Alexander von Humboldt.

The life of Miss Anne Catley, celebrated singing performer of the last century; including an account of her introduction to public life, her professional engagements in London and Dublin, and her various adventures and intrigues... Carefully comp. and ed. from the best and most authentic records ext online

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Online LibraryAlexander von HumboldtThe life of Miss Anne Catley, celebrated singing performer of the last century; including an account of her introduction to public life, her professional engagements in London and Dublin, and her various adventures and intrigues... Carefully comp. and ed. from the best and most authentic records ext → online text (page 2 of 6)
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To this passionate epistle our heroine, when she had
perused it, thought proper to send the following answer

" Sir,

Your behaviour last night convinces me that you
are a man of honour and a gentleman. As such I shall
always esteem you. I know not how to look on you in
any other light at present. An interview perhaps may
determine me more in your favour. But oh ! I fear to
trust my too credulous heart. You have therefore leave to
visit me at my own house this afternoon, at six o'clock.
Pray come alone. Yours,

Anne Catley."

The merchant's heart was filled with joy at the receipt
of this favourable answer, and he waited with the utmost
impatience for the happy hour which was to make him the
most blest of all mankind. Time seemed to move with
leaden wings, but at length the wished-for moment came,
when he mounted his chariot, which soon conveyed him to
the abode of his charmer.

Being arrived at her house, she received him with an air
of affected modesty, which, though it did not utterly
discourage him, yet easily made him perceive that his
success would cost him some pains. He was somewhat
puzzled at the singularity of her behaviour, which was easy
without betraying too much freedom. He was as anxious
to turn the conversation on the topic of love as she seemed
studious to avoid it. At length, after having, as she
thought, thoroughly sifted her inamorata's inclination, she
appeared all at once to comply with his wishes, and in
order to give him the most exalted opinion of her virtue,
invented the following tale

Life op Miss Anne Catley. 17

"I am, sir," said she, "the daughter of an Irish gentle-
man, a merchant, a native of Dublin, who, dying whilst I
was very young, left me to the care of my mother, who was
at that time about five-and-twenty years old. I was his
only daughter, and he was so excessively fond of me that I
was indulged in every reasonable wish my little heart could
form ; I was sensibly afflicted at his death, and used to
mingle my tears with those of my mother, who bewailed
his loss in the most affectionate manner imaginable. This
fond parent did not survive my father above three months,
and left me an orphan, with ,10,000 to my portion, to the
guardianship of a rich old uncle, who, when I had attained
the proper age, endeavoured by threats and promises to
force me to give my hand to his son, a dissolute youth, who
had already deceived several young women by promising
them marriage, only with a view to ruin them more easily.
Finding me averse to his will, he forcibly kept from me the
writings of my estate, and I, for want of friends, being
unable to recover them, he gave them to his son, who in
about two years squandered away all my fortune in extrav-
agancies, and left me, a wretched being, reduced to the
cruel necessity of earning my bread by the labour of my

Having received an education suitable to the large
fortune I was born to possess, I was unacquainted with, as
well as incapable of undertaking, any laborious employ-
ment. The place, therefore, of governess to a young lady
of quality, which fortunately happened at that time to be
vacant, seemed the best adapted to my abilities. I applied
four years in the family, where I gave such satisfaction
that the lady's son, who, unknown to the whole family, had
entertained a passion for me, obtained his mother's leave to


18 Life op Miss Anne Catley.

marry me. As he had a great deal of good sense and
virtue, and was very agreeable in his person, I married
him. We did not live together above two years before he
died, leaving a beautiful daughter, and me mistress of a
large fortune. My patroness dying soon after, I came
over to England, together with my daughter, where I live
retired, busied only in the care of my Charlotte's educa-

The merchant, who had listened with the greatest at-
tention to this account which Miss Catley gave of herself,
admired her great virtue, wisdom and prudence. It gave
him infinite pleasure to find she was not married, and he
could not help expressing his joy to her on that account.
He then proceeded to make a formal declaration of his
love, but how much was be chagrined, when this lady of
pretended virtue, told him she was determined never to
marry a second time, and therefore begged him to relinquish
all thoughts of wedlock, as she had made a vow to remain
single during the rest of her life. She told him that she
should always rank him among her friends, and therefore
begged he would honour her so far as to place her among
the number of his. He politely thanked her and begged
to see her daughter. This request our heroine expected he
would make, and had accordingly procured a little girl
about seven years old, who was to pass as her daughter.
She rang the bell and ordered the maid to bring the child,
and presently after, a beautiful girl about seven years old,
richly dressed, entered the room. The supposed mother
presented her to Fernandes, who after having caressed her,
begged leave of Miss Catley to present her with what he
called an earnest of his future good intentions towards her.
Saying this, he put a pearl necklace into her hands and a

Life op Miss Anne Catley. 19\

pair of ear rings mounted in gold, with diamond drops.
These were delivered immediately to our heroine, who
civilly thanked the gentleman for his ingenious present.
After having drunk tea, he desired permission to retire,
which having obtained, he went home, where we will leave
him awhile to acquaint the reader with the reasons of Miss
Catley's acting in the manner above related.

She always held it a duty incumbent on her to get all she
could, without rendering herself too cheap ; she therefore
always made it a rule to make her lovers pay exorbitantly
for the smallest favours, and she was never known to
complete anyone's happiness till she had gratified her
passion for money. This mode of conduct, which she ever
most religiously observed, has long since convinced the
world, that, as Peachum's daughter in the Beggar's Opera
says, " She knows as well how to make the most of her man
as any woman." But in the present case she had other
motives, though all had the same tendency, i.e. interest, for
behaving as she did. She was now in keeping by Sir F. B.
D., who rewarded her supposed constancy with too much
liberality to suffer her to give him the least room to suspect
her capable of being guilty of a breach of it.

On the other hand she seemed coy to her new lover, first,
to prove the extent of his passion ; secondly, to raise in
him a higher esteem for her ; and thirdly, to invent a
scheme to prevent her two lovers from coming to the
knowledge of her intimacy with either.

We will now return to Fernandes, who by this time
was arrived at his own house. He went to bed much
chagrined, but could not get a wink of sleep during the
whole night. He lamented his unhappy fate in having met
with so cruel a fair one. Having passed a sleepless night,

20 Life of Miss Anne Catley.

in the morning he sent a servant with the following billet.

" Cruel Charmer !

How shall I find words to express the ardour
of my passion for you, and lament the hardness of your
heart in thus treating your humble slave ! Unless you
relieve my pain, I shall inevitably fall a sacrifice to your
beauty. I shall ever offer the incense of the purest praise
of you at the altar of love. On your answer depends my
life. If you continue to be cruel, I shall soon put an
end to a wretched life. I am yours,

M. D. Fernandes."

To this passionate epistle our heroine returned the
following answer.

" Sir,

I am not so cruel in my disposition as you imagine.
I consent to alleviate your pain. I expect you this
evening at my house. Come alone at seven o'clock.

P.S. Let this be a profound secret.

A. C Y."

Fernandes received this letter with joy, he kissed it a
thousand times, and waiting with the utmost impatience
for the appointed hour, which had no sooner come than he
flew at once to meet his charmer whom he found in perfect
readiness to meet him ; when he took his leave he was
so satisfied with the reception that had been accorded him
that he presented her with a note of a hundred pounds.

Whether Fernandes was not altogether quite as agreeable

to Miss C y as could have been expected, or whether

for other more cogent reasons, she did not judge it prudent
to encourage a renewal of his visits, cannot be ascertained.
It is however certain that she never gave him the pleasure
of her company after.

Life of Miss Anne Catley. . 21

She continued to revel for a considerable time in t all the
pleasures which gallantry and dissipation afford, happy in
the enjoyment of the affectionate indulgence shewn by her
knight, till the golden stream of felicity was, for a short
interval, turned into another channel, different from that
in which it had so long run. This unexpected stroke of
temporary unhappiness was occasioned by her father's
taking upon him to vindicate the supposed injury done to
his daughter's character by certain of these intimacies.
He accordingly entered a process against Sir F. B. D., as
principal agent, and also against B., the organist, for being
an accomplice in the affair. The cause was tried at West-
minster in 1764, when, it appearing to the judges that the
knight's intimacy with our heroine was entirely with her
own consent, and that Mr. B. could not in any manner be
considered as an abettor or aider to the transaction, her
indentures having been previously cancelled, her father,
who doubtless expected to have gained considerably by the
lawsuit, had the mortification to hear the jury pronounce a
verdict for the defendant with costs of suit ; which, as they
were considerable, and out of the plaintiff's power to pay,
the knight generously discharged.

This affair being thus settled, our heroine resumed her
former gaiety, and shone with greater splendour than before
at all places of polite resort. Her lover grew fonder of her
every day, giving her frequent marks of his esteem. During
the course of their intimacy, which lasted two years, two
children were born, who both died in their infancy. They
did not continue long together afterwards, an event hap-
pening which caused a final separation between them. It
was as follows :

Miss C y had been one evening at Vauxhall in

22 Life of Miss Anne Catley.

company with some ladies, from which place, filled with
wine, a vice she was sometimes guilty of, she went with
the rest of her company to W th by's, a well-known
house of questionable repute, where she passed the night
in mirth and jollity. Unluckily, Sir F. B. D. came there
also, to pass an idle hour or two, and the waiter by mis-
take shewed him into an apartment where our heroine was
in company with a young attorney's clerk. The indignant
knight, fired with rage, turned on his heel and departed.
The next morning she returned home, where she found
her lover, who awaited her arrival. He reproached her
for her baseness, as he termed it, towards him, and
giving her a bank-note of <50 desired her to take another

lodging immediately. Miss C y, finding that all

endeavours to please him were in vain, retorted his
upbraidings on himself, and even went so far as to make
herself merry at his expense.

It must not be supposed by the reader that the fault was
all on one side, a mistake very often made with regard to
affairs of this particular nature. In order therefore to
do justice to all parties and that the true position of
things may be understood it is necessary to insert the

Sir Francis Blake Delaval was a gentleman of high and
respectable family, being son to a baronet and related nearly
by blood and affinity to several of the nobility. His
person was elegant, his face handsome, his manners pol-
ished, his education liberal, his conversation sprightly and
pleasing. Few ever possessed so many of those qualities
which fascinate the ladies, and few ever succeeded better in
obtaining their favours by humbling their proud hearts.
When very young this gentleman dissipated his patrimony

Life op Miss Anne Catley. 23

on women and play, till at last his finances being reduced
to the lowest ebb, necessity forced him to relieve them by
fortune hunting, a resource truly despicable.

The object fixed upon as the means of repairing his
shattered fortune, was Lady Isabella Pawlet, daughter to
the Earl of Thanet. This lady possessed a very considerable
fortune, with a very plain person and face, and a character
somewhat questionable according to evidence said to be
given by Foote, though unstained by any actual charges.

The truth is, Lady Isabella Pawlet (or Paulet") had a
penchant for the humorist, and if he had not been restrained
from matrimony, by having previously entered into the
indissoluble noose of Hymen, there is scarcely a doubt that
he would have refused the acceptance of a considerable
fortune on any terms ; but this being impossible, he resolved
to come in for a share, and fixed upon Delaval, with whom
he had long lived on terms of intimacy, as a proper instru-

Lady Isabella was a dupe to superstition. The old gipsy
woman at Norwood, whom she frequently visited, stood
higher in her estimation than Boyle or Newton, and she
put more confidence in the presages of an astrologer who
resided up four pairs of stairs in the Old Bailey, than was
ever placed in Copernicus.

Foote having informed his friend Delaval of the lady's
foible, they came to an agreement, by which the former
was to have an annuity of five hundred pounds a year, and
the principal to enjoy the remainder of the lady's fortune.

A maid servant was bribed to betray her lady, and the
conspirators having received information from her of a
particular day when her ladyship was to consult a cele-
brated conjuror, to whom, at that time, several women of

24 Life of Miss Anne Catley.

the first fashion paid frequent visits, to this imposing
rascal, Delaval and his friend Foote immediately repaired,
and having secured his services by a few guineas, informed
him of several of the most remarkable incidents in Lady
Isabella's life, the conjuror at the same time taking an
exact survey of Delaval's face and figure for a purpose
which shall appear presently.

Lady Isabella soon after arrived, accompanied by her
treacherous attendant, who by a sign previously agreed
upon, informed the impostor who his visitor was.

The answers given to the interrogatories of her ladyship,
and to the prepared questions occasionally slipped in by
her cunning abigail, left no doubt on her mind of the
conjuror's extraordinary and supernatural powers, and of
course brought forward the material enquiry respecting
marriage, which is generally the great end of all such

The impostor now pretended to consult a planetary
system that lay before him on his table. Having delib-
erately taken off a pair of large spectacles and turned up
his eyes towards Heaven, he muttered over the names
given to the signs of the zodiac and fixed stars, he drew a
number of circles and lines with white lead upon black
paper, and at last with a grave face described the person
and features of Delaval.

Lady Isabella, delighted at the description of her
intended cara sposa, rewarded the conjuror liberally, and
would now have retired, but her well-instructed companion,
pretending a tender interest in the future fortune of her
mistress, urged for further information, particularly as to
the time when and the place where her lover was to be
seen. The wizard answered that he could certainly com-

Life of Miss Anne Catley. 25

municate such information, but must first consult his
familiar spirit in an adjacent room, and immediately retired
to Delaval and Foote, who sat in another room, where
having waited a few minutes in consultation, he returned
to the women, and found Lady Isabella almost maddened
with anxious expectation. He told her that the gentleman
to whom the fates had destined her hand would be walking
the next day at twelve o'clock by the side of the canal in
the Green Park, but cautioned her not to speak first, as
that would break the charm, and having received another
fee for his pleasing news, Lady Isabella returned home in

The description of the charming man described by the
conjuror had taken possession of this unfortunate lady's
brain ; she could not eat during the day, nor sleep during
the night. The morning sun, on rising, found her at her
toilette, culling ornaments, painting, washing, and per-
fuming ; and she involuntarily rambled to the place of
appointment an hour before the time. During this hour
this infatuated dupe to imposition kept her eyes rivetted
(9a the park gate, and every time it opened trembled from
head to foot with anxious expectation. Her repeater at
last struck twelve, and at that instant Delaval appeared,
dressed in every point exactly as the conjuror had described.

The sudden appearance of the gentleman extorted the
ejaculation of " heavens ! " from the lady, which was
followed with " Lord preserve us ! " from the maid ; but
Delaval continued to pass and repass them several times
without turning his eyes towards the seat, which was
indeed a necessary precaution, as he was ready to burst
into loud laughter every instant. At last, looking full at
Lady Isabella, he bowed respectfully, and, she returning

26 Life of Miss Anne Catley.

the salute, he walked towards her, and commenced a

The surprise of the lady having by degrees subsided, she
discovered on recovering her senses that the stranger held
her hand; she reluctantly drew it from him, at the same time
heaving a deep sigh, which he returned with all the softness
of sympathetic tenderness. Before they parted an assigna-
tion was made for a future meeting at the same place, and
the swain took leave with an affected warmth of passion
and respect that totally threw the lady off her guard, and
expelled from her mind all considerations but those of
romantic love.

Delaval, on separating, flew to inform Foote of his success,
and then retired to indulge in tender conversation with
a favourite in King's Place. Lady Isabella locked herself
within her chamber, there to contemplate with rapture the
conquest she had made, or rather, indeed, on the lover,
who, in her opinion, Heaven in its bounty had created for
her specially. The more she thought the more she became
enamoured, and the second meeting totally overturned
every idea that prudence suggested. Delaval

" Could impart

The loosest wishes to the chastest heart."

And Lady Isabella was now at an age when the heart is
tender, though not over young. She was approaching
towards that grand climacteric which brings despair to
maidens, and having long regretted her situation she was
resolved not to lose the present opportunity of doing all
within her power for the good of her generation, and to
remove from herself that most horrid of all horrid epithets
to a woman's ear an old maid.

Life of Miss Anne Catley. 2T

The marriage, therefore, was soon celebrated, much to
the satisfaction of the bride ; but Sir Francis felt himself
rather uneasy on the occasion, which, however, he attempted
to put off with a laugh, and having been asked how he
could think of marrying so ordinary a woman, answered
"I married her for weight and paid nothing for fashion."

Had Lady Isabella been a Venus in beauty, and endowed
with the wisdom of Pallas, she would have found her
charms of body and mind unequal to fix the heart of
Delaval, ever on search for variety, and never satisfied
with any single object. But in truth her ladyship was
destitute not only of personal charms but of mental allure-
ments her conversation was as plain as her face.

A young lady named Roche lived at this time under the
protection of a near female relative to Delaval, and was
supposed by many to be a natural daughter to one of the
family. In the leading astray of this girl he soon suc-
ceeded. Her mind was weak, her constitution meretricious,
and instead of retreating from him, and repelling his
overtures, she met his affections with ardour, and lived
with him as his mistress for a considerable time indeed it
was a doubtful point which of the two was most in the

This inconstancy on the part of Delaval naturally excited
resentment in the lady. Female pride could not patiently
submit to so gross an insult. She saw her fortune bestowed
upon a courtesan ; she felt that the husband to whom she
had administered the means of indulging his pleasures
affronted her by publicly appearing and living with his
mistress, and privately treating her, his wife, with neglect,
and even contempt that evinced disgust. This roused her
to revenge. She upbraided her husband with bitterness,

28 Life of Miss Anne Catley.

he answered with cutting coolness, and in the height of one
of their disputes discovered the secret of the conjuror.

Lady Isabella consulted her friends on this occasion and
they brought in the aid of the law. A case was drawn
and a suit of divorce was determined on, upon the grounds
that Delaval had committed adultery with Miss Roche.
Of the truth of this charge there could not be a doubt, but
Lady Isabella failed in the proof. The witnesses gave
evidence of the parties having rode out together, having
dined together, having lodged in the same house together,
but they failed in legally proving the offence on the
ground of which she sought relief and release from her
marriage contract.

Delaval thinking he had no offence to make, resolved
upon obviating the effect of his wife's complaint, which if
established would have materially injured his fortune, and
therefore he set up a charge of recrimination.

This charge states that a person named Craig took a
woman with him to Haddock's, at Charing Cross, on the
evening of a day when Delaval had invited some company
to meet him at the Cardigan's Head Tavern, Charing Cross,
among whom was the late Mr. Robert Quaime. To this
company he communicated that he had long believed his
wife to be inconstant, and had received information that
she was to be that night at Haddock's with a man who
went by the name of Brown, that he intended to be
convinced of the truth, and requested that the company
would go to the house with him in order to see if they
could detect her in the act. One Dupree was then des-
patched to Haddock's, and soon sent back a messenger to
inform Delaval that his wife was arrived. The company
then went to the place, when Dupree opened the door of a

Life of Miss Anne Catley. 29

room where Lady Isabella was said to be, and where they
saw a man and woman, the latter of whom one of the
witnesses swore was Lady Isabella, but in this he was not
corroborated by any of the other witnesses.

It was also deposed that her ladyship passed by the
name of Brown and met Craig, who also assumed that
name, at a lodging in Beaufort Buildings, where they
passed for man and wife ; but the general opinion was,
that the whole of the evidence against Lady Isabella was
fabricated and false and that her witnesses had been
tampered with and suborned. This suit in the commons
of course terminated all connubial connection between
Delaval and his wife, nor did his intimacy with Miss Roche
continue much longer.

As there is something particular and interesting in the
story of this lady, though it is not immediately connected
with the memoirs of Nan, yet the reader will find enter-
tainment from the perusal.

Sir Henry Echlin an Irish baronet, who possessed a very
considerable estate at Rush, near Dublin, having seen Miss
Roche became enamoured of her beauty, and indeed it must
be allowed her charms were attractive.

Sir Henry was a young man of very weak intellect in
worldly matters, extremely dissipated, naturally extrava-
gant and totally devoid of foresight.

He had been a dupe to gamblers, money lenders, bullying
captains, the keepers of low houses, <fec, and yet he was a
man of liberal education, elegant address and master of all
the polite languages. Probably he winked at the faux-pas
imputed by public report to Miss Roche, who conducted
herself with such cunning that his addresses terminated in
a marriage.

30 Life of Miss Anne Catley.

Sir Henry soon after this happy event returned to his
native country, accompanied by his lady and a gentleman
who lived with him as a confidential friend. On this
journey Lady Echlin, who delighted in variety, was im-
properly intimate with the friend of her husband, making
him dupe to her own disgrace, and be was the only person

2 4 5 6

Online LibraryAlexander von HumboldtThe life of Miss Anne Catley, celebrated singing performer of the last century; including an account of her introduction to public life, her professional engagements in London and Dublin, and her various adventures and intrigues... Carefully comp. and ed. from the best and most authentic records ext → online text (page 2 of 6)