An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy

Letter XII

Jan. 1, 17--.

[p. 68] A gleam of cheerfulness coming over me just as I was finishing my last letter, I concluded it in rather too humorous a manner. I now return to my history, and that gloom which the recollection of my misfortunes naturally brings with it.

Lord Byron still pursued me; and as his vanity was hurt at my rejecting him, he formed a resolution to be revenged of me for my insensibility. His Lordship was very intimate with a person who was a disgrace to nobility; and whose name I shall conceal through tenderness to his family. This nobleman was Lord Byron's confidential friend; a word as often misused as that of lover, by such as are unacquainted with those delicate feelings which are esentially necessary to constitute either real friendship or love. To this friend Lord Byron committed the execution of his revenge. The Earl of --------, which was the title of this infamous pander, had believed himself to be in love with a young lady, [p. 69] between whom and myself there was the strictest intimacy. And he imagined it would promote his designs upon her, could he first accomplish my fall from the paths of prudence and virtue.

For this purpose his lordship frequently called at Mrs. Jackson's, though much against my mother's inclinations. But as he had been constantly a dangler behind the scenes during her engagement at the theatre, and had occasionally given her franks, she admitted his visits. It was however with such visble reserve, as must have convinced him they were far from agreable. But the confidence of nobility making him assured, his Lordship persisted in calling, in defiance of her coolness. My mother had strictly enjoined me to break off my intimacy with the young lady who was the object of the Earl's pursuit, on account of her levity; and because, though by birth a gentlewoman, she had degraded herself, by becoming the companion of a lady of quality who had frequently eloped from her Lord.

My mother at this period was become a confirmed devotee. Religion engrossed so much of her time, that in the evening she was seldom visible. Upon this account, and from Mrs. Jackson's accompanying me so frequently to Mr. Quin's suppers, that Lady conferred a great part of the friendly regard she had once borne my mother, to me. But, [p. 70] alas! I was not to profit long by this revolution. My happiness was to be as transient as the sunshine of an April day. This part of my mother's fortune, at least, I inherited; and like her was constantly experiencing the vicissitudes of life. The following anecdote will however shew that my misfortunes were not always the consequence of my own imprudent conduct, but sometimes of such deep-laid plans of villainy and deception, as it was impossible for an unexperienced girl, at my time of life, to guard against.

One Sunday evening, when this ignoble Earl well knew my mother would be engaged, he called to inform me that Miss B ----------, the young lady before mentioned, was in a coach at the end of Southampton-Street, and desired to speak with me. Without staying to put on my hat or gloves, I ran to the coach; when, to my unspeakable surprise, I found myself suddenly hoisted into it by his Lordshiop, and that the coachman drove off as fast as the horses could gallop.

My astonishment for some time depirved me of the power of utterance; but when I was a little recovered, I gave free vent to my reproaches. These his Lordship bore with a truly philosophic indfference, calmly telling me that no harm was intended me; and that I had better consent to make his friend Lord Byron happy, and be happy myself, than oppose my good fortune. To this he added that [p. 71] his friend was shortly to be married to MIss Shaw, a young lady possessed of a very large fortune, which would enable him to provide handsomely for me. I was so struck with the insolence of this proposal, that I remained for some time quite silent.

At length the coach stopt in a lonely place at the top of North-Audley-Street, fronting the fields. At that time Oxford-Street did not extend so far as it does at present. Here the Earl got out, and took me into his house. He then went away, as he said, to prepare a lodging for me, which he had already seen at a Mantua-Maker's in Broad-Street, Carnby-Market, and to which he would come back and take me. He assured me the mistress of the house was a woman of character; and added, with the most dreadfuf imprecations that no violence was intended.

His Lordship now left me. And as the fear of great evils banishes every lesser consderation, I determined to wait the result, with all the patience I was possessed of. The dread of being left alone in that solitary place, was nothing when compared with my apprehensions from the machination sof two noblemen so determined and so powerful. Terror however so totally overwelmed my mind, that I remained in a state of stupefaction.

It was not long before his lordship returned; and with him came the person I [p. 72] least expected to see -- my own brother. Good heavens! what comfort, at so critical a juncture, did the sight of him afford me! I instantly flew into his arms; but was repulsed by him in so violent a manner, that I fell to the ground. The shock of this unexpected repulse, just as I hoped to have found a protector in him, was more than my spirits were able to bear. It deprived me of my senses. On my return to sensibility, the only object that presented itself to my view was an old female servant, who told me she had orders to convey me to the lodging which had been prepared for me.

The first thing I did was to make inquiry concerning my brother's coming so unexpectedly. I was informed by the old woman, that he had bestowed manual chastisement, upon my ravisher. But as he seemed to suppose that I had consented to the elopement, he had declared that he would never see me more, but leave me to my fate. The woman added, that he had threatened the Earl and his associate with a prosecution, which had so intimdated her master, that he had given her orders to remove me out of his house as soon as possible; as my being found there might make against him.

When we arrived at Broad-Street, I discovered, to my great satisfaction, that the mistress of the house, whose name wwas Mirvan, worked for me as a Manatua-Maker, though I was till now unacquainted with her place [p. 73] of residence. I told her my story simply as it had happened; and my appearance, as well as my eyes, which were much swelled with crying, was an undeniable testimoney of the truth of my assertions.

I afterwards learnt the following circumstances relative to my brother, about whom I was more anxious than for myself, as I had a great affection for him. We had long expected him to return from sea, he having been abroad for some years; and by one of those extraordinary freaks of fortune which are not to be accounted for, he got to the top of Southampton-Street just as the coach was driving off with me. I should have termed hs coming providential, had he not suffered his suspicions to get the better of his affection, and this counteracted the apparent designs of Providence in affording me relief.

He had reached Southampton-Street, as I have just said, nearly about the time I was forced into the coach; and ran to rescue the person thus treated, little imagining it was his own sister; but the furious driving of the coachman rendered his design abortive. Upon this he proceeded to Mrs. Jackson's house, and had scarcely inquired for me, than that Lady cried out, "Oh fly, Sir to her relief; Lord ----------- has this moment run away with her." My brother hearing this concluded I must have been the person he had [p. 74] just seen carried off. But knowing it would be impossbile to overtake the coach, he thought it more prudent to directly to the Earl's house. Not finding him at home, he walked about within sight of the door, till his Lordship returned, when he accosted him in the manner before related. From the Earl of -----------'s my brother went to Marlborough-Street to Lord Byron's; and accusing him of being concerned with the Earl in seducing his sister, his Lordship denied having any knowledge of the affair, which he solemnly asserted upon his honour; declaring at the same time, as indeed he could do with a greater degree of truth, that he had not seen me that evening.

My brother pacing an implicit confidence in the assertions of Lorrd Byron, grew enraged against me; and without making any inquiries, whether I was really culpable upon this occasion or not, concluded me to be depraved enough to ener into an illicit connection with an old unprincipled married man. Giving me over therefore as a lost abandoned girl, he immediately set out for Portsmouth, and left me unprotected. This I may justly consider as the most unfortunate event I had hitherto experienced; for being deprived of his protection at a time when it was so extremely requisite to my re-establishment in life, I was left open to the attacks of every insolent pretender, whose [p. 75] audacity, his very character, as he was distinguished for his bravey, would have repressed.

Being unwilling to break the thread of so interesting a part of my history, I have made this a very long letter, but as a breathing place here presents itself, I will, with your permission, avail myself of it , and conclude.

G. A. B.

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