to delay my journey. She informed me that it would be
dangerous to undertake it in my then weak state. My husband's liberty
was in danger, and my life appeared of little importance; for even at
that early period of my days I was already weary of existence.

On the succeeding morning we departed. Mrs. Jones insisted on
accompanying me on the first day's journey. Mr. Robinson, my nurse, and
myself occupied a post-chaise; my Maria was placed on a pillow on Mrs.
Jones's lap. The paleness of death overspread my countenance, and the
poor honest people of the mountains and the villages saw us depart with
sorrow, though not without their blessings. Neither Mr. Harris nor the
enlightened females of Tregunter expressed the smallest regret or
solicitude on the occasion. We reached Abergavenny that evening. My
little remaining strength was exhausted, and I could proceed no farther.
However singular these persecutions may appear, Mr. Robinson knows that
they are not in the smallest degree exaggerated.

At Abergavenny I parted from Mrs. Jones, and, having no domestic with
me, was left to take the entire charge of Maria. Reared in the tender
lap of affluence, I had learnt but little of domestic occupation; the
adorning part of education had been lavished, but the useful had never
been bestowed upon a girl who was considered as born to independence.
With these disadvantages, I felt very awkwardly situated, under the
arduous task I had to perform; but necessity soon prevailed, with the
soft voice of maternal affection, and I obeyed her dictates as the
dictates of nature.

Mrs. Jones, whose excellent heart sympathised in all I suffered, would
not have parted from me in so delicate a moment, but she was the widow
of a tradesman at Brecon, and having quitted her home, where she had
left two daughters,--very pretty young women,--to attend me, she was
under the necessity of returning to them. With repeated good wishes, and
some tears of regret flowing from her feeling and gentle heart,
we parted.

On the following day we proceeded to Monmouth. Some relations of my
mother residing there, particularly my grandmother, I wished to remain
there till my strength was somewhat restored. We were received with
genuine affection; we were caressed with unfeigned hospitality. The good
and venerable object of my visit was delighted to embrace her
great-grandchild, and the family fireside was frequently a scene of calm
and pleasing conversation. How different were these moments from those
which I had passed with the low-minded inhabitants of Tregunter!

My grandmother, though then near seventy years of age, was still a
pleasing woman; she had in her youth been delicately beautiful; and the
neat simplicity of her dress, which was always either brown or black
silk, the piety of her mind, and the mildness of her nature, combined to
render her a most endearing object.

As soon as my strength recovered, I was invited to partake of many
pleasant entertainments. But the most favourite amusement I selected was
that wandering by the river Wye, or of exploring the antique remains of
Monmouth Castle, a part of which reached the garden of my grandmother's
habitation. I also constantly accompanied my amiable and venerable
relative to church; and I have often observed, with a mixture of
delight, and almost of envy, the tranquil resignation which religion
diffused over her mind, even at the very close of human existence. This
excellent woman expired of a gradual decay in the year 1780.

We had resided at Monmouth about a month, when I was invited to a ball.
My spirits and strength had been renovated by the change of scenery, and
I was persuaded to dance. I was at that time particularly fond of the
amusement, and my partial friends flattered me by saying that I measured
the mazy figure like a sylph. I was at that period a nurse; and, during
the evening, Maria was brought to an antechamber to receive the only
support she had ever yet taken. Unconscious of the danger attendant on
such an event, I gave her her accustomed nourishment immediately after
dancing. It was agitated by the violence of exercise and the heat of the
ballroom, and, on my return home, I found my infant in strong

My distraction, my despair, was terrible; my state of mind rendered it
impossible for me to afford any internal nourishment to the child, even
when her little mouth was parched, or the fit in the smallest degree
abated. I was little less than frantic; all the night I sat with her on
my arms; an eminent medical man attended. The convulsions continued, and
my situation was terrible; those who witnessed it cautiously avoided
informing me that the peril of my infant proceeded from my dancing; had
I known it at that period, I really believe I should have lost
my senses.

In this desperate state, with only short intervals of rest, my darling
continued till the morning. All my friends came to make inquiries, and,
among others, a clergyman who visited at my grandmother's. He saw the
child, as it was thought, expiring; he saw me still sitting where I had
taken my place of despair on the preceding night, fixed in the stupor of
unutterable affliction. He conjured me to let the child be removed. I
was in a raging fever; the effects of not having nourished my child
during twelve hours began to endanger my own existence, and I looked
forward to my dissolution as the happiest event that could befall me.

Still Maria lay upon my lap, and still I resisted every attempt that was
made to remove her. Just at this period the clergyman recollected that
he had seen one of his children relieved from convulsions by a simple
experiment, and he requested my permission to try its effects. The child
was given over by my medical attendant, and I replied, "However
desperate the remedy, I conjure you to administer it."

He now mixed a tablespoonful of spirit of aniseed with a small quantity
of spermaceti, and gave it to my infant. In a few minutes the convulsive
spasms abated, and in less than an hour she sunk into a sweet and
tranquil slumber. What I felt may be pictured to a fond mother's fancy,
but my pen would fail in attempting to describe it.

Some circumstances now occurred which gave Mr. Robinson reason to
believe that he was not safe at Monmouth, and we prepared for a removal
to some other quarter. The day was fixed for commencing our journey,
when an execution arrived for a considerable sum, and Mr. Robinson was
no longer at liberty to travel. My alarm was infinite; the sum was too
large for the possibility of liquidation, and, knowing Mr. Robinson's
desperate fortune, I thought it unjust as well as ungenerous to attempt
the borrowing of it. Fortunately the sheriff for the county was a friend
of the family. He was a gentlemanly and amiable man, and offered--to
avoid any unpleasant dilemma--to accompany us to London. We set out the
same evening, and never slept till we arrived in the metropolis.

I immediately hastened to my mother, who resided in Buckingham Street,
York Buildings, now the Adelphi. Her joy was boundless. She kissed me a
thousand times, she kissed my beautiful infant; while Mr. Robinson
employed the day in accommodating the business which had brought him to
London. He had been arrested by a friend, with a hope that, so near a
father's habitation, such a sum would have been paid; at least, such is
the reason assigned for such unfriendly conduct![19]

The matter was, however, arranged on an explanation taking place, and
Mr. Robinson engaged a lodging near Berners Street, whither we repaired
on the same evening. My little collection of poems, which I had arranged
for publication, and which had been ready ever since my marriage, I now
determined to print immediately. They were indeed trifles, very trifles;
I have since perused them with a blush of self-reproof, and wondered how
I could venture on presenting them to the public. I trust that there is
not a copy remaining, excepting that which my dear, partial mother
fondly preserved, and which is now in my possession.

I had been in town a few days, when some female friends persuaded me to
accompany a party which they had formed to Ranelagh. Mr. Robinson
declined going, but after much entreaty I consented. I had now been
married near two years; my person was considerably improved; I was grown
taller than when I became Mr. Robinson's wife, and I had now more the
manners of a woman of the world than those of girlish simplicity, which
had hitherto characterised me, though I had been some months absent from
London, and a part of them rusticated among mountains. The dress which I
wore was plain and simple; it was composed of pale lilac lustring. My
head had a wreath of white flowers; I was complimented on my looks by
the whole party, and with little relish for public amusements, and a
heart throbbing with domestic solicitude, I accompanied the party
to Ranelagh.

The first person I saw, on entering the rotunda, was George Robert
Fitzgerald. He started as if he had received a shock of electricity. I
turned my head away, and would have avoided him; but he instantly
quitted two friends with whom he was walking, and presented himself to
me. He expressed great pleasure at seeing me once more in "the world;"
was surprised at finding me for the first time in public without my
husband, and requested permission to pay his respects to me at my house.
I replied that I was "on a visit to some friends." He bowed, and
rejoined his companions.

During the evening, however, he never ceased to follow me. We quitted
the rotunda early; and, as we were waiting for the carriage, I again
observed Fitzgerald in the antechamber. We passed the vestibule, and at
the door his own carriage was waiting.

On the following noon I was correcting a proof-sheet of my volume, when
the servant abruptly announced Mr. Fitzgerald!

I was somewhat disconcerted by this unexpected visit, and received Mr.
Fitzgerald with a cold and embarrassed mien, which evidently mortified
him; I also felt a little worldly vanity in the moment of surprise, for
my morning dress was more calculated to display maternal assiduity than
elegant and tasteful _déshabille_. In a small basket near my chair slept
my little Maria; my table was spread with papers, and everything around
me presented the mixed confusion of a study and a nursery.

From the period of Mrs. Jones's quitting me at Abergavenny, I had made
it an invariable rule always to dress and undress my infant. I never
suffered it to be placed in a cradle, or to be fed out of my presence. A
basket of an oblong shape with four handles (with a pillow and a small
bolster) was her bed by day; at night she slept with me. I had too often
heard of the neglect which servants show to young children, and I
resolved never to expose an infant of mine either to their ignorance or
inattention. It was amidst the duties of a parent, that the gay, the
high-fashioned Fitzgerald now found me; and whenever either business,
or, very rarely, public amusements drew me from the occupation, my
mother never failed to be my substitute.

Mr. Fitzgerald said a thousand civil things; but that which charmed me,
was the admiration of my child. He declared that he had never seen so
young a mother, or so beautiful an infant. For the first remark I
sighed, but the last delighted my bosom; she indeed was one of the
prettiest little mortals that ever the sun shone upon.

The nest subject was praise of my poetry. I smile while I recollect how
far the effrontery of flattery has power to belie the judgment. Mr.
Fitzgerald took up the proof-sheet and read one of the pastorals. I
inquired by what means he had discovered my place of residence; he
informed me that his carriage had followed me home on the preceding
night. He now took his leave.

On the following evening he made us another visit; I say us, because Mr.
Robinson was at home. Mr. Fitzgerald drank tea with us, and proposed
making a party on the next day to dine at Richmond. To this I gave a
decided negative; alleging that my duties toward my child prevented the
possibility of passing a day absent from her.

On the Wednesday following, Mr. Robinson accompanied me again to
Ranelagh. There we met Lord Northington, Lord Lyttelton, Captain
O'Bryan, Captain Ayscough, Mr. Andrews, and several others, who all, in
the course of the evening, evinced their attentions. But as Mr.
Robinson's deranged state of affairs did not admit of our receiving
parties at home, I made my excuses by saying that we were at a friend's
house and not yet established in a town residence. Lord Lyttelton was
particularly importunate; but he received the same answer which I had
given to every other inquirer.

A short time after, Mr. Robinson was arrested. Now came my hour of
trial. He was conveyed to the house of a sheriff's officer, and in a few
days detainers were lodged against him to the amount of twelve hundred
pounds, chiefly the arrears of annuities and other demands from Jew
creditors; for I can proudly and with truth declare that he did not at
that time, or at any period since, owe fifty pounds for me, or to any
tradesmen on my account whatever.

Mr. Robinson knew that it would be useless to ask Mr. Harris's
assistance; indeed, his mind was too much depressed to make an exertion
for the arrangement of his affairs. He was, therefore, after waiting
three weeks in the custody of a sheriff's officer (during which time I
had never left him for a single hour, day or night), obliged to submit
to the necessity of becoming a captive.

For myself I cared but little; all my anxiety was for Mr. Robinson's
repose and the health of my child. The apartment which we obtained was
in the upper part of the building, overlooking a racket-ground. Mr.
Robinson was expert in all exercises of strength or activity, and he
found that amusement daily which I could not partake of. I had other
occupations of a more interesting nature,--the care of a beloved and
still helpless daughter.[20]

During nine months and three weeks, never once did I pass the threshold
of our dreary habitation; though every allurement was offered, every
effort was made, to draw me from my scene of domestic attachment.
Numberless messages and letters from Lords Northington and Lyttelton,
from Mr. Fitzgerald and many others, were conveyed to me. But they all,
excepting Lord Northington's, were dictated in the language of
gallantry, were replete with professions of love, and wishes to release
me from my unpleasant and humiliating situation,--and were therefore
treated with contempt, scorn, and indignation. For God can bear witness
that, at that period, my mind had never entertained a thought of
violating those vows which I had made to my husband at the altar.

What I suffered during this tedious captivity! My little volume of poems
sold but indifferently; my health was considerably impaired; and the
trifling income which Mr. Robinson received from his father was scarcely
sufficient to support him. I will not enter into a tedious detail of
vulgar sorrows, of vulgar scenes; I seldom quitted my apartment, and
never till the evening, when for air and exercise I walked on the
racket-ground with my husband.

It was during one of these night walks that my little daughter first
blessed my ears with the articulation of words. The circumstance made a
forcible and indelible impression on my mind. It was a clear moonlight
evening; the infant was in the arms of her nursery-maid; she was dancing
her up and down, and was playing with her; her eyes were fixed on the
moon, to which she pointed with her small forefinger. On a sudden a
cloud passed over it, and the child, with a slow falling of her hand,
articulately sighed, "All gone!" This had been a customary expression
with her maid, whenever the infant wanted anything which it was deemed
prudent to withhold or to hide from her. These little nothings will
appear insignificant to the common reader, but to the parent whose heart
is ennobled by sensibility they will become matters of important
interest. I can only add, that I walked till near midnight, watching
every cloud that passed over the moon, and as often, with a rapturous
sensation, hearing my little prattler repeat her observation.

Having much leisure and many melancholy hours, I again turned my
thoughts toward the muses. I chose "Captivity" for the subject of my
pen, and soon composed a quarto poem of some length; it was superior to
my former production, but it was full of defects, replete with weak or
laboured lines. I never now rend my early compositions without a
suffusion on my cheek, which marks my humble opinion of them.

At this period I was informed that the Duchess of Devonshire[21] was the
admirer and patroness of literature. With a mixture of timidity and hope
I sent her Grace a neatly bound volume of my poems, accompanied by a
short letter apologising for their defects, and pleading my age as the
only excuse for their inaccuracy. My brother, who was a charming youth,
was the bearer of my first literary offering at the shrine of nobility.
The duchess admitted him, and with the most generous and amiable
sensibility inquired some particulars respecting my situation, with a
request that on the following day I would make her a visit.

I knew not what to do. Her liberality claimed my compliance; yet, as I
had never, during my husband's long captivity, quitted him for half an
hour, I felt a sort of reluctance that pained the romantic firmness of
my mind, while I meditated what I considered as a breach of my domestic
attachment. However, at the particular and earnest request of Mr.
Robinson, I consented, and accordingly accepted the duchess's

During my seclusion from the world, I had adapted my dress to my
situation. Neatness was at all times my pride; but now plainness was the
conformity to necessity. Simple habiliments became the abode of
adversity; and the plain brown satin gown, which I wore on my first
visit to the Duchess of Devonshire, appeared to me as strange as a
birthday court-suit to a newly married citizen's daughter.

To describe the duchess's look and manner when she entered the back
drawing-room of Devonshire House would be impracticable; mildness and
sensibility beamed in her eyes and irradiated her countenance. She
expressed her surprise at seeing so young a person, who had already
experienced such vicissitude of fortune; she lamented that my destiny
was so little proportioned to what she was pleased to term my desert,
and with a tear of gentle sympathy requested that I would accept a proof
of her good wishes. I had not words to express my feelings, and was
departing, when the duchess requested me to call on her very often, and
to bring my little daughter with me.

I made frequent visits to the amiable duchess, and was at all times
received with the warmest proofs of friendship. My little girl, to whom
I was still a nurse, generally accompanied me, and always experienced
the kindest caresses from my admired patroness, my liberal and
affectionate friend. Frequently the duchess inquired most minutely into
the story of my sorrows, and as often gave me tears of the most
spontaneous sympathy. But such was my destiny, that while I cultivated
the esteem of this best of women, by a conduct which was above the reach
of reprobation, my husband, even though I was the partner of his
captivity, the devoted slave to his necessities, indulged in the lowest
and most degrading intrigues; frequently, during my short absence with
the duchess,--for I never quitted the prison but to obey her
summons,--he was known to admit the most abandoned of their sex, women
whose low, licentious lives were such as to render them the shame and
outcasts of society. These disgraceful meetings were arranged, even
while I was in my own apartment, in a next room, and by the assistance
of an Italian, who was also there a captive. I was apprised of the
proceeding, and I questioned Mr. Robinson upon the subject. He denied
the charge; but I availed myself of an opportunity that offered, and was
convinced that my husband's infidelities were both frequent and

Still I pursued my plan of the most rigid domestic propriety; still I
preserved my faith inviolate, my name unsullied. At times I endured the
most poignant sufferings, from the pain of disappointed hope, and the
pressure of pecuniary distresses.

During my long seclusion from society, for I could not associate with
those whom destiny had placed in a similar predicament, not one of my
female friends even inquired what was become of me. Those who had been
protected and received with the most cordial hospitality by me in my
more happy hours now neglected all the kind condolence of sympathetic
feeling, and shunned both me and my dreary habitation. From that hour I
have never felt the affection for my own sex which perhaps some women
feel; I have never taught my heart to cherish their friendship, or to
depend on their attentions beyond the short perspective of a prosperous
day. Indeed, I have almost uniformly found my own sex my most inveterate
enemies; I have experienced little kindness from them, though my bosom
has often ached with the pang inflicted by their envy, slander, and

The Italian whom I took occasion to mention as the _cicerone_ of my
husband's gallantries was named Albanesi. He was the husband to a
beautiful Roman woman of that name, who had some years before attracted
considerable attention in the hemisphere of gallantry, where she had
shone as a brilliant constellation. She had formerly been the mistress
of a Prince de Courland, and afterward of the Covet de Belgeioso, the
imperial ambassador; but at the period in which I first saw her she was,
I believe, devoted to a life of unrestrained impropriety. She frequently
came to visit her husband, who had held a situation an the opera-house
during the management of Mr. Hobart,[22] now Earl of Buckinghamshire. I
remember she was one of the handsomest women I had ever seen, and that
her dress was the most extravagantly splendid. Satins, richly
embroidered, or trimmed with point lace, were her daily habiliments; and
her personal attractions were considerably augmented by the peculiar
dignity and grace with which she walked: in a few words, this woman was
a striking sample of beauty and of profligacy.

Whenever she came to visit her _sposo_, she never failed to obtrude
herself on my seclusion. Mr. Rabinson rather encouraged than shunned her
visits, and I was obliged to receive the beautiful Angelina (for such
was her Christian name), however repugnant such an associate was to my
feelings. At every interview she took occasion to ridicule my romantic
domestic attachment; laughed at my folly in wasting my youth (for I was
not then eighteen years of age) in such a disgraceful obscurity; and
pictured, in all the glow of fanciful scenery, the splendid life into
which I might enter, if I would but know my own power, and break the
fetters of matrimonial restriction. She once told me that she had
mentioned to the Earl of Pembroke that there was a young married lady in
the most humiliating captivity with her husband; she said that she had
described my person, and that Lord Pembroke was ready to offer me
his services.

This proposal fully proclaimed the meaning of Signora Albanesi's visits,
and I resolved in future to avoid all conversation with her. She was at
that time between thirty and forty years of age, and her day of
splendour was hourly sinking to the obscurity of neglect; she was
nevertheless still reluctant to resign the dazzling meteors which
fashion had scattered in her way, and, having sacrificed every personal
feeling for the gratification of her vanity, she now sought to build a
gaudy, transient fabric on the destruction of another. In addition to
her persuasions, her husband, Angelo Albanesi, constantly made the world
of gallantry the subject of his conversation. Whole evenings has he
sitten in our apartment, telling long stories of intrigue, praising the
liberality of one nobleman, the romantic chivalry of another, the
sacrifice which a third had made to an adored object, and the splendid
income which a fourth would bestow on any young lady of education and
mental endowments who would accept his protection, and be the partner of
his fortune. I always smiled at Albanesi's innuendoes; and I still found
some amusement in his society, when he thought fit to divest his
conversation of his favourite topic. This Italian, though neither young
nor even tolerably well-looking, was uncommonly entertaining; he could
sing, likewise imitate various musical instruments, was an excellent
buffoon, and a very neat engraver; some of his plates were executed
under the inspection of Sherwin, and he was considered as a very
promising artist.

Were I to describe one-half of what I suffered during fifteen months'
captivity, the world would consider it as the invention of a novel. But
Mr. Robinson knows what I endured, and how patiently, how correctly I
suited my mind to the strict propriety of wedded life; he knows that my
duty as a wife was exemplary, my chastity inviolate; he knows that
neither poverty nor obscurity, neither the tauntings of the world, nor
his neglect, could tempt me even to the smallest error; he knows that I
bore my afflicting humiliations with a cheerful, uncomplaining spirit;
that I toiled honourably for his comfort; and that my attentions were
exclusively dedicated to him and to my infant.

The period now arrived when Mr. Robinson, by setting aside some debts,
and by giving fresh bonds and fresh securities for others, once more
obtained his liberty. I immediately conveyed the intelligence to my
lovely Duchess of Devonshire, and she wrote me a letter of kind
congratulation; she was then at Chatsworth.

The first moments of emancipation were delightful to the senses. I felt
as though I had been newly born; I longed to see all my old and intimate
associates, and almost forgot that they had so unworthily neglected me.
Everything that had passed now appeared like a melancholy vision. The
gloom had dissolved, and a new perspective seemed to brighten before me.

The first place of public entertainment I went to was Vauxhall. I had
frequently found occasion to observe a mournful contrast when I had
quitted the elegant apartment of Devonshire House, to enter the dark
galleries of a prison; but the sensation which I felt on hearing the
music, and beholding the gay throng, during this first visit in public
after so long a seclusion, was indescribable. During the evening we met
many old acquaintances,--some who pretended ignorance of our past
embarrassments, and others who joined us with the ease of fashionable
apathy; among these was Lord Lyttelton, who insolently remarked, "that,
notwithstanding all that had passed, I was handsomer than ever." I made
no reply but by a look of scornful indignation, which silenced the bold,
the unfeeling commentator, and convinced him that, though fallen in
fortune; I was still high in pride.

Mr. Robinson having once more obtained his liberty, how were we to
subsist honourably and above reproach? He applied to his father, but
every aid was refused; he could not follow his profession, because he
had not completed his articles of clerkship. I resolved on turning my
thoughts toward literary labour, and projected a variety of works, by
which I hoped to obtain at least a decent independence. Alas! how little
did I then know either the fatigue or the hazard of mental occupations!
How little did I foresee that the day would come when my health would be
impaired, my thoughts perpetually employed, in so destructive a pursuit!
At the moment that I write this page, I feel in every fibre of my brain
the fatal conviction that it is a destroying labour.

[Illustration: William Brereton in the Character of Douglas From a
painting by N. Hone]

It was at this moment of anxiety, of hope, of fear, that my thoughts
once more were turned to a dramatic life; and, walking with my husband
in St. James's Park, late in the autumn, we were accosted by Mr.
Brereton, of Drury Lane Theatre. I had not seen him during the last two
years, and he seemed rejoiced in having met us. At that period we lodged
at Lyne's, the confectioner, in Old Bond Street. Mr. Brereton went home
and dined with us; and after dinner the conversation turned on my
partiality to the stage, which he earnestly recommended as a scene of
great promise to what he termed my promising talents. The idea rushed
like electricity through my brain. I asked Mr. Robinson's opinion, and
he now readily consented to my making the trial. He had repeatedly
written to his father, requesting even the smallest aid toward our
support until he could embark in his profession; but every letter
remained unanswered, and we had no hope but in our own mental exertions.

Some time after this period, we removed to a more quiet situation, and
occupied a very neat and comfortable suite of apartments in Newman
Street. I was then some months advanced in a state of domestic
solicitude, and my health seemed in a precarious state, owing to my
having too long devoted myself to the duties of a mother in nursing my
eldest daughter Maria. It was in this lodging that, one morning, wholly
unexpectedly, Mr. Brereton made us a second visit, bringing with him a
friend, whom he introduced on entering the drawing-room. This stranger
was Mr. Sheridan.[23]

I was overwhelmed with confusion. I know not why, but I felt a sense of
mortification when I observed that my appearance was carelessly
_déshabillé_, and my mind as little prepared for what I guessed to be
the motive of his visit. I, however, soon recovered my recollection, and
the theatre was consequently the topic of discourse.

At Mr. Sheridan's earnest entreaties, I recited some passages from
Shakespeare. I was alarmed and timid; but the gentleness of his manners,
and the impressive encouragement he gave me, dissipated my fears and
tempted me to go on.

Mr. Sheridan had then recently purchased a share of Drury Lane Theatre,
in conjunction with Mr. Lacey and Doctor Ford; he was already celebrated
as the author of "The Rivals" and "The Duenna," and his mind was
evidently portrayed in his manners, which were strikingly and
bewitchingly attractive.

The encouragement which I received in this essay, and the praises which
Mr. Sheridan lavishly bestowed, determined me to make a public trial of
my talents; and several visits, which were rapidly repeated by Mr.
Sheridan, at length produced an arrangement for that period. My
intention was intimated to Mr. Garrick, who, though he had for some
seasons retired from the stage, kindly promised protection, and as
kindly undertook to be my tutor.

The only objection which I felt to the idea of appearing on the stage
was my then increasing state of domestic solicitude. I was, at the
period when Mr. Sheridan was first presented to me, some months advanced
in that situation which afterward, by the birth of Sophia, made me a
second time a mother. Yet such was my imprudent fondness for Maria, that
I was still a nurse; and my constitution was very considerably impaired
by the effects of these combined circumstances.

An appointment was made in the greenroom of Drury Lane Theatre. Mr.
Garrick, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Brereton, and my husband were present; I
there recited the principal scenes of Juliet (Mr. Brereton repeating
those of Romeo), and Mr. Garrick, without hesitation, fixed on that
character as the trial of my debut.

It is impossible to describe the various emotions of hope and fear that
possessed my mind when the important day was announced in the playbills.
I wrote to the Duchess of Devonshire at Chatsworth, informing her of my
purposed trial, and received a kind letter of approbation, sanctioning
my plan and wishing me success. Every longing of my heart seemed now to
be completely gratified; and, with zeal bordering on delight, I prepared
for my approaching effort.

Mr. Garrick had been indefatigable at the rehearsals, frequently going
through the whole character of Romeo himself until he was completely
exhausted with the fatigue of recitation. This was only a short period
before the death of that distinguished actor.

The theatre was crowded with fashionable spectators; the greenroom and
orchestra (where Mr. Garrick sat during the night) were thronged with
critics. My dress was a pale pink satin, trimmed with crape, richly
spangled with silver; my head was ornamented with white feathers, and my
monumental suit, for the last scene, was white satin, and completely
plain, excepting that I wore a veil of the most transparent gauze, which
fell quite to my feet from the back of my head, and a string of beads
around my waist, to which was suspended a cross appropriately fashioned.

When I approached the side wing, my heart throbbed convulsively; I then
began to fear that my resolution would fail, and I leaned upon the
nurse's arm, almost fainting. Mr. Sheridan and several other friends
encouraged me to proceed; and at length, with trembling limbs and
fearful apprehension, I approached the audience.

The thundering applause that greeted me nearly overpowered all my
faculties. I stood mute and bending with alarm, which did not subside
till I had feebly articulated the few sentences of the first short
scene, during the whole of which I had never once ventured to look at
the audience.

On my return to the greenroom I was again encouraged, as far as my looks
were deemed deserving of approbation; for of my powers nothing yet could
be known, my fears having as it were palsied both my voice and action.
The second scene being the masquerade, I had time to collect myself. I
never shall forget the sensation which rushed through my bosom when I
first looked toward the pit. I beheld a gradual ascent of heads. All
eyes were fixed upon me, and the sensation they conveyed was awfully
impressive; but the keen, the penetrating eyes of Mr. Garrick, darting
their lustre from the centre of the orchestra, were, beyond all others,
the objects most conspicuous.[24]

As I acquired courage, I found the applause augment; and the night was
concluded with peals of clamorous approbation. I was complimented on all
sides; but the praise of one object, whom most I wished to please, was
flattering even to the extent of human vanity. I then experienced, for
the first time in my life, a gratification which language could not
utter. I heard one of the most fascinating men, and the most
distinguished geniuses of the age, honour me with partial approbation. A
new sensation seemed to awake in my bosom; I felt that emulation which
the soul delights to encourage, where the attainment of fame will be
pleasing to the esteemed object. I had till that period known no impulse
beyond that of friendship; I had been an example of conjugal fidelity;
but I had never known the perils to which the feeling heart is subjected
in a union of regard wholly uninfluenced by the affections of the soul.

The second character which I played was Amanda, in "A Trip to
Scarborough."[25] The play was altered from Vanbrugh's "Relapse;" and
the audience, supposing it was a new piece, on finding themselves
deceived, expressed a considerable degree of disapprobation. I was
terrified beyond imagination when Mrs. Yates, no longer able to bear the
hissing of the audience, quitted the scene, and left me alone to
encounter the critic tempest. I stood for some moments as though I had
been petrified. Mr. Sheridan, from the side wing, desired me not to quit
the boards; the late Duke of Cumberland,[26] from the stage-box, bade me
take courage: "It is not you, but the play, they hiss," said his Royal
Highness. I curtseyed; and that curtsey seemed to electrify the whole
house, for a thundering appeal of encouraging applause followed. The
comedy was suffered to go on, and is to this hour a stock play at Drury
Lane Theatre.

The third character I played was Statira, in "Alexander the Great." Mr.
Lacey, then one of the proprietors of Drury Lane Theatre, was the hero
of the night, and the part of Roxana was performed by Mrs. Melmoth.
Again I was received with an _éclat_ that gratified my vanity. My dress
was white and blue, made after the Persian costume; and though it was
then singular on the stage, I wore neither a hoop nor powder; my feet
were bound by sandals richly ornamented, and the whole dress was
picturesque and characteristic.

Though I was always received with the most flattering approbation, the
characters in which I was most popular were Ophelia, Juliet, and
Rosalind. Palmira was also one of my most approved representations. The
last character which I played was Sir Harry Revel, in Lady Craven's
comedy of "The Miniature Picture;" and the epilogue song in "The Irish
Widow"[27] was my last farewell to the labour of my profession.

Mr. Sheridan now informed me he wished that I would accustom myself to
appear in comedy, because tragedy seemed evidently, as well as my
_forte_, to be my preference. At the same time he acquainted me that he
wished me to perform a part in "The School for Scandal." I was now so
unshaped by my increasing size that I made my excuses, informing Mr.
Sheridan that probably I should be confined to my chamber at the period
when his since celebrated play would first make its appearance. He
accepted the apology, and in a short time I gave to the world my second
child, Sophia. I now resided in Southampton Street, Covent Garden.

Previous to this event I had my benefit night, on which I performed the
part of Fanny, in "The Clandestine Marriage." Mr. King, the Lord Ogleby;
Miss Pope, Miss Sterling; and Mrs. Heidelberg, Mrs. Hopkins.

Mr. Sheridan's attentions to me were unremitting. He took pleasure in
promoting my consequence at the theatre; he praised my talents, and he
interested himself in my domestic comforts. I was engaged previous to my
début, and I received what at that time was considered as a handsome
salary. My benefit was flatteringly attended. The boxes were filled with
persons of the very highest rank and fashion, and I looked forward with
delight both to celebrity and to fortune.

At the end of six weeks I lost my infant. She expired in my arms in
convulsions, and my distress was indescribable. On the day of its
dissolution Mr. Sheridan called on me; the little sufferer was on my
lap, and I was watching it with agonising anxiety. Five months had then
elapsed since Mr. Sheridan was first introduced to me; and though,
during that period, I had seen many proofs of his exquisite sensibility,
I never had witnessed one which so strongly impressed my mind his
countenance on entering my apartment. Probably he has forgotten the
feeling of the moment, but its impression will by me be remembered
for ever.

I had not power to speak. All he uttered was, "Beautiful little
creature!" at the same time looking on my infant, and sighing with a
degree of sympathetic sorrow which penetrated my soul. Had I ever heard
such a sigh from a husband's bosom? Alas! I never knew the sweet,
soothing solace of wedded sympathy; I never was beloved by him whom
destiny allotted to be the legal ruler of my actions. I do not condemn
Mr. Robinson; I but too well know that we cannot command our affections.
I only lament that he did not observe some decency in his infidelities;
and that while he gratified his own caprice, he forgot how much he
exposed his wife to the most degrading mortifications.

The death of Sophia so deeply affected my spirits that I was rendered
totally incapable of appearing again that season. I therefore obtained
Mr. Sheridan's permission to visit Bath for the recovery of my repose.
From Bath I went to Bristol--to Bristol! Why does my pen seem suddenly
arrested while I write the word? I know not why, but an undefinable
melancholy always follows the idea of my native birthplace. I instantly
behold the Gothic structure, the lonely cloisters, the lofty aisles, of
the antique minster,--for, within a few short paces of its wall, this
breast, which has never known one year of happiness, first palpitated on
inhaling the air of this bad world! Is it within its consecrated
precincts that this heart shall shortly moulder? Heaven only knows, and
to its will I bow implicitly.

I transcribe this passage on the 29th of March, 1800. I feel my health
decaying, my spirit broken. I look back without regret that so many of
my days are numbered; and, were it in my power to choose, I would not
wish to measure them again. But whither am I wandering? I will resume my
melancholy story.

Still restless, still perplexed with painful solicitudes, I returned to
London. I had not then, by many months, completed my nineteenth year. On
my arrival I took lodgings in Leicester Square. Mr. Sheridan came to see
me on my return to town, and communicated the melancholy fate of Mr.
Thomas Linley,[28] the late brother of Mrs. Sheridan,--he was
unfortunately drowned at the Duke of Ancaster's. In a few days after,
Mr. Sheridan again made me a visit, with a proposal for an engagement to
play during the summer at Mr. Colman's theatre in the Haymarket.[29] I
had refused several offers from provincial managers, and felt an almost
insurmountable aversion to the idea of strolling. Mr. Sheridan
nevertheless strongly recommended me to the acceptance of Mr. Colman's
offer; and I at last agreed to it, upon condition that the characters I
should be expected to perform were selected and limited. To this Mr.
Colman readily consented.

The first part which was placed in the list was Nancy Lovel, in the
comedy of "The Suicide." I received the written character, and waited
the rehearsal; but my astonishment was infinite when I saw the name of
Miss Farren[30] announced in the bills. I wrote a letter to Mr. Colman,
requesting an explanation. He replied that he had promised the part to
Miss Farren, who had then performed one or two seasons at the Haymarket
Theatre. I felt myself insulted. I insisted on Mr. Colman fulfilling his
engagement, or on giving me liberty to quit London: the latter he
refused. I demanded to perform the part of Nancy Lovel. Mr. Colman was
too partial to Miss Farren to hazard offending her. I refused to play
till I had this first character, as by agreement, restored to me, and
the summer passed without my once performing, though my salary was paid
weekly and regularly.

During the following winter I performed, with increasing approbation,
the following characters:

Ophelia, in "Hamlet."

Viola, in "Twelfth Night."

Jacintha, in "The Suspicious Husband."

Fidelia, in "The Plain Dealer."

Rosalind, in "As You Like It."

Oriana, in "The Inconstant."

Octavia, in "All for Love."

Perdita, in "The Winter's Tale."

Palmira, in "Mahomet."

Cordelia, in "King Lear."

Alinda, in "The Law of Lombardy."

The Irish Widow.

Araminta, in "The Old Bachelor."

Sir Harry Revel, in "The Miniature Picture."

Emily, in "The Runaway."

Miss Richley, in "The Discovery."

Statira, in "Alexander the Great."

Juliet, in "Romeo and Juliet."

Amanda, in "The Trip to Scarborough."

Lady Anne, in "Richard the Third."

Imogen, in "Cymbeline."

Lady Macbeth,[31] in "Macbeth," etc.

It was now that I began to know the perils attendant on a dramatic life.
It was at this period that the most alluring temptations were held out
to alienate me from the paths of domestic quiet,--domestic happiness I
cannot say, for it never was my destiny to know it. But I had still the
consolation of an unsullied name. I had the highest female patronage, a
circle of the most respectable and partial friends.

During this period I was daily visited by my best of mothers. My
youngest brother had, the preceding winter, departed for Leghorn, where
my eldest had been many years established as a merchant of the first

Were I to mention the names of those who held forth the temptations of
fortune at this moment of public peril, I might create some reproaches
in many families of the fashionable world. Among others who offered most
liberally to purchase my indiscretion was the late Duke of Rutland; a
settlement of six hundred pounds per annum was proposed as the means of
estranging me entirely from my husband. I refused the offer. I wished to
remain, in the eyes of the public, deserving of its patronage. I shall
not enter into a minute detail of temptations which assailed my

The flattering and zealous attentions which Mr. Sheridan evinced were
strikingly contrasting with the marked and increasing neglect of my
husband. I now found that he supported two women, in one house, in
Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. The one was a figure-dancer in Drury Lane
Theatre; the other, a woman of professed libertinism. With these he
passed all his hours that he could steal from me; and I found that my
salary was at times inadequate to the expenses which were incurred by an
enlarged circle of new acquaintance, which Mr. Robinson had formed since
my appearance in the dramatic scene. Added to this, the bond creditors
became so clamorous, that the whole of my benefits were appropriated to
their demands; and on the second year after my appearance at Drury Lane
Theatre, Mr. Robinson once more persuaded me to make a visit at

I was now received with more civility, and more warmly welcomed, than I
had been on any former arrival. Though the assumed sanctity of Miss
Robinson's manners condemned a dramatic life, the labour was deemed
profitable, and the supposed immorality was consequently tolerated!
However repugnant to my feelings this visit was, still I hoped that it
would promote my husband's interest, and confirm his reconciliation to
his father; I therefore resolved on undertaking it. I now felt that I
could support myself honourably; and the consciousness of independence
is the only true felicity in this world of humiliations.

Mr. Harris was now established in Tregunter House, and several parties
were formed, both at home and abroad, for my amusement. I was consulted
as the very oracle of fashions; I was gazed at and examined with the
most inquisitive curiosity. Mrs. Robinson, the promising young actress,
was a very different personage from Mrs. Robinson who had been
overwhelmed with sorrows, and came to ask an asylum under the roof of
vulgar ostentation. I remained only a fortnight in Wales, and then
returned to London, to prepare for the opening of the theatre.

We stopped at Bath on our way to town, where Mr. Robinson met with Mr.
George Brereton, with whom, at Newmarket, he had some time before become
acquainted. Mr. Brereton was a man of fortune, and married to his
beautiful cousin, the daughter of Major Brereton, then master of the
ceremonies at Bath. At a former period Mr. Robinson had owed a sum of
money to Mr. George Brereton, for which he had given a promissory note.
On our arrival at Bath we received a visit from this creditor, who
assured Mr. Robinson that he was in no haste for the payment of his
note, and at the same time very earnestly pressed us to remain a few
days in that fashionable city. We were in no hurry to return to London,
having still more than three weeks' holidays. We resided at the "Three
Tuns," one of the best inns, and Mr. Brereton was on all occasions
particularly attentive.

The motive of this assiduity was at length revealed to me, by a violent
and fervent declaration of love, which astonished and perplexed me. I
knew that Mr. Brereton was of a most impetuous temper; that he had
fought many duels; that he was capable of any outrage; and that he had
my husband completely in his power. Every advance which he had the
temerity to make was by me rejected with indignation. I had not
resolution to inform Mr. Robinson of his danger, and I thought that the
only chance of escaping it was to set out immediately for Bristol, where
I wished to pass a few days, previous to my return to the metropolis.

On the following morning, as we were quitting the inn in Temple Street,
to visit Clifton, Mr. Robinson was arrested at the suit of Mr. George
Brereton, who waited himself in an upper room in order to see the writ
executed. I forget the exact sum for which Mr. Robinson had given his
promissory note, but I well remember that it was in magnitude beyond his
power to pay. Our consternation was indescribable.

In a few minutes after, I was informed that a lady wished to speak with
me. Concluding that it was some old acquaintance, and happy to feel that
in this perplexing dilemma I had still a friend to speak to, I followed
the waiter into another room. Mr. Robinson was detained by the
sheriff's officer.

On entering the apartment, I beheld Mr. Brereton.

"Well, madam," said he, with a sarcastic smile, "you have involved your
husband in a pretty embarrassment! Had you not been severe toward me,
not only this paltry debt would have been cancelled, but any sum that I
could command would have been at his service. He has now either to pay
me, to fight me, or to go to a prison; and all because you treat me with
such unexampled rigour."

I entreated him to reflect before he drove me to distraction.

"I have reflected," said he, "and I find that you possess the power to
do with me what you will. Promise to return to Bath--to behave more
kindly--and I will this moment discharge your husband."

I burst into tears.

"You cannot be so inhuman as to propose such terms!" said I.

"The inhumanity is on your side," answered Mr. Brereton. "But I have no
time to lose; I must return to Bath; my wife is dangerously ill; and I
do not wish to have my name exposed in a business of this nature."

"Then for Heaven's sake release my husband!" said I. Mr. Brereton smiled
as he rang the bell, and ordered the waiter to look for his carriage. I
now lost all command of myself, and, with the most severe invective,
condemned the infamy of his conduct. "I will return to Bath," said I;
"but it shall be to expose your dishonourable, your barbarous
machinations. I will inform that lovely wife how treacherously you have
acted. I will proclaim to the world that the common arts of seduction
are not sufficiently depraved for the mind of a libertine and a

I uttered these words in so loud a tone of voice that he changed colour,
and desired me to be discreet and patient.

"Never, while you insult me, and hold my husband in your power," said I.
"You have carried outrage almost to its fullest extent; you have
awakened all the pride and all the resentment of my soul, and I will
proceed as I think proper."

He now endeavoured to soothe me. He assured me that he was actuated by a
sincere regard for me; and that, knowing how little my husband valued
me, he thought it would be an act of kindness to estrange me from him.
"His neglect of you will justify any step you may take," added he; "and
it is a matter of universal astonishment that you, who upon other
occasions can act with such becoming spirit, should tamely continue to
bear such infidelities from a husband." I shuddered; for this plea had,
in many instances, been urged as an excuse for libertine advances; and
the indifference with which I was treated was, in the theatre, and in
all my circle of friends, a subject of conversation.

Distressed beyond the power of utterance at this new humiliation, I
paced the room with agonising inquietude.

"How little does such a husband deserve such a wife!" continued Mr.
Brereton; "how tasteless must he be, to leave such a woman for the very
lowest and most degraded of the sex! Quit him, and fly with me. I am
ready to make any sacrifice you demand. Shall I propose to Mr. Robinson
to let you go? Shall I offer him his liberty on condition that he allows
you to separate yourself from him? By his conduct he proves that he does
not love you; why then labour to support him?"

I was almost frantic.

"Here, madam," continued Mr. Brereton, after pausing four or five
minutes, "here is your husband's release." So saying, he threw a written
paper on the table. "Now," added he, "I rely on your generosity."

I trembled, and was incapable of speaking. Mr. Brereton conjured me to
compose my spirits, and to conceal my distress from the people of the
inn. "I will return to Bath," said he. "I shall there expect to see
you." He now quitted the room. I saw him get into his chaise and drive
from the inn door. I then hastened to my husband with the discharge; and
all expenses of the arrest being shortly after settled, we set out
for Bath.

Mr. Robinson scarcely inquired what had passed; but I assured him that
my persuasions had produced so sudden a change in Mr. Brereton's
conduct. I said that I hoped he would never again place his freedom in
the hands of a gamester, or his wife's repose in the power of a
libertine. He seemed insensible of the peril attending both the one and
the other.

Expecting letters by the post, we waited the following day, which was
Sunday, at Bath; though, in order to avoid Mr. Brereton, we removed to
the White Lion Inn. But what was my astonishment, in the afternoon,
when, standing at the window, I saw Mr. George Brereton walking on the
opposite side of the way, with his wife and her no less lovely sister! I
now found that the story of her dangerous illness was untrue, and I
flattered myself that I was not seen before I retired from the window.

We now sat down to dinner, and in a few minutes Mr. George Brereton was
announced by the waiter. He coldly bowed to me, and instantly made a
thousand apologies to Mr. Robinson; declared that he had paid the note
away; that he was menaced for the money; and that he came to Bristol,
though too late, to prevent the arrest which had happened. Mr. Robinson
skeptically replied that it was now of little importance; and Mr.
Brereton took his leave, saying that he should have the honour of seeing
us again in the evening. We did not wait for his company, but
immediately after dinner set out for London.

On my arrival in town I saw Mr. Sheridan, whose manner had lost nothing
of its interesting attention. He continued to visit me very frequently,
and always gave me the most friendly counsel. He knew that I was not
properly protected by Mr. Robinson, but he was too generous to build his
gratification on the detraction of another. The happiest moments I then
knew were passed in the society of this distinguished being. He saw me
ill-bestowed upon a man who neither loved nor valued me; he lamented my
destiny, but with such delicate propriety that it consoled while it
revealed to me the unhappiness of my situation. On my return to town the
Duke of Rutland renewed his solicitations. I also received the most
unbounded professions of esteem and admiration from several other
persons. Among the list, I was addressed with proposals of libertine
nature by a royal duke, a lofty marquis, and a city merchant of
considerable fortune, conveyed through the medium of milliners,
mantua-makers, etc. Just at this period my eldest brother visited
England; but such was his unconquerable aversion to my profession as an
actress, that he only once, during a residence of some months in London,
attempted to see me perform. He then only attempted it; for, on my
advancing on the boards, he started from his seat in the stage-box, and
instantly quitted the theatre. My dear mother had no less a dislike to
the pursuit; she never beheld me on the stage but with a painful regret.
Fortunately, my father remained some years out of England, so that he
never saw me in my professional character.

My popularity increasing every night that I appeared, my prospects, both
of fame and affluence, began to brighten. We now hired the house which
is situated between the Hummums and the Bedford Arms, in Covent Garden;
it had been built (I believe) by Doctor Fisher, who married the widow of
the celebrated actor Powel; but Mr. Robinson took the premises of Mrs.
Mattocks, of Covent Garden Theatre. The house was particularly
convenient in every respect; but, above all, on account of its vicinity
to Drury Lane. Here I hoped to enjoy, at least, some cheerful days, as I
found that my circle of friends increased almost hourly.

One of those who paid me most attention was Sir John Lade. The
good-natured baronet, who was then just of age, was our constant
visitor, and cards contributed to beguile those evenings that were not
devoted to dramatic labour. Mr. Robinson played more deeply than was
discreet, but he was, at the end of a few weeks, a very
considerable winner.

In proportion as play obtained its influence over my husband's mind, his
small portion of remaining regard for me visibly decayed. We now had
horses, a phaeton and ponies; and my fashions in dress were followed
with flattering avidity. My house was thronged with visitors, and my
morning levées were crowded so that I could scarcely find a quiet hour
for study. My brother by this time had returned to Italy.

Mr. Sheridan was still my most esteemed of friends. He advised me with
the gentlest anxiety, and he warned me of the danger which expense would
produce, and which might interrupt the rising progress of my dramatic
reputation. He saw the trophies which flattery strewed in my way; and he
lamented that I was on every side surrounded with temptations. There was
a something beautifully sympathetic in every word he uttered; his
admonitions seemed as if dictated by a prescient power, which told him
that I was destined to be deceived!

Situated as I was at this time, the effort was difficult to avoid the
society of Mr. Sheridan. He was manager of the theatre. I could not
avoid seeing and conversing with him at rehearsals and behind the
scenes, and his conversation was always such as to fascinate and charm
me. The brilliant reputation which he had justly acquired for superior
talents, and the fame which was completed by his celebrated "School for
Scandal," had now rendered him so admired, that all ranks of people
courted his society. The greenroom was frequented by nobility and men of
genius; among these were Mr. Fox[32] and the Earl of Derby. The stage
was now enlightened by the very best critics, and embellished by the
very highest talents; and it is not a little remarkable that the drama
was uncommonly productive, the theatre more than usually attended,
during that season when the principal dramatic characters were performed
by women under the age of twenty. Among these were Miss Farren (now Lady
Derby), Miss Walpole (now Mrs. Atkins), Miss P. Hopkins (now Mrs. John
Kemble), and myself.

I had then been married more than four years; my daughter Maria
Elizabeth was nearly three years old. I had been then seen and known at
all public places from the age of fifteen; yet I knew as little of the
world's deceptions as though I had been educated in the deserts of
Siberia. I believed every woman friendly, every man sincere, till I
discovered proofs that their characters were deceptive.

I had now performed two seasons, in tragedy and comedy, with Miss Farren
and the late Mr. Henderson. My first appearance in Palmira (in
"Mahomet") was with the Zaphna of Mr. J. Bannister, the preceding year;
and though the extraordinary comic powers of this excellent actor and
amiable man have established his reputation as a comedian, his first
essay in tragedy was considered as a night of the most distinguished
promise. The Duchess of Devonshire still honoured me with her patronage
and friendship, and I also possessed the esteem of several respectable
and distinguished females.

The play of "The Winter's Tale" was this season commanded by their
Majesties.[33] I never had performed before the royal family; and the
first character in which I was destined to appear was that of Perdita. I
had frequently played the part, both with the Hermione of Mrs. Hartley
and of Miss Farren: but I felt a strange degree of alarm when I found my
name announced to perform it before the royal family.[34]

In the greenroom I was rallied on the occasion; and Mr. Smith,[35] whose
gentlemanly manners and enlightened conversation rendered him an
ornament to the profession, who performed the part of Leontes,
laughingly exclaimed, "By Jove, Mrs. Robinson, you will make a conquest
of the prince, for to-night you look handsomer than ever." I smiled at
the unmerited compliment, and little foresaw the vast variety of events
that would arise from that night's exhibition!

As I stood in the wing opposite the prince's box, waiting to go on the
stage, Mr. Ford, the manager's son, and now a respectable defender of
the laws, presented a friend who accompanied him; this friend was Lord
Viscount Malden, now Earl of Essex.[36]

We entered into conversation during a few minutes, the Prince of Wales
all the time observing us, and frequently speaking to Colonel (now
General) Lake, and to the Honourable Mr. Legge, brother to Lord
Lewisham, who was in waiting on his Royal Highness. I hurried through
the first scene, not without much embarrassment, owing to the fixed
attention with which the Prince of Wales honoured me. Indeed, some
flattering remarks which were made by his Royal Highness met my ear as I
stood near his box, and I was overwhelmed with confusion.

The prince's particular attention was observed by every one, and I was
again rallied at the end of the play. On the last curtsey, the royal
family condescendingly returned a bow to the performers; but just as the
curtain was falling my eyes met those of the Prince of Wales, and with a
look that I never shall forget, he gently inclined his head a second
time; I felt the compliment, and blushed my gratitude.

During the entertainment Lord Malden never ceased conversing with me. He
was young, pleasing, and perfectly accomplished. He remarked the
particular applause which the prince had bestowed on my performance;
said a thousand civil things; and detained me in conversation till the
evening's performance was concluded.

I was now going to my chair, which waited, when I met the royal family
crossing the stage. I was again honoured with a very marked and low bow
from the Prince of Wales. On my return home, I had a party to supper;
and the whole conversation centred in encomiums on the person, graces,
and amiable manners of the illustrious heir-apparent.

Within two or three days of this time, Lord Malden made me a morning
visit. Mr. Robinson was not at home, and I received him rather
awkwardly. But his lordship's embarrassment far exceeded mine. He
attempted to speak--paused, hesitated, apologised; I knew not why. He
hoped I would pardon him; that I would not mention something he had to
communicate; that I would consider the peculiar delicacy of his
situation, and then act as I thought proper. I could not comprehend his
meaning, and therefore requested that he would be explicit.

After some moments of evident rumination, he tremblingly drew a small
letter from his pocket. I took it, and knew not what to say. It was
addressed to Perdita. I smiled, I believe rather sarcastically, and
opened the _billet_. It contained only a few words, but those
expressive of more than common civility; they were signed Florizel.[37]

"Well, my lord, and what does this mean?" said I, half angry.

"Can you not guess the writer?" said Lord Malden.

"Perhaps yourself, my lord," cried I, gravely.

"Upon my honour, no," said the viscount. "I should not have dared so to
address you on so short an acquaintance."

I pressed him to tell me from whom the letter came. He again hesitated;
he seemed confused, and sorry that he had undertaken to deliver it.

"I hope that I shall not forfeit your good opinion," said he; "but--"

"But what, my lord?"

"I could not refuse--for the letter is from the Prince of Wales."

I was astonished; I confess that I was agitated; but I was also somewhat
skeptical as to the truth of Lord Malden's assertion. I returned a
formal and a doubtful answer, and his lordship shortly after took
his leave.

A thousand times did I read this short but expressive letter. Still I
did not implicitly believe that it was written by the prince; I rather
considered it as an experiment made by Lord Malden, either on my vanity
or propriety of conduct. On the next evening the viscount repeated his
visit. We had a card-party of six or seven, and the Prince of Wales was
again the subject of unbounded panegyric. Lord Malden spoke of his Royal
Highness's manners as the most polished and fascinating; of his temper
as the most engaging; and of his mind, the most replete with every
amiable sentiment. I heard these praises, and my heart beat with
conscious pride, while memory turned to the partial but delicately
respectful letter which I had received on the preceding morning.

The next day Lord Malden brought me a second letter. He assured me that
the prince was most unhappy lest I should be offended at his conduct,
and that he conjured me to go that night to the Oratorio, [38] where he
would by some signal convince me that he was the writer of the letters,
supposing I was still skeptical as to their authenticity.

I went to the Oratorio; and, on taking my seat in the balcony-box, the
prince almost instantaneously observed me. He held the printed bill
before his face, and drew his hand across his forehead, still fixing his
eyes on me. I was confused, and knew not what to do. My husband was with
me, and I was fearful of his observing what passed. Still the prince
continued to make signs, such as moving his hand on the edge of the box
as if writing, then speaking to the Duke of York[39] (then Bishop of
Osnaburg), who also looked toward me with particular attention.

I now observed one of the gentlemen in waiting bring the prince a glass
of water; before he raised it to his lips he looked at me. So marked was
his Royal Highness's conduct that many of the audience observed it;
several persons in the pit directed their gaze at the place where I sat;
and, on the following day, one of the diurnal prints observed that there
was one passage in Dryden's Ode which seemed particularly interesting to
the Prince of Wales, who--
        "Gazed on the fair
        Who caused his care,
      And sigh'd, and look'd, and sigh'd again."[40]

However flattering it might have been to female vanity to know that the
most admired and most accomplished prince in Europe was devotedly
attached to me; however dangerous to the heart such idolatry as his
Royal Highness, during many months, professed in almost daily letters,
which were conveyed to me by Lord Malden, still I declined any interview
with his Royal Highness. I was not insensible to all his powers of
attraction; I thought him one of the most amiable of men. There was a
beautiful ingenuousness in his language, a warm and enthusiastic
adoration, expressed in every letter, which interested and charmed me.
During the whole spring, till the theatre closed, this correspondence
continued, every day giving me some new assurance of inviolable

After we had corresponded some months without ever speaking to each
other (for I still declined meeting his Royal Highness, from a dread of
the _éclat_ which such a connection would produce, and the fear of
injuring him in the opinion of his royal relatives), I received, through
the hands of Lord Malden, the prince's portrait in miniature, painted by
the late Mr. Meyer. This picture is now in my possession. Within the
case was a small heart cut in paper, which I also have; on one side was
written, _"Je ne change qu'en mourant;"_ on the other, "Unalterable to
my Perdita through life."

During many months of confidential correspondence, I always offered his
Royal Highness the best advice in my power; I disclaimed every sordid
and interested thought; I recommended him to be patient till he should
become his own master; to wait till he knew more of my mind and manners,
before he engaged in a public attachment to me; and, above all, to do
nothing that might incur the displeasure of his Royal Highness's family.
I entreated him to recollect that he was young, and led on by the
impetuosity of passion; that should I consent to quit my profession and
my husband, I should be thrown entirely on his mercy. I strongly
pictured the temptations to which beauty would expose him; the many arts
that would be practised to undermine me in his affections; the public
abuse which calumny and envy would heap upon me; and the misery I should
suffer, if, after I had given him every proof of confidence, he should
change in his sentiments toward me. To all this I received repeated
assurances of inviolable affection; and I most firmly believe that his
Royal Highness meant what he professed--indeed, his soul was too
ingenuous, his mind too liberal, and his heart too susceptible, to
deceive premeditatedly, or to harbour even for a moment the idea of
deliberate deception.

At every interview with Lord Maiden I perceived that he regretted the
task he had undertaken; but he assured me that the prince was almost
frantic whenever he suggested a wish to decline interfering. Once I
remember his lordship's telling me that the late Duke of Cumberland had
made him a visit early in the morning, at his house in Clarges Street,
informing him that the prince was most wretched on my account, and
imploring him to continue his services only a short time longer. The
prince's establishment was then in agitation; at this period his Royal
Highness still resided in Buckingham House.

A proposal was now made that I should meet his Royal Highness at his
apartments, in the disguise of male attire. I was accustomed to perform
in that dress, and the prince had seen me, I believe, in the character
of the Irish Widow. To this plan I decidedly objected. The indelicacy of
such a step, as well as the danger of detection, made me shrink from the
proposal. My refusal threw his Royal Highness into the most distressing
agitation, as was expressed by the letter which I received on the
following morning. Lord Malden again lamented that he had engaged
himself in the intercourse, and declared that he had himself conceived
so violent a passion for me that he was the most miserable and
unfortunate of mortals.

During this period, though Mr. Robinson was a stranger to my epistolary
intercourse with the prince, his conduct was entirely neglectful. He was
perfectly careless respecting my fame and my repose; passed his leisure
hours with the most abandoned women, and even my own servants complained
of his illicit advances. I remember one, who was plain even to ugliness;
she was short, ill-made, squalid, and dirty; once, on my return from a
rehearsal, I found that this woman was locked with my husband in my
chamber. I also knew that Mr. Robinson continued his connection with a
female who lodged in Maiden Lane, and who was only one of the few that
proved his domestic apostacy.

His indifference naturally produced an alienation of esteem on my side,
and the increasing adoration of the most enchanting of mortals hourly
reconciled my mind to the idea of a separation. The unbounded assurances
of lasting affection which I received from his Royal Highness in many
scores of the most eloquent letters, the contempt which I experienced
from my husband, and the perpetual labour which I underwent for his
support, at length began to weary my fortitude. Still I was reluctant to
become the theme of public animadversion, and still I remonstrated with
my husband on the unkindness of his conduct.

       *       *       *       *       *

_[The narrative of Mrs. Robinson closes here.]_



Among those persons who have at various periods attracted the attention
of the public, there are few whose virtues have been so little known, or
whose characters have been so unfairly estimated, as the subject of the
preceding memoir. To compress within narrow limits the numerous
circumstances by which the later years of Mrs. Robinson's life were
chequered, will be a task of no little difficulty. The earlier periods
of her existence, rendered more interesting as narrated by her own pen,
have doubtlessly been justly appreciated by the reflecting and candid
reader, whose sympathy they could not fail to awaken. That she lived not
to conclude the history of a life scarcely less eventful than
unfortunate, cannot but afford a subject of sincere regret.

The conflicts which shook the mind, and the passions which succeeded to
each other in the breast of Mrs. Robinson, at the period when her
narrative closes, a crisis perhaps the most important in her life, may
be more easily conceived than described. A laborious though captivating
profession, the profits of which were unequal to the expenses of her
establishment, and the assiduities of her illustrious lover, to whom she
naturally looked for protection, combined to divide her attention and
bewilder her inexperienced mind. The partiality of her royal admirer had
begun to excite observation, to awaken curiosity, and to provoke the
malignant passions which, under an affected concern for decorum, assumed
the guise of virtue. The daily prints teemed with hints of the favour of
Mrs. Robinson with "one whose manners were resistless, and whose smile
was victory." These circumstances, added to the constant devoirs of Lord
Malden, whose attentions were as little understood as maliciously
interpreted, conspired to distract a young creature, whose exposed
situation, whose wavering and unformed character, rendered her but too
obnoxious to a thousand errors and perils.

To terminate her correspondence with the prince appeared the most
painful remedy that could be adopted by a heart fascinated with his
accomplishments, and soothed by his professions of inviolable
attachment. She was aware that, in the eye of the world, the reputation
of the wife is supposed unsullied, while the husband, enduring passively
his dishonour, gives to her the sanction of his protection. The circles
of fashion afforded more than one instance of this obliging acquiescence
in matrimonial turpitude. Could Mrs. Robinson have reconciled it to her
own feelings to remain under the roof of her husband, whose protection
she had forfeited, and to add insult to infidelity, the attentions of
her illustrious admirer might have given to her popularity an additional
_éclat_. Neither might her husband have suffered in his worldly
prospects, from being to the motives of his royal visitor a little
complaisantly blind. But her ingenuous nature would not permit her to
render the man for whom she had once felt an affection an object of
ridicule and contempt. She determined, therefore, to brave the world,
and, for a support against its censures, to rely on the protection and
friendship of him to whom she sacrificed its respect.

The managers of Drury Lane Theatre, suspecting that Mrs. Robinson
purposed, at the conclusion of the season, to withdraw from the stage,
omitted no means that might tend to induce her to renew her engagements.
With this view, they offered a considerable advance to her salary, while
to their solicitations she returned undecisive answers. Hourly rising in
a profession to which she was enthusiastically attached, the public
plaudits, which her appearance never failed to excite, were too
gratifying to be relinquished without regret.

During this irresolution she was persecuted by numerous anonymous
letters, which she continued to treat with derision or contempt. The
correspondence between Mrs. Robinson and the prince had hitherto been
merely epistolary. This intercourse had lasted several months, Mrs.
Robinson not having acquired sufficient courage to venture a personal
interview, and bid defiance to the reproaches of the world.

At length, after many alternations of feeling, an interview with her
royal lover was consented to by Mrs. Robinson, and proposed, by the
management of Lord Malden, to take place at his lordship's residence in
Dean Street, Mayfair. But the restricted situation of the prince,
controlled by a rigid tutor, rendered this project of difficult
execution. A visit to Buckingham House was then mentioned; to which Mrs.
Robinson positively objected, as a rash attempt, abounding in peril to
her august admirer. Lord Maiden being again consulted, it was determined
that the prince should meet Mrs. Robinson for a few moments at Kew,[41]
on the banks of the Thames, opposite to the old palace, then the summer
residence of the elder princes. For an account of this incident, an
extract from a letter of Mrs. Robinson, written some years afterward, to
a valued and since deceased friend, who during the period of these
events resided in America, may not be unacceptable to the reader. The
date of this letter is in 1783.

[Illustration: The First Meeting of Mrs. Robinson and the Prince of
Wales Original etching by Adrien Marcel]

"At length an evening was fixed for this long-dreaded interview. Lord
Maiden and myself dined at the inn on the island between Kew and
Brentford. We waited the signal for crossing the river in a boat which
had been engaged for the purpose. Heaven can witness how many conflicts
my agitated heart endured at this most important moment! I admired the
prince; I felt grateful for his affection. He was the most engaging of
created beings. I had corresponded with him during many months, and his
eloquent letters, the exquisite sensibility which breathed through every
line, his ardent professions of adoration, had combined to shake my
feeble resolution. The handkerchief was waved on the opposite shore; but
the signal was, by the dusk of the evening, rendered almost
imperceptible. Lord Maiden took my hand, I stepped into the boat, and in
a few minutes we landed before the iron gates of old Kew Palace. The
interview was but of a moment. The Prince of Wales and the Duke of York
(then Bishop of Osnaburg) were walking down the avenue. They hastened to
meet us. A few words, and those scarcely articulate, were uttered by the
prince, when a noise of people approaching from the palace startled us.
The moon was now rising; and the idea of being overheard, or of his
Royal Highness being seen out at so unusual an hour, terrified the whole
group. After a few more words of the most affectionate nature uttered by
the prince, we parted, and Lord Maiden and myself returned to the
island. The prince never quitted the avenue, nor the presence of the
Duke of York, during the whole of this short meeting. Alas! my friend,
if my mind was before influenced by esteem, it was now awakened to the,
most enthusiastic admiration. The rank of the prince no longer chilled
into awe that being who now considered him as the lover and the friend.
The graces of his person, the irresistible sweetness of his smile, the
tenderness of his melodious yet manly voice, will be remembered by me
till every vision of this changing scene shall be forgotten.

"Many and frequent were the interviews which afterward took place at
this romantic spot; our walks sometimes continued till past midnight;
the Duke of York and Lord Malden were always of the party; our
conversation was composed of general topics. The prince had from his
infancy been wholly secluded, and naturally took much pleasure in
conversing about the busy world, its manners and pursuits, characters
and scenery. Nothing could be more delightful or more rational than our
midnight perambulations. I always wore a dark coloured habit, the rest
of our party generally wrapped themselves in greatcoats to disguise
them, excepting the Duke of York, who almost universally alarmed us by
the display of a buff coat, the most conspicuous colour he could have
selected for an adventure of this nature. The polished and fascinating
ingenuousness of his Royal Highness's manners contributed not a little
to enliven our promenades. He sung with exquisite taste, and the tones
of his voice breaking on the silence of the night have often appeared to
my entranced senses like more than mortal melody. Often have I lamented
the distance which destiny had placed between us. How would my soul have
idolised such a husband! Alas! how often, in the ardent enthusiasm of my
soul, have I formed the wish that that being were mine alone! to whom
partial millions were to look up for protection.

"The Duke of York was now on the eve of quitting the country for
Hanover; the prince was also on the point of receiving his first
establishment; and the apprehension that his attachment to a married
woman might injure his Royal Highness in the opinion of the world
rendered the caution which we invariably observed of the utmost
importance. A considerable time elapsed in these delightful scenes of
visionary happiness. The prince's attachment seemed to increase daily,
and I considered myself as the most blest of human beings. During some
time we had enjoyed our meetings in the neighbourhood of Kew, and I note
only looked forward to the adjusting of his Royal Highness's
establishment for the public avowal of our mutual attachment.

"I had relinquished my profession. The last night of my appearance on
the stage, I represented the character of Sir Harry Revel, in the comedy
of 'The Miniature Picture,' written by Lady Craven,[42] and 'The Irish
Widow.' On entering the greenroom, I informed Mr. Moody, who played in
the farce, that I should appear no more after that night; and,
endeavouring to smile while I sung, I repeated,--
      'Oh joy to you all in full measure,
      So wishes and prays Widow Brady!'
which were the last lines of my song in 'The Irish Widow.' This effort
to conceal the emotion I felt on quitting a profession I
enthusiastically loved was of short duration, and I burst into tears on
my appearance. My regret at recollecting that I was treading for the
last time the boards where I had so often received the must gratifying
testimonies of public approbation; where mental exertion had been
emboldened by private worth; that I was flying from a happy certainty,
perhaps to pursue the phantom disappointment, nearly overwhelmed my
faculties, and for some time deprived me of the power of articulation.
Fortunately, the person on the stage with me had to begin the scene,
which allowed me time to collect myself. I went, however, mechanically
dull through the business of the evening, and, notwithstanding the
cheering expressions and applause of the audience, I was several times
near fainting.

"The daily prints now indulged the malice of my enemies by the most
scandalous paragraphs respecting the Prince of Wales and myself. I found
it was now too late to stop the hourly augmenting torrent of abuse that
was poured upon me from all quarters. Whenever I appeared in public, I
was overwhelmed by the gazing of the multitude. I was frequently obliged
to quit Ranelagh, owing to the crowd which staring curiosity had
assembled around my box; and, even in the streets of the metropolis, I
scarcely ventured to enter a shop without experiencing the greatest
inconvenience. Many hours have I waited till the crowd dispersed which
surrounded my carriage, in expectation of my quitting the shop. I cannot
suppress a smile at the absurdity of such proceeding, when I remember
that, during nearly three seasons, I was almost every night upon the
stage, and that I had then been near five years with Mr. Robinson at
every fashionable place of entertainment. You, my dear sir, in your
quiet haunts of transatlantic simplicity, will find some difficulty in
reconciling these things to your mind--these unaccountable instances of
national absurdity. Yet, so it is. I am well assured that, were a being
possessed of more than human endowments to visit this country, it would
experience indifference, if not total neglect, while a less worthy
mortal might be worshipped as the idol of its day, if whispered into
notoriety by the comments of the multitude. But, thank Heaven! my heart
was not formed in the mould of callous effrontery. I shuddered at the
gulf before me, and felt small gratification in the knowledge of having
taken a step, which many who condemned would have been no less willing
to imitate had they been placed in the same situation.

"Previous to my first interview with his Royal Highness, in one of his
letters I was astonished to find a bond of the most solemn and binding
nature containing a promise of the sum of twenty thousand pounds, to be
paid at the period of his Royal Highness's coming of age.

"This paper was signed by the prince, and sealed with the royal arms. It
was expressed in terms so liberal, so voluntary, so marked by true
affection, that I had scarcely power to read it. My tears, excited by
the most agonising conflicts, obscured the letters, and nearly blotted
out those sentiments which will be impressed upon my mind till the
latest period of my existence. Still, I felt shocked and mortified at
the indelicate idea of entering into any pecuniary engagements with a
prince, on whose establishment I relied for the enjoyment of all that
would render life desirable. I was surprised at receiving it; the idea
of interest had never entered my mind. Secure in the possession of his
heart, I had in that delightful certainty counted all my future
treasure. I had refused many splendid gifts which his Royal Highness had
proposed ordering for me at Grey's and other jewellers. The prince
presented to me a few trifling ornaments, in the whole their value not
exceeding one hundred guineas. Even these, on our separation, I returned
to his Royal Highness through the hands of General Lake.

"The period now approached that was to destroy all the fairy visions
which had filled my mind with dreams of happiness. At the moment when
everything was preparing for his Royal Highness's establishment, when I
looked impatiently for the arrival of that day in which I might behold
my adored friend gracefully receiving the acclamations of his future
subjects, when I might enjoy the public protection of that being for
whom I gave up all, I received a letter from his Royal Highness, a cold
and unkind letter--briefly informing me that 'we must meet no more!'

"And now, my friend, suffer me to call God to witness, that I was
unconscious why this decision had taken place in his Royal Highness's
mind. Only two days previous to this letter being written I had seen the
prince at Kew, and his affection appeared to be boundless as it was

"Amazed, afflicted, beyond the power of utterance, I wrote immediately
to his Royal Highness, requiring an explanation. He remained silent.
Again I wrote, but received no elucidation of this most cruel and
extraordinary mystery. The prince was then at Windsor. I set out in a
small pony phaeton, wretched, and unaccompanied by any one except my
postilion (a child of nine years of age). It was near dark when we
quitted Hyde Park Corner. On my arrival at Hounslow the innkeeper
informed me that every carriage which had passed the heath for the last
ten nights had been attacked and rifled. I confess the idea of personal
danger had no terrors for my mind in the state it then was, and the
possibility of annihilation, divested of the crime of suicide,
encouraged rather than diminished my determination of proceeding. We had
scarcely reached the middle of the heath when my horses were startled by
the sudden appearance of a man rushing from the side of the road. The
boy, on perceiving him, instantly spurred his pony, and, by a sudden
bound of our light vehicle, the ruffian missed his grasp at the front
rein. We now proceeded at full speed, while the footpad ran endeavouring
to overtake us. At length, my horses fortunately outrunning the
perseverance of the assailant, we reached the first 'Magpie,' a small
inn on the heath, in safety. The alarm which, in spite of my resolution,
this adventure had created, was augmented on my recollecting, for the
first time, that I had then in my black stock a brilliant stud of very
considerable value, which could only have been possessed by the robber
by strangling the wearer.

"If my heart palpitated with joy at my escape from assassination, a
circumstance soon after occurred that did not tend to quiet my emotion.
This was the appearance of Mr. H. Meynell and Mrs. A----. My foreboding
soul instantly beheld a rival, and, with jealous eagerness, interpreted
the hitherto inexplicable conduct of the prince from his having
frequently expressed his wish to know that lady.

"On my arrival the prince would not see me. My agonies were now
undescribable. I consulted with Lord Malden and the Duke of Dorset,
whose honourable mind and truly disinterested friendship had on many
occasions been exemplified toward me. They were both at a loss to divine
any cause of this sudden change in the prince's feelings. The Prince of
Wales had hitherto assiduously sought opportunities to distinguish me
more publicly than was prudent in his Royal Highness's situation. This
was in the month of August. On the 4th of the preceding June I went, by
his desire, into the chamberlain's box at the birthnight ball; the
distressing observation of the circle was drawn toward the part of the
box in which I sat by the marked and injudicious attentions of his Royal
Highness. I had not been arrived many minutes before I witnessed a
singular species of fashionable coquetry. Previous to his Highness's
beginning his minuet, I perceived a woman of high rank select from the
bouquet which she wore two rosebuds, which she gave to the prince, as he
afterward informed me, emblematical of herself and him.' I observed his
Royal Highness immediately beckon to a nobleman, who has since formed a
part of his establishment, and, looking most earnestly at me, whisper a
few words, at the same time presenting to him his newly acquired trophy.
In a few moments Lord C---- entered the chamberlain's box, and, giving
the rosebuds into my hands, informed me that he was commissioned by the
prince to do so. I placed them in my bosom, and, I confess, felt proud
of the power by which I thus publicly mortified an exalted rival. His
Royal Highness now avowedly distinguished me at all public places of
entertainment, at the king's hunt near Windsor, at the reviews, and at
the theatres. The prince only seemed happy in evincing his affection
toward me.

"How terrible, then, was the change to my feelings! And I again most
solemnly repeat that I was totally ignorant of any just cause fur so
sudden an alteration.

"My 'good-natured friends' now carefully informed me of the multitude of
secret enemies who were ever employed in estranging the prince's mind
from me. So fascinating, so illustrious a lover could not fail to excite
the envy of my own sex. Women of all descriptions were emulous of
attracting his Royal Highness's attention. Alas! I had neither rank nor
power to oppose such adversaries. Every engine of female malice was set
in motion to destroy my repose, and every petty calumny was repeated
with tenfold embellishments. Tales of the most infamous and glaring
falsehood were invented, and I was again assailed by pamphlets, by
paragraphs, and caricatures, and all the artillery of slander, while the
only being to whom I then looked up for protection was so situated as to
be unable to afford it.

"Thus perplexed, I wrote to you, my friend, and implored your advice.
But you were far away; your delighted soul was absorbed in cherishing
the plant of human liberty, which has since blossomed with independent
splendour over your happy provinces. Eagerly did I wait for the arrival
of the packet, but no answer was returned. In the anguish of my soul I
once more addressed the Prince of Wales; I complained, perhaps too
vehemently, of his injustice; of the calumnies which had been by my
enemies fabricated against me, of the falsehood of which he was but too
sensible. I conjured him to render me justice. He did so; he wrote me a
most eloquent letter, disclaiming the causes alleged by a calumniating
world, and fully acquitting me of the charges which had been propagated
to destroy me.

"I resided now in Cork Street, Burlington Gardens. The house, which was
neat, but by no means splendid, had recently been fitted up for the
reception of the Countess of Derby, on her separation from her lord. My
situation now every hour became more irksome. The prince still unkindly
persisted in withdrawing himself from my society. I was now deeply
involved in debt, which I despaired of ever having the power to
discharge. I had quitted both my husband and my profession. The
retrospect was dreadful!

"My estrangement from the prince was now the theme of public
animadversion, while the newly invigorated shafts of my old enemies, the
daily prints, were again hurled upon my defenceless head with tenfold
fury. The regrets of Mr. Robinson, now that he had lost me, became
insupportable; he constantly wrote to me in the language of unbounded
affection, nor did he fail, when we met, to express his agony at our
separation, and even a wish for our reunion.

"I had, at one period, resolved on returning to my profession; but some
friends whom I consulted dreaded that the public would not suffer my
reappearance on the stage. This idea intimidated me, and precluded my
efforts for that independence of which my romantic credulity had robbed
me. I was thus fatally induced to relinquish what would have proved an
ample and honourable resource for myself and my child. My debts
accumulated to near seven thousand pounds. My creditors, whose insulting
illiberality could only be equalled by their unbounded impositions,
hourly assailed me.

"I was, in the meantime, wholly neglected by the prince, while the
assiduities of Lord Malden daily increased. I had no other friend on
whom I could rely for assistance or protection. When I say protection, I
would not be understood to mean pecuniary assistance, Lord Mailden
being, at the time alluded to, even poorer than myself,--the death of
his lordship's grandmother, Lady Frances Coningsby, had not then placed
him above the penury of his own small income.

"Lord Maiden's attentions to me again exposed him to all the humiliation
of former periods. The prince assured me once more of his wishes to
renew our former friendship and affection, and urged me to meet him at
the house of Lord Malden in Clarges Street. I was at this period little
less than frantic, deeply involved in debt, persecuted by my enemies,
and perpetually reproached by my relations. I would joyfully have
resigned an existence now become to me an intolerable burthen; yet my
pride was not less than my sorrow, and I resolved, whatever my heart
might suffer, to wear a placid countenance when I met the inquiring
glances of my triumphant enemies.

"After much hesitation, by the advice of Lord Malden, I consented to
meet his Royal Highness. He accosted me with every appearance of tender
attachment, declaring that he had never for one moment ceased to love
me, but that I had many concealed enemies, who were exerting every
effort to undermine me. We passed some hours in the most friendly and
delightful conversation, and I began to flatter myself that all our
differences were adjusted. But what words can express my surprise and
chagrin, when, on meeting his Royal Highness the very next day in Hyde
Park, he turned his head to avoid seeing me, and even affected not
to know me!

"Overwhelmed by this blow, my distress knew no limits. Yet Heaven can
witness the truth of my assertion, even in this moment of complete
despair, when oppression bowed me to the earth, I blamed not the prince.
I did then, and ever shall, consider his mind as nobly and honourably
organised, nor could I teach myself to believe that a heart, the seat of
so many virtues, could possibly become inhuman and unjust. I had been
taught from my infancy to believe that elevated stations are surrounded
by delusive visions, which glitter but to dazzle, like an unsubstantial
meteor, and flatter to betray. With legions of these phantoms it has
been my fate to encounter; I have been unceasingly marked by their
persecutions, and shall at length become their victim."

[Illustration: Mrs. Robinson From a painting by Gainsborough]

Here the narrative of Mrs. Robinson breaks off, with some reflections to
which the recital had given rise. Though diligent search has been made
to elucidate the obscurity in which the preceding events are involved,
but little information has been gained. All that can be learned with
certainty is her final separation from the Prince of Wales in the
year 1781.

The genius and engaging manners of Mrs. Robinson, who was still very
young, had procured her the friendship of many of the most enlightened
men of this age and country; her house was the rendezvous of talents.
While yet unconscious of the powers of her mind, which had scarcely then
unfolded itself, she was honoured with the acquaintance and esteem of
Sir Joshua Reynolds, Messrs. Sheridan, Burke, Henderson, Wilkes, Sir
John Elliot, etc., men of distinguished talents and character. But
though surrounded by the wise, the witty, and the gay, her mind,
naturally pensive, was still devoured by secret sorrow; neither could
the blandishments of flattery, nor the soothings of friendship, extract
the arrow that rankled in her heart. Involved beyond the power of
extrication, she determined on quitting England, and making a tour
to Paris.

To desert her country, to fly like a wretched fugitive, or to become a
victim to the malice, and swell the triumph of her enemies, were the
only alternatives that seemed to present themselves. Flight was
humiliating and dreadful, but to remain in England was impracticable.
The terrors and struggles of her mind became almost intolerable, and
nearly deprived her of reason. The establishment of the prince had now
taken place; to him, for whom she had made every sacrifice, and to whom
she owed her present embarrassments, she conceived herself entitled to
appeal for redress. She wrote to his Royal Highness, but her letter
remained unanswered. The business was at length submitted to the
arbitration of Mr. Fox, and, in 1783, her claims were adjusted by the
grant of an annuity of five hundred pounds, the moiety of which was to
descend to her daughter at her decease. This settlement was to be
considered as an equivalent for the bond of twenty thousand pounds given
by the prince to Mrs. Robinson, to be paid on his establishment, as a
consideration for the resignation of a lucrative profession at the
particular request of his Royal Highness. To many persons the assurance
of an independence would have operated as a consolation for the
sufferings and difficulties by which it had been procured; but the
spirit of Mrs. Robinson bent not to a situation which the delicacy of
her feelings led her to consider as a splendid degradation.

About this period, Mrs. Robinson, notwithstanding the change in her
affairs, determined to visit Paris, to amuse her mind and beguile her
thoughts from the recollection of past scenes. Having procured letters
of introduction to some agreeable French families, and also to Sir John
Lambert, resident English banker at Paris, she quitted London, with the
resolution of passing two months in the gay and brilliant metropolis of
France. Sir John Lambert, on being informed of her arrival, exerted
himself to procure for her commodious apartments, a _remise_, a box at
the opera, with all the fashionable and expensive etceteras with which
an inexperienced English traveller is immediately provided.

This venerable chevalier united to the cordiality of the English
character the _bienfaisance_ of a Frenchman; every hour was devoted to
the amusement of his admired guest, who came to him highly recommended.
Parties were, with the most flattering assiduity, formed for the
different spectacles and places of public entertainment. A brilliant
assemblage of illustrious visitors failed not to grace at the opera the
box of _la belle Anglaise_.

A short time after the arrival of Mrs. Robinson at Paris, the Duke of
Orleans and his gallant friend and associate, the Duke de Lauzun
(afterward Duke de Biron), were presented to her by Sir John Lambert.
This unfortunate prince, with all the volatility of the national
character, disgraced human nature by his vices, while the elegance of
his manners rendered him a model to his contemporaries.

The Duke of Orleans immediately professed himself devoted to the fair
stranger. His libertine manners, the presumption with which he declared
his determination to triumph over the heart of Mrs. Robinson, assisted
to defend her against him; and, while he failed to dazzle her
imagination by his magnificence, he disgusted her by his hauteur.

The most enchanting fêtes were given at Mousseau, a villa belonging to
the Duke of Orleans. near Paris, at which Mrs. Robinson invariably
declined to appear. Brilliant races _à l'Anglaise_ were exhibited on the
plains _des Sablons_, to captivate the attention of the inexorable
_Anglaise_. On the birthday of Mrs. Robinson a new effort was made to
subdue her aversion and to obtain her regard. A rural fête was appointed
in the gardens of Mousseau, when this beautiful pandemonium of splendid
profligacy was, at an unusual expense, decorated with boundless luxury.

In the evening, amidst a magnificent illumination, every tree displayed
the initials of _la belle Anglaise_, composed of coloured lamps,
interwoven with wreaths of artificial flowers. Politeness compelled Mrs.
Robinson to grace with her presence a fête instituted to her honour.
She, however, took the precaution of selecting for her companion a
German lady, then resident at Paris, while the venerable chevalier
Lambert attended them as a chaperon.

Some days after the celebration of this festival, the Queen of France
signified her intention of dining in public, for the first time after
her accouchement with the Duke of Normandy, afterward dauphin. The duke
brought to Mrs. Robinson a message from the queen, expressing a wish
that _la belle Anglaise_ might be induced to appear at the _grand
convert_. Mrs. Robinson, not less solicitous to behold the lovely Marie
Antoinette, gladly availed herself of the intimation, and immediately
began to prepare for the important occasion. The most tasteful ornaments
of Mademoiselle Bertin, the reigning milliner, were procured to adorn a
form that, rich in native beauty, needed little embellishment. A pale
green lustring train and body, with a tiffany petticoat, festooned with
bunches of the most delicate lilac, were chosen by Mrs. Robinson for her
appearance, while a plume of white feathers adorned her head; the native
roses of her cheeks, glowing with health and youth, were stained, in
conformity to the fashion of the French court, with the deepest rouge.

On the arrival of the fair foreigner, the Duke d'Orleans quitted the
king, on whom he was then in waiting, to procure her a place, where the
queen might have an opportunity of observing those charms by the fame of
which her curiosity had been awakened.

The _grand convert_, at which the king acquitted himself with more
alacrity than grace, afforded a magnificent display of epicurean luxury.
The queen ate nothing. The slender crimson cord, which drew a line of
separation between the royal epicures and the gazing plebeians, was at
the distance but of a few feet from the table. A small space divided the
queen from Mrs. Robinson, whom the constant observation and loudly
whispered encomiums of her Majesty most oppressively flattered. She
appeared to survey, with peculiar attention, a miniature of the Prince
of Wales, which Mrs. Robinson wore on her bosom, and of which, on the
ensuing day, she commissioned the Duke of Orleans to request the loan.
Perceiving Mrs. Robinson gaze with admiration on her white and polished
arms, as she drew on her gloves, the queen again uncovered them, and
leaned for a few moments on her hand. The duke, on returning the
picture, gave to the fair owner a purse, netted by the hand of
Antoinette, and which she had commissioned him to present, from her, to
_la belle Anglaise_. Mrs. Robinson not long after these events quitted
Paris, and returned to her native country.

In 1784 her fate assumed a darker hue. She was attacked by a malady, to
which she had nearly fallen a victim. By an imprudent exposure to the
night air in travelling, when, exhausted by fatigue and mental anxiety,
she slept in a chaise with the windows open, she brought on a fever,
which confined her to her bed during six months. The disorder terminated
at the conclusion of that period in a violent rheumatism, which
progressively deprived her of the use of her limbs. Thus, at four and
twenty years of age, in the pride of youth and the bloom of beauty, was
this lovely and unfortunate woman reduced to a state of more than
infantile helplessness. Yet, even under so severe a calamity, the powers
of her mind and the elasticity of her spirits triumphed over the
weakness of her frame. This check to the pleasures and vivacity of
youth, by depriving her of external resource, led her to the more
assiduous cultivation and development of her talents. But the
resignation with which she had submitted to one of the severest of human
calamities gave place to hope, on the assurance of her physician, that
by the mild air of a more southern climate she might probably be
restored to health and activity.

The favourite wish of her heart, that of beholding her relations, from
whom she had been so many years divided, it was now in her power to
gratify. From her elder brother she had frequently received invitations,
the most pressing and affectionate, to quit for ever a country where an
unprotected woman rarely fails to become the victim of calumny and
persecution, and to take shelter in the bosom of domestic tranquillity,
where peace, to which she had long been a stranger, might still await
her. Delighted with the idea of combining with the object of her travels
an acquisition so desirable, and after which her exhausted heart panted,
she eagerly embraced the proposal, and set out to Paris, with the
resolution of proceeding to Leghorn. But a letter, on her arrival, from
her physician, prescribing the warm baths of Aix-la-Chapelle in Germany,
as a certain restorative for her complaints, frustrated her plans. Once
more she proceeded in melancholy pursuit of that blessing which she was
destined never more to obtain.

During her sojourn at Aix-la-Chapelle, a dawn of comparative
tranquillity soothed her spirits. Secure from the machinations of her
enemies, she determined, though happiness seemed no more within her
reach, to endeavour to be content. The assiduities and attentions shown
her by all ranks of people presented a striking medium between the
volatility and libertine homage offered to her at Paris, and the
persevering malignity which had followed her in her native land. Her
beauty, the affecting state of her health, the attraction of her
manners, and the powers of her mind, interested every heart in her
favour; while the meekness with which she submitted to her fate excited
an admiration not less fervent, and more genuine, than her charms in the
full blaze of their power had ever extorted.

Among the many illustrious and enlightened persons then resident at
Aix-la-Chapelle, who honoured Mrs. Robinson by their friendship, she
received from the late amiable and unfortunate Duke and Duchess du
Châtelet peculiar marks of distinction. The duke had, while ambassador
in England, been the friend and associate of the learned Lord Mansfield;
his duchess, the _élève_ of Voltaire, claimed as her godmother Gabrielle
Emilia, Baroness du Châtelet, so celebrated by that lively and admirable
writer. This inestimable family, consisting of the duke and duchess,
their nephews the Counts de Damas, and a niece married to the Duke de
Simianne, were indefatigable in their efforts to solace the affliction
and amuse the mind of their fair friend. Balls, concerts, rural
breakfasts, succeeded to each other in gay and attractive variety; the
happy effects produced on the health and spirits of Mrs. Robinson were
considered by this English family as an ample compensation for their
solicitude. When compelled by severer paroxysms of her malady to seclude
herself from their society, a thousand kind stratagems were planned and
executed to relieve her sufferings, or soften the dejection to which
they unavoidably gave rise. Sometimes, on entering her dark and
melancholy bath, the gloom of which was increased by high grated
windows, she beheld the surface of the water covered with rose-leaves,
while the vapour baths were impregnated with aromatic odours. The
younger part of the family, when pain deprived Mrs. Robinson of rest,
frequently passed the night beneath her windows, charming her sufferings
and beguiling her of her sorrows, by singing her favourite airs to the
accompaniment of the mandolin.

Thus, in despite of sickness, glided away two agreeable winters, when
the transient gleam of brightness became suddenly obscured, and her
prospects involved in deeper shade.

About this period Mrs. Robinson had the misfortune to lose her brave and
respected father,--a blow as forcible as unexpected, which nearly shook
her faculties, and, for a time, wholly overwhelmed her spirits. Captain
Darby had, on the failure of his fortunes, been presented to the command
of a small ordnance vessel, through the interest of some of his noble
associates in the Indian expedition. Not having been regularly bred to
the sea, this was the only naval appointment which he could receive.
Enthusiastically attached to his profession, he omitted no occasion of
signalising himself. The siege of Gibraltar, in the year 1783, afforded
to him an opportunity after which he had long panted, when his small
vessel and gallant crew extorted by their courage and exertions the
admiration and applause of the fleet. Having fought till his rigging was
nearly destroyed, he turned his attention to the sinking Spaniards, whom
he sought to snatch from the flaming wrecks, floating around him in all
directions, and had the satisfaction to preserve, though at the hazard
of his life, some hundreds of his fellow beings. The vessel of Captain
Darby was the first that reached the rock by nearly an hour. On his
landing, General Elliot received and embraced him with the plaudits due
to his gallant conduct.

In the presence of his officers, the general lamented that so brave a
man had not been bred to a profession to which his intrepidity would
have done distinguished honour. To this eulogium he added, that, with
the courage of a lion, Captain Darby possessed the firmness of the rock
which he had so bravely defended.

To his care was entrusted by the commander a copy of the despatches,
which Captain Darby delivered four and twenty hours before the arrival
of the regular vessel. For this diligence, and the conduct which had
preceded it, he received the thanks of the Board of Admiralty, while on
the other captain was bestowed the more substantial recompense of five
hundred pounds. An injustice so glaring was not calculated to lessen
Captain Darby's distaste for England, which he quitted, after taking of
his unhappy family an affectionate farewell.

At sixty-two years of age, he set out to regain in a foreign country the
fortune he had sacrificed in the service of his own. With powerful
recommendations from the Duke of Dorset and the Count de Simolin, he
proceeded to Petersburg. From the Count de Simolin he continued to
experience, till the latest period of his existence, a steady and
zealous friendship. Captain Darby had been but two years in the Russian
imperial service when he was promoted to the command of a seventy-four
gun ship, with a promise of the appointment of admiral on the first
vacancy. On the 5th of December, 1785, death put a stop to his career.
He was buried with military honours, and attended to the grave by his
friends, Admiral Greig, the Counts Czernichef and De Simolin, with the
officers of the fleet.[43]

This honourable testimony to her father's worth was the only consolation
remaining to his daughter, whose enfeebled health and broken spirits
sunk beneath these repeated strokes.

During the four succeeding years of the life of Mrs. Robinson, but few
events occurred worthy of remark. In search of lost health, which she
had so long and vainly pursued, she determined to repair to the baths of
St. Amand, in Flanders, those receptacles of loathsome mud, and of
reptiles, unknown to other soils, which fasten on the bodies of those
who bathe. Mrs. Robinson made many visits to these distasteful ditches
before she could prevail on herself to enter them. Neither the example
of her fellow sufferers, nor the assurance of cures performed by their
wonderful efficacy, could for a long time overcome her disgust. At
length, solicitude for the restoration of her health, added to the
earnest remonstrances of her friends, determined her on making the
effort. For the purpose of being near the baths, which must be entered
an hour before the rising of the sun, she hired a small but beautiful
cottage near the spring, where she passed the summer of 1787. These
peaceful vales and venerable woods were, at no distant period, destined
to become the seat of war and devastation, and the very cottage in which
Mrs. Robinson resided was converted into the headquarters of a
Republican French general.[44]

[Illustration: The Prince of Wales From a painting by Sir Thomas

Every endeavour to subdue her disorder proving ineffectual, Mrs.
Robinson relinquished her melancholy and fruitless pursuit, and resolved
once more to return to her native land. Proceeding through Paris, she
reached England in the beginning of 1787, from which period may be dated
the commencement of her literary career. On her arrival in London she
was affectionately received by the few friends whose attachment neither
detraction nor adverse fortunes could weaken or estrange. During an
absence of five years death had made inroads in the little circle of her
connections; many of those whose idea had been her solace in affliction,
and whose welcome she had delighted to anticipate, were now, alas!
no more.[45]

Once more established in London, and surrounded by social and rational
friends, Mrs. Robinson began to experience comparative tranquillity. The
Prince of Wales, with his brother the Duke of York, frequently honoured
her residence with their presence; but the state of her health, which
required more repose, added to the indisposition of her daughter, who
was threatened by a consumptive disorder, obliged her to withdraw to a
situation of greater retirement. Maternal solicitude for a beloved and
only child now wholly engaged her attention; her assiduities were
incessant and exemplary for the restoration of a being to whom she had
given life, and to whom she was fondly devoted.

In the course of the summer she was ordered by her physician to
Brighthelmstone, for the benefit of sea bathing. During hours of tedious
watching over the health of her suffering child, Mrs. Robinson beguiled
her anxiety by contemplating the ocean, whose successive waves, breaking
upon the shore, beat against the wall of their little garden. To a mind
naturally susceptible, and tinctured by circumstances with sadness, this
occupation afforded a melancholy pleasure, which could scarcely be
relinquished without regret. Whole nights were passed by Mrs. Robinson
at her window in deep meditation, contrasting with her present situation
the scenes of her former life.

Every device which a kind and skilful nurse could invent to cheer and
amuse her charge was practised by this affectionate mother, during the
melancholy period of her daughter's confinement. In the intervals of
more active exertion, the silence of a sick-chamber proving favourable
to the muse, Mrs. Robinson poured forth those poetic effusions which
have done so much honour to her genius and decked her tomb with unfading
laurels. Conversing one evening with Mr. Richard Burke,[46] respecting
the facility with which modern poetry was composed, Mrs. Robinson
repeated nearly the whole of those beautiful lines, which were afterward
given to the public, addressed: "To him who will understand them."



      "Thou art no more my bosom's friend;
      Here must the sweet delusion end,
      That charmed my senses many a year,
      Through smiling summers, winters drear.
      Oh, friendship! am I doomed to find
      Thou art a phantom of the mind?
      A glitt'ring shade, an empty name,
      An air-born vision's vap'rish flame?
      And yet, the dear deceit so long
      Has wak'd to joy my matin song,
      Has bid my tears forget to flow,
      Chas'd ev'ry pain, sooth'd ev'ry woe;
      That truth, unwelcome to my ear,
      Swells the deep sigh, recalls the tear,
      Gives to the sense the keenest smart,
      Checks the warm pulses of the heart,
      Darkens my fate, and steals away
      Each gleam of joy through life's sad day.

      "Britain, farewell! I quit thy shore;
      My native country charms no more;
      No guide to mark the toilsome road;
      No destin'd clime; no fix'd abode:
      Alone and sad, ordain'd to trace
      The vast expanse of endless space;
      To view, upon the mountain's height,
      Through varied shades of glimm'ring light,
      The distant landscape fade away
      In the last gleam of parting day:
      Or, on the quiv'ring lucid stream,
      To watch the pale moon's silv'ry beam;
      Or when, in sad and plaintive strains,
      The mournful Philomel complains,
      In dulcet tones bewails her fate,
      And murmurs for her absent mate;
      Inspir'd by sympathy divine,
      I'll weep her woes--for they are mine.
      Driv'n by my fate, where'er I go,
      O'er burning plains, o'er hills of snow,
      Or on the bosom of the wave,
      The howling tempest doom'd to brave,--
      Where'er my lonely course I bend,
      Thy image shall my steps attend;
      Each object I am doom'd to see,
      Shall bid remembrance picture thee.
      Yes; I shall view thee in each flow'r,
      That changes with the transient hour:
      Thy wand'ring fancy I shall find
      Borne on the wings of every wind:
      Thy wild impetuous passions trace
      O'er the white waves' tempestuous space;
      In every changing season prove
      An emblem of thy wav'ring love.

      "Torn from my country, friends, and you,
      The world lies open to my view;
      New objects shall my mind engage;
      I will explore th' historic page;
      Sweet poetry shall soothe my soul;
      Philosophy each pang control:
      The muse I'll seek--her lambent fire
      My soul's quick senses shall inspire;
      With finer nerves my heart shall beat,
      Touch'd by heav'n's own Promethean heat;
      Italia's gales shall bear my song
      In soft-link'd notes her woods among;
      Upon the blue hill's misty side,
      Thro' trackless deserts waste and wide,
      O'er craggy rocks, whose torrents flow
      Upon the silver sands below.
      Sweet land of melody! 'tis thine
      The softest passions to refine;
      Thy myrtle groves, thy melting strains,
      Shall harmonise and soothe my pains.
      Nor will I cast one thought behind,
      On foes relentless, friends unkind:
      I feel, I feel their poison'd dart
      Pierce the life-nerve within my heart;
      'Tis mingled with the vital heat
      That bids my throbbing pulses beat;
      Soon shall that vital heat be o'er,
      Those throbbing pulses beat no more!
      No--I will breathe the spicy gale;
      Plunge the clear stream, new health exhale;
      O'er my pale cheek diffuse the rose,
      And drink oblivion to my woes."

This _improvisatore_ produced in her auditor not less surprise than
admiration, when solemnly assured by its author that this was the first
time of its being repeated. Mr. Burke[47] entreated her to commit the
poem to writing, a request which was readily complied with. Mrs.
Robinson had afterward the gratification of finding this offspring of
her genius inserted in the _Annual Register_, with a flattering encomium
from the pen of the eloquent and ingenious editor.

Mrs. Robinson continued to indulge in this solace for her dejected
spirits, and in sonnets, elegies, and odes, displayed the powers and
versatility of her mind. On one of these nights of melancholy
inspiration she discovered from her window a small boat, struggling in
the spray, which dashed against the wall of her garden. Presently two
fishermen brought on shore in their arms a burthen, which,
notwithstanding the distance, Mrs. Robinson perceived to be a human
body, which the fishermen, after covering with a sail from their boat,
left on the land and disappeared. But a short time elapsed before the
men returned, bringing with them fuel, with which they vainly
endeavoured to reanimate their unfortunate charge. Struck with a
circumstance so affecting, which the stillness of the night rendered yet
more impressive, Mrs. Robinson remained some time at her window,
motionless with horror. At length, recovering her recollection, she
alarmed the family; but before they could gain the beach the men had
again departed. The morning dawned, and day broke in upon the tragical
scene. The bathers passed and reprised with little concern, while the
corpse continued extended on the shore, not twenty yards from the
Steine. During the course of the day, many persons came to look on the
body, which still remained unclaimed and unknown. Another day wore away,
and the corpse was unburied, the lord of the manor having refused to a
fellow being a grave in which his bones might decently repose, alleging
as an excuse that he did not belong to that parish. Mrs. Robinson,
humanely indignant at the scene which passed, exerted herself, but
without success, to procure by subscription a small sum for performing
the last duties to a wretched outcast. Unwilling, by an ostentatious
display of her name, to offend the higher and more fastidious female
powers, she presented to the fishermen her own contribution, and
declined further to interfere. The affair dropped; and the body of the
stranger, being dragged to the cliff, was covered by a heap of stones,
without the tribute of a sigh or the ceremony of a prayer.

These circumstances made on the mind of Mrs. Robinson a deep and lasting
impression; even at a distant period she could not repeat them without
horror and indignation. This incident gave rise to the poem entitled
"The Haunted Beach," written but a few months before her death.

In the winter of 1790, Mrs. Robinson entered into a poetical
correspondence with Mr. Robert Merry, under the fictitious names of
"Laura," and "Laura Maria;" Mr. Merry assuming the title of "Della

Mrs. Robinson now proceeded in her literary career with redoubled
ardour; but, dazzled by the false metaphors and rhapsodical extravagance
of some contemporary writers, she suffered her judgment to be misled and
her taste to be perverted; an error of which she became afterward
sensible. During her poetical disguise, many complimentary poems were
addressed to her; several ladies of the Blue Stocking Club, while Mrs.
Robinson remained unknown, even ventured to admire, nay more, to recite
her productions in their learned and critical coterie.

The attention which this novel species of correspondence excited, and
the encomiums which were passed on her poems, could not fail to gratify
the pride of the writer, who sent her next performance, with her own
signature, to the paper published under the title of _The World_,
avowing herself at the same time the author of the lines signed "Laura,"
and "Laura Maria." This information being received by Mr. Bell, though a
professed admirer of the genius of Mrs. Robinson, with some degree of
skepticism, he replied, "That the poem with which Mrs. Robinson had
honoured him was vastly pretty; but that he was well acquainted with the
author of the productions alluded to." Mrs. Robinson, a little disgusted
at this incredulity, immediately sent for Mr. Bell, whom she found means
to convince of her veracity, and of his own injustice.

In 1791 Mrs. Robinson produced her quarto poem, entitled "Ainsi va le
Monde." This work, containing three hundred and fifty lines, was written
in twelve hours, as a reply to Mr. Merry's "Laurel of Liberty," which
was sent to Mrs. Robinson on a Saturday; on the Tuesday following the
answer was composed and given to the public.

Encouraged by popular approbation beyond her most sanguine hopes, Mrs.
Robinson now published her first essay in prose, in the romance of
"Vancenza," of which the whole edition was sold in one day, and of which
five impressions have since followed. It must be confessed that this
production owed its popularity to the celebrity of the author's name,
and the favourable impression of her talents given to the public by her
poetical compositions, rather than to its intrinsic merit. In the same
year the poems of Mrs. Robinson were collected and published in one
volume. The names of nearly six hundred subscribers, of the most
distinguished rank and talents, graced the list which precedes the work.

The mind of Mrs. Robinson, beguiled by these pursuits from preying upon
itself, became gradually reconciled to the calamitous state of her
health; the mournful certainty of total and incurable lameness, while
yet in the bloom and summer of life, was alleviated by the consciousness
of intellectual resource, and by the activity of a fertile fancy. In
1791 she passed the greater part of the summer at Bath, occupied in
lighter poetical compositions. But even from this relief she was now for
awhile debarred; the perpetual exercise of the imagination and
intellect, added to a uniform and sedentary life, affected the system of
her nerves, and contributed to debilitate her frame. She was prohibited
by her physician, not merely from committing her thoughts to paper, but,
had it been possible, from thinking at all. No truant, escaped from
school, could receive more pleasure in eluding a severe master, than did
Mrs. Robinson, when, the vigilance of her physician relaxing, she could
once more resume her books and her pen.

As an example of the facility and rapidity with which she composed, the
following anecdote may be given. Returning one evening from the bath,
she beheld, a few paces before her chair, an elderly man, hurried along
by a crowd of people, by whom he was pelted with mud and stones. His
meek and unresisting deportment exciting her attention, she inquired
what were his offences, and learned with pity and surprise that he was
an unfortunate maniac, known only by the appellation of "mad Jemmy." The
situation of this miserable being seized her imagination and became the
subject of her attention. She would wait whole hours for the appearance
of the poor maniac, and, whatever were her occupations, the voice of mad
Jemmy was sure to allure her to the window. She would gaze upon his
venerable but emaciated countenance with sensations of awe almost
reverential, while the barbarous persecutions of the thoughtless crowd
never failed to agonise her feelings.

One night after bathing, having suffered from her disorder more than
usual pain, she swallowed, by order of her physician, near eighty drops
of laudanum. Having slept for some hours, she awoke, and calling her
daughter, desired her to take a pen and write what she should dictate.
Miss Robinson, supposing that a request so unusual might proceed from
the delirium excited by the opium, endeavoured in vain to dissuade her
mother from her purpose. The spirit of inspiration was not to be
subdued, and she repeated, throughout, the admirable poem of "The
Maniac,"[49] much faster than it could be committed to paper.

She lay, while dictating, with her eyes closed, apparently in the stupor
which opium frequently produces, repeating like a person talking in her
sleep. This affecting performance, produced in circumstances so
singular, does no less credit to the genius than to the heart of
the author.

On the ensuing morning Mrs. Robinson had only a confused idea of what
had passed, nor could be convinced of the fact till the manuscript was
produced. She declared that she had been dreaming of mad Jemmy
throughout the night, but was perfectly unconscious of having been awake
while she composed the poem, or of the circumstances narrated by
her daughter.

Mrs. Robinson, in the following summer, determined on another
continental tour, purposing to remain some time at Spa. She longed once
more to experience the friendly greeting and liberal kindness which even
her acknowledged talents had in her native country failed to procure.
She quitted London in July, 1792, accompanied by her mother and
daughter. The susceptible and energetic mind, fortunately for its
possessor, is endowed with an elastic power, that enables it to rise
again from the benumbing effects of those adverse strokes of fortune to
which it is but too vulnerable. If a lively imagination add poignancy to
disappointment, it also has in itself resources unknown to more equal
temperaments. In the midst of the depressing feelings which Mrs.
Robinson experienced in once more becoming a wanderer from her home, she
courted the inspiration of the muse, and soothed, by the following
beautiful stanzas, the melancholy sensations that oppressed her heart.



      "JULY 20, 1792

      "Bounding billow, cease thy motion,
        Bear me not so swiftly o'er;
      Cease thy roaring, foamy ocean,
        I will tempt thy rage no more.

      "Ah! within my bosom beating,
        Varying passions wildly reign;
      Love, with proud Resentment meeting,
        Throbs by turns, of joy and pain.

      "Joy, that far from foes I wander,
        Where their taunts can reach no more;
      Pain, that woman's heart grows fonder
        When her dream of bliss is o'er!

      "Love, by fickle fancy banish'd,
        Spurn'd by hope, indignant flies;
      Yet when love and hope are vanish'd,
        Restless mem'ry never dies.

      "Far I go, where fate shall lead me,
        Far across the troubled deep;
      Where no stranger's ear shall heed me,
        Where no eye for me shall weep.

      "Proud has been my fatal passion!
        Proud my injured heart shall be!
      While each thought, each inclination,
        Still shall prove me worthy thee!

      "Not one sigh shall tell my story;
        Not one tear my cheek shall stain;
      Silent grief shall be my glory,--
        Grief, that stoops not to complain!

      "Let the bosom prone to ranging,
        Still by ranging seek a cure;
      Mine disdains the thought of changing,
        Proudly destin'd to endure.

      "Yet, ere far from all I treasur'd,
        ----ere I bid adieu;
      Ere my days of pain are measur'd,
        Take the song that's still thy due!

      "Yet, believe, no servile passions
        Seek to charm thy vagrant mind;
      Well I know thy inclinations,
        Wav'ring as the passing wind.

      "I have lov'd thee,--dearly lov'd thee,
        Through an age of worldly woe;
      How ungrateful I have prov'd thee
        Let my mournful exile show!

      "Ten long years of anxious sorrow,
        Hour by hour I counted o'er;
      Looking forward, till to-morrow,
        Every day I lov'd thee more!

      "Pow'r and splendour could not charm me;
        I no joy in wealth could see!
      Nor could threats or fears alarm me,
        Save the fear of losing thee!

      "When the storms of fortune press'd thee,
        I have wept to see thee weep
      When relentless cares distress'd thee,
        I have lull'd those cares to sleep!

      "When with thee, what ills could harm me?
        Thou couldst every pang assuage;
      But when absent, nought could charm me;
        Every moment seem'd an age.

      "Fare thee well, ungrateful lover!
        Welcome Gallia's hostile shore:
      Now the breezes waft me over;
        Now we part--to meet no more."

On landing at Calais, Mrs. Robinson hesitated whether to proceed. To
travel through Flanders, then the seat of war, threatened too many
perils to be attempted with impunity; she determined, therefore, for
some time to remain at Calais, the insipid and spiritless amusements of
which presented little either to divert her attention or engage her
mind. Her time passed in listening to the complaints of the impoverished
aristocrats, or in attending to the air-built projects of their
triumphant adversaries. The arrival of travellers from England, or the
return of those from Paris, alone diversified the scene, and afforded a
resource to the curious and active inquirer.

The sudden arrival of her husband gave a turn to the feelings of Mrs.
Robinson: he had crossed the channel for the purpose of carrying back to
England his daughter, whom he wished to present to a brother newly
returned from the East Indies. Maternal conflicts shook on this occasion
the mind of Mrs. Robinson, which hesitated between a concern for the
interests of her beloved child, from whom she had never been separated,
and the pain of parting from her. She resolved at length on accompanying
her to England, and, with this view, quitted Calais on the memorable 2d
of September, 1792,[50] a day which will reflect on the annals of the
republic an indelible stain.

They had sailed but a few hours when the _arrêt_ arrived, by which every
British subject throughout France was restrained.

Mrs. Robinson rejoiced in her escape, and anticipated with delight the
idea of seeing her daughter placed in wealthy protection, the great
passport in her own country to honour and esteem. Miss Robinson received
from her new relation the promise of protection and favour, upon
condition that she renounced for ever the filial tie which united her to
both parents. This proposal was rejected by the young lady with proper
principle and becoming spirit.

In the year 1793 a little farce, entitled "Nobody," was written by Mrs.
Robinson. This piece, designed as a satire on female gamesters, was
received at the theatre, the characters distributed, and preparations
made for its exhibition. At this period one of the principal performers
gave up her part, alleging that the piece was intended as a ridicule on
her particular friend. Another actress also, though in "herself a host,"
was intimidated by a letter, informing her that "'Nobody' should be
damned!" The author received likewise, on the same day, a scurrilous,
indecent, and ill-disguised scrawl, signifying to her that the farce was
already condemned. On the drawing up of the curtain, several persons in
the galleries, whose liveries betrayed their employers, were heard to
declare that they were sent to do up "Nobody." Even women of
distinguished rank hissed through their fans. Notwithstanding these
manoeuvres and exertions, the more rational part of the audience seemed
inclined to hear before they passed judgment, and, with a firmness that
never fails to awe, demanded that the piece should proceed. The first
act was accordingly suffered without interruption; a song in the second
being unfortunately encored, the malcontents once more ventured to raise
their voices, and the malignity that had been forcibly suppressed burst
forth with redoubled violence. For three nights the theatre presented a
scene of confusion, when the authoress, after experiencing the
gratification of a zealous and sturdy defence, thought proper wholly to
withdraw the cause of contention.[51]

Mrs. Robinson in the course of this year lost her only remaining parent,
whom she tenderly loved and sincerely lamented. Mrs. Darby expired in
the house of her daughter, who, though by far the least wealthy of her
children, had proved herself through life the most attentive and
affectionate. From the first hour of Mr. Darby's failure and
estrangement from his family, Mrs. Robinson had been the protector and
the support of her mother. Even when pressed herself by pecuniary
embarrassment, it had been her pride and pleasure to shelter her widowed
parent, ands preserve her from inconvenience.

Mrs. Darby had two sons, merchants, wealthy and respected in the
commercial world; but to these gentlemen Mrs. Robinson would never
suffer her mother to apply for any assistance that was not voluntarily
offered. The filial sorrow of Mrs. Robinson on her loss, for many months
affected her health; even to the latest hour of her life her grief
appeared renewed when any object presented itself connected with the
memory of her departed mother.

Few events of importance occurred during the five following years,
excepting that through this period the friends of Mrs. Robinson observed
with concern the gradual ravages which indisposition and mental anxiety
were daily making upon her frame. An ingenuous, affectionate,
susceptible heart is seldom favourable to the happiness of the
possessor. It was the fate of Mrs. Robinson to be deceived where she
most confided, to experience treachery and ingratitude where she had a
title to kindness and a claim to support. Frank and unsuspicious, she
suffered her conduct to be guided by the impulse of her feelings; and,
by a too credulous reliance on the apparent attachment of those whom she
loved, and in whom she delighted to trust, she laid herself open to the
impositions of the selfish, and the stratagems of the crafty.

In 1799 her increasing involvements and declining health pressed heavily
upon her mind. She had voluntarily relinquished those comforts and
elegancies to which she had been accustomed; she had retrenched even her
necessary expenses, and nearly secluded herself from society. Her
physician had declared that by exercise only could her existence be
prolonged; yet the narrowness of her circumstances obliged her to forego
the only means by which it could be obtained. Thus, a prisoner in her
own house, she was deprived of every solace but that which could be
obtained by the activity of her mind, which at length sank under
excessive exertion and inquietude.

Indisposition had for nearly five weeks confined her to her bed, when,
after a night of extreme suffering and peril, through which her
physician hourly expected her dissolution, she had sunk into a gentle
and balmy sleep. At this instant her chamber door was forcibly pushed
open, with a noise that shook her enfeebled frame nearly to
annihilation, by two strange and ruffian-looking men, who entered with
barbarous abruptness. On her faintly inquiring the occasion of this
outrage, she was informed that one of her unwelcome visitors was an
attorney, and the other his client, who had thus, with as little decency
as humanity, forced themselves into the chamber of an almost expiring
woman. The motive of this intrusion was to demand her appearance, as a
witness, in a suit pending against her brother, in which these men were
parties concerned. No entreaties could prevail on them to quit the
chamber, where they both remained, questioning, in a manner the most
unfeeling and insulting, the unfortunate victim of their audacity and
persecution. One of them, the client, with a barbarous and unmanly
sneer, turning to his confederate, asked, "Who, to see the lady they
were now speaking to, could believe that she had once been called the
beautiful Mrs. Robinson?" To this he added other observations not less
savage and brutal; and, after throwing on the bed a subpoena, quitted
the apartment. The wretch who could thus, by insulting the sick, and
violating every law of humanity and common decency, disgrace the figure
of a man, was a professor and a priest of that religion which enjoins us
"not to break the bruised reed," "and to bind up the broken in heart!"
His name shall be suppressed, through respect to the order of which he
is an unworthy member. The consequences of this brutality upon the poor
invalid were violent convulsions, which had nearly extinguished the
struggling spark of life.

By slow degrees her malady yielded to the cares and skill of her medical
attendants, and she was once more restored to temporary convalescence;
but from that time her strength gradually decayed. Though her frame was
shaken to its centre, her circumstances compelled her still to exert the
faculties of her mind.

The sportive exercises of fancy were now converted into toilsome labours
of the brain,--nights of sleepless anxiety were succeeded by days of
vexation and dread.

About this period she was induced to undertake the poetical department
for the editor of a morning paper,[52] and actually commenced a series
of satirical odes, on local and temporary subjects, to which was affixed
the signature of "Tabitha Bramble." Among these lighter compositions,
considered by the author as unworthy of a place with her collected
poems, a more matured production of her genius was occasionally
introduced, of which the following "Ode to Spring," written April 30,
1780, is a beautiful and affecting example:


      "Life-glowing season! odour-breathing Spring!
      Deck'd in cerulean splendours!--vivid,--warm,
      Shedding soft lustre on the rosy hours,
      And calling forth their beauties! balmy Spring!
      To thee the vegetating world begins
      To pay fresh homage. Ev'ry southern gale
      Whispers thy coming;--every tepid show'r
      Revivifies thy charms. The mountain breeze
      Wafts the ethereal essence to the vale,
      While the low vale returns its fragrant hoard
      With tenfold sweetness. When the dawn unfolds
      Its purple splendours 'mid the dappled clouds,
      Thy influence cheers the soul. When noon uplifts
      Its burning canopy, spreading the plain
      Of heaven's own radiance with one vast of light,
      Thou smil'st triumphant! Ev'ry little flow'r
      Seems to exult in thee, delicious Spring,
      Luxuriant nurse of nature! By the stream,
      That winds its swift course down the mountain's side,
      Thy progeny are seen;--young primroses,
      And all the varying buds of wildest birth,
      Dotting the green slope gaily. On the thorn,
      Which arms the hedgerow, the young birds invite
      With merry minstrelsy, shrilly and maz'd
      With winding cadences: now quick, now sunk
      In the low twitter'd song. The evening sky
      Reddens the distant main; catching the sail,
      Which slowly lessens, and with crimson hue
      Varying the sea-green wave; while the young moon,
      Scarce visible amid the warmer tints
      Of western splendours, slowly lifts her brow
      Modest and icy-lustred! O'er the plain
      The light dews rise, sprinkling the thistle's head,
      And hanging its clear drops on the wild waste
      Of broomy fragrance. Season of delight!
      Thou soul-expanding pow'r, whose wondrous glow
      Can bid all nature smile! Ah! why to me
      Come unregarded, undelighting still
      This ever-mourning bosom? So I've seen
      The sweetest flow'rets bind the icy urn;
      The brightest sunbeams glitter on the grave;
      And the soft zephyr kiss the troubled main,
      With whispered murmurs. Yes, to me, O Spring!
      Thou com'st unwelcom'd by a smile of joy;
      To me! slow with'ring to that silent grave
      Where all is blank and dreary! Yet once more
      The Spring eternal of the soul shall dawn,
      Unvisited by clouds, by storms, by change,
      Radiant and unexhausted! Then, ye buds,
      Ye plumy minstrels, and ye balmy gales,
      Adorn your little hour, and give your joys
      To bless the fond world-loving traveller,
      Who, smiling, measures the long flow'ry path
      That leads to death! For to such wanderers
      Life is a busy, pleasing, cheerful dream,
      And the last hour unwelcome. Not to me,
      Oh! not to me, stern Death, art thou a foe;
      Thou art the welcome messenger, which brings
      A passport to a blest and long repose."

A just value was at that time set upon the exertions of Mrs. Robinson,
by the conductors of the paper, who "considered them as one of the
principal embellishments and supports of their journal."

In the spring of 1800 she was compelled by the daily encroachments of
her malady wholly to relinquish her literary employments.

Her disorder was pronounced by the physicians to be a rapid decline. Dr.
Henry Vaughan, who to medical skill unites the most exalted
philanthropy, prescribed, as a last resource, a journey to Bristol
Wells. A desire once again to behold her native scenes induced Mrs.
Robinson eagerly to accede to this proposal. She wept with melancholy
pleasure at the idea of closing her eyes for ever upon a world of vanity
and disappointment in the place in which she had first drawn breath, and
terminating her sorrows on the spot which gave her birth; but even this
sad solace was denied to her, from a want of the pecuniary means for
its execution. In vain she applied to those on whom honour, humanity,
and justice, gave her undoubted claims. She even condescended to
entreat, as a donation, the return of those sums granted as a loan in
her prosperity.

The following is a copy of a letter addressed on this occasion to a
noble debtor, and found among the papers of Mrs. Robinson after
her decease:


"April 23, 1800.

"MY LORD:--Pronounced by my physicians to be in a rapid decline, I trust
that your lordship will have the goodness to assist me with a part of
the sum for which you are indebted to me. Without your aid I cannot make
trial of the Bristol waters, the only remedy that presents to me any
hope of preserving my existence. I should be sorry to die at enmity with
any person; and you may be assured, my dear lord, that I bear none
toward you. It would be useless to ask you to call on me; but if you
would do me that honour, I should be happy, very happy, to see
you, being,

"My dear lord,

"Yours truly,


To this letter no answer was returned! Further comments are unnecessary.

The last literary performance of Mrs. Robinson was a volume of Lyrical
Tales. She repaired a short time after to a small cottage _ornée_,
belonging to her daughter, near Windsor. Rural occupation and amusement,
quiet and pure air, appeared for a time to cheer her spirits and
renovate her shattered frame. Once more her active mind returned to its
accustomed and favourite pursuits; but the toil of supplying the
constant variety required by a daily print, added to other engagements,
which she almost despaired of being capacitated to fulfil pressed
heavily upon her spirits, and weighed down her enfeebled frame. Yet, in
the month of August, she began and concluded, in the course of ten days,
a translation of Doctor Hagar's "Picture of Palermo,"--an exertion by
which she was greatly debilitated. She was compelled, though with
reluctance, to relinquish the translation of "The Messiah" of Klopstock,
which she had proposed giving to the English reader in blank verse,--a
task particularly suited to her genius and the turn of her mind.

But, amidst the pressure of complicated distress, the mind of this
unfortunate woman was superior to improper concessions, and treated with
just indignation those offers of service which required the sacrifice of
her integrity.

She yet continued, though with difficulty and many intervals, her
literary avocations. When necessitated by pain and languor to limit her
exertions, her unfeeling employers accused her of negligence. This
inconsideration, though she seldom complained, affected her spirits and
preyed upon her heart. As she hourly declined toward that asylum where
"the weary rest," her mind seemed to acquire strength in proportion to
the weakness of her frame. When no longer able to support the fatigue of
being removed from her chamber, she retained a perfect composure of
spirits, and, in the intervals of extreme bodily suffering, would listen
while her daughter read to her, with apparent interest and collectedness
of thought, frequently making observations on what would probably take
place when she had passed that "bourn whence no traveller returns." The
flattering nature of her disorder at times inspired her friends with the
most sanguine hopes of her restoration to health; she would even
herself, at intervals, cherish the idea. But these gleams of hope, like
flashes of lightning athwart the storm, were succeeded by a deeper
gloom, and the consciousness of her approaching fate returned upon the
mind of the sufferer with increased conviction.

Within a few days of her decease, she collected and arranged her
poetical works, which she bound her daughter, by a solemn adjuration, to
publish for her subscribers, and also the present memoir. Requesting
earnestly that the papers prepared for the latter purpose might be
brought to her, she gave them into the hands of Miss Robinson, with an
injunction that the narrative should be made public, adding, "I should
have continued it up to the present time--but perhaps it is as well that
I have been prevented. Promise me that you will print it!" The request
of a dying parent, so made, and at such a moment, could not be refused.
She is obeyed. Upon the solemn assurances of her daughter, that her Last
desire, so strongly urged, should be complied with, the mind of Mrs.
Robinson became composed and tranquil; her intellects yet remained
unimpaired, though her corporeal strength hourly decayed.

A short time previous to her death, during an interval of her daughter's
absence from her chamber, she called an attending friend, whose
benevolent heart and unremitting kindness will, it is hoped, meet
hereafter with their reward, and entreated her to observe her last
requests, adding, with melancholy tenderness, "I cannot talk to my poor
girl on these sad subjects." Then, with an unruffled manner and minute
precision, she gave orders respecting her interment, which she desired
might be performed with all possible simplicity. "Let me," said she,
with an impressive though almost inarticulate voice, "be buried in Old
Windsor churchyard." For the selection of that spot she gave a
particular reason. She also mentioned an undertaker, whose name she
recollected having seen on his door, and whom she appointed from his
vicinity to the probable place of her decease. A few trifling memorials,
as tributes of her affection, were all the property she had to bequeath.
She also earnestly desired that a part of her hair might be sent to two
particular persons.

One evening, her anxious nurses, with a view to divert her mind, talked
of some little plans to take place on her restoration to health. She
shook her head with an affecting and significant motion. "Don't deceive
yourselves," said she; "remember, I tell you, I am but a very little
time longer for this world." Then pressing to her heart her daughter,
who knelt by her bedside, she held her head for some minutes clasped
against her bosom, which throbbed, as with some internal and agonising
conflict. "Poor heart," murmured she, in a deep and stifled tone, "what
will become of thee!" She paused some moments, and at length, struggling
to assume more composure, desired in a calmer voice that some one would
read to her. Throughout the remainder of the evening she continued
placidly and even cheerfully attentive to the person who read, observing
that, should she recover, she designed to commence a long work, upon
which she would bestow great pains and time. "Most of her writings," she
added, "had been composed in too much haste."

Her disorder rapidly drawing toward a period, the accumulation of the
water upon her chest every moment threatened suffocation. For nearly
fifteen nights and days she was obliged to be supported upon pillows, or
in the arms of her young and affectionate nurses.[53] Her decease,
through this period, was hourly expected. On the 24th of December she
inquired how near was Christmas Day! Being answered, "Within a few
days," "Yet," said she, "I shall never see it." The remainder of this
melancholy day passed in undescribable tortures. Toward midnight, the
sufferer exclaimed, "O God, O just and merciful God, help me to support
this agony!" The whole of the ensuing day she continued to endure great
anguish. In the evening a kind of lethargic stupor came on. Miss
Robinson, approaching the pillow of her expiring mother, earnestly
conjured her to speak, if in her power. "My darling Mary!" she faintly
articulated, and spoke no more. In another hour she became insensible to
the grief of those by whom she was surrounded, and breathed her last at
a quarter past twelve on the following noon.

The body was opened, at the express wish of Doctors Pope and Chandler.
The immediate cause of her death appeared to have been a dropsy on the
chest; but the sufferings which she endured previously to her decease
were probably occasioned by six large gall-stones found in the

All her requests were strictly observed. Her remains were deposited,
according to her direction, in the churchyard of Old Windsor; the spot
was marked out by a friend to whom she had signified her wishes. The
funeral was attended only by two literary friends.

Respecting the circumstances of the preceding narrative, every reader
must be left to form his own reflections. To the humane mind, the errors
of the unfortunate subject of this memoir will appear to have been more
than expiated by her sufferings. Nor will the peculiar disadvantages, by
which her introduction into life was attended, be forgotten by the
candid,--disadvantages that, by converting into a snare the bounties
lavished on her by nature, proved not less fatal to her happiness than
to her conduct. On her unhappy marriage, and its still more unhappy
consequences, it is unnecessary to comment. Thus circumstanced, her
genius, her sensibility, and her beauty combined to her destruction,
while, by her exposed situation, her inexperience of life, her tender
youth, with the magnitude of the temptations which beset her, she could
scarcely fail of being betrayed.

      "Say, ye severest ...
      ... what would you have done?"

The malady which seized her in the bloom of youth, and pursued her with
unmitigable severity through every stage of life, till, in the prune of
her powers, it laid her in a premature grave, exhibits, in the history
of its progress, a series of sufferings that might disarm the sternest,
soften the most rigid, and awaken pity in the hardest heart. Her mental
exertions through this depressing disease, the elasticity of her mind,
and the perseverance of her efforts amidst numberless sources of
vexation and distress, cannot fail, while they awaken sympathy, to
extort admiration. Had this lovely plant, now withered and low in the
dust, been in its early growth transplanted into a happier
soil--sheltered from the keen blasts of adversity, and the mildew of
detraction, it might have extended its roots, unfolded its blossoms,
diffused its sweetness, shed its perfumes, and still flourished,
beauteous to the eye, and grateful to the sense.

To represent the character of the individual in the circumstances of
life, his conduct under those circumstances and the consequences which
they ultimately produce, is the peculiar province of biography. Little
therefore remains to be added. The benevolent temper, the filial piety
and the maternal tenderness of Mrs. Robinson are exemplified in the
preceding pages, as her genius, her talents, the fertility of her
imagination, and the powers of her mind are displayed in her
productions, the popularity of which at least affords a presumption of
their merit. Her manners were polished and conciliating, her powers of
conversation rich and varied. The brilliancy of her wit and the sallies
of her fancy were ever tempered by kindness and chastened by delicacy.
Though accustomed to the society of the great, and paying to rank the
tribute which civil institutions have rendered its due, she reserved her
esteem and deference for these only whose talents or whose merits
claimed the homage of the mind.

With the unfortunate votaries of letters she sincerely sympathised, and
not unfrequently has been known to divide the profits of her genius with
the less successful or less favoured disciples of the muse.

The productions of Mrs. Robinson, both in prose and verse, are numerous,
and of various degrees of merit; but to poetry the native impulse of her
genius appears to have been more peculiarly directed. Of the glitter and
false taste exhibited in the Della Crusca correspondence[54] she became
early sensible; several of her poems breathe a spirit of just sentiment
and simple elegance.




      Farewell to the nymph of my heart!
      Farewell to the cottage and vine!
      From these, with a tear, I depart,
      Where pleasure so often was mine.

      Remembrance shall dwell on her smile,
      And dwell on her lute and her song;
      That sweetly my hours to beguile,
      Oft echoed the valleys along.

      Once more the fair scene let me view,
      The grotto, the brook, and the grove.
      Dear valleys, for ever adieu!
      Adieu to the daughter of Love!


"Few women," says Sir Nathaniel Wraxall, "have performed a more
conspicuous part, or occupied a higher place on the public theatre of
fashion, politics, and dissipation, than the Duchess of Gordon."

Jane, afterward Duchess of Gordon, the rival in beauty and talent to
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was born in Wigtonshire, in Scotland.
Her father, Sir William Maxwell of Monreith (anciently Mureith),
represented one of the numerous families who branched off from the
original stock--Herbert of Caerlaverock, first Lord Maxwell, the
ancestor of the famous Earl of Nithsdale, whose countess, Winifred,
played so noble a part when her husband was in prison during the
Jacobite insurrection. From this honourable house descended, in our
time, the gallant Sir Murray Maxwell, whose daughter, Mrs. Carew, became
the wife of the too well-known Colonel Waugh; the events which followed
are still fresh in the public mind. Until that blemish, loyalty, honour,
and prosperity marked out the Maxwells of Monreith for "their own." In
1681, William Maxwell was created a baronet of Nova Scotia. Various
marriages and intermarriages with old and noble families kept the blood
pure, a circumstance as much prized by the Scotch as by the Germans. Sir
William, the father of the Duchess of Gordon, married Magdalene, the
daughter of William Blair, of Blair, and had by her six children,--three
sons and three daughters,--of whom the youngest but one was Jane, the
subject of this memoir.

This celebrated woman was a true Scotchwoman--staunch to her
principles, proud of her birth, energetic, and determined. Her energy
might have died away like a flash in the pan had it not been for her
determination. She carried through everything that she attempted; and
great personal charms accelerated her influence in that state of society
in which, as in the French capital, women had, at that period, an
astonishing though transient degree of ascendency.

The attractions of Jane Maxwell appeared to have been developed early,
for before she entered on the gay world, a song, "Jenny of Monreith,"
was composed in her honour, which her son, the Duke of Gordon, used to
sing, long after the charms, which were thus celebrated, had vanished.
Her features were regular; the contour of her face was truly noble; her
hair was dark, as well as her eyes and eyebrows; her face long and
beautifully oval; the chin somewhat too long; the upper lip was short,
and the mouth, notwithstanding a certain expression of determination,
sweet and well defined. Nothing can be more becoming to features of this
stamp, that require softening, than the mode of dressing the hair then
general. Sir Joshua Reynolds has painted the Duchess of Gordon with her
dark hair drawn back, in front, over a cushion, or some support that
gave it waviness; round and round the head, between each rich mass, were
two rows of large pearls, until, at the top, they were lost in the folds
of a ribbon; a double row of pearls round the fair neck; a ruff, opening
low in front, a tight bodice, and sleeves full to an extreme at the top,
tighter toward the wrists, seem to indicate that the dress of the period
of Charles I had even been selected for this most lovely portrait. The
head is turned aside--with great judgment--probably to mitigate the
decided expression of the face when in a front view.

As she grew up, however, the young lady was found to be deficient in one
especial grace--she was not feminine; her person, her mind, her manners,
all, in this respect, corresponded. "She might," says one who knew her,
"have aptly represented Homer's Juno." Always animated, with features
that were constantly in play, one great charm was wanting--that of
sensibility. Sometimes her beautiful face was overclouded with anger;
more frequently was it irradiated with smiles. Her conversation, too,
annihilated much of the impression made by her commanding beauty. She
despised the usages of the world, and, believing herself exempted from
them by her rank, after she became a duchess, she dispensed with them,
and sacrificed to her venal ambition some of the most lovable qualities
of her sex. One of her speeches, when honours became, as she thought,
too common at court, betrays her pride and her coarseness. "Upon my
word," she used to say, "one cannot look out of one's coach window
without spitting on a knight." Whatever were her defects, her beauty
captivated the fancy of Alexander, the fourth Duke of Gordon, a young
man of twenty-four years of age, whom she married on the 28th of
October, 1767. The family she entered, as well as the family whence she
sprang, were devoted adherents of the exiled Stuarts, and carried, to a
great extent, the hereditary Toryism of their exalted lineage. The
great-grandmother of the duke was that singular Duchess of Gordon who
sent a medal to the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh, with the head of
James Stuart the Chevalier on one side, and on the other the British
Isles, with the word "Reddite" inscribed underneath. The Faculty were
highly gratified by this present. After a debate, they accepted the
medal, and sent two of their body to thank the duchess, and to say that
they hoped she would soon be enabled to favour the society with a second
medal on the Restoration. Duke Alexander, the husband of Jane Maxwell,
showed in his calm and inert character no evidence of being descended
from this courageous partisan. He was a man of no energy, except in his
love of country pursuits, and left the advancement of the family
interests wholly to his spirited and ambitious wife. They were married
only six years after George III had succeeded to the throne. Never was a
court more destitute of amusements than that of the then youthful
sovereign of England. Until his latter days, George II. had enjoyed
revelries, though of a slow, formal, German character; but his grandson
confined himself, from the age of twenty-two, to his public and private
duties. He neither frequented masquerades nor joined in play. The
splendours of a court were reserved for birthdays, and for those alone;
neither did the king usually sit down to table with the nobility or with
his courtiers. Never was he known to be guilty of the slightest excess
at table, and his repasts were simple, if not frugal. At a levee, or on
the terrace at Windsor, or in the circle of Hyde Park, this model of a
worthy English gentleman might be seen, either with his plain-featured
queen on his arm, or driven in his well-known coach with his old and
famous cream-coloured horses. Junius derided the court, "where," he
said, "prayers are morality and kneeling is religion." But although
wanting in animation, it was far less reprehensible than that which
preceded or that which followed it. The Duchess of Gordon,
irreproachable in conduct, with her high Tory principles, was well
suited to a court over which Lord Bute exercised a strong influence. She
had naturally a calculating turn of mind. Fame, admiration, fashion,
were agreeable trifles, but wealth and rank were the solid aims to which
every effort was directed. Unlike her future rival, the Duchess of
Devonshire, who impoverished herself in her boundless charities, the
Duchess of Gordon kept in view the main chance, and resolved from her
early youth to aggrandise the family into which she had entered.

Her empire as a wit was undisputed, for the Duchess of Devonshire was
then a mere girl, at her mother's knee; but that for beauty was disputed
by Mary, Duchess of Rutland, so well remembered in our own time, as she
survived till 1831.

This exquisite specimen of English loveliness, compared by some to
Musidora, as described by Thomson, was the most beautiful woman of rank
in the kingdom. Every turn of her features, every form of her limbs, was
perfect, and grace accompanied every movement. She was tall, of the just
height; slender, but not thin; her features were delicate and noble; and
her ancestors, the Plantagenets, were in her represented by a faultless
sample of personal attributes. She was the daughter of a race which has
given to the world many heroes, one philosopher, and several celebrated
beauties--that of Somerset; and, as the descendant of the defenders of
Raglan Castle, might be expected to combine various noble qualities with
personal gifts. But she was cold, although a coquette. In the Duchess of
Devonshire it was the _besoin d'aimer_, the cordial nature recoiled into
itself from being linked to an expletive, that betrayed her into an
encouragement of what offered her the semblance of affection--into the
temptation of being beloved. To the Duchess of Gordon her conquests were
enhanced by the remembrance of what they might bring; but the Duchess of
Rutland viewed her admirers in the light of offering tributes to a
goddess. She was destitute of the smiles, the intelligence, and
sweetness of the Duchess of Devonshire; and conscious of charms,
received adoration as her due. "In truth," Sir Nathanial Wraxall, who
knew her well, writes, "I never contemplated her except as an enchanting
statue, formed to excite admiration rather than to awaken love, this
superb production of nature not being lighted up by corresponding mental

This lady was united to one of the most attractive and popular of men,
but one of the most imprudent and convivial. The son of that celebrated
Marquis of Granby whom Junius attacked, the young Duke of Rutland was a
firm partisan of Pitt, whom he first brought into the House of Commons,
and at whose wish he accepted the government of Ireland in 1784. Never
was there such splendour at the vice-regal court as in his time. Vessels
laden with the expensive luxuries from England were seen in the Bay of
Dublin at short intervals; the banquets given were most costly; the
evenings at the castle were divided between play and drinking; and yet
the mornings found the young duke breakfasting on six or seven turkey's
eggs. He then, when on his progress, rode forty or fifty miles, returned
to dinner at seven, and sat up to a late hour, supping before he
retired to rest.

The duchess had little place in his heart, and the siren, Mrs.
Billington, held it in temporary thraldom; but constancy was to a man of
such a calibre impossible. Nevertheless, when the duke saw his wife
surrounded by admirers, whom her levity of manner encouraged, he became
jealous, and they parted, for the last time as it proved, on bad terms.
One evening, seeing him engaged in play, the duchess approached the
window of the room in which he sat, and tapped at it. He was highly
incensed by this interference with his amusements. She returned to
England, an invalid, in order to consult Doctor Warren, the father of
the late physician of that name. Whilst residing with her mother in
Berkeley Square, she heard that the duke was attacked with fever. She
sent off Doctor Warren to see him, and was preparing to follow him when
the physician returned. At Holyhead he had heard that the duke was no
more. He died at the early age of thirty-three, his blood having been
inflamed by his intemperance, which, however, never affected his reason,
and was, therefore, the more destructive to his health. His widow, in
spite of their alienation, mourned long and deeply. Never did she appear
more beautiful than when, in 1788, she reappeared after her seclusion.
Like Diana of Poictiers, she retained her wonderful loveliness to an
advanced age. Latterly, she covered her wrinkles with enamel, and when
she appeared in public always quitted a room in which the windows, which
might admit the dampness, were opened. She never married again,
notwithstanding the various suitors who desired to obtain her hand.

For a long time the Duchess of Gordon continued to reign over the Tory
party almost without a rival. When, at last, the Duchess of Devonshire
came forward as the female champion of the Foxites, Pitt and Dundas,
afterward Lord Melville, opposed to her the Duchess of Gordon. At that
time she lived in the splendid mansion of the then Marquis of Buckingham
in Pall Mall. Every evening, numerous assemblies of persons attached to
the administration gathered in those stately saloons, built upon or near
the terrace whereon Nell Gwyn used to chat with Charles II on the grass
below, as he was going to feed his birds in his gardens. Presuming on
her rank, her influence, her beauty, the Duchess of Gordon used to act
in the most determined manner as a government whipper-in. When a member
on whom she counted was wanting, she did not scruple to send for him, to
remonstrate, to persuade, to fix him by a thousand arts. Strange must
have been the scene--more strange than attractive. Everything was
forgotten but the one grand object of the evening, the theme of all
talk,--the next debate and its supporters. In the year 1780 events took
place which for some time appeared likely to shake the prosperity of the
Gordon family almost to its fall.

The duke had two brothers, the elder of whom, Lord William, was the
Ranger of Windsor Park, and survived to a great age. The younger, Lord
George, holds a very conspicuous but not a very creditable place in the
annals of his country. No event in our history bears any analogy with
that styled the "Gordon Riots," excepting the fire of London in the
reign of Charles II; and even that calamity did not exhibit the mournful
spectacle which attended the conflagrations of 1780. In the former
instance, the miserable sufferers had to contend only with a devouring
element; in the latter, they had to seek protection, and to seek it in
vain, from a populace of the lowest description, and the vilest
purposes, who carried with them destruction wherever they went. Even
during the French Revolution, revolting and degrading as it was, the
firebrand was not employed in the work of destruction; the public and
private buildings of Paris were spared.

The author of all these calamities, Lord George Gordon, was a young man
of gentle, agreeable manners, and delicate, high-bred appearance. His
features were regular and pleasing; he was thin and pale, but with a
cunning, sinister expression in his face that indicated
wrong-headedness. He was dependent on his elder brother, the duke, for
his maintenance, six hundred pounds a year being allowed him by his
Grace. Such was the exterior, such the circumstances of an incendiary
who has been classed with Wat Tyler and Jack Cade, or with Kett, the
delinquent in the time of Edward VI.

It was during the administration of Lord North that the Cordon Riots
took place, excited by the harangues and speeches of Lord George. On the
2d of June he harangued the people; on the 7th these memorable
disturbances broke out; Bloomsbury Square was the first point of attack.
In Pope's time this now neglected square was fashionable:

      "In Palace Yard, at nine, you'll find me there;
      At ten, for certain, sir, in Bloomsbury Square."

Baxter, the Nonconformist, and Sir Hans Sloane once inhabited what was,
in their time, called Southampton Square, from Southampton House, which
occupied one whole side of Bloomsbury Square, and was long the abode of
Lady Rachel Russell, after the execution of her lord. Like every other
part of what may be called "Old London," it is almost sanctified by the
memories of the lettered and the unfortunate. But the glory of
Bloomsbury Square was, in those days, the house of Lord Mansfield, at
the north end of the east side; in which that judge had collected many
valuables, among which his library was the dearest to his heart; it was
the finest legal library of his time. As soon as the long summer's day
had closed, and darkness permitted the acts of violence to be fully
recognised, Hart Street and Great Russell Street were illuminated by
large fires, composed of the furniture taken from the houses of certain
magistrates. Walking into Bloomsbury, the astounded observer of that
night's horrors saw, with consternation, the hall door of Lord
Mansfield's house broken open; and instantly all the contents of the
various apartments were thrown into the square, and set on fire. In vain
did a small body of foot-soldiers attempt to intimidate the rioters. The
whole of the house was consumed, and vengeance would have fallen on Lord
Mansfield and his lady had they not escaped by a back door a few minutes
before the hall was broken into; such was that memorable act of
destruction--so prompt, so complete. Let us follow the mob, in fancy,
and leaving the burning pile in Bloomsbury Square, track the steps of
the crowd into Holborn. We remember, as we are hurried along, with a
bitter feeling, that Holborn was the appointed road for criminals from
Newgate to Tyburn. It is now one blaze of light; in the hollow near
Fleet Market, the house and warehouses of Mr. Langdale, a Catholic--a
Christian like ourselves, though not one of our own blessed and reformed
church--is blazing; a pinnacle of flame, like a volcano, is sent up into
the air. St. Andrew's Church is almost scorched with the heat; whilst
the figures of the clock--that annalist which numbers, as it stands, the
hours of guilt--are plain as at noonday. The gutters beneath, catching
here and there gleams of the fiery heavens, run with spirituous liquors
from the plundered distilleries; the night is calm, as if no deeds of
persecution sullied its beauty; at times it is obscured by volumes of
smoke, but they pass away, and the appalled spectators of the street
below are plainly visible. Here stands a mother with an infant in her
arms looking on; there, a father, leading his boy to the safest point of
observation. We wonder at their boldness; but it is the direst sign of
affright--in their homes they are insecure--everywhere, anywhere, the
ruthless unseen hand may cast the brand, and all may perish. At this
early hour there seemed to be no ringleader--no pillage; it appeared
difficult to conceive who could be the wretch who instigated, who
directed this awful riot; but, at the windows, men were seen calmly
tearing away pictures from the walls; furniture, books, plate, from
their places, and throwing them into the flames. As midnight drew near,
the ferocious passions of the multitude were heightened by ardent
spirits; not a soldier, either horse or foot, is visible. "Whilst we
stood," says an eye-witness, "by the wall of St. Andrew's churchyard, a
watchman, with his lanthorn in his hand, passed on, calling the hour as
if in a time of profound security."

Meantime, the King's Bench Prison was enveloped in flames; the Mansion
House and the Bank were attacked. But the troops were killing and
dispersing the rioters on Blackfriars Bridge; a desperate conflict
between the horse and the mob was going on near the Bank. What a night!
The whole city seemed to be abandoned to pillage--to destruction.
Shouts, yells, the shrieks of women, the crackling of the burning
houses, the firing of platoons toward St. George's Fields, combined to
show that no horrors, no foes are equal to those of domestic treachery,
domestic persecution, domestic fury, and infatuation.

It was not alone the Roman Catholics who were threatened. Sir George
Savile's house in Leicester Square--once the peaceful locality in which
Dorothy Sydney, Waller's "Sacharissa," bloomed--was plundered and
burned. Then the Duchess of Devonshire took fright, and did not venture
to stay at Devonshire House for many nights after dusk, but took refuge
at Lord Clermont's in Berkeley Square, sleeping on a sofa in the
drawing-room. In Downing Street, Lord North was dining with a party his
brother, Colonel North, Mr. Eden, afterward Lord Auckland, the
Honourable John St. John, General Fraser, and Count Malzen, the Prussian
minister. The little square then surrounding Downing Street was filled
with the mob. "Who commands the upper story?" said Lord North. "I do,"
answered Colonel North; "and I have twenty or thirty grenadiers well
armed, who are ready to fire on the first notice."

"If your grenadiers fire," said Mr. Eden, calmly, "they will probably
fire into my house just opposite."

The mob was now threatening; every moment the peril was increasing. Mr.
St. John held a pistol in his hand; and Lord North, who never could
forbear cutting a joke, said, "I am not half so much afraid of the mob
as of Jack St. John's pistol." By degrees, however, the crowd, seeing
that the house was well guarded, dispersed, and the gentlemen quietly
sat down again to their wine until late in the evening, when they all
ascended to the top of the house, and beheld the capital blazing. It was
here that the first suggestion of a coalition between Lord North and
Fox, to save the country and themselves, was started, and afterward
perfected behind the scenes of the Opera House in the Haymarket. During
this memorable night George III, behaved with the courage which,
whatever their failings, has ever highly distinguished the Hanoverian
family. By the vigorous measures, late indeed, but not too late, which
he acceded to at the Council, London was saved. But the popular fury had
extended to other towns. Bath was in tumult; a new Roman Catholic chapel
there was burned. Mrs. Thrale, hearing that her house at Streatham had
been threatened, caused it to be emptied of its furniture. Three times
was Mrs. Thrale's town house attacked; her valuables and furniture were
removed thence also; and she deemed it prudent to leave Bath, into which
coaches, chalked over with "No Popery," were hourly driving. The
composure with which the rioters did their work seemed to render the
scene more fearful, as they performed these acts of violence as if they
were carrying out a religious duty rather than deeds of
execrable hatred.

It was not until two or three days after tranquillity had been restored
that Lord George Gordon was apprehended. Ministers were justly
reproached for not having sent him to the Tower on the 2d of June, when
he had assembled and excited the mob to extort compliance with their
wishes from the House of Commons. Such a step, when the House was
surrounded by multitudes, and when, every moment, it was expected that
the door would be broken open, would have been hazardous; had that
occurred, Lord George would have suffered instant death. General Murray,
afterward Duke of Atholl, held his sword ready to pass it through Lord
George's body the instant the mob rushed in. The Earl of Carnarvon, the
grandfather of the present earl, followed him closely with the
same intent.

The indignation of the insulted Commons was extreme, and the distress
and displeasure of Lord George's own family doubtless excessive. The
House of Commons had never been thus insulted before. It is difficult to
determine what could be Lord George's motives for the conduct which led
to these awful results, during the whole of which he preserved a
composure that bordered on insensibility; he was a perfect master of
himself whilst the city was in flames. Much may be laid to fanaticism,
and the mental derangement which it either produced or evinced. When too
late he tried in vain to abate the fury he had excited, and offered to
take his stand by Lord Rodney's[55] side when the Bank was attacked, to
aid that officer, who commanded the Guards, in its defence.

Lord George then lived in Weibeck Street, Cavendish Square, and
tradition assigns as his house that now occupied by Mr. Newby, the
publisher, No. 30, and for many years the house of Count Woronzoff, the
Russian ambassador, who died there. Lord George there prepared for his
defence, which was entrusted to the great Erskine, then in his prime,
or, as he was called in caricatures, with which the shops were full,
from his extreme vanity, _Counsellor Ego_. In February, 1781, the trial
took place, and Lord George was acquitted. He retired to Birmingham,
became a Jew, and lived in that faith, or under the delusion that he did
so. The hundreds who perished from his folly or insanity were avenged in
his subsequent imprisonment in Newgate for a libel on Marie Antoinette,
of which he was convicted. He died a very few years after the riots of
1780, in Newgate, generally condemned, and but little compassionated.

It appears from the letters addressed by Doctor Beanie to the Duchess of
Gordon, that she was not in London during the riots of June, 1780. The
poet had been introduced to her by Sir William Forbes, and frequently
visited Gordon Castle. We find him, whilst London was blazing, sending
thither a parcel of _Mirrors_, the fashionable journal, "Count Fathom,"
"The Tale of a Tub," and the fanciful, forgotten romance by Bishop
Berkeley, "Gaudentio di Lucca," to amuse her solitude. "'Gaudentio,'" he
writes, "will amuse you, though there are tedious passages in it. The
whole description of passing the deserts of Africa is particularly
excellent." It is singular that this dream of Bishop Berkeley's of a
country fertile and delicious in the centre of Africa should have been
almost realised in our own time by the discoveries of Doctor

To his present of books, Doctor Beattie added a flask of whisky, which
he sealed with his usual seal, "The three graces, whom I take to be your
Grace's near relations, as they have the honour, not only to bear one of
your titles, but also to resemble you exceedingly in form, feature, and
manner. If you had lived three thousand years ago, which I am very glad
you did not, there would have been four of them, and you the first. May
all happiness attend your Grace!"

This graceful piece of adulation was followed by a tender concern for
"her Grace's" health. A sportive benediction was offered whilst the
duchess was at Glenfiddick, a hunting seat in the heart of the Grampian
Hills--a wild, sequestered spot, of which Doctor Beattie was
particularly fond.

"I rejoice in the good weather, in the belief that it extends to
Glenfiddick, where I pray that your Grace may enjoy all the health and
happiness that good air, goats' whey, romantic solitude, and the society
of the loveliest children in the world can bestow. May your days be
clear sunshine; and may a gentle rain give balm to your nights, that the
flowers and birch-trees may salute you in the morning with all their
fragrance! May the kids frisk and play tricks before you with unusual
sprightliness; and may the song of birds, the hum of bees, and the
distant waterfall, with now and then the shepherd's horn resounding from
the mountains, entertain you with a full chorus of Highland music! My
imagination had parcelled out the lovely little glen into a thousand
little paradises; in the hope of being there, and seeing everyday in
that solitude, what is

      'Fairer than famed of old, or fabled since,
      Of fairy damsels, met in forests wide
      By errant knights.'

But the information you received at Cluny gave a check to my fancy, and
was indeed a great disappointment to Mrs. Beattie and me; not on account
of the goats' whey, but because it keeps us so long at such a distance
from your Grace."

When at Gordon Castle, the duchess occupied herself with pursuits that
elevated whilst they refreshed her mind. She promised Doctor Beattie to
send him the history of a day. Her day seems to have been partly engaged
in the instruction of her five daughters, and in an active
correspondence and reading. It is difficult to imagine this busy,
flattered woman reading Blair's sermons--which had then been recently
published--to her family on Sundays; or the duke, whom Doctor Beattie
describes as "more astronomical than ever," engrossed from morning to
night in making calculations with Mr. Copland, Professor of Astronomy in
Marischal College, Aberdeen. Beattie's letters to the duchess, although
too adulatory, were those of a man who respects the understanding of the
woman to whom he writes. The following anecdotes, the one relating to
Hume, the other to Handel, are in his letters to the Duchess of Gordon,
and they cannot be read without interest.

"Mr. Hume was boasting to the doctor (Gregory) that among his disciples
he had the honour to reckon many of the fair sex. 'Now tell me,' said
the doctor, 'whether, if you had a wife or a daughter, you would wish
them to be your disciples? Think well before you answer me; for I assure
you that whatever your answer is, I will not conceal it.' Mr. Hume, with
a smile and some hesitation, made this reply: 'No; I believe skepticism
may be too sturdy a virtue for a woman.' Miss Gregory will certainly
remember she has heard her father tell this story."

Again, about Handel:

"I lately heard two anecdotes, which deserve to be put in writing, and
which you will be glad to hear. When Handel's 'Messiah' was first
performed, the audience were exceedingly struck and affected by the
music in general; but when the chorus struck up, 'For the Lord God
Omnipotent reigneth,' they were so transported that they all, together
with the king (who happened to be present), started up, and remained
standing till the chorus ended; and hence it became the fashion in
England for the audience to stand while that part of the music is
performing. Some days after the first exhibition of the same divine
oratorio, Mr. Handel came to pay his respects to Lord Kinnoul, with whom
he was particularly acquainted. His lordship, as was natural, paid him
some compliments on the noble entertainment which he had lately given
the town. 'My lord,' said Handel, 'I should be sorry if I only
entertained them--I wish to make them better.'"

Beattie's happiest hours are said to have been passed at Gordon Castle,
with those whose tastes, in some respects differing from his own, he
contributed to form; whilst he was charmed with the beauty, the wit, the
cultivated intellect of the duchess, and he justly appreciated her
talents and virtues. Throughout a friendship of years her kindness
was unvaried;

      "Ne'er ruffled by those cataracts and breaks
      Which humour interposed too often makes."

The duchess felt sincerely for poor Beattie's domestic sorrows; for the
peculiarities of his wife, whom he designated as "nervous;" for the
early death of his son, in whom all the poet's affections were bound up,
and to whose welfare every thought of his was directed.

One would gladly take one's impressions of the Duchess of Gordon's
character from Beattie, rather than from the pen of political writers,
who knew her but as a partisan. The duchess, according to Beattie, was
feelingly alive to every fine impulse; demonstrative herself, detesting
coldness in others; the life of every party; the consoling friend of
every scene of sorrow; a compound of sensibility and vivacity, of
strength and softness. This is not the view that the world took of her
character. Beattie always quitted Gordon Castle "with sighs and tears."
It is much to have added to the transient gleams of happiness enjoyed by
so good and so afflicted a man. "I cannot think," he wrote, when under
the pressure of dreaded calamity--that of seeing his wife insane; "I am
too much agitated and _distrait_ (as Lord Chesterfield would say) to
read anything that is not very desultory; I cannot play at cards; I
could never learn to smoke; and my musical days are over. My first
excursion, if ever I make any, must be to Gordon Castle."

There he found what is indispensable to such a man--congeniality.
Amusement was not what he required; it was soothing. It was in the
duchess's presence that he wrote the following "Lines to a Pen:"
      "Go, and be guided by the brightest eyes,
        And to the softest hand thine aid impart;
      To trace the fair ideas as they arise,
        Warm from the purest, gentlest, noblest heart;"
lines in which the praise is worth more than the poetry. The duchess
sent him a copy by Smith of her portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds, a
picture to which reference has been already made.

In 1782 the duchess grieved for the death of Lord Kaimes, for whom she
had a sincere friendship, although the religious opinions of that
celebrated man differed greatly from those of Beattie. Lord Kaimes was
fifty-six years an author, in company with the eccentric Lord Monboddo,
the author of the theory that men have had tails. Lord Kaimes passed
some days at Gordon Castle shortly before his death. Monboddo and he
detested each other, and squabbled incessantly. Lord Kaimes understood
no Greek; and Monboddo, who was as mad and as tiresome about Greek and
Aristotle, and as absurd and peculiar on that score as Don Quixote was
about chivalry, told him that without understanding Greek he could not
write a page of good English. Their arguments must have been highly
diverting. Lord Kaimes, on his death-bed, left a remembrance to the
Duchess of Gordon, who had justly appreciated him, and defended him from
the charge of skepticism. Lord Monboddo compared the duchess to Helen of
Troy, whom he asserted to have been seven feet high; but whether in
stature, in beauty, or in the circumstances of her life, does
not appear.

The happiness of the duchess was perfected by the blessings granted to
her in her family. In 1770 the birth of her eldest son George, long
beloved in Scotland whilst the Marquis of Huntley, took place. Doctor
Beattie describes him as "the best and most beautiful boy that ever was
born." He proved to be one of the most popular of the young nobility of
that period. Doctor Beattie strongly advised the duchess to engage an
English tutor, a clergyman, for him, recommended either by the
Archbishop of York, or by the Provost of Eton. When it afterward became
a question whether the young heir should go to Oxford or to Cambridge,
the doctor, who seems to have been a universal authority, allowed that
Cambridge was the best for a man of study, whilst Oxford had more dash
and spirit in it: so little are matters altered since that time.

Fifteen years appear to have elapsed before the birth of a second son,
Alexander. Both these scions of this ducal house became military men:
the young marquis was colonel of the Scots Fusileer Guards, and served
in the Peninsular war, and was eventually Governor of Edinburgh Castle.
Long was he remembered by many a brother officer, many an old soldier,
as a gallant, courteous, gay-hearted man; with some of the faults and
all the virtues of the military character. He married late in life
Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander Brodie, Esq., of Arnhall, N. B., who
survived him. Lord Alexander Cordon died unmarried; but five daughters
added to the family lustre by noble and wealthy alliances.

Wraxall remarks "that the conjugal duties of the Duchess of Gordon
pressed on her heart with less force than did her maternal solicitudes."
For their elevation she thought, indeed, no sacrifice too great, and no
efforts too laborious. In the success of her matrimonial speculations
she has been compared to Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who numbered
among her sons-in-law two dukes and three earls. But the daughters of
the proud Sarah were, it has been observed, the children of John
Churchill, and on them were settled, successively, Blenheim and the
dukedom. The Ladies Gordon were portionless, and far less beautiful than
their mother. To her skilful diplomacy alone were these brilliant
fortunes owing.

Lady Charlotte, the eldest, was eighteen years of age when her mother
first entertained matrimonial projects for her, and chose for their
object no less a personage than Pitt, then prime minister. Her schemes
might have proved successful had not Pitt had that sure impediment to
maternal management,--a friend. This friend was the subtle Henry Dundas,
afterward Lord Melville; one of those men who, under the semblance of
unguarded manners and a free, open bearing, conceal the deepest designs
of personal aggrandisement. Governing India, governing Scotland, the
vicegerent in Edinburgh for places and pensions, Dundas was looking
forward to a peerage, and kept his eye steadily on Pitt, whom he guided
in many matters, adapting his conduct and his conversation to the
peculiar tone of the minister's mind. Flattery he never used--dictation
he carefully avoided; both would have been detrimental to his influence
with the reserved statesman.

Pitt was by no means calculated to win the affection of a blooming girl
of eighteen, who, whatever Wraxall may have thought, lived to be one of
the most beautiful and graceful women of her time. Many years ago,
during the life of Sir Thomas Lawrence, his portrait of the Duchess of
Richmond, formerly Lady Charlotte Cordon, was exhibited at Somerset
House. So exquisite were the feminine charms of that lovely face, so
elegant the form he had portrayed, that all crowded to look upon that
delineation of a woman no longer young; whilst beauties in the bloom of
youth were passed by as they hung on the walls in all the glowing
colours of girlhood.

On most intimate terms with the duchess, Pitt seems to have been touched
with the attractions of Lady Charlotte, and to have paid her some
attentions. He was one of the stiffest and shyest of men, finely formed
in figure, but plain in face; the last man to be fascinated, the last to
fascinate. Drives to Dundas's house at Wimbledon when Pitt was there;
evenings at home, in easy converse with these two politicians; suppers,
at which the premier always finished his bottle, as well as the hardier
Scotchman, failed to bring forward the reserved William Pitt. The fact
was, that Dundas could not permit any one, far less the Duchess of
Gordon, to have the ascendency over the prime minister that so near a
relationship would occasion. He trembled for his own influence. A
widower at that time,--his wife, a Miss Rennie of Melville, who had been
divorced from him, being dead,--he affected to lay his own person and
fortune at Lady Charlotte's feet. Pitt instantly retired, and the
sacrifice cost him little; and Dundas's object being answered, his
pretensions also dropped through. Two years afterward, Lady Charlotte
became the wife of Colonel Lennox, afterward Duke of Richmond, and in
the course of years the mother of fourteen children; one of whom, Henry
Adam, a midshipman, fell overboard from the _Blake_ in 1812, and was
drowned. According to Wraxall, the Duke of Richmond had to pay the
penalty of what he calls "this imprudent, if not unfortunate marriage,"
being banished to the snowy banks of St. Lawrence under the name
of governor.

In modern times, our young nobility of promise have learned the
important truth, ably enforced by Thomas Carlyle, that work is not only
man's appointed lot, but his highest blessing and safeguard. The rising
members of various noble families have laid this axiom to heart; and,
when not engaged in public business, have come grandly forward to
protect the unhappy, to provide for the young, to solace the old. The
name of Shaftesbury carries with it gratitude and comfort in its sound;
whilst that of him who figured of old in the cabal, the Shaftesbury of
Charles II's time, is, indeed, not forgotten, but remembered with
detestation. Ragged schools; provident schools; asylums for the aged
governess; homes in which the consumptive may lay their heads in peace
and die; asylums for the penitent; asylums for the idiot; homes where
the houseless may repose,--these are the monuments to our Shaftesbury,
to our younger sons. The mere political ascendency--the garter or the
coronet--are distinctions which pale before these, as does the moon when
dawn has touched the mountains' tops with floods of light. As lecturers
amid their own people, as the best friends and counsellors of the
indigent, as man bound to man by community of interests, our noblemen in
many instances stand before us--Catholic and Protestant zealous alike.

"Jock of Norfolk" is represented by a descendant of noble impulses.
Elgin, Carlisle, Stanley--the Bruce, the Howard, the Stanley of former
days--are our true heroes of society, men of great aims and
great powers.

The Duchess of Gordon was indefatigable in her ambition, but she could
not always entangle dukes. Her second daughter, Madelina, was married
first to Sir Robert Sinclair; and secondly, to Charles Fyshe Palmer,
Esq., of Luckley Hall, Berkshire. Lady Madelina was not handsome, but
extremely agreeable, animated, and intellectual. Among her other
conquests was the famous Samuel Parr, of Hatton, who used to delight in
sounding her praises, and recording her perfections with much of that
eloquence which is now fast dying out of remembrance, but which was a
thing _à part_ in that celebrated Grecian. Susan, the third daughter of
the duke and duchess, married William, Duke of Manchester, thus becoming
connected with a descendant of John, Duke of Marlborough.

Louisa, the fourth daughter, married Charles, second Marquis Cornwallis,
and son of the justly celebrated Governor of India; and Georgiana, the
fifth and youngest, became the wife of John, the late Duke of Bedford.

Such alliances might have satisfied the ambition of most mothers; but
for her youngest and most beautiful daughter, the Duchess of Bedford,
the Duchess of Cordon had even entertained what she thought higher
views. In 1802, whilst Buonaparte was first consul, and anticipating an
imperial crown, the Duchess of Gordon visited Paris, and received there
such distinctions from Napoleon Bonaparte, then first consul, as excited
hopes in her mind of an alliance with that man whom, but a few years
previously, she would probably have termed an adventurer!

Paris was then, during the short peace, engrossed with fêtes, reviews,
and dramatic amusements, the account of which makes one almost fancy
oneself in the year 1852, that of the _coup d'état_, instead of the
period of 1802. The whirlwinds of revolution seemed then, as now, to
have left all unchanged; the character of the people, who were still
devoted to pleasure, and sanguine, was, on the surface, gay and buoyant
as ever. Buonaparte holding his levées at the Tuileries, with all the
splendour of majesty, reminds one of his nephew performing similar
ceremonies at the Élysée, previously to his assuming the purple. All
republican simplicity was abandoned, and the richest taste displayed on
public occasions in both eras.

Let us picture to ourselves the old, quaint palace of the Tuileries on a
reception day then; and the impression made on the senses will serve for
the modern drama; be it comedy, or be it tragedy, which is to be played
out in those stately rooms wherein so many actors have passed and
repassed to their doom.

It is noon, and the first consul is receiving a host of ambassadors
within the consular apartment, answering probably to the "_Salle des
Maréchaux_" of Napoleon III. Therein the envoys from every European
state are attempting to comprehend, what none could ever fathom, the
consul's mind. Let us not intermeddle with their conference, but look
around us, and view the gallery in which we are waiting until he, who
was yesterday so small, and who is to-day so great, should come forth
amongst us.

How gorgeous is the old gallery, with its many windows, its rich roof,
and gilded panels! The footmen of the first consul, in splendid
liveries, are bringing chairs for the ladies who are awaiting the
approach of that schoolmaster's son; they are waiting until the weighty
conference within is terminated. Peace-officers, superbly bedizened, are
walking up and down to keep ladies to their seats and gentlemen to the
ranks, so as to form a passage for the first consul to pass down. Pages
of the back stairs, dressed in black, and with gold chains hanging
around their necks, are standing by the door to guard it, or to open it
when he on whom all thoughts are fixed should come forth.

But what is beyond everything striking is the array of Buonaparte's
aids-de-camp,--fine fellows, war-worn,--men such as he, and he alone,
would choose; and so gorgeous, so radiant are their uniforms, that all
else seem as if in shadow in comparison.

The gardens of the Tuileries meantime are filling with troops whom the
first consul is going to review. There are now Zouaves there; but these
are men whom the suns of the tropics hate embrowned; little fellows,
many of them, of all heights, such as we might make drummers of in our
stalwart ranks; but see how muscular, active, full of fire they are;
fierce as hawks, relentless as tigers. See the horse-soldiers on their
scraggy steeds; watch their evolutions, and you will own, with a young
guardsman who stood gazing, fifty years afterward, on the troops which
followed Napoleon III into Paris, that "they are worth looking at."

The long hour is past; the pages in black are evidently on the watch;
the double door which leads into the _Salle des Maréchaux_ is opened
from within; a stricter line is instantly kept by the officers in the
gallery. Fair faces, many an English one among them, are flushed. Anon
he appears, whilst an officer at the door, with one hand raised above
his head and the other extended, exclaims, "_Le Premier Consul_."

Forth he walks, a firm, short, stolid form, with falling shoulders
beneath his tight, deep-blue frock. His tread is heavy rather than
majestic,--that of a man who has a purpose in walking, not merely to
show himself as a parade. His head is large, and formed with a
perfection which we call classic; his features are noble, modelled by
that hand of Nature which framed this man "fearfully," indeed, and
"wonderfully." Nothing was ever finer than his mouth--nothing more
disappointing than his eye; it is heavy, almost mournful. His face is
pale, almost sallow, while--let one speak who beheld him--"not only in
the eye, but in every feature, care, thought, melancholy, and meditation
are strongly marked, with so much of character, nay, genius, and so
penetrating a seriousness, or rather sadness, as powerfully to sink into
an observer's mind."

It is the countenance of a student, not of a warrior; of one deep in
unpractical meditation, not of one whose every act and plan had then
been but a tissue of successes. It is the face of a man wedded to deep
thought, not of the hero of the battle-field, the ruler of assemblies;
and, as if to perfect the contrast, whilst all around is gorgeous and
blazing, he passes along without a single decoration on his plain dress,
not even a star to mark out the first consul. It is well; there can but
be one Napoleon in the world, and he wants no distinction.

He is followed by diplomatists of every European power, vassals, all,
more or less, save England; and to England, and to her sons and
daughters, are the most cherished courtesies directed. Does not that
recall the present policy?

By his side walks a handsome youth whom he has just been presenting to
the Bavarian minister,--that envoy from a strange, wild country, little
known save by the dogged valour of its mountaineers. The ruler of that
land, until now an elector, has been saluted king by Napoleon
the powerful.

On the youth, who addresses him as _mon pèr_, a slight glance is allowed
even from those downcast eyes which none may ever look into too full.
Eugène Beauharnais, his stepson, the son of his ever-loved Josephine,
has a place in that remorseless heart. "All are not evil." Is it some
inkling of the parental love, is it ambition, that causes the first
consul to be always accompanied by that handsome youth, fascinating as
his mother, libertine as his stepfather, but destitute at once of the
sensibilities of the former and of the powerful intelligence of
the latter?

It is on him--on Eugène Beauharnais--that the hopes of the proud Duchess
of Gordon rest. Happily for her whom she would willingly have given to
him as a bride, her scheme was frustrated. Such a sacrifice was

Look now from the windows of that gallery; let your gaze rest on the
parade below, in the Rue de Rivoli, through which Buonaparte is riding
at the head of his staff to the review. He has mounted a beautiful white
horse; his aids-de-camp are by his side, followed by his generals. He
rides on so carelessly that an ordinary judge would call him an
indifferent equestrian. He holds his bridle first in one hand, then in
another, yet he has the animal in perfect control; he can master it by a
single movement. As he presents some swords of honour, the whole bearing
and aspect of the man change. He is no longer the melancholy student;
stretching out his arm, the severe, scholastic mien assumes instantly a
military and commanding air.

Then the consular band strike up a march, and the troops follow in grand
succession toward the Champs Élysées. The crowds within the gallery
disappear; I look around me: the hedges of human beings who had been
standing back to let the hero pass, are broken, and all are hurrying
away. The pages are lounging; the aids-de-camp are gone; already is
silence creeping over that vast gallery of old historic remembrances. Do
not our hearts sink? Here, in this centre window, Marie Antoinette
showed her little son to the infuriated mob below. She stood before
unpitying eyes. Happier had it been for him, for her, had they died
then. Will those scenes, we thought, ever recur? They have--they have!
mercifully mitigated, it is true; yet ruthless hands have torn from
those walls their rich hangings. By yon door did the son of Égalité
escape. Twice has that venerable pile been desecrated. Even in 152, when
crowds hastened to the first ball given by Napoleon III., he traces of
the last revolution were pointed out to the dancers. They have darkened
the floors; all is, it is true, not only renovated, but embellished, so
as to constitute the most gorgeous of modern palaces; yet for how long?

It is, indeed, in mercy that many of our wishes are denied us. Eugène
Beauharnais was even then, destined to a bride whom he had never seen,
the eldest daughter of that Elector of Bavaria to whom Buonaparte had
given royalty; and the sister of Ludwig, the ex-King of Bavaria, was the
destined fair one. They were married; and she, at all events, was fond,
faithful, nay, even devoted. He was created Duke of Leuchtenberg, and
Marie of Leuchtenberg was beautiful, majestic, pious, graceful; but she
could not keep his heart. So fair was she, with those sweet blue eyes,
that pearl-like skin, that fine form, made to show off the _parures_ of
jewels which poor Josephine bequeathed to her--so fair was she, that
when Buonaparte saw her before her bridal, he uttered these few words,
"Had I known, I would have married her myself." Still she was but
second, perhaps third, perhaps fourth ('tis a way they have in France)
in his affections; nevertheless, when he died,--and it was in his youth,
and Thorwaldsen has executed a noble monument of him in the Dom Kirche
at Munich,--when that last separation came, preceded by many a one that
had been voluntary on his part, his widow mourned, and no second bridal
ever tempted her to cancel the remembrance of Eugène Beauharnais.

For Lady Georgiana Gordon, a happier fate was reserved. She married, in
1803, John, the sixth Duke of Bedford, a nobleman whose character would
have appeared in a more resplendent light had he not succeeded a brother
singularly endowed, and whose death was considered to be a public
calamity. Of Francis, Duke of Bedford, who was summoned away in his
thirty-seventh year, Fox said: "In his friendships, not only was he
disinterested and sincere, but in him were to be found united all the
characteristic excellencies that have ever distinguished the men most
renowned for that virtue. Some are warm, but volatile and inconstant; he
was warm too, but steady and unchangeable. Where his attachment was
placed, there it remained, or rather there it grew.... If he loved you
at the beginning of the year, and you did nothing to lose his esteem, he
would love you more at the end of it; such was the uniformly progressive
state of his affections, no less than of his virtue and friendship."

John, Duke of Bedford, was a widower of thirty-seven when he married
Georgiana, remembered as the most graceful, accomplished, and charming
of women. The duke had then five sons, the youngest of whom was Lord
John Russell, and the eldest Francis, the present duke. By his second
duchess, Georgiana, the duke had also a numerous family. She survived
until 1853. The designs formed by the duchess to marry Lady Georgiana to
Pitt first, and then to Eugène Beauharnais, rest on the authority of
Wraxall, who knew the family of the Duke of Gordon personally; but he
does not state them as coming from his own knowledge. "I have good
reason," he says, "for believing them to be founded in truth. They come
from very high authority."

Notwithstanding the preference evinced by the Prince of Wales for the
Duchess of Devonshire, he was at this time on very intimate terms with
her rival in the sphere of fashion, and passed a part of almost every
evening in the society of the Duchess of Gordon. She treated him with
the utmost familiarity, and even on points of great delicacy expressed
herself very freely. The attention of the public had been for some time
directed toward the complicated difficulties of the Prince of Wales's
situation. His debts had now become an intolerable burden; and all
applications to his royal father being unavailing, it was determined by
his friends to throw his Royal Highness on the generosity of the House
of Commons. At the head of those who hoped to relieve the prince of his
embarrassments were Lord Loughborough, Fox, and Sheridan. The
ministerial party were under the guidance of Pitt, who avowed his
determination to let the subject come to a strict investigation.

This investigation referred chiefly to the prince's marriage with Mrs.
Fitzherbert, who, being a Roman Catholic, was peculiarly obnoxious both
to the court and to the country, notwithstanding her virtues, her
salutary influence over the prince, and her injuries.

During this conjuncture the Duchess of Gordon acted as mediator between
the two conflicting parties, alternately advising, consoling, and even
reproving the prince, who threw himself on her kindness. Nothing could
be more hopeless than the prince's affairs if an investigation into the
source of his difficulties took place; nothing could be less desired by
his royal parents than a public exposure of his life and habits. The
world already knew enough and too much, and were satisfied that he was
actually married to Mrs. Fitzherbert. At this crisis, the base falsehood
which denied that union was authorised by the prince, connived at by
Sheridan, who partly gave it out in the House, and consummated by Fox. A
memorable, a melancholy scene was enacted in the House of Commons on the
8th of April, 1787,--a day that the admirers of the Whig leaders would
gladly blot out from the annals of the country. Rolle, afterward Lord
Rolle, having referred to the marriage, Fox adverted to his allusion,
stating it to be a low, malicious calumny. Rolle, in reply, admitted the
legal impossibility of the marriage, but maintained "that there were
modes in which it might have taken place." Fox replied that he denied it
in point of fact, as well as of law, the thing never having been done in
any way. Rolle then asked if he spoke from authority. Fox answered in
the affirmative, and here the dialogue ended, a profound silence
reigning throughout the House and the galleries, which were crowded to
excess. This body of English gentlemen expressed their contempt more
fully by that ominous stillness, so unusual in that assembly, than any
eloquence could have done. Pitt stood aloof; dignified, contemptuous,
and silent. Sheridan challenged from Rolle some token of satisfaction at
the information; but Rolle merely returned that he had indeed received
an answer, but that the House must form their own opinion on it. In the
discussions which ensued, a channel was nevertheless opened for mutual
concessions--which ended eventually in the relief of the prince from
pecuniary embarrassments, part of which were ascribed to the king's
having appropriated to his own use the revenues of the duchy of
Cornwall, and refusing to render any account of them on the prince's
coming of age. It was the mediation of the Duchess of Gordon that
brought the matter promptly to a conclusion, and through her
representations, Dundas was sent to Canton House, to ascertain from the
prince the extent of his liabilities; an assurance was given that
immediate steps would be taken to relieve his Royal Highness. The
interview was enlivened by a considerable quantity of wine; and after a
pretty long flow of the generous bowl, Dundas's promises were
energetically ratified. Never was there a man more "malleable," to use
Wraxall's expression, than Harry Dundas. Pitt soon afterward had an
audience equally amicable with the prince.

From this period until after the death of Pitt, in 1806, the Duchess of
Cordon's influence remained in the ascendant. The last years of the man
whom she had destined for her son-in-law, and who had ever been on terms
of the greatest intimacy with her, were clouded. Pitt had the misfortune
not only of being a public man,--for to say that is to imply a sacrifice
of happiness,--but to be a public man solely. He would turn neither to
marriage, nor to books, nor to agriculture, nor even to friendship, for
the repose of a mind that could not, from insatiable ambition, find
rest. He died involved in debt--in terror and grief for his country. He
is said never to have been in love. At twenty-four he had the sagacity,
the prudence, the reserve of a man of fifty. His excess in wine
undermined his constitution, but was source of few comments when his
companions drank more freely than men in office had ever been known to
do since the time of Charles II. Unloved he lived; and alone, uncared
for, unwept, he died. That he was nobly indifferent to money, that he
had a contempt for everything mean, or venal, or false, was, in those
days, no ordinary merit.

During the whirl of gaiety, politics, and matchmaking, the Duchess of
Gordon continued to read, and to correspond with Beattie upon topics of
less perishable interest than the factions of the hour. Beattie sent her
his "Essay on Beauty" to read in manuscript; he wrote to her about
Petrarch, about Lord Monboddo's works, and Burke's book on the French
Revolution,--works which the duchess found time to read and wished to
analyse. Their friendship, so honoured to her, continued until his
death in 1803.

The years of life that remained to the Duchess of Gordon must have been
gladdened by the birth of her grandchildren, and by the promise of her
sons George, afterward Duke of Gordon, and Alexander. The illness of
George III., the trials of Hastings and of Lord Melville, the general
war, were the events that most varied the political world, in which she
ever took a keen interest. She died in 1812, and the duke married soon
afterward Mrs. Christie, by whom he had no children.

The dukedom of Gordon became extinct at his death; and the present
representative of this great family is the Marquis of Huntley.


[Illustration: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire From the painting by


Notwithstanding the purity of morals enjoined by the court of George
III., the early period of his reign presents a picture of dissolute
manners as well as of furious party spirit. The most fashionable of our
ladies of rank were immersed in play or devoted to politics; the same
spirit carried them into both. The Sabbath was disregarded, spent often
in cards or desecrated by the meetings of partisans of both factions;
moral duties were neglected and decorum outraged.

The fact was that a minor court had become the centre of all the bad
passions and reprehensible pursuits in vogue. Carlton House, in Pall
Mall, which even the oldest of us can barely remember, with its elegant
screen, open, with pillars in front, its low exterior, its many small
rooms, the vulgar taste of its decorations, and, to crown the whole, the
associations of a corrupting revelry with the whole place,--Canton House
was, in the days of good King George, almost as great a scandal to the
country as Whitehall in the time of improper King Charles II.

The influence which the example of a young prince, of manners eminently
popular, produced upon the young nobility of the realm must be taken
into account in the narrative of that life which was so brilliant and so
misspent; so blessed at its onset, so dreary in its close--the life of
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Descended in the third degree from
Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, Georgiana Spencer is said to have
resembled her celebrated ancestress in the style of her beauty. She was
born in 1757. Her father, John, created Earl of Spencer in 1765, was the
son of the reprobate "Jack Spencer," as he was styled, the misery at
once and the darling of his grandmother, Sarah, who idolised her
Torrismond, as she called him, and left him a considerable portion of
her property. Whilst the loveliness of Sarah descended to Georgiana
Spencer, she certainly inherited somewhat of the talent, the reckless
spirits, and the imprudence of her grandfather, "Jack;" neither could a
careful education eradicate these hereditary characteristics.

Her mother was the daughter of a commoner, the Right Honourable Stephen
Poyntz, of Midgham, in Berkshire. This lady was long remembered both by
friends and neighbours with veneration. She was sensible and
intelligent, polite, agreeable, and of unbounded charity; but Miss
Burney, who knew her, depicts her as ostentatious in her exertions, and
somewhat self-righteous and vainglorious. She was, however, fervently
beloved by her daughter, who afterward made several pecuniary sacrifices
to ensure her mother's comfort. The earliest years of Lady Georgiana (as
she became after her father was created an earl) were passed in the
large house at Holywell, close to St. Albans, built by the famous Duke
of Marlborough on his wife's patrimonial estate. Aged people, some
fifteen years ago, especially a certain neighbouring clergyman,
remembered going to play at cards in this house; and the neighbourly
qualities of Lady Spencer, as much as her benevolence to the poor,
endeared her much to the gentry around. She exercised not only the
duties of charity, but the scarcely minor ones of hospitality and
courtesy to her neighbours. Before the opening of railroads, such duties
were more especially requisite to keep together the scattered members of
country society. Good feelings were engendered, good manners promoted,
and the attachment then felt for old families had a deeper foundation
than servility or even custom. As Lady Georgiana grew up, she displayed
a warm impressionable nature, a passion for all that was beautiful in
art, strong affections, and an early disposition to coquetry. Her
character spoke out in her face, which was the most eloquent of all
faces; yet it was by no means beautiful if we look upon beauty
critically. There were persons who said that her face would have been
ordinary but for its transcendent loveliness of expression. Unlike the
fair Gunnings, she was neither regular in features nor faultless in
form, yet theirs was baby-beauty compared with hers. True, her hair
inclined to red, her mouth was wide, but her complexion was exquisite;
and the lips, ever laughing, were parted over a splendid set of teeth,
an attribute rare in those days when the teeth were often decayed in
youth. She had, too, a charm of manner natural to her, and a playfulness
of conversation, which, springing from a cultivated mind, rendered her
society most fascinating. "Her heart, too," writes Wraxall, her
cotemporary, "might be considered as the seat of those emotions which
sweeten human life, adorn our nature, and diffuse a nameless charm over

A younger sister, Henrietta Frances, afterward Lady Duncannon, and
eventually Countess of Besborough, was also the object of Lady
Georgiana's warm affection; and, although Lady Duncannon was very
inferior to her in elegance of mind and personal attractions, she
equalled her in sisterly love.

During the middle of the last century, literature was again the fashion
among the higher classes. Doctor Johnson and the Thrales, Miss Gurney,
Hannah More, still clustered at Streatham; many of our politicians were,
if not poets, poetasters. It is true, if we except the heart-touching
poems of Cowper, the Muses were silent. The verses which were the
delight of polished drawing-rooms were of little value, and have been
swept away from our memories of the present day as waste paper; but a
taste for what is refined was thus prevalent, and thus affected the then
rising generation favourably.

Lady Georgiana Spencer had, however, a very few years allotted her for
improvement or for the enjoyment of her youth, for in her seventeenth
year she married.

William, the fifth Duke of Devonshire, at the time when he was united
to Lady Georgiana was twenty-seven years of age. He was one of the most
apathetic of men. Tall, yet not even stately, calm to a fault, he had
inherited from the Cavendish family a stern probity of character, which
always has a certain influence in society. Weight he wanted not, for a
heavier man never led to the altar a wife full of generous impulses and
of sensibility. He was wholly incapable of strong emotion, and could
only be roused by whist or faro from a sort of moral lethargy. He was,
nevertheless, crammed with a learning that caused him to be a sort of
oracle at Brookes's when disputes arose about passages from Roman poets
or historians. With all these qualities, he was capable of being, in a
certain sense, in love, though not always with his lovely and engaging
first wife.

Miss Burney relates a characteristic trait of this nobleman; it was
related to her by Miss Monckton. The duke was standing near a very fine
glass lustre in a corner of a room in the house of people who were not
possessed of means sufficient to consider expense as immaterial; by
carelessly lolling back, he threw the lustre back, and it was broken. He
was not, however, in the least disturbed by the accident, but coolly
said: "I wonder how I did that!" He then removed to the opposite corner,
and to show, it was supposed, that he had forgotten what he had done,
leaned his head in the same manner, and down came the second lustre. He
looked at it with philosophical composure, and merely said: "This is
singular enough," and walked to another part of the room without either
distress or apology. To this automaton was the young Lady Georgiana
consigned; and the marriage was, in the estimation of society, a
splendid alliance.

Her animal spirits were excessive, and enabled her to cope with the
misfortune of being linked to a noble expletive. Her good humour was
unceasing, and her countenance was as open as her heart. Fitted as she
was by the sweetest of dispositions for domestic life, one can hardly
wonder at her plunging into the excitements of politics when at home
there was no sympathy. Hence her bitterest misfortunes originated; but
one cannot, with all her indiscretions, suffer a comparison between her
and the Duchesse de Longueville, which Wraxall has instituted. The
Duchess of Devonshire scarcely merits the covert censure; except in
beauty and talents there was no similarity.

Buoyant with health and happiness, the young duchess was introduced into
the highest circles of London as a matter of course. Her husband
represented one of the most influential families of the Whig
aristocracy, and his name and fortune made him important.

Three West End palaces, as they might well be termed, Canton House,
Devonshire House, and Burlington House, were open to every parliamentary
adherent of the famous coalition,--the alliance between Lord North and
Charles James Fox. Devonshire House, standing opposite to the Green
Park, and placed upon an eminence, seemed to look down upon the Queen's
House, as Buckingham Palace was then called. Piccadilly then, though no
longer, as in Queen Anne's time, infested with highwaymen, was almost at
the extremity of the West End.

In right of his descent, on his mother's side from the Boyle family, the
Duke of Devonshire was also the owner of Burlington House, situated near
Devonshire House, and inhabited by his brother-in-law, the Duke
of Portland.

Thus a complete Whig colony existed in that part of London, the head and
front of their party being no less a person than George, Prince of
Wales. He was at this time in the very height of his short-lived health
and youth, and still more short-lived popularity; a man who possessed
all the exterior qualities in which his father was deficient,--grace as
well as good nature, the attribute of George III., a certain degree of
cultivation, as well as of natural talent, a tall, handsome person, with
a face less German in type than those of his brothers, some generosity
of character--witness his kindness to Prince Charles Stuart and his
brother, whom he pensioned--an appearance, at all events, of an
extremely good heart, and a great capacity for social enjoyments.

Doctor Burney states that he was surprised, on meeting the prince at
Lord Melbourne's, to find him, amidst the constant dissipation of his
life, possessed of "much learning, wit, knowledge of books in general,
discrimination of character, and original humour." He spoke with Dr.
Charles Burney, the distinguished scholar, quoting Homer in Greek with
fluency; he was a first-rate critic in music, and a capital mimic. "Had
we been in the dark," said Doctor Burney, "I should have sworn that
Doctor Parr and Kemble were in the room." Hence, the same judge thought
"he might be said to have as much wit as Charles II., with much more
learning, for his merry Majesty could spell no better than the
_bourgeois gentilhomme._" Such was the partial description of the prince
by a flattered and grateful contemporary, who wrote in 1805. Twenty
years later Sir Walter Scott, after dining with the then prince regent,
paid all justice to manners; but pronounced his mind to be of no high
order, and his taste, in so far as wit was concerned, to be condemned.

The prince was, however, just the man to be the centre of a spirited
opposition. In his heart he was Conservative; but the Whigs were his
partisans against a father who strongly, and perhaps not too sternly,
disapproved of his mode of life and his politics.

The circle around him was as remarkable for their talents, and, in some
respects, as infamous for their vices, as any Lord Rochester, or Sedley,
or Etherege of the time of the second Charles. In that day, a Protestant
Duke of Norfolk took an active part in political affairs, and formed one
of the chief supporters of the Whigs. Carlton House, Devonshire House,
often received in their state rooms "Jock of Norfolk," as he was called,
whose large muscular person, more like that of a grazier or a butcher,
was hailed there with delight, for his Grace commanded numerous
boroughs. He was one of the most strenuous supporters of Fox, and had
displayed in the House of Lords a sort of rude eloquence, characteristic
of his mind and body. Nothing, however, but his rank, his wealth, his
influences, his Whig opinions, could have rendered this profligate,
revolting man endurable. Drunkenness is said to have been inherent in
his constitution, and to have been inherited from the Plantagenets. He
was known in his youth to have been found sleeping in the streets,
intoxicated, on a block of wood; yet he is related to have been so
capable of resisting the effects of wine, that, after laying his father,
a drunkard like himself, under the table at the Thatched House, St.
James's, he has been stated to have repaired to another party, there to
finish the convivial rites. He was often under the influence of wine
when, as Lord Surrey, he sat in the House of Commons; but was wise
enough, on such occasions, to hold his tongue. He was so dirty in his
person, that his servants used to take advantage of his fits of
intoxication to wash him; when they stripped him as they would have done
a corpse, and performed ablutions which were somewhat necessary, as he
never made use of water. He was equally averse to a change of linen. One
day, complaining to Dudley North that he was a prey to rheumatism,
"Pray," cried North, "did your Grace ever try a clean shirt?"

This uncleanly form constituted a great feature of the Whig assemblies.
At that time every man wore a queue, every man had his hair powdered;
yet "Jack" renounced powder, which he never wore except at court, and
cut his hair short. His appearance, therefore, must have been a strange
contrast with that of the Prince of Wales, curled and powdered, with
faultless ruffles, and an ample snow-white cravat, to say nothing of the
coat which looked as if it were sewn on his back. It is to the Duke of
Norfolk that the suggestion of putting a tax on hair powder has been
ascribed. His life was one series of profligacy. Yet, such was the
perverted judgment of the day, that this unworthy descendant of the
Plantagenets was as popular as any peer of his time. When sober, he was
accessible, conversable, and devoid of pride. When intoxicated, he used
half to confess that he was still a Catholic at heart. His conversion to
the reformed faith was held not to be very sincere; and his perpetual
blue coat of a peculiar shade--a dress he never varied--was said to be a
penance imposed on him by his confessor. He did no credit to any
Christian church; and the Church of Rome is welcome to his memory.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan, at this period in his thirty-third year, was
not then wholly degraded by drinking, debt, and, as far as money was
concerned, dishonesty. His countenance at this age was full of
intelligence, humour, and gaiety: all these characteristics played
around his mouth, and aided the effect of his oratory to the ear. His
voice was singularly melodious, and a sort of fascination attended all
he did and said. His face, as Milton says of the form of the
fallen angel,--
      "Had not yet lost
      All her original brightness."

Yet he lived to be known by the name of "Bardolph,"--to have every fine
expression lost in traces of drunkenness. No one could have perceived,
in after days, the once joyous spirit of Sheridan in a face covered with
eruptions, and beaming no longer with intelligence. He resembled, says
Wraxall, at sixty, one of the companions of Ulysses, who, having tasted
of Circe's "charmed cup"--
      "... lost his upright shape,
      And downward fell into a grovelling swine."

This extraordinary man was the husband of one of the most beautiful,
and, in being his wife, one of the most unfortunate of women. Miss
Linley, the daughter of a celebrated musical composer, and called, for
her loveliness, the "Maid of Bath," had the calamity of being wooed and
won by Sheridan. Never was there a more touching and instructive history
than hers. Her beauty was rare, even amid the belles of a period rich in
attractive women. Dark masses of hair, drawn back on her brow, fell in
curls on a neck of alabaster. Her features were delicate and regular;
the expression of her eyes was exquisitely soft and pensive. Her charms
have been transmitted to her female descendants, Mrs. Norton, the
Duchess of Somerset, and Lady Dufferin, whilst they have also inherited
her musical talents, and the wit and ability of their grandfather. Mrs.
Sheridan, after a life of alternate splendour and privation, died at
Clifton, of consumption, before middle age. Her death was saddened, if
not hastened, by her carriage, as she was preparing to drive out on the
Downs, being seized for her husband's debts. Whilst united to this young
and lovely wife, Sheridan was one of the brightest stars in the
dissolute sphere of Carlton House; but for domestic life he had neither
time nor disposition. His fame was at its climax, when, during the trial
of Warren Hastings, he spoke for hours in Westminster Hall, with an
eloquence never to be forgotten; then, going to the House of Commons,
exhibited there powers of unrivalled oratory. Meantime the theatres were
ringing with applause, and his name went from mouth to mouth whilst the
"Duenna" was acted at one house, the "School for Scandal" at another. He
was, in truth, the most highly gifted man of his time; and he died in
the fear of bailiffs taking his bed from under him,--an awestruck,
forlorn, despised drunkard!

But of all the party men to whom the young Duchess of Devonshire was
introduced, the most able and the most dissolute was Fox. The colouring
of political friends, which concealed his vices, or rather which gave
them a false hue, has long since faded away. We now know Fox as he was.
In the latest journals of Horace Walpole, his inveterate gambling, his
open profligacy, his utter want of honour, is disclosed by one of his
own opinions. Corrupted ere yet he had left his home, whilst in age a
boy, there is, however, the comfort of reflecting that he outlived his
vices. Fox, with a green apron tied around his waist, pruning and
nailing up his fruit-trees at St. Ann's Hill, or amusing himself
innocently with a few friends, is a pleasing object to remember, even
whilst his early career recurs forcibly to the mind.

Unhappily, he formed one of the most intimate of those whom Georgiana,
Duchess of Devonshire, admitted to her home. He was soon enthralled
among her votaries, yet he was by no means a pleasing object to look at
as he advanced in life. He had dark saturnine features, thought by some
to resemble those of Charles II, from whom he was descended in the
female line; when they relaxed into a smile, they were, it is said,
irresistible. Black shaggy eyebrows concealed the workings of his mind,
but gave immense expression to his countenance. His figure was broad,
and only graceful when his wonderful intellect threw even over that the
power of genius, and produced, when in declamation, the most impassioned
gestures. Having been a coxcomb in his youth, Fox was now degenerating
into the sloven. The blue frock coat and buff waistcoat with which he
appeared in the House of Commons were worn and shabby. Like the white
rose which distinguished the Stuarts, so were the blue and buff the
badge of the American insurgents and of Washington, their chief.

Having ceased to be the head of the Maccaronis, as the _beau monde_ were
then called, Fox had devoted himself to play. Whist, quinze, and
horse-racing were his passion, and he threw away a thousand pounds as if
they had been a guinea; and he lost his whole fortune at the
gaming-table. Before thirty he was reduced to distress, even in the
common affairs of life. He could not pay the chairmen who carried him to
the House. He was known to borrow money from the waiters at Brookes's,
which was the rallying-point of the Opposition. There the night was
spent in whist, faro, suppers, and political consultations. Dissolute as
he was, there was a kindness, a generosity of disposition that made his
influence over man or woman most perilous to both. Then he was one of
the most accomplished of students in history and general letters; and to
his studies he could even devote himself after irretrievable losses at
play. Topham Beauclerk, after having passed the whole night with Fox at
faro, saw him leave the club in desperation. He had lost enormously.
Fearful of the consequences, Beauclerk followed him to his lodgings. Fox
was in the drawing-room, intently engaged over a Greek "Herodotus."
Beauclerk expressed his surprise. "What would you have me do? I have
lost my last shilling," was the reply. So great was the elasticity of
his disposition, sometimes, after losing all the money he could manage
to borrow, at faro, he used to lay his head on the table, and, instead
of railing at fortune, fall fast asleep. For some years after the
Duchess of Devonshire's marriage Fox had continued to represent
Westminster. So long as he retained that position, Pitt's triumph could
not be considered as complete, nor the Tory party as firmly established
in the administration. Three candidates appeared on the hustings in
April, 1784,--Lord Hood, Sir Cecil Wray, and Fox. So late as the
twenty-sixth of the month Wray, who had sat for some time for
Westminster in Parliament, maintained a small numerical advantage over
Fox. The election, which began on the first of the month, had now gone
on more than three weeks: ten thousand voters had polled; and it was
even expected that, since the voters were exhausted, the books would be
closed, and Wray, who was second on the poll, Lord Hood being first,
would carry the day.

Happily we have now no adequate notion of the terrors of such an
election; it was a scene of fun and malice, spirit and baseness,
alternately. Englishmen seemed hardly men; whilst they one hour
blustered, the next they took the bribe, and were civil. Fox went down
to Westminster in a carriage with Colonel North, Lord North's son,
behind as a footman, and the well-known Colonel Hanger--one of the
reprobate associates of George IV. (when prince regent), and long
remembered on a white horse in the park, after being deserted by the
prince and out of vogue--driving in the coat, hat, and wig of a
coachman. When Queen Charlotte heard of this exploit of Colonel North's
she dismissed him from his office of comptroller of her household,
saying she did not covet another man's servant.

As the month drew to a close, every hour became precious, and Fox gained
at this critical juncture two new and potent allies. Dressed in
garter-blue and buff, in compliment to Fox and his principles, forth
came the young Duchess of Devonshire and her sister, now Lady Duncannon,
and solicited votes for their candidate. The mob were gratified by the
aspect of so much rank, so great beauty, cringing for their support.
Never, it was said, had two "such lovely portraits appeared before on
a canvas."

It required, indeed, no ordinary courage to undertake collecting votes,
for a strong disposition to rioting now manifested itself. Nevertheless,
being provided with lists of the outlying voters, these two young women
drove to their dwellings. In their enterprise they had to face butchers,
tailors, every craft, low or high, and to pass through the lowest, the
dirtiest, and the most degraded parts of London. But Fox was a hundred
votes below Wray, and his fair friends were indefatigable; they forgot
their dignity, their womanhood, and "party" was their watchword. They
were opposed by the Marchioness of Salisbury, whom the Tories brought
forward. She was beautiful, but haughty; and her age, for she was
thirty-four, whereas the Duchess of Devonshire was only twenty-six,
deteriorated from the effect of her appearance.

Forgetting her rank, which Lady Salisbury always remembered, and
throwing all her powers of fascination into the scale, the young duchess
alighted during one of her canvassing days at a butcher's shop. The
owner, in his apron and sleeves, stoutly refused his vote, except on one
condition,--"Would her Grace give him a kiss?" The request was granted.
This was one of the votes which swelled the number of two hundred and
thirty-five above Sir Cecil Wray, and Fox stood second on the poll. Of
course much stupid poetry was written on the occasion.

      "Condemn not, prudes, fair Devon's plan,
        In giving _Steel_ a kiss
      In such a cause, for such a man,
        She could not do amiss."

Even the Prince of Wales took an active interest in this memorable
election; and George III. is said to have also interfered. Never was
political rancour so high, nor conscience so low, as at that period. The
hustings resembled the stand at Newmarket. "An even bet that he comes in
second," cried one; "five to four on this day's poll," screamed another.
Amid all these shouts, gazed at by the lowest of all human beings, the
low not only in rank but in feeling, the drunken, paid-for voters, stood
the duchess and a band of fair titled friends supporting Fox, who was
called the "Man of the People."

It was the 17th of May when Fox, over whose head a scrutiny hung on the
part of Sir Cecil Wray, and who was not thought even then returned as
member, was chaired. This procession took place as the poll closed. Fox
was carried through the streets on a chair decorated with laurel, the
ladies in blue and buff forming part of the _cortege_. Before him was
displayed the prince's plume: those three ostrich feathers, the sight of
which might bring back to our minds the field of Cressy, where they were
won, and henceforth worn for four successive centuries. A flag, on which
was inscribed, "Sacred to Female Patriotism," was waved by a horseman in
the triumphant cavalcade. The carriages of the Duke of Devonshire and
the Duke of Portland attracted even less attention than that of Fox, on
the box of which were Colonel North and other friends, partisans of Lord
North's, who now mingled with their former opponents. As the procession
turned into Pall Mall, it was observed that the gates of Carlton House
were open; it passed in, therefore, and saluted, in veering round, the
Prince of Wales, who, with a number of ladies and gentlemen, stood in
the balustrade in front. Fox then addressed the crowd, and attempted to
disperse them; but at night the mob broke out into acts of fury,
illuminated and attacked those houses which were in sullen darkness.

The next day the prince invited all the rank, beauty, and fashion of the
coalition party to a fête on his lawn. It wad a bright day that 18th of
May; and under the delicious shade of the trees the young and gay
forgot, perhaps, in the enchantments of the scene, politics and
elections. Lord North, dressed in blue and buff,--his new
livery,--strutted about amid those who only fifteen months before had
execrated and denounced him, until, by the coalition with Fox, he had
made himself their idol. Every one, on this occasion, crowded around the
minister, whose wit was as inexhaustible as his _sang-froid_, and whose
conversation in its playfulness resembled that of our great premier of
1859. Blue and buff pervaded the garden. Colonel North (afterward Lord
Guildford) and George Byng, hitherto bitter enemies, were seen, dressed
alike, walking together familiarly. The prince was irresistibly
fascinating, and nothing could be more splendid than the fête given by
royalty overwhelmed by debt.

As the party were thus enjoying themselves, by a strange coincidence,
the famous cream-coloured horses of George III. were beheld proceeding
in solemn state down St. James's Park. His Majesty was going to
Westminster to open Parliament. Nothing but a low wall separated Canton
Gardens from the park, so that the king could not forbear seeing his
former minister, his son, and the successful candidate disporting
themselves in all the elation of success.

In the evening Lower Grosvenor Street was blocked up with carriages, out
of which gentlemen and ladies, all in blue and buff, descended to visit
the famous Mrs. Crewe, whose husband, then member for Chester, was
created, in 1806, Lord Crewe. This lady was as remarkable for her
accomplishments and her worth as for her beauty; nevertheless, she
permitted the admiration of Fox, who was in the rank of her admirers.
The lines he wrote on her were not exaggerated. They began thus:
      "Where the loveliest expression to features is joined,
      By Nature's most delicate pencil design'd;
      Where blushes unbidden, and smiles without art,
      Speak the softness and feeling that dwell in the heart;
      Where in manners enchanting, no blemish we trace,
      But the soul keeps the promise we had from the face;
      Sure philosophy, reason, and coldness must prove
      Defences unequal to shield us from love."

Nearly eight years after the famous election at Westminster, Mrs. Crewe
was still in perfection, with a son of one and twenty, who looked like
her brother. The form of her face was exquisitely lovely, her complexion
radiant. "I know not," Miss Burney writes, "any female in her first
youth who could bear the comparison. She uglifies every one near her."

This charming partisan of Fox had been active in his cause; and her
originality of character, her good humour, her recklessness of
consequences, made her a capital canvasser.

The same company that had assembled in the morning at Carlton House now
crowded into Grosvenor Street. Blue and buff were the order of the
evening, the Prince of Wales wearing those colours. After supper he gave
a toast,--"True blue and Mrs. Crewe." The room rang with applause. The
hostess rose to return thanks. "True blue, and all of you," was her
toast. Nor did the festivities end here. Canton House some days
afterward received all the great world, the "true blues" of London. The
fête, which was of the most varied kind, and of the most magnificent
description, began at noon, went on all night, and was not ended till
the next day. Nothing could exceed its splendour. A costly banquet was
prepared for the ladies, on whom his Royal Highness and the gentlemen
waited whilst they were seated at table. Nothing could exceed the grace,
the courtesy, the tact of the prince on these occasions, when he forgot
his two hundred thousand pounds of debt, and added to them. Louis XIV.,
said an eye-witness, could not have eclipsed him. This was probably the
brightest era in the life of the Duchess of Devonshire. She was the lady
paramount of the aristocratic Whig circles, in which rank and literature
were blended with political characters. Slander soon coupled her name
with that of Fox; and that name, though never wholly blighted, was
sullied. Miss Burney, meeting her at Bath, some years afterward,
describes her as no longer beautiful, but with manners exquisitely
polite, and "with a gentle quiet" of demeanour. Yet there was an
expression of melancholy. "I thought she looked oppressed within," was
Miss Burney's remark. On another occasion she found her more lively, and
consequently more lovely, vivacity being so much her characteristic that
her style of beauty required it. "She was quite gay, easy, and charming;
indeed, that last word might have been coined for her;" and Miss Burney
soon perceived that it was the sweetness of her smile, her open,
ingenuous countenance, that had won her the celebrity which had attended
her career of fashion.

But even then there was a canker in the duchess's felicity. Lady
Elizabeth Foster, the daughter of the Earl of Bristol, and a contrast to
her in person,--large, dark, and handsome,--had attracted the duke, her
husband, and the coldest of men had become, deeply enamoured of this
woman, whom he eventually married. Gibbon said of Lady Elizabeth that
she was the most alluring of women. Strange to say, a sort of friendship
existed between the duchess and Lady Elizabeth, who was with her at
Bath, when Miss Burney saw them together. Even then a cloud hung
over--these two ladies of rank; and Mrs. Ord, Miss Gurney's cautious
friend, reproved her for making their acquaintance.

Three children of rare promise were given to occupy the affections which
were so little reciprocated by the duke. The elder of the three,
Georgiana Dorothy, afterward married to the Earl of Carlisle, and the
mother of the present Duchess of Sutherland, is described by Miss
Gurney, at eight years of age, as having a fine, sweet, and handsome
countenance, and with the form and figure of a girl of twelve. She, as
well as her sister, was at that time under the care of Miss Trimmer, the
daughter of Mrs. Trimmer, one of the most admirable writers for children
that has ever delighted our infancy. Miss Trimmer is described as a
"pleasing, not pretty" young lady, with great serenity of manner.

Lady Henrietta Elizabeth, married to the Earl of Granville, so long
ambassador at Paris, was, at six years of age, by "no means handsome,
but had an open and pleasing countenance, and a Look of the most happy
disposition;" a tribute borne out by the many virtues of that admirable
lady in after life. The Marquis of Hartington, afterward Duke of
Devonshire, then only fourteen months old (this was in 1791), had
already a house, and a carriage to himself, almost in the style of
royalty. He lived near his father, whilst the duchess was staying with
her mother, Lady Spencer. To persons of domestic notions this seems a
singular arrangement.

This apparently happy family party had, however, some trials to obscure
their supposed felicity. Scandal not only pointed at Lady Elizabeth
Foster as possessing an undue influence over the duke, but attacked the
duchess in the most sacred relations of her life. The little marquis was
reputed to be illegitimate; the report assumed several shapes; of course
rancorous political partisans pointed to the intimacy with Fox; others
to the intimacy at Carlton House. Another story also obtained credit,
and never died away. This was that at the time when the duchess was
confined, Lady Elizabeth gave birth to a son, the duchess to a daughter,
and that the children were changed; that the late duke entered into a
contract with his uncle, the late Lord George Cavendish, never to marry,
in order that his lordship's children might have an undisputed
succession at his Grace's death.

There was another source of disquiet to Lady Spencer and the duchess at
this time, in the deep depression of Lady Duncannon. This lady, the
mother of Lady Caroline Lamb, so conspicuous for her eccentricity in our
own time, seems to have been affectionately beloved by her brother, the
Lord Spencer, the grandfather of the present earl. "He made up to her,"
says Miss Burney, "with every mark of pitying affection, she receiving
him with the most expressive pleasure, though nearly silent." This
afflicted woman lived, nevertheless, to a great age, and survived her
gay, spirited sister, the Duchess of Devonshire.

Lady Spencer belonged to that class whom we now call evangelical; a
class earnest in feeling, originating in a sincere desire to renovate
the almost dead faith of the period; to set an example of piety and
decorum; and also "to let their light shine before men." Miss Burney
describes her as too desirous of a reputation for charity and devotion.
Nevertheless, Lady Spencer could not detach her daughter from the
gay world.

The duchess continued to take an active part in politics, and to mingle
with the tumult of elections, faro, and party triumphs, Love, poetry,
end the fine arts. Her son was born in the dawn of that Revolution in
France which shook the foundations of all social life. At this very
period a serious calamity befell their country in the first fit of
insanity that attacked George III. Up to the very time when France was
plunged into commotion, his Majesty, apparently in perfect health, had
held his weekly levees at St. James's until the last week of October,
1788. Early in November the first paroxysms of his disordered intellect
occurred at the Queen's Lodge, after dinner, her Majesty and the
princesses being present. The gates of the Lodge were closed that night;
no answers were given to persons making inquiries; and it was rumoured
that his Majesty was dead.

The state of the public mind may readily be conceived. The capital
exhibited a scene of confusion and excitement only exceeded by that
displayed four years afterward, when the decapitation of Louis XVI. was
announced in London.

A regency was proposed; and six physicians were called in to act in
consultation. Doctor Warren was considered to hold the first place in
this learned junto. Doctor Addington, the father of the late Lord
Sidmouth, Sir Lucas Pepys, and Doctor Willis were amongst the rest.
Warren was disposed to Whiggism, and thought the king's recovery
doubtful. Willis was a Tory, and pronounced it possible, and indeed
probable. His dictum was believed at St. James's and at Kew Palace;
Warren was credited at Carlton House and Devonshire House. If the first
was the oracle of White's, the second was trusted at Brookes's. The
famous Duchess of Gordon, the partisan of Pitt and Dundas, supported
Willis and his views, and was the whipper-in of the Tory party. The
Duchess of Devonshire was the firm and powerful supporter of the prince,
in his claims to the regency. The Tories were for the power not only
over the royal household, but over the council, being vested in Queen
Charlotte. A caricature was circulated representing the Lord Chancellor,
Pitt, and Dundas, as the three "weird sisters" gazing at the full moon.
Her orb was half enlightened, half eclipsed. The part in darkness
contained the king's profile; on the other side was a head, resplendent
in light, graciously gazing at the weird sisters; that was the queen. In
the February of the ensuing year, nevertheless, to the great joy of the
nation, the king showed signs of amendment. One day, Mr. Greville,
brother to the Earl of Warwick, was standing near the king's bed, and
relating to Doctor Willis that Lord North had made inquiries after the
king's health. "Has he?" said the king. "Where did he make them, at St.
James's, or here?" An answer being given, "Lord North," said his
Majesty, "is a good man, unlike the others. He is a good man." The party
at Carlton House, amongst whom the Duchess of Devonshire must ever be
ranked, were disappointed at this timely recovery, whilst the
honest-hearted middle and lower classes of England were unfeignedly
rejoiced; but there was too much party rancour existing for any better
spirit to arise and show itself. Even in society, the venom of party was
suffered to intrude. Lord Mountnorris, being one evening at a ball given
by the French ambassador, canvassed the whole room for a partner, but in
vain. He begged Miss Vernon to interfere, and to procure him a partner
for a country dance. She complied, and presented him to a very elegant
young lady, with whom his lordship danced, and conversed some time. Soon
afterward a gentleman said to him, "Pray, my lord, do you know with whom
you have been dancing?" "No," he replied; "pray who is she?"
"Coalitions," said the gentleman, "will never end; why, it is Miss Fox,
the niece of Charles, and sister of Lord Holland." The noble lord was
thunderstruck. Had Pitt seen him? If so, he was undone. He ran up to
reproach Miss Vernon. "True," was the reply; "she is the niece of Fox,
but since she has twenty thousand pounds to her fortune, I thought I had
not acted improperly in introducing you."

In the famous quarrel between Burke and Fox, the Duchess of Devonshire
took the office of mediator. Burke thus attacked Fox in the House
of Commons.

"Mr. Fox," he said, "has treated me with harshness and malignity. After
harassing with his light troops in the skirmishes of 'order,' he has
brought the heavy artillery of his own great abilities to bear on me.
There have," he added, "been many differences between Mr. Fox and
myself, but there has been no loss of friendship between us. There is
something in this cursed French constitution which envenoms everything."

Fox whispered, "There is no loss of friendship between us." Burke
replied, "There is. I know the price of my conduct: our friendship is
at an end."

Fox was overwhelmed with grief at these words. He rose to reply, but his
feelings deprived him of utterance. Relieved by a burst of tears, whilst
a deep silence pervaded the house, he at last spoke.

"However events," he said, in deep emotion, "may have altered the mind
of my honourable friend,--for so I must still call him,--I cannot so
easily consent to relinquish and dissolve that intimate connection which
has for twenty-five years subsisted between us. I hope that Mr. Burke
will think on past times, and whatever conduct of mine has caused the
offence, he will at least believe that I did not intend to offend." But
the quarrel was never reconciled, notwithstanding the good offices of
the Duchess of Devonshire, the friend of both parties.

Soon after the commencement of the eighteenth century, this party spirit
was, as it were, rebuked, first by the death of Pitt, and afterward by
that of Fox, who was long in a declining state. When he heard that Pitt
had expired, he said, "Pitt has died in January, perhaps I may go off in
June. I feel my constitution dissolving." When asked by a friend, during
the month of August, to make one of a party in the country at Christmas,
he declined.

"It will be a new scene," said his friend. "I shall indeed be in a new
scene by Christmas next," Mr. Fox replied. On that occasion he expressed
his belief in the immortality of the soul; "but how," he added, "it acts
as separated from the body, is beyond my capacity of judgment." Mr. Fox
took his hand and wept. "I am happy," he added, "full of confidence; I
may say of certainty."

One of his greatest desires was to be removed to St. Ann's Hill, near
Chertsey, the scene of his later, his reformed, his happier life. His
physicians hesitated, and recommended his being carried first to the
Duke of Devonshire's house at Chiswick. Here, for a time, he seemed to
recover health and spirits. Mrs. Fox, Lady Holland, his niece, and Lady
Elizabeth Foster were around his death-bed. Many times did he take leave
of those dearest to him; many times did death hover over him; yet we
find no record that the Duchess of Devonshire was amongst those who
received his last sigh. His last words to Mrs. Fox and Lord Holland
were, "God bless you, bless you, and you all! I die happy--I pity you!"

"Oh! my country!" were Pitt's last words; those of Fox were equally
characteristic. His nature was tender and sympathetic, and had he lived
in other times he would have been probably as good as he was great.

His remains were removed from Chiswick to his own apartments in St.
James's, and conveyed under a splendid canopy to Westminster Abbey. As
the gorgeous procession passed Carlton House, a band of music,
consisting of thirty, played the "Dead March in Saul." The Prince of
Wales had wished to follow his friend on foot to the grave, but such a
tribute was forbidden by etiquette.

It is to be regretted that princes must be exempted from so many of the
scenes in this sublunary life calculated to touch the heart, to chasten
and elevate the spirit. As the funeral entered the abbey, and those
solemn words, "I am the Resurrection and the Life," were chanted, the
deepest emotion affected those who had known and loved him whose pall
they bore.

Among other tributes to the memory of Fox were the following lines from
the pen of the Duchess of Devonshire. The visitor to Woburn Abbey will
find them underneath the bust of the great statesman in a temple
dedicated to Liberty by the late Duke of Bedford.

      "Here, near the friends he lov'd, the man behold,
      In truth unshaken, and in virtue bold,
      Whose patriot zeal and uncorrupted mind
      Dared to assert the freedom of mankind;
      And, whilst extending desolation far,
      Ambition spread the hateful flames of war
      Fearless of blame, and eloquent to save,
      'Twas he--'twas Fox--the warning counsel gave,
      Midst jarring conflicts stemm'd the tide of blood,
      And to the menac'd world a sea-mark stood!
      Oh! had his voice in mercy's cause prevailed,
      What grateful millions had the statesman hail'd:
      Whose wisdom made the broils of nations cease,
      And taught the world humanity and peace!
      But, though he fail'd, succeeding ages here
      The vain, yet pious efforts shall revere;
      Boast in their annals his illustrious name,
      Uphold his greatness, and confirm his fame."

The duchess only survived Fox a year; she died in 1806, beloved,
charitable, penitent. Her disease was an abscess of the liver, which was
detected rather suddenly, and which proved fatal some months after it
was first suspected. When the Prince of Wales heard of her death, he
remarked: "Then the best-natured and best-bred woman in England is
gone." Her remains were conveyed to the family vault of the Cavendish
family in All Saints' Church, Derby; and over that sepulchre one fond
heart, at all events, sorrowed. Her sister, Lady Duncannon, though far
inferior to the duchess in elegance both of mind and person, had the
same warm heart and strong affection for her family. During the month of
July, 1811, a short time before the death of the Duke of Devonshire (the
husband of the duchess), Sir Nathaniel Wraxall visited the vault of All
Saints' Church. As he stood admiring the coffin in which the remains of
the once lovely Georgiana lay mouldering, the woman who had accompanied
him showed him the shreds of a bouquet which lay on the coffin. Like the
mortal coil of that frame within, the bouquet was now reduced almost to
dust. "That nosegay," said the woman, "was brought here by the Countess
of Besborough, who had intended to place it herself upon the coffin of
her sister; but as she approached the steps of the vault, her agony
became too great to permit her to proceed. She knelt down on the stones
of the church, as nearly over the place where the coffin stood in the
vault below as I could direct, and there deposited the flowers,
enjoining me to perform an office to which she was unequal. I fulfilled
her wishes."

By others the poor duchess was not so faithfully remembered. Her friend
Lady Elizabeth Foster had long since become her rival, yet one common
secret, it was believed, kept them from a rupture. Both had, it was
understood, much to conceal. The story of the late Duke of Devonshire's
supposed birth has been referred to: he is supposed to have been the son
of the duke, but not of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, but of her who
afterward bore that title, Lady Elizabeth Foster. The inflexible
determination of the late duke to remain single, according, it is said,
to an agreement between him and his uncle, then Lord George Cavendish,
always seemed to imply, in a man of such pure and domestic tastes, so
affectionate a disposition, and so princely a fortune, some dire

In 1824, Lady Elizabeth Foster, then the second Duchess of Devonshire,
expired at Rome, where she had lived many years in almost regal
splendour. Amongst her most intimate friends were the Cardinal Consalvi
and Madame Récamier, who were cognisant of the report, which was
confirmed in their minds by the late duke's conduct at her death. Lady
Elizabeth, as we shall still by way of distinction call her, was then so
emaciated as to resemble a living spectre; but the lines of a rare and
commanding beauty still remained. Her features were regular and noble,
her eyes magnificent, and her attenuated figure was upright and
dignified, with the step of an empress. Her complexion of marble
paleness completed this portrait. Her beautiful arms and hands were
still as white as ivory, though almost like a skeleton's from their
thinness. She used in vain to attempt to disguise their emaciation by
wearing bracelets and rings. Though surrounded by every object of art in
which she delighted, by the society, both of the English, Italian, and
French persons of distinction whom she preferred, there was a shade of
sadness on this fascinating woman's brow, as if remembrance forbade her
usual calm of life's decline.

Her stepson (so reported), the late duke, treated her with respect and
even affection, but there was an evident reserve between them. At her
death he carefully excluded all friends to whom she could in her last
moments confide what might perhaps, at that hour, trouble her
conscience. Her friends, Madame Récamier and the Duc de Laval, were only
admitted to bid her farewell when she was speechless, and a few minutes
before she breathed her last.

This circumstance struck them forcibly as confirmatory of the report
alluded to; but it must in candour be stated that the duke's precautions
may have originated in another source. His step-mother was disposed to
Romanism, and he may have feared that the zeal of her Catholic friends
should prompt them, if opportunity occurred, to speak to her on the
subject of her faith, and to suggest the adoption of such consolations
as their own notions would have thought indispensable at that awful
moment. The point is one that cannot be settled. It may, however, be
remarked, that in disposition, in his wide benevolence and courteous
manners, the late duke greatly resembled the subject of this
memoir,--the beautiful, the gifted, but the worldly Georgiana, Duchess
of Devonshire.



Note 1: Collins's "Peerage" gives the following account of this lady:
"Peter, Lord King, married Anne, daughter of Richard Seys, Esq., of
Boverton, in Glamorganshire, with whom he lived to the day of his death
in perfect love and happiness, and left by her four sons and two

Note 2: A portrait of my grandmother, when a girl, was seen by my mother
at Hawell, in Somersetshire, the seat of Sir C. K. Tynt, many years after
I was born.

Note 3: I may with truth, and without vanity, make this remark. The
estimable being here mentioned was named John; he died on the 7th of
December, 1790, at Leghorn, in Tuscany, where he had been many years
established as a merchant of the first respectability.

Note 4: Hannah More, with her sisters, at this time kept a boarding-
school for young ladies. Later she became famous as the author of
tragedies which gained popularity--Ed.

Note 5: Mr. Powel.

Note 6: Thomas Hull, deputy manager of Covent Garden Theatre, was founder
of the Theatrical Fund for the relief of distressed players. He was an
actor, the author and translator of several plays, and a writer of poems
and short stories.--Ed.

Note 7: David Garrick, the famous actor and manager of Drury Lane Theatre,
made his last appearance on the stage on the 10th of June, 1776, he
being then in his sixtieth year.--Ed.

Note 8: Arthur Murphy, an Irishman, began life as a clerk, then became a
journalist, and subsequently an actor, but remaining on the stage only
for a couple of seasons, he turned dramatist and wrote a number of
plays, some of which attained great success. Two years after the death
of David Garrick he wrote a life of the famous player, who had been his
intimate friend.--Ed.

Note 9: Susannah Cibber, who gained considerable fame as a singer in
oratorio before becoming an actress. Her first success as a player was
gained at Covent Garden, but in 1753 she joined Garrick's company at Drury
Lane, of which she remained a member until her death in 1766. Garrick, who
greatly admired her genius, on hearing of her demise, declared, "Then
tragedy is dead on one side." She lies buried in Westminster Abbey.

Note 10: At the time when the banns of her marriage were published she
admits to being "a few months advanced in her sixteenth year;" and she had
been four months married when the journey to Bristol was made.--Ed.

Note 11: Mrs. Sophia Baddeley, who was a very beautiful woman, and the
heroine of many amorous adventures.--Ed.

Note 12: Robert Henley, who, in 1772, succeeded his father as second Earl
of Northington. Previous to this date he had been made an LL. D. of
Cambridge, and had held the offices of teller of the exchequer, and
master of the Hamper Office in Chancery. The year after his succession
he was made Knight of the Thistle, and in 1783 was appointed Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland.--Ed.

Note 13: Thomas, second Baron Lyttelton, known as "the wicked Lord
Lyttelton," in distinction to his father, who in his lifetime had been
styled "the good Lord Lyttelton." Thomas, Baron Lyttelton, was a man of
parts and fashion; a politician, a writer of verses, an artist whose
paintings were supposed to contain the combined excellencies of Salvator
Rosa and Claude, and withal one of the greatest profligates of the age.
This is the Lord Lyttelton who, in his thirty-fifth year, and whilst in
perfect health, dreamt a woman appeared to him and announced he had not
three days to live. He spoke lightly of his dream, and on the morning of
the third day felt in such good spirits that he declared he should "bilk
the ghost." He died suddenly that night, when his friend Miles Peter
Andrews dreamt Lyttelton appeared to him and said, "All is over."

George Edward Ayscough, a captain in the Guards, was cousin to the
second Lord Lyttelton. Some years Later than the date of his meeting
with Mrs. Robinson he produced a version of Voltaire's "Semiramis,"
which was presented at Drury Lane Theatre in 1776. He is described as "a
parasite of Lord Lyttelton," and as "a fool of fashion."--Ed.

Note 14: Anna Laetitia Aikin (1743-1825).--Ed.

Note 15: George Robert Fitzgerald, commonly known as "Fighting
Fitzgerald," from the number of duels in which he took part, was a man of
good family, noted alike for his gallantry and recklessness. A fracas
which was the result of his distasteful attentions to Mrs. Hartley, a
well-known actress, had made him notorious in 1773, some years previous
to his introduction to Mrs. Robinson. His life, which was one of
singular adventure, ended on the scaffold, he being executed for murder
in 1786.--Ed.

Note 16: Mrs. Abington, a distinguished actress who, at the age of
seventeen, had made her first appearance at the Haymarket Theatre, some
six years before the author of these memoirs was born.

Note 17: Later she gave birth to a daughter, named Sophia, who lived but
six weeks.--Ed.

Note 18: Mr. Robinson was educated at Harrow, and was a contemporary of
Mr. Sheridan.

Note 19: This gentleman's name is Hanway, the person mentioned in the
former part of this work as Mr. Robinson's earliest friend.

Note 20: Writing of this time, Miss Hawkins states that Mrs. Robinson was
"eminently meritorious: she had her child to attend to, she did all the
work of their apartments, she even scoured the stairs, and accepted the
writing and the pay which he had refused."--Ed.

Note 21: Georgiana, wife of the fifth Duke of Devonshire. The duchess was
not only one of the most beautiful, vivacious, and fascinating women of
the day, but was likewise an ardent politician. Whilst canvassing for the
election of Fox, she purchased the vote of a butcher for a kiss, and
received from an Irish mechanic the complimentary assurance that he
could light his pipe at her eyes.--Ed.

Note 22: George Hobart, third Earl of Buckinghamshire, who had a passion
for dramatic entertainments, and for a time became manager of the opera in

Note 23: Richard Brinsley Sheridan was at this period in his twenty-fifth
year, and had entered on his mismanagement of Drury Lane Theatre. He had
already written "The Rivals," which had not proved a success on its
first appearance; "St. Patrick's Day, or the Scheming Lieutenant," a
farce; "The Duenna," a comic opera; but he was yet to write "A Trip to
Scarborough," and "The School for Scandal."

Note 24: In his "History of the Stage," Genest tells us Mrs. Robinson made
her first appearance on the stage as Juliet, on the 10th of December,
1776, but leaves us in ignorance regarding the actors who took part in
the tragedy. Romeo was evidently played by William Brereton, who had
rehearsed the principal scenes with her in the greenroom before Sheridan
and Garrick. Genest adds: "Mrs. Robinson was received with great
applause. She had an engagement previous to her first appearance, and
received what was considered a handsome salary. She was a most beautiful
woman, and a very good breeches figure."--Ed.

Note 25: According to Genest, the second character she attempted was
Statira, in "Alexander the Great," played on the 17th of February, 1777;
Amanda, in "The Trip to Scarborough," produced seven nights later, being
her third personation.--Ed.

Note 26: Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, and afterward King of
Hanover, was the fifth son of George III, and perhaps the most profligate
and unpopular member of the royal family.--Ed.

Note 27: Horace Walpole, writing to his friend, the Rev. William Mason, on
the 28th of May, 1780, says: "Lady Craven's comedy, called 'The
Miniature Picture,' which she acted herself with a genteel set at her
own house in the country, has been played at Drury Lane. The chief
singularity was that she went to it herself, the second night, in form;
sat in the middle of the front row of the stage box, much dressed, with
a profusion of white bugles and plumes, to receive the public homage due
to her sex and loveliness.... It was amazing to see so young a woman
entirely possess herself; but there is such an integrity and frankness
in her consciousness of her own beauty and talents, that she speaks of
them with a _naïveté_ as if she had no property in them, but only wore
them as gifts of the gods. Lord Craven, on the contrary, was quite
agitated by his fondness for her, and with impatience at the bad
performance of the actors, which was wretched indeed. Yet the address of
the plot, which is the chief merit of the piece, and some lively
pencilling, carried it off very well, though Parsons murdered the Scotch
Lord, and Mrs. Robinson (who is supposed to be the favourite of the
Prince of Wales) thought on nothing but her own charms and him."

"The Irish Widow" was a farce founded by David Garrick on Molière's "Le
Mariage Forcé," and produced on the 23d of October, 1772.--Ed.

Note 28: Thomas Linley, who was considered "one of the finest violin
players in Europe," was drowned through the upsetting of a boat on the
5th of August, 1778. He was a brother-in-law of Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Note 29: George Colman, a popular and prolific dramatist, who in 1777
became manager of the Haymarket Theatre, and continued as such until 1785,
introducing meanwhile many new players and some dramatic novelties.--Ed.

Note 30: Elizabeth Farren, born 1759, made her first appearance before a
London audience as Miss Hardcastle, in "She Stoops to Conquer," on June
9, 1777. After years spent in strolling through the provinces in her
father's company and that of other managers, she now captivated the
town. Her beautiful face, exquisitely modulated voice, elegant figure,
and natural grace, rendered her an ideal representative of the fine
ladies of comedy. She was welcomed into the most distinguished society
in London, and whilst acting as manageress of private theatricals at the
Duke of Richmond's house in Whitehall, met Edward, twelfth Earl of
Derby, whose wife was then living. This did not prevent him from falling
in love with Miss Farren, who, it was understood, would succeed his
first wife as countess did the latter predecease the actress. Lady Derby
died on March 14, 1797 and on the 8th of the following month Miss Farren
took leave of the stage in the character of Lady Teazle, and on the 1st
of May was married to Lord Derby, she being then in her thirty-eighth
year. Even in this scandal-loving and licentious age no imputation had
ever been cast upon her honour. Of the three children born of this
union, but one survived, a daughter, who marred the Earl of Wilton. The
Countess of Derby lived until 1829.--Ed.

Note 31: Mrs. Robinson played Lady Macbeth on the occasion of her benefit,
when was also performed a musical farce she had composed entitled, "A
Lucky Escape."--Ed.

Note 32: The famous politician, Charles James Fox, a friend of the Prince
of Wales.--Ed.

Note 33: George III. and Queen Charlotte, who frequently attended the

Note 34: This performance of "The Winter's Tale" took place on December 3,
1779, she being at that time in her twenty-second year, and the Prince
of Wales in his eighteenth year.--Ed.

Note 35: Smith had been educated at Eton and St. John's College,
Cambridge, with a view to becoming a clergyman, but eventually went on the
stage and proved himself an excellent actor, whose representation of
Charles Surface was considered a finished performance.--Ed.

Note 36: George Chapel Coningsby, Viscount Malden, afterward fifth Earl of
Essex, born November 13, 1757. He married twice, his second wife being
Miss Stephens, the famous singer.--Ed.

Note 37: Those who have read "The Winter's Tale" will know the
significance of these adopted names.

Note 38: The writer evidently makes a mistake in fixing the Oratorio for
the next night, as will be seen from the note on the next page.--Ed.

Note 39: Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany, second son of George
III., who at the age of six months was elected to the valuable bishopric
of Osnaburg.--Ed.

Note 40: Another of the "diurnal prints," dated February 12, 1780, is not
so complimentary in its remarks, which run as follows: "A circumstance of
rather an embarrassing nature happened at last night's Oratorio. Mrs.
R----, decked out in all her finery, took care to post herself in one of
the upper boxes immediately opposite the prince's, and by those airs
peculiar to herself, contrived at last so to _basilisk_ a certain
heir-apparent, that his fixed attention to the beautiful object became
generally noticed, and soon after astonished their Majesties, who, not
being able to discover the cause, seemed at a loss to account for the
extraordinary effect. No sooner, however, were they properly informed
than a messenger was instantly sent aloft desiring the dart-dealing
actress to withdraw, which she complied with, though not without
expressing the utmost chagrin at her mortifying removal."--Ed.

Note 41: At this time the Prince of Wales and his brother Frederick
Augustus, Duke of York, were living in seclusion at Boner Lodge, Kew,
where their education was being conducted by Doctor Hurd, Bishop of
Lichfield, Mr. Arnold, and Lord Bruce. A strict discipline was exercised
over the princes at this period. It was not until January 1, 1781, that
the Prince of Wales was provided with a separate establishment, a part of
Buckingham House being allotted to him for that purpose.--Ed.

Note 42: Now Margravine of Anspach.

Note 43: The most affecting tribute which the memory of a gallant father
could receive was the following pathetic and heartfelt effusion of
genuine and grateful duty:

DECEMBER 5, 1786.

        Oh, sire, rever'd! ador'd!
      Was it the ruthless tongue of DEATH
        That whisp'ring to my pensive ear,
          Pronounc'd the fatal word
        That bath'd my cheek with many a tear,
      And stopp'd awhile my gasping breath?
        "He lives no more!
        Far on a foreign shore,
      His honour'd dust a laurell'd grave receives,
      While his immortal soul in realms celestial lives!"

        Oh! my lov'd sire, farewell!
      Though we are doom'd on earth to meet no more,
      Still memory lives, and still I must adore!
      And long this throbbing heart shall mourn,
      Though thou to these sad eyes wilt ne'er return!
          Yet shall remembrance dwell
        On all thy sorrows through life's stormy sea,
      When fate's resistless whirlwinds shed
      Unnumber'd tempests round thy head,
        The varying ills of human destiny!

      Yet, with a soul sublimely brave,
      Didst thou endure the dashing wave;
      Still buffeting the billows rude,
      By all the shafts of woe, undaunted, unsubdued!
        Through a long life of rugged care,
      'Twas thine to steer a steady course!
        'Twas thine misfortune's frowns to bear,
      And stem the wayward torrent's force!
        And as thy persevering mind
      The toilsome path of fame pursued,
        'Twas thine, amidst its flow'rs to find
      The wily snake--Ingratitude!
        Yet vainly did th' insidious reptile strive
      On thee its poisons dire to fling;
        Above its reach, thy laurel still shall thrive,
      Unconscious of the treach'rous sting!

      'Twas thine to toil through length'ning years,
      Where low'ring night absorbs the spheres!
        O'er icy seas to bend thy way,
      Where frozen Greenland rears its head,
        Where dusky vapours shroud the day,
      And wastes of flaky snow the stagnate ocean spread,
        'Twas thine, amidst the smoke of war,
        To view, unmov'd, grim-fronted Death;
        Where Fate, enthron'd in sulphur'd car,
      Shrunk the pale legions with her scorching breath!
        While all around her, bath'd in blood,
      Iberia's haughty sons plung'd lifeless 'midst the flood.

        Now on the wings of meditation borne,
      Let fond remembrance turn, and turn to mourn;
      Slowly, and sad, her pinions sweep
      O'er the rough bosom of the boist'rous deep
        To that disastrous, fatal coast
        Where, on the foaming billows tost,
      Imperial Catherine's navies rode;
        And war's inviting banners wide
        Wav'd hostile o'er the glitt'ring tide,
      That with exulting conquest glow'd!

        For there--oh, sorrow, check the tear!--
        There, round departed valour's bier,
      The sacred drops of kindred virtue[56] shone!
        Proud monuments of worth! whose base
        Fame on her starry hill shall place;
        There to endure, admir'd, sublime!
        E'en when the mould'ring wing of time
      Shall scatter to the winds huge pyramids of stone!
        Oh! gallant soul! farewell!
      Though doom'd this transient orb to leave,
        Thy daughter's heart, whose grief no words can tell,
      Shall, in its throbbing centre, bid thee live!
        While from its crimson fount shall flow
      The silent tear of ling'ring grief;
      The gem sublime! that scorns relief,
        Nor vaunting shines, with ostentatious woe!

      Though thou art vanish'd from these eyes,
      Still from thy sacred dust shall rise
        A wreath that mocks the polish'd grace
      Of sculptur'd bust, or tuneful praise;
        While Fame shall weeping point the place
      Where Valour's dauntless son decays!
      Unseen to cherish mem'ry's source divine,
      Oh I parent of my life, shall still be mine!

        And thou shalt, from thy blissful state,
      Awhile avert thy raptur'd gaze,
      To own, that 'midst this wild'ring maze,
        The flame of filial love defies the blast of fate!

Note 44: Dumouriez.

Note 45: An attachment took place between Mrs. Robinson and Colonel
Tarleton shortly after the return of the latter from America, which
subsisted during sixteen years. On the circumstances which occasioned its
dissolution it is neither necessary nor would it be proper to dwell. The
exertions of Mrs. Robinson in the service of Colonel Tarleton, when
pressed by pecuniary embarrassment, led to that unfortunate journey, the
consequences of which proved so fatal to her health. The colonel
accompanied her to the Continent, and, by his affectionate attentions,
sought to alleviate those sufferings of which he had been the
involuntary occasion.

Note 46: Son of the celebrated Edmund Burke.

Note 47: The Right Honourable Edmund Burke, at that time conductor of the
_Annual Register_.

Note 48: Mr. Merry had been a member of the "Scuola della Crusca," at

Note 49: Mrs. Robinson's "Poems," vol. ii. p. 27.

Note 50: The date on which the Paris prisons were broken open and twelve
hundred royalist prisoners slain.--Ed.

Note 51: Boaden, in his Life of Kemble, says: "I remember the warmth with
which Mrs. Robinson chanted the kindness of Mrs. Jordan in accepting the
principal character: and I cannot forget the way, when the storm began,
in which the actress, frightened out of her senses, 'died and made no

Note 52: The Morning Post.

Note 53: Miss Robinson and a friend.

Note 54: Those who have read Gifford's "Baviad" and "Maeviad" will
understand this allusion.--Ed.

Note 55: Second Baron Rodney, son of the admiral, then a captain in the

Note 56: Captain Darby commanded, at the time of his death, a ship of war
in the Russian service, and was buried with military honours,
universally lamented.

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