« ForrigeFortsæt »
The audience, likewise, honoured me with the marks of their appro,
• The performers, who, half an hour before, had looked upon me as
“The novelty of such fuccess attending a child (for from my appearance I could not be judged to be so old as I really was) against the united force of a Garrick and á Cibber, attracted the notice of the public so much, that the piece was performed three nights fucceslively. This was å fingular circumstance at that time, as the Orphan was an old play, much hackneyed, and supported only by one character. For though Mr. Quin was moft juftly celebrated, as I have already observed, in every character which his figure and cime of life suited, yet as he was now near fixty, and rather corpulent, he certainly was a very unfit brother for a girl of iny age. So flattering a reception, it may naturally be fupposed elated a heart rendered vain by praises surpaffing my most fanguine expectations.'
The friendfhip which grew up between Mrs. Bellamy and Mr. Quin was of the virtuous kind; and among many particulars which she furnishes of this distinguished character, she gives us the following one which cannot be sufficiently admired.
• During the time he (Quin] had the chief direction at Covent Garden Theatre, he revived " The Maid's Tragedy," written by Beaumont and Fletcher. In it he played the character of Melanthus, Mrs. Pritchard Evandra, and myself Afpafia. One day, after the rehearsal was finished, he defired to speak with me in his dressingroom. As he had always carefully avoided seeing me alone. I was not a little surprized at fo unexpected an invitation. My apprehen : fions even made me fear that I had, by fome means or other, offended à man, whom I really loved as a father. My fears, however, were not of long duration. For as soon as I had entered his dressingroom, he took me by the hand, with a smile of ineffable benignity, and thus addrelled me : My dear girl ! you are vaftly followed, I o hear. Do not let the love of finery, or any other inducement, prevail
upon you to commit an indiscretion. Men in general are rascals. “ You are young and engaging, and therefore ought to be doubly « cautious. If you want any thing in my power, which money
can purchafe, come to me, and say, “ James Quin, give me such a thing, and my purse shall be always at your service." The tear of gratitude stood in my eye, at this noble instance of generosity; and his own glistened with that of humanity and self-approbation.'
Of Lord Digby Mrs. Bellamy gives an account that is not more fingular than agreeable.
* Lord Digby having been indispoted, he resided for some days at Mr. Calcraft's house, leit his mother, whose atiection for him was unbounded, might be too much alarmed. But he removed, as soon as possible, to enjoy, what he preferred to all human enjoyments, the felicity of making a mother happy. Having the most tender af. fection for his mother and brothers, he lived with them in a modeiate regular manner, without indulging himself in those excesses the juvenile part of the nobility generally run into. As this
young nobleman might be truly denominated a miracle of nature, a rara avis, from the many great and good qualities he pofleffed, I must here dwell a little on his character, and give you an anecdote or two of him that great!y redound to his honour.
• With a most beautiful figure, he was blessed with the best of hearts. He was generous, without being oftentatious; and, though he had travelled, modeft to a degree. He spoke little, but what he said, declared that he possessed great good sense. He was never known to say an unkind thing, nor to be guilty of an unkind action, to any person whatever. His lørdship’s mother and my valuable friend, Mr. Fox, were twins; and the affection which subsisted between them was as uncommon as the circumstances of their birth.
• Lord Digby came often to Parliament-street, and as I had by this means an opportunity of observing his conduct, I could not help remarking a fingular alteration in his demeanour and dress, which took place during the great festivals. At Christmas and Easter he was more than usually grave, and then always had on an old shabby blue coat. I was led, as well as many others, to conclude, that it was fome affair of the heart which caused this periodical fingularity. And this was no improbable supposition.
Mr. Fox, who had great curiosity, wished much to find out his mephew's motive for appearing at times in this manner, as, in
general, he was esteemed more than a well-dressed man. Upon his expreffing an inclination for that purpose, Major Vaughan and another gentleman undertook to watch his lordip's motions. They accordingly set out; and observing him to go towards St. George's Fields, they followed him at a distance, till they lost fight of him near the Marshalsea prison.
Wondering what could carry a person of his lordship's rank and fortune to such a place, they enguired of the turnkey, if a gentleman, deferibing him, had not entered the prison. “ Yes, Masters!" exclaimed the fellow with an oath ; " but he is not a man; he is an
angel. For he comes here twice a year, fometimes oftener, and “ fets a number of prisoners free. And he not only does this, but “ he gives them sufficient to support themselves and their families “ till they can find employment." “ This," continued the man, " is one of his extraordinary visits. He has but a few to take out
" Do you know who the gentleman is ?” enquired the major. “ We none of us know him by any other marks,” replied the man, “but by his humanity and his blue coat.” * The gentlemen having gained this intelligence, immediately re
turned, and gave an account of it to Mr. Fox. As no man possessed more humanity, (of which I have already given a proof) than the Secretary at War, the recital afforded hin exquifite pleasure. But fearing his nephew might be displeased at the illicit manner in which the intormation had been obtained, he requested that we would keep the knowledge of it a profound secret.
I could not reliit my curiofity of making further enquiries relative to an affair from which I reaped so much fatisfaction. I, according, ly, the next time his lordship had his alms-giving coat on, asked him what occasioned his wearing that fingular dreis ? With a smile of ineffable sweetness he told me, that my curiosity should soon be gratified; for, as we were congenial fouls, he would take me with him when he next visited the place to which his coat was adapted. , A compliment more truly Hattering, and more acceptable to me than any I ever had, or could receive.
The night before his intended visit, his lordship requested that I would be in readiness to go with him the next morning. We then went together to that receptacle of misery which he had so often vifited, to the consolation of its inhabitants. His lordship would not fuffer me to enter the gate, left the noisomeness of the place should prove disagreeable to me; but he ordered the coachman to drive to the George Inn in the Borough, where a dinner was ordered for the happy wretches he was about to liberate. Here I had the pleasure of seeing near thirty persons, rescued from the jaws of a loathsome priion, at an inclement season of the year, it being Christınas; and not only released from their confinement, but restored to their families and friends, with some provifion from his lordship’s bounty for their immediate support.--I will not pretend to describe the grateful tribute his lordship received upon the occafion from the band he had juit set free ; nor the satisfaction he reaped from the generous deed. I participated in the heavenly pleasure ; and never was witness to a more delightful scene.
• How shall I tell the sequel of the tale !-But it must be told. Yet whilft I do it, I am almost ready to accuse Heaven of unkindness in untimely cutting off fo fair, fo sweet a flower : the pride of the English garden. His lordship went some few months after these beneficent acts, to visit his estates in Ireland. Where, being obliged, by the mistaken hospitality of the country, to drink more than he was accustomed to do, and that at a time when he was indisposed from a violent cold, a fever, attended with a putrid sore throat, was the fatal consequence. And — drop not thou selfish tear! - my amiable young friend was removed to those realms, where alone his expanded heart could find its benevolent propenfities indulged and rewarded. * By the death of this valuable young nobleman, the
poor were deprived of a generous benefactor, his acquaintance of a desirable companion, and the community of one of its brightest ornaments. But to no one was his loss more gri vous than to Major Vaughan ; to whom he was an unknown patron. The Major regularly received a benefaction of fifty pounds every quarter, which he concluded to come from Earl Fitzwilliam; that nobleman, with whom he had been bred up, having always held him in great esteem. But,
upon the death of Lord Digby, the bounty was found to flow from his liberal purse.'
As Mrs. Bellamy was much acquainted in high life, she was no indifferent observer of political affairs. She has ventured to use her pencil in delineations of the famous Lord Holland and the no less celebrated Lord Chatham.
I will here attempt to give you the political characters of those two great competitors for glory, Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt. Their qualifications were as different as their persons. Mr. Pitt's abilities, as an orator, were undoubtedly astonishing. Yet, at times, put the matter he had uttered upon paper, and it appeared fuperficial; and it was often fatirical to a degree of abufe. His perfon claimed your admiration. With an elegance and grace which led your tive while he fpoke, and with eyes that darted fire, he generally began low; but at length gradually worked himself up, as well as his auditors, to a strain of enthusiasm. His voice was powerful, and at the same time melodious; particularly the middle pitch of it, which fecured articulation, and prevented the last word from being lost. He was likewise one of the beft adors I ever faw. I will not even ex
To evince which, I will relate a scene I had the pleafure of being a witness to.
* An honourable relation of Mr. Pitt's generally thought fit, during the time he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, to entertain the House of Commons with founding forth bis own praise. This egotiit one day spoke an euloge on himfelf, in which he too frequent ly repeated the word wherë. Mr. Pitt's patience being exhausted, he rofe from his seat with inexpreffible grace, and seemed to be making
way out of the house. But stopping short, when he came close to the minifter, who was Atill speaking, he fung aloud, with great humour, Gentle fhepherd, tell me wbere, tell me where; gentle
fhepherd, tell me where.' And he continued to do fo till he reached the lobby. This occafioned an universal laugh; and the right honourable speaker retained the nickname of Gentle Shepherd for the remainder of his life. Whether it was from indifpofition, or to convince his hearers, that he could lead them with one hand, I know not ; bút Mr. Pitt often had his left hand in a sling. The natural grace he poffefsed, and the acquirements he was master of, put it how, ever out of the power of any fituation or attitude to render him unpleasing.
His cotemporary, Mr. Fox, neither equalled him in voice, man. ner, or perfon. But he greatly surpaffed him in solid judgement, quick discernment, and an unbiaffed, unalterable amor patria. As he did not deal fo much in the flowers of rhetoric as Mr. Pitt, bis speeches did not strike fo forcibly, till considered. But they were founded on the firmest basis, truth. His voice was fonorous, but his delivery, at times, was not so pleasing as it was at others.'
We shall now submit to our readers the account given by Mrs. Bellamy of her attempt to destroy herfelf, at a period when the was in the greatest extremity of want and wretchedness,
Unhappily in this moment of despair, every spark of that virtuo ous confidence in heaven, fo forcibly recommended in the following lines, was extinguished in my bolom.
• Tho plung'd in ills, and exercised in care,
• By unforfeen expedients bring relief.'
Inspired by the black ideas which had got poffeffion of my mind, I, one night, left the house between nine and ten o'clock. As there was a door which led from the garden into the road, I went out unperceived; for I had not refolution to speak to my faithful attendant, whose anxious eye might have discovered the direful purpose of my heart impressed upon my countenance.
* Having affected, unobserved, my elopement, I wandered about the road and fields, till the clock was upon the point of striking eleven; and then made my way towards Westminster bridge. I continued to rovė about till that hour, as there was then a probability that I fhould not be interrupted by any paffengers from carrying my desperate defign into execution. Indeed I was not without hopes of meeting in St. George's Fields with some Freebooter, who would have prevented the deed of desperation I was about to perpetrate, by taking a life. I was weary of. Nor would this have been an improbabable expectation, had I met with any of those lawless plunderers, that oftentimes frequent those parts; for their difappointment from finding me pennyleis, might have excited thein to murder ine. A confuinmation I then devoutly wified.
• Having reached the Bridge, I defcended the steps of the landing place, with a fad and folemn pace, and fat me down on the loweft Itair, impatiently waiting for the tide to cover me. My defperation, though resolute, was not of thạt violent kind as to urge me to take the fatal plunge. As I sat, I fervently recommended my spirit to that Being I was going to offend in so unwarrantable a manner, by not bearing patiently the afilictions he was pleased I shoul suffer, I even dared to harbour the thought that a divine impulse had given rise to the idea; as if the Everlalling had not fixed his canon 'gainit self• flaughter!
• The moon beamed faintly through the clouds, and gave just light enough to distinguish any passenger who might cross the bridge ; but as I was in mourning, there was not any great probability of my being discerned and interrupted. I had taken off my bonnet, and apron, and laid them beside me upon the stairs ; and leaning qay head. upon my hands, remained lost in thought, and almost ftupified by forrow and the reflections which crouded upon my mind.
• Here pause a moment, and admire with me the strange yicillitudes of life. Behold your once lively friend, reduced from the enjoyment of eafe, affluence, esteem, and renown in her profeffion, to the most defperate state that human wretchedness will admit of-a prey to penury, grief, contumely, and despair-standing tiptoe on the verge of this world, and impioufly daring to rush, unbidden, into the pre