An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy

Letter V.

London, October 15, 17--.

[p. 29] When we arrived at Dover, we were met by a person named Du Vall, who had been a domestic of Lord Tyrawley. He now kept a peruke maker's shop in St. James's Street; and with him we were to reside, till his Lordship's return from Portugal, which was every day expected. Mrs. Du Vall, his wife, was a lively agreeable French woman, much younger than her husband, and of rather too gay a disposition for his tranqulllity. Near Mr. Du Vall lived a person whose name was Jones. He had formerly been a cutler, but at the solicitation of his wife he had opened a china and bijou shop. From the vicinity of their resident, [p. 30] an intimacy had commenced between Mrs. Du Vall and Mrs. Jones, and there was a perfect sociability between the families.

The latter was the daughter of an eminent apoehcary in Westminster, who had given her what is generally termed a genteel education: that is, she was well versed in the fashions, and in the amusements, of the fashionable world: she spoke bad French, and could invent with great facility, additions to the lie of the day.She had a good address, and abounded in what is usually denominated small talk. She understood the art of flattery so well as to be able to charm her female customers, and of coquetry, sufficient to captivate the men. With these advantages, it is not to be doubted but Mrs. Jones rendered her shop the resort of many respectable people. The variety of articles, engaging to a young mind, which were therein displayed, induced me to pay frequent visits to the mistress of it; who seemed much pleased with my vivacity.

During these visits, I became acquainted with most of the nobility that frequented the shop. In particular, I formed an intimacy with three ladies of quality, two of whom honoured me with their friendship to the latest periods of their lives. These were Lady Caroline Fitzroy, the Honourable Miss Conway, and Miss St. [p. 31] Leger. The first, to whom I acknowledge I have lain under many obligations, has cancelled them all, by doing me the injustice to believe me capable of speaking something disrespectfu of her ladyship. Her thus giving ear to the tongue of slander has prevented me from ever wishing to renew the intimacy with which she once favoured me. As I have made it an invariable rule never to hear any thing spoken in company to the disadvantage even of a common acquaintance, without endeavouring to vindicate them, (thinking it would greatly lessen me to be considered as the companion of any person of whom I enterttained an unfavourable opinion is it to be supposed I should speak ill of one to whom I was greatly obliged, and had always highly esteemed? A consciousness of not having deserved her ladyship's displeasure has supported me under it. And were all those of my sex who are prone to speak slightingly of others upon ill-grounded reports, to curb this propensity, I can assure them they would reap inexpressible satisfaction from doing so -- Pardon, my dear madam, this disgression; as one of the company, you are excepted, you know, from any implied censure.

At length the long wished for hour of Lord Tyrawley's arrival in Engldn was announced to Miss Frazer and myself. Upon our going to Stratton-Street, where his lordshiop had taken up his residence, he received us both [p. 32] in the tenderest manner, but with regard to myself, he seemed to enjoy such heart-felt pleasure at the interview, that I was charmed with my reception. Donna Anna's satisfaction at seeing me was far, very far short of his lordship's. Nor was this to be wondered at, as she had several children of her own, and consequently dreaded so formidable a rival in his lordship's favour, as I was likely to prove. But her malevolent shafts were aimed at me throgh my beloved friend, to whom she was continually showing marks of his dislike. Her cunning dictating to her that his lordship would not suffer any person to treat me ill, with impunity, she took this method to give me pain. And she could not have pursued a more effectual one.

As I was at that time, and have ever since been steady in my attachments, I could not bear to see my Maria treated thus unkindly. I therefore used my interest with his lordship to remove us from a place that was become disagreeable to me on more accounts than one. For though my lord lived in all the splendour a person of his rank is entitled to, and indeed much beyond his income; yet his house had much more the appearance of a Turkish seraglio than the mansion of an English nobleman. To this may be added, that the gloom and hypocrisy whihch were constantly visible on the countenance of his tawney Dulcinea render it far from agreeable [p. 33] to a young creature whose spirits were, probably, too volatile. For these reasons I prevailed upon his lordship to place us at Mrs. Jones's in St. James's-Street; where, as he spent much of his time at White's Chocolate-House, he called in upon us sometimes twice a day.

Here we found ourselves very compfortably situated. But that comfort was not to be of long duration. I now began to experience the vicissitudes of fortune. For we had resided but a short time at our new abode, before I lost my much-loved companion Miss Frazer. She was seized with the measles; and, notwithstanding every care, fell a victim to that disorder .Though this young lady was some years older than myself, and of a more serious disposition, yet the regard she had always shewn me was so tender and affectionate, and so indulgent was she to my slights of fancy, as she used to term them, that whilst I loved her as a friend, I revered her as a parent.

There is, I believe, no impression that affects so strongly a young mind as the supposition of being dear to another. Thugh originating merely from self-love, it incites a reciprocation. The very idea that you are pleasing, stimulates you to render yourself really so, even though there be not that similarity of manner and disposition on which an union of souls is usually founded.

[p. 34] My grief for the loss of this amiable young lady was so excessive, that it endangered my health; and for some time it was apprehended that I should go into a decline. Upon this account Lord Tyrawley took a little box in Bushy Park, to which in a few days we removed. The family now consisted of his lordship, Donna Anna, three girls all by different mothers, and myself. The boys were previously sent to Mary-le-Bone school, and my own brother was at sea.

My lord's fondness for me now knew no bounds. He not only thought he peceived in my features the perfect resemblance of his own, but he flattered himself that, with the aid of due cultivation, I should likewise inherit his wit, which was universally allowed to be really brilliant.

Not long after we were at Bushy-Park, Donna Anna having had the impudence to assume the title of Lady Tyrawley, during a party of pleasure in which she and the three young ladies were engaged, his lordship was so much offended thereat that he ordered them all to return to town. So that I now had the happiness of his lordship's company for six days in the week entirely to myself. On the remaining day (Sunday) he was always of his late majesty's private party to Richmond. He usually returned to town the same evneing, and came to Bushy the next day.

[p. 35] The company his lordship brought with him, which were chiefly the witty and the gay, soon perceived, that to make their court to him, they must be lavish in their praises of me. Accordingly, I became the object of their admiration, and was made to believe that I was actually a phenomenon. Till encouraged by the flattery I daily received, I was weak enough to conceit that I was blessed with talents which dame Nature had never bestowed upon me. Oh flattery! delusvie charm! how great is thy power, and how pernicious are thy effects! Even the old cannot withstand thy influence; how then shall the young? Open generous, free as air, incapable of deceit, and believing others as sincere as they appear to be; eaily do such fall victims to thy bewitching arts. The vanity andc onceit thou art the cause of, leave a lasting impression on the mind and too often taint the whole future life. Most carefully then should our sex guard again that insinuating venom.

With this reflection, the justice of which I doubt not, Msdame, but you will readily admit, I shall conclude my letter. And in my next propose to entertain you with a laughable instance of humbled vanity.

G. A. B

  1. A coal-boat is so called in Ireland.

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