An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy

Letter XVIII

March 1, 17--.

[p. 111] Upon our arrival at Dublin, my mother and myself were very kindly received by an old intimate of hers, the lady of the well known Doctor Walker. This gentleman, at that time, was esteemed so eminent in his profession, that he was accumulating by his practice a capital fortune, notwithstanding he lived in a very genteel style. The doctor was then writing a treatise against the Irish custom of burying their dead witin a few hours after their decease. He endeavoured therein to dissuade the Hibernians from pursuing so hazardous a mode, as by interring bodies before any symptoms of putrefaction appeared, it did not unfrequently happen, that those who might have recovered their vital powers were prevented from doing so. When my mother heard on [p. 112] what subject the Doctor was writing, she related to him the story of Mrs. Godfrey, which I recited in my first letter. As soon as she had concluded it, to show the Doctor how consonant her opinion on this point was to his own, she promised him, that if she was in the same kingdom with him when the king of terrors made his approach, she would carefully attend to the state of his corpse and take care that it would not be entombed whilst therre was the least probability of its restoration to life.

I insert all the circumstances of the foregoing conversation in so particular a manner, as an admonition to othhrs, never to make a promise they do not intend to perform. Punctuality in the preformance of a promise is as obligatory to an honest mind as the payment of a debt. Yet how many do we see profuse in the former, lightly making promises which they never pay that least attention to afterwards, who would censure in the severest manner the non-payment of a peculiary obligation! Though I have been too often obliged, through inability, to defer the accomplishement of many engagements, the involuntary neglect has lain more heavily on my mind, than any necessities I may have experienced from the same cause.

We continued at Dr. Walker's house, till we could find one which suited us; and this we soon after did, continguous to the [p. 113] theatre. Mrs. Walker would gladly have detained us, but my mother objected to it on many accounts; particularly because their house is always crowded with company.

As soon as I was recovered from the fatigue of my journey, I went to pay my respects to Mrs. O'Hara, Lord Tyrawley's sister, who had not seen me since I was an infant. To my great grief I found her blind. She was much pleased with my visit, but she did not greatly approve of the profession I had chosen. However, as I went by the name of my mother's husband, to which alone I had a right, being born after their marriage, my engagement in the theatrical line could not bring public disgrace on her familiy. She, notwithstanding, proposed herself to introduce me to all her acquaintance as her niece; which she accordingly did, as the acknowledged daughter of Lord Tyrawley.

I received extreme pain from a piece of information Mrs. O'Hara gave me; which was relative to the death of my good friend, the protectress of my early years, Mrs. Pye, for whom she was then in second mourning. I never regretted any thing so much as being absent from this lady during her illness. I fondly thought, that the unremitted care and affectionate attention of one she loved as her own child, and who looked upon her as a parent, would have prolonged her desirable life; a life truly valuable to her husband, and [p. 114] all those who had the happiness to be of her acquaintenance.

Mrs. O'Hara kindly enquired into the state of my finances, which gave me an opportunity of making her acquainted with the Dutchess of Queensberry's liberality to me, and likewise with the mortification I had received from her grace at the same time; with which she seemed much entertained. I even informed her of the event which had been the cause of so much unhappiness to me. It is an established maxim with me, never to rest satisfied with gaining the good opinion of any person by halves. In endeavouring to acquire a friend, it is necessary to let them into the whole of your situation; otherwise you conduct yourself with the same absurdity as if, while you consulted a physician, you concealed the symptoms or nature of your disorder from him .Where a disclosure of secrets becomes needful, an open implicit confidence is required, otherwise the chance of success is greatly against you.

In the afternoon the honourable Mrs. Butler and her daughter were announced. Mrs. O'Hara introduced me as her niece, and added an eulogium which I by no means merited; and as this lady was a leading woman in the fashionable world, had great interest, and her house was frequented by most of the nobility, Mrs. O'Hara solicited her protection for me. [p. 115] Mrs. Butler was elegant in her figure, and had been very pretty, of which there were stiil some remains; but the decay of her beauty appeared to be more the result of indisposition than age. Her daughter was handsome, spirited, sensible, and good humoured. She was nearly of the same age with myself, and seemed, even at this first interview, to have contracted a partiality for me, which I reciprocally wished to cultivate. Before the ladies took their leave, they engaged my aunt and me to come the next day to Stephen's-Green to dine and spend the evening. I promised them with the greatest readiness to do myself the honour, and my dear aunt agreed to accompany me. As Mrs.O'Hara was an invalid, and as she knew she must trespass the next evening on her usual regularity, Mrs. Butler keeping lale hours, I left her early to her repose.

When I returned home, I found our fellow-traveller, Mr. Crump, tete-a-tete with my mother .She informed me that Miss. St. Leger, one of the three ladies I had become acquainted with some years before at Mrs. Jones's, had called and requested to see me the next morning, at Lady Doneraile's, in Dawson-Street. Thus from having no female acquaintance in London, except my own family, I was now en train to be introduced into the first circle in Dublin. As I was not a little [p. 116] elated at the reception I had met with from Mrs. O'Hara. I told my mother, laughing, that she must divest herself of her formality, which perhaps might induce Mr. Crump, as they seemed to have so good an opinion of each other, to bestow all his leisure hours upon her; for there appeared to be very little probablity of her having much of my company; the time required by the duties of my profession, and the engagements I was likely to be honoured with, promising to engage the whole of it. At parting he promised to comply with the proposal I had made. But my mother was much displeased with me for having taken such an unallowable freedom with her. I have before observed that she retained all the formality of Quakerism, notwithstanding she had renounced the religious tenets of that people.

The next morning I went to breakfast with Miss St. Leger, by wohm I rwas received with all that politeness she so eminently possesed, actuated by the cordial wamth usually felt by the susceptible, on embracing a loved intimate after a long absence. She inquired in the kindest manner after Miss Conway; and was much affected at hearing that her friend was in a declining state of health, occasioned by her constant attendance on the Princess of Wales, to [p. 117] whom she was Maid of Honour, which prevented her from taking the necessary steps for her recovery. She pressed me to stay dinner, but when I informed her that I was pre-engaged, and told her by whom, she politely said she was then happy, even in being deprived of my company; as the acquaintance of Mrs. Butler was the most desirable of any in Dublin, and would prove most agreeable and beneficial to me.She at the same time much regretted that she was deprived of the pleasure of frequenting that lady's house, which was ocasioned by some umbrage her aunt, Lady Doneraile, with whom she resided, had given her.

My reception at the Green, when I went to dinner, was of the most flattering kind. It exceeded even my warmest hopes; and Mrs. Butler avowed herself my patroness, notwithstanding she had not yet had an opportunity of acquiring a knowledge, wherther I really deserved that honour. When I took leave, she obligingly requrested, that I would pass every hour, not appropriated to the business of the theatre, at her house; which you may be assured I did not fail readily to promise.

As I fix, which you must already have observed, on the most remarkable periods of my life for rhe introduction of my letters, in imitation of the division of their chapters by chronologers; and as I am now about to enter [p. 118] on the beginning of my theatrical existence on the Dublin stage, I shall here conclude.

G. A. B.

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 19 March 2007