An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy

Letter III.

London, Sept. 17, 17--.

[p. 16] I concluded my last letter with an account of my mother's leaving her apartments at Somerset-House, in all the agonies of despair and resentment. It happened fortunately for her, that a relation, in consideration of [p. 17] my grandmother's contracted circumstances, had some time before left her as a legacy a house situated in Great Queen-Street, Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. In this house my grandmother now resided, and by letting out part of it, together with some assistance she received from her good friend Mrs. Godfrey, procured for herself a decent subsistence. Though she had not seen her daughter since her elopement, and was much displeased with her for her imprudent conduct, yet in such a trying moment she could not refuse her admittance beneath her roof. My mother accordingly now made this her abode.

Whilst she had resided at Somerset-House and lived in splendour, one of the principal actresses belonging to Drury-Lane Theatre, whose name was Butler, had applied to her to solicit her interest on her benefit-night. An intimacy thereupon commenced between them; and during Lord Tyrawley's absence in Ireland, Mrs. Butler had frequently spent many days with my mother at her apartments. As my mother had made this lady her confidant during her more prosperous state, she now imparted to her the situation of her finances, and expectations and consulted her on the measures she should pursue for her future maintenance.

Mrs. Butler finding there was but little probability, from her friend's present irritated state of mind, that her connection with Lord [p. 17] Tyrawley would ever be renewed, advised her to take to the profession she herself followed. Though my mother's person was tall, her figure striking, and she possessed no small share of beauty, yet from an unanimated formality which appeared about her, probably from her associating in the early part of her life with the Quakers, no very sanguine hopes were to be entertained of her succeeding on the stage. However, overcome by the earnest solicitations and flattering representations of Mrs. Butler, she fixed on that track to obtain a future provision.

The London Theaters at that time not seeming to promise an advantageous engagement it was thought most advisable that my mother should go over to Ireland; where there was great reason to expect that she would meet with support from Lod Tyrawley's friends, many of whom had been introudced to her whilst she resided at Somerset-House. This then she determined on; and leaving the son she had lately brought into the world to the care of her mother, undertook an expedition, which, even when attended with every convenience is not over agreeable, alone, friendless, unprotected, and almost broken-hearted.

When she arrived in Dublin, she was received with considerable applause. But her success seems to have been more owing to the people of that kingdom not being then [p. 19] accustomed to capital performers, than to the brilliancy of my mother's theatrical powers. She, however, continued there for several years, performing the first characters, with some degree of reputation, but a disagreement arising, at length, between the proprietors of the theatre and herself, she determined to leave that city.

After deliberating some time upon the course she should now steer, she on a sudden formed the strange and unaccountable resolution of embarking for Portugal, in order to renew her affectionate intimacy with Lord Tyrawley. His lordshop, during her residence in Ireland, had repeatedly wrote to her, inviting her in the warmest terms, and conjuring her by that tenderness which had once mutually subsisted between them to come to him: but finding his solicitations ineffectual, he had long since forborne them. In this dilemma, however, they occurred to my mother in their full force, awakened that love which had only lain dormant in her bosom, and pointed out the course she should pursue.

Notwithstanding my mother's just refusal of Lord Tyrawley's repeated invitations, and notwithstanding her betraying him to the Earl of Blessington, had been the sole cause of his lordship's long absence from his native country; yet she was received by him, on her arrival at Lisbon, with the warmest transports [p. 20] But unluckily a circumstance had happened which made her presence much less agreeable now, than it would have been at the time he pressed her so fervently to come over to him. Disappointed in his hopes of renewing his connection with her, he had entered into one with a Portuguese lady, named Donna Anna; whom he had seduced from her patroness, the lady of the unfortunate Comte d'Olivarez. This being now his lordship's situation, and of which, on account of the violence of my mother's temper, he did not care to inform her; he placed her in the family of an English merchant where she was treated with the greatest civility and respect.

Here she remained for some time in a state of perfect tranquillity, nothing transpiring relative to his lordship's new flame to disturb her peace of mind. But, as I have before observed, the wheel of fortune is continually revolving; and my mother's happiness was not to be permanent. An English gentleman, by name Bellamy, came one day to pay a visit to the merchant in whose house she was placed; when struck with her charms, and unacquainted with her situation, the Captain became so enamoured with her, that he solicited her to accept of his hand. This she repeatedly refused, without discovering her reasons for so doing.

As the offer was far from a disadvantageous [p. 21] one, Captain Bellamy concluded that some other attachment could alone prevent its being accepted; and, as jealousy is eagle-eyed, he fixed on Lord Tyrawley, whom he observed to come sometimes to his friend's house, as the obtacle to his success. Not, indeed, that he could suppose that any thing more than an allowable friendship subsisted, between his lordshipo and my mother, his visits being neither long nor frequent. Captain Bellamy could not, however, forbear hinting his apprehensions; which brought on a conversation, in whch he discovered to her his lordship's conections with Donna Anna, and as an unpleasing appendix, informed her that the lady was then lying in with her second chlid by him.

Rage and resentment against Lord Tyrawley once more took possession of my mother's bosom; and effected what Captain Bellamy's most strenuous solicitations were not equal to. Whithout allowing herself a moment's reflection, she consented to give her hand to him; and as soon as the nuptial benediction was pronounced, set off with him for Ireland, to which kingdom the ship he commanded was bound, and then ready to sail. All this was executed with so much expedition and secresy, that his lordshiop, though in such a public capacity, was not made acquainted with it till they had left Lisbon.

[p. 22] In a few months after the arrival of Captain Bellamy and his new-married lady at the place of their destination, to the inexpressible astonishmnt and dissatisfaction of the former, I made my appearance on this habitable globe. My mother had so carefully concealed her pregnancy, and her connection with Lord Tyrawley, from her husband, that he had not entertained the least suspicion of her incontinence. My birth, however, discovered the whole; and so exasperated was the Captain at her duplicity, that he immediately left the kingdom, and never after either saw or corresponded with her.

Having how informed you with how little applause I made my first entrance on the stage of life, I shall defer any further account of my subsequent appearances till I write again, which I purpose doing in a few days. Till when I remain, Madam, &c.

G. A. B

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