An Apology for the Life of George Anne Bellamy

Letter XXXIII.

London, June 19, 17--.

[p. 30] Lord Tyrawley gave us the foregoing story, the first evening we passed together, among many other entertaining anecdotes. The night passed away in a sweet delirium, as you may suppose, with two such bright geniuses as his Lordship and Mr. Quin. -- Every word conveyed extatic delight to a mind fond of learning and the belles lettres; to a person tremblingly alive to every rational enjoyment, as well as every delicate sensation. -- Like Circe "They would take the prisoned soul, and lap it in Elysium."1 -- Whilst the brilliant jest, and smart repartee, afforded food for laughter, their observations on men and books supplied me with a lasting fund of instruction.

Before we broke up, his Lordship promised to sup with me three or four times a week, and begged Mr Quin to be of the party as often as possible. But as he loved his good fat capon; his ale and orange; and ungartering, as he called it; which he esteemed the three great blessings of life; and as Lord Tyrawley was not fond of the bottle; he did not often favour me with his company at my apartments. I had however the entree at his [p. 31] house, where I spent every evening I could spare from other engagements.

Late as it was before his Lordship and Mr. Quin left me, I sat down, before I slept, to inform Mr. Metham of the happiness I enjoyed in being restored to his Lordship's favour. But much as it delighted me, it gave no satisfaction to him. He however affected to be pleased with the intelligence I sent him, in compliment to me, as he seemed to partake in everything that afforded me pleasure. Indeed we carried our ideas of love to so romantic a height, that the correspondence, which by this time had commenced between us, partook more of the sentiments of Cassandra and Oroondates,2 than of persons on a level with the rest of mankind.

There was so much sentiment and respect, both in his letters and behaviour, that I never gave myself time to reflect on the imprudence I was gulty of in entering into a private intimacy with a man, who had formerly declared that it was not in his power to pay his addresses to me on honourable terms. Nay, that very declaration, as it appeared to give me a proof of his openness and candour, lulled me into a false security. And from that circumstance I placed so much dependence upon his honour, which I supposed equal to his sincerity, that I never harboured a fear of his entertaining the least dishonourable thought. -- More females owe their ruin to [p. 32] this false security, than to the incitements of vanity or passion. -- Thrown off their guard by placing an implicit confidence in he man they love, they find too late, in their own dishonour, that they expected honour of their betrayers has been but an empty bubble.

About this time having an opportunity to go to a masquerade, I readily embraced the offer, that I might meet my lover there, and be more at liberty to enjoy his convesation than I had been able to do. Having never been at such an entertainment before, I expressed my surprise to Mr. Metham how people were able to find one another out, with their faces so covered that the features were not distinguishable. He replied, "That my eyes would light him and that intuition would prevent any mistake.

I certainly preferred Mr. Metham to any man living. My regard for him, however, was not so violent but what it was to give way to my humour. Accordingly, when the night arrived, I wrapped myself in a black domino, with a large capot over it, and in this unexpected dress, accompanied by the Miss Merediths, in the habits of Savoyard girls, entered the room. In a very short time I was as well acquainted with the nature of the entertainment as Heidegger* himself. And as my companions were too much noticed to [p. 33] mind me, I soon gave them the slip, and sought out my Strephon. I found him employed in examining every well dressed female that passed him, not doubting, but that I should make use of so favourable an opportunity to show my taste, and appear what is usually termed an elegant mask. When I spied him, I made up to him and asked him, what fair one kept him in waiting. Impatient to behold her he loved, he desired me to go about my business; for it was not me he wanted. I told him he had better accept the offer of my company, which I assured him I had the vanity to presume would prove full as agreeable to him as that person he was in expectation of. Upon this he turned away quite enraged.

Seeing that vanity and folly here went hand-in-hand, of both of which I seemed to have a tolerable share, I let him croquer le marmot3; and I acknowledge that I did not enjoy a little pleasure in the disquietude he appeared to experience.

I now joined General Wall, the Spanish Ambassador; who had frequented the scenes, and with whom I had the honour of chattering now and then. Comte Haslang, the Imperial and Bavavarian abmassador, had pointed me out to his Excellency. The Comte often visited at Lord Tyrawley's, who paid him particular attention, not so much for the brillancy of his parts, which [p. 34] were but la la, as for his noble descent, his extreme politeness, and his appearing to be pleased with the wit of others, without ever making pretence to any himself. Though his Excellency the Comte was not rendered sharp-sighted by the hood-winked boy called Love, yet he discovered me immediately through my deep disguise, and made me known to the General.

Notwithstanding General Wall's knowledge was universal, and his fame for wit established, he loved mischief as well as any school-boy could. And having no doubt, from the observations he had made at the theater, that Mr. Metham was a professed admirer of mine, he begged to join me in the persecution he saw I was carrying on. We accordingly made up to Metham, whom I railled in the same manner I had done before. But what made my raillery the more irksome to him, was, that from the General's being unmasked, he could not leave abruptly a person of his Excellency's consequence, and was of course obliged to hear the whole of it. Not doubting, I suppose, at the same time, that though I appeared form my habit to be an old fright, I was a person of no little consequence myself.

Lord Tyrawley supped with a private party; so that I was at liberty to follow the bent of my humour without any restraint, during the greatest part of the night. About [p. 35] four o'clock his Lordship returned to the great room; and having found out my companions and myself, begged leave to see us to our chairs, as he could not think of leaving three girls in such a place, unless we had brought with us a chaperon. The young ladies having exhausted their spirits with dancing, were not sorry to hear his Lordship make the offer. I own that to have staid a little longer would have been full as agreeable to me. That, however, was not now to be done, and it was agreed that we should go.

This sudden determination only permitted me just to say to Mr. Metham, as I passed him, "What is become of the brilliancy of those eyes, which, with your blessed intuition, were to render every other information unnecessary?" Thunder-struck at these words, he appeared to be instantly aroused from the stupidity, with regard to the knowledge of me, that had overwhelmed him the whole night. He spontaneously followed us to the door, endeavouring to speak to me. But that was now impossible. He was consequently obliged to lament in silence his hard fate, and regret having lost an opportunity, which might not happen again for a long time.

This disappointment of Metham's confirmed what I have before observed, that where our hopes of happiness are the most sanguiine, the surer seems their [p. 36] frustration -- Poor fellow! with what rapture did he receive the first intelligence of my going to the masquerade! -- How did he count the tedious minutes till the wished-for hour arrived! -- How did he anticipate the pleasures he expected would result from a conversation carried on without restraint; and in which he might freely declare the fervency of his affection. -- And what was the result of those pleasing expectations? -- Alas! -- Disappointment, anxiety and vexation. -- The teazings of an old woman, instead of the reluctantly acknowledged tenderness of a young one. -- And to add to all, a torturing discovery of the frolicksome deception.

I own this treatment savoured somewhat of cruelty. -- But women, throughout every age, have not scrupled to indulge themselves in these little playsome tests of their lovers' truth and constancy. -- At this time, to make use of a homespun expression, "The black ox had not trodden on my foot." -- Innocent humour was my delight. -- Euphrosyne4 herself was not more blithe and debonair.

G. A. B.

* Bellamy's note: The person who first introduced masked balls into England.

  1. I have not identified the quotation. Circe is identified generally as a sorceress who could turn men into animals
  2. Cassandra (heroine of Cassandra by La Calprenede, translated by Charles Cotton) and Oroondates (the hero of Le Grand Cyrus by Madeleine de Scudery) are characters from the then still read enormous and idealizing sentimental romances of the later 17th century. Charlotte Lennox's Female Quixote parodies these in the early part of the novel; the implication is they were still being read in the middle of the eighteenth century.
  3. "Croquer le marmot" is a French idiom which means to dance attendance. Literally it means to gobble like an urchin.
  4. One of the three graces, identified with joy and cheerfulness.

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 16 June 2007