Richard Mant.

Public and private life of that celebrated actress, Miss Bland, otherwise Mrs. Ford, or, Mrs. Jordan; late mistress of H. R. H. the D. of Clarence; now King William IV., founder of the Fitzclarence family .. online

. (page 10 of 13)
Online LibraryRichard MantPublic and private life of that celebrated actress, Miss Bland, otherwise Mrs. Ford, or, Mrs. Jordan; late mistress of H. R. H. the D. of Clarence; now King William IV., founder of the Fitzclarence family .. → online text (page 10 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

subterfuge ! Then we again demand, What became of the capital ?
Our actress was no gambler, her habits were uniformly frugal, and
for a sei'ies of years her house rent ; expenditure for the table, etc.,
had or ought to have been defrayed by another • the advocates of
greatness will never solve this problem — not so the abbettors of
truth ; they see through the flimsy veil : sponges Avill suck up,
and sinks engulph the largest torrents.

Now the pecuniary embarrassments under which our heroine
suffered, did certainly result from a bond and bill involvements,
the amount of which is stated at £2000, a sum she could not
liquidate, although it seems more than probable, her claims upon
others were of such magnitude, and this was coupled with other
circumstances, that completely annihilated her peace, and com-
pelled her to abandon her native land.

In regard to the thousand pound settlement, such things have
been heard of as procuring the loan of a bond under specious
pretences, and never returning the same. Transactions of this
nature will sometimes occur in families, as a lady of the name of
Robinson could testify was she still i»n existence.

We now come to the authentic statement respecting the unfor-
tunate business transactions in which our heroine became involved
for the sole purpose of relieving an esteemed, though worthless

" Authentic Statement.

"In the autumn of 1813, Mrs. Jordan was called upon very
unexpectedly, to redeem some securities given by her, for money
raised to assist a near relative. The cause of this aid was the
pressure of matters, purely of a domestic nature. The call upon
her was suddeai and certainly unexpected ; and not finding herself
in a situation to advance the £2000 claimed, she withdrew herself
to France, deputing a friend in England, to make every necessary
arrangement for paying all the creditors as soon as possible. At
the time of Mrs. Jordan's quitting England, she was in the receipt
of an annual income of upwards of £2000 paid with the greatest
punctuality quarterly, without demur, drawback, or impediment,
and so continued to the hour of her death. Up to April, 1816,
Mrs. Jordan's drafts on Messrs. Coutts and Co. wei-e duly paid ;
never for a moment could she have felt the griping hand of poverty.

" I can positively assert, that never during her life time was
one shilling paid towards liqiddating the securities in question ;
nor was it urgent that it should be done : because the creditors,
for the most part personal friends, well knew the upright princi-
ples they had to depend upon ; nor were they ignorant, that the

90 Life of Mrs. Jordan.

transcendant talents of this gifted being were always sure to
receive a munificent reward from the hands of the public, when-
ever she should again seek their assistance ; and in the fruits of
this, THEY were sure of participating. Her protracted stay
abroad was occasioned by untoward circumstances, over which
the PRINCIPALS had no control.

" Up to the hour of Mrs. Jordan's lea\dng England, she had
been living under the same roof, with the relative with whom she
was concerned in the securities alluded to. Reciprocal acts of
kindness, mutual confidence, in all domestic matters, and many
points of private aflTairs tended to create in Mrs. Jordan's mind a
reliance upon this person. Never for a moment during the six
years that her daughter had been married, had Mrs. Jordan reason
to doubt his sincere aflfection or his vei'acity ; nor did she doubt
them when she left England.

" Immediately upon the derangement of Mrs. Jordan's affairs,
and before she left England, a statement of all the claims to
which she was liable, was made out together with a list of the
PERSONS holding her bonds and bills of acceptance ; the result of
which convinced Mrs. Jordan that her liabilities did not much
exceed £2000, and that the claimants wei'e one and all the
personal friends of the parties.

" In August, 1815, Mrs. Jordan left England for France, with
the intention of remaining away some ten days, the time computed
necessary to place matters in that state, as to render her person
legally secure from arrest. Her affairs were placed in the hands
of pereons well informed in every particular thereof, as of all other
matters connected with her life. Mrs. Jordan was well aware
that the creditors were only anxious to have their claims placed
in a secure state, and that they were willing to give every accom-
modation required. She was also aware that her fellow sufferer
had given up a considerable portion of his income ; and she felt
that her represetitative in England could in one hour's time settle
any doubtful point that might arise during the arrangement. In
short, she knew that no impedime7it existed. Consequently, when
she found that month after month elapsed, without anything
being finally settled, her mind became troubled.

"Mrs. Jordan left England ; she took with her as a companion,
a lady who had for some years previously been employed in
superintending the education of Mrs. Jordan's younger children,
and who had for the last twelve months, been Mrs. Jordan's con-
stant attendant. This person came to England in January 1816,
to receive and take Mrs. Jordan her quarter's income, then in
Messrs. Coutts' house. From the moment of her arrival in Eng-

Life of Mrs. Jordan. 91

land, until she quitted it, she pursued a line of conduct towards
the daughters of Mrs. Jordan, (then residing in Mrs. Jordan's
house) tliat was offensive beyond measure ; she peremptorily and
in a most insulting manner, called upon the person concerned
with Mrs. Jordan in the affairs of the bills and bonds, to make
oath that Mrs. Jordan was not liable to any claims beyond those
of which she already knew. The demand was accompanied by
base insinuations. Justly doubting this to be really the wish of
Mrs. Jordan, and irritated at the circumstances at ending the
demand, it was refused ; and on the same day this lady returned
to France, and there is little doubt, but then for the first time,
Mrs. Jordan did become apprehensive."

During her stay in England, the lady alluded to informed two
of Mrs. Jordan's daughters, that Mrs. Jordan's future place of
residence in France, was to be kept a profound secret from them,
and that all letters from them to their mother, must be sent
through a third person, and be directed to Mrs. James, instead of
Mrs. Jordan ; thus, from that tiiiie, all such communications first
passed through the hands of a person who might withdraw Mrs.
Jordan's confidence and affection, from those most interested in
getting her back to England. It is necessary to revert to the
verbal refusal given to take the oath demanded, because it has
been made a point of much importance as connected with Mrs.
Jordan's state of feeling in consequence of the publication made
in the Morning Chronicle of 26th January 1824, of a letter of
Mrs. Jordan's, bearing date 16th January 1816.

Mrs. Jordan's letter must have been written immediately after
the return of the above-mentioned lady to France, and there is
great reason to think that then only for the first time, did a feeling
of apprehension of furthur demands awake in Mrs. Jordan's mind,
and the fatal step of cutting off the source of communications
prevented altogether, or perhaps only delayed the receipt of a
letter written by the person refusing to take the oath on the very
same day ; to say that he was truly willing to do whatever ^rs.
Jordan should herself require, and that the oath should be taken
whenever she wrote to say it was her tvish.

There can be no question that the mind of this great woman
had been long and grievously oppressed. Nor will this be any
matter of wonder when a retrospect is taken of her eventful life.
Who can deny, that in the flow of her prosperity, she had many
bitter memorials that good and ill will mingle in every human
condition. The greatest pleasure that acquiring could bestow
upon Mrs. Jordan, was its affoi'ding her the power of shedding
greater happiness around her. Can there be a severer censure

92 Life of Mrs. Jordan.

on Ikt memory tlmii to think that pkcun'IARY DIFFICULTIES, even
iiri(/hty, (wliicli hor's never were) could for Jiny length of time
have depressed a mind such as her's in its perfect st^ite ?

I have tlirown this statement together, in the hope tliat you
will deem it satisfactory.

And remain, my dear Sir,

Most sincerely your's,

This document we take it for granted, is given as a most satisfac-
tory and conclusive elucidation of all that may be reijuired by the
reader on tlie suljject of Mrs. Jordan's pecuniary embarrassments.
Now, so far from conceding to such opinion, we regard tiiis
authentic stateinent as one of the most unsatisfactory and incon-
clusive papers we ever perused. Tiie unfortunate lady it seems
was very unexpectedly called upon to pay two thousand pounds,
and not having assets so to do, she, in order to secure her personal
safety, fled to France. At the period alluded to, she was in the
enjoyment of upwards of <£2000 a year, yet no security could be
given, nor any composition entered into with the claimants;
finally, nothing short of expatriation could ensure her safety.
So mucii for the first paragraph. We are next told that during
the lady's life time, not one shillinrj was ever paid in liqiiidnfinn
of the bonds and bills, whereon the £2000 were claimed ; and
why 1 because the creditors were personal friends of the debtor
who felt so perfectly satisfied with her honourable conduct, that
nothing could be further from their minds, tlian having recoui*se
to any unpleasant measures. Then why in the name of common
sense, did she absent herself from England ? and what is the
meaning of the conclusive lines of the second paragraph, tJiat her
protracted stay abroad ivas occasioned by imtotcard circnvistnnces
orer ichich the principals liad no control. Who are the persons
alluded to under the term principals ? were they the creditors ;
her own family ; or the individual with whom she had last co-
habited ? We confess there is something so enigmatical in this
sentence, that we are not ashamed to own our inability to solve
its meaning.

The following anecdote, never recorded, is one of the last
occurrences that took place previous to Mrs. Jordan's bidding a
final adieu to the land she had so prominently embellished — to the
soil that gave her birth.

Mr. Charles Wigley, who possessed the spacious apartments
formerly existing in Spring Gardens, and appropriated to the
display of public exhibitions, was applied to by Mrs. Jordan, of
whom he had some previous knowledge, in order that he might

Life of Mrs. Jordan. 93

become the purchaser of her furniture, &c. The above-mentioned,
gentleman who was well acquainted with Mr. Fisher, the auc-
tioneer, father of the celebrated Clara Fisher, of histrionic fame —
called upon the latter, and requested he would accompany him to
estimate the household goods, pictures, &c., at a dwelling in
Sloane-square, without intimating the name of the individual to
whom the property belonged.

Mr. Fisher accordingly accompanied Mr. Wigley through the
apartments, and as had been previously agreed, without proceeding
to make an inventory, gave his estimate from the cursory glance,
being from habit perfectly conversant with the value of furniture.
Having completed the survey, they adjourned to a coffee house,
when Mr. Fisher informed his fi'iend that supposing an individual
wanted the articles as they stood, the carpets, &c., being fitted to
the rooms, they wei'e well worth three hundred pounds ; but if
to be removed, he conceived one hundred less would be a fair
estimate, though he might go as far as £220.

Mr. Fisher then accompanied Mr. Wigley back to Sloane-square,
when the former gentleman, to his no small astonishment, was
introduced to Mrs. Jordan, who he then found to be the pi'oprie-
tress of the articles he had been requested to appraise. After
some conversation upon the subject, Mr. Fisher retired, leaving
Mr. Wigley to close the bargain with our actress alone, which
was done for the reduced sum of one hundred guineas, notwith-
standing Mr. Fisher had stated that the property was worth
£220 — added to which, the lease of the premises was thrown into
the bargain, which the last mentioned gentlemen assured the
writer, was in his estimation worth £500, yielding to Mr. Wigley,
the purchaser, a very snug profit, if he could reconcile the tran-
saction to his conscience.

This melancholy fact tends to prove two things : first, the
unsuspecting and easy mind of Mrs. Jordan, and lastly, her
anxiety to conclude the sale without the least delay, in order that
she might quit the country with all the expedition possible, so
much had her feelings been wrought upon, and her apprehension of
legal proceeding, excited in the event of a protracted continuance
in London.

Our actress retired from her native soil with all the secrecy
possible, when the first spot she selected for her residence, was a
cottage at Marquetra, about a quarter of a mile from the town of
Boulogne-sur-Mer. The habitation was small but neat, and the
general appearance extremely cheerful. To this residence we find
a single, solitary letter, forwarded by one of her ten children,
which runs as follows : —

54 Life of Mrs. Jordan.

Colonel Fitzclarence to Mrs. Jordan.
"My Dear Mother, — My dear Sophia* has been very low
spirited since she received my ever dear Dora's letter ; and she
took the earliest opportunity to speak to Mrs. Arburtlniot, who
would speak to her husband about it. I am afraid avc shall not
come home for this long time. I long to see dear Lucy. The
Arburthnots are very kind to me.- — I have got a room in Paris.
Hall is better behaved. I have had a horse shot. Tell all about

the 's If you want money for them, don't ask me for it,

but take my allowance for them : because with a little cai*e, I
could live on my father's till theAr business. Now, do as I ask you,
— mind you do, for they have always been so kind to us all ; —
and if I can make any return, I should be a devil if I did not ;
so take my next quarter, — and as you may want to give thera
some, do that for my sake. — I am very well.
God bless you !

(Signed) Fred. Fitzclarence.
" P. S. — Sophia will write to you on Thursday."

Addressed — ' To Mrs. James, Post Office, Boulogne, France.'

At this residence, however, INIrs. Jordan did not long remain,
for the mind ill at ease, becomes naturally restless, and that
which affords delight one day, becomes irksome the next. From
that tranquil residence, her care-worn mind was next directed to
decide upon Versailles, whither .she repaired to sojourn but for a
transient period, when under the idea of living in greater seclusion,
she made choice of St. Cloud, and adopting the name of James,
thei'e established herself.

Previously to her arrival at the latter place, she was rendered
miserable by receiving no communications whatever from any of
her children, or the last individual with whom she had cohabited
for such a series of years, — though every member of her family
had been repeatedly addressed in the most urgent manner. She
therefore still continued to await letters, under a depression of
spirits not to be described. Independent of her anxiety to acquire
information respecting her ofispring, the situation of her finances
was much reduced ; and on that account, advices from England
were absolutely necessary to determine the future line of conduct
she ought to pursue.

Day succeeded day, yet no letter came to hand, when the senti-
ment of indignation that pervaded her mind, was succeeded by

* His sister, no doubt attracted to Paris by the extraordinary events of

Life of Mrs. Jordan, 95

disgust at the base ingratitude and inhumanity displayed towards
her, by the father of her ofispring, on the one hand, — and the
cruelty and undutifulness of her children on the other : — in short,
the mask which had so long veiled the truth from her eyes, was
withdrawn, and she perceived with horror that the fixed deter-
mination was to abandon her to her wayward destiny.

It appears obvious that Mrs. Jordan, who had naturally been
imbued with no small portion of nervous irritability, even during
her prosperous days, was not framed in the decline of life, when
fortune frowned upon her, to rally her feelings and become as it
were by supernatural agency, gifted with powers to stem the
torrent of adversity. She entertained dreadful apprehensions as
to her personal safety, and the thought of incarceration shook her
mind to its centre. This terror, far from being lepelled through
the medium of any wholesome advice, was rather fomented by
persons who under the specious pretence of friendship, used every
effort to urge an abandonment of her native land. It was this
manoeuvre that prompted the almost instantaneous resolution
previously detailed, of quitting Sloane-square, and sacrificing her
property as she did upon that occasion. We have traced our
heroine to her several residences in France, and we have now to
record circumstances never before published to the world. In the
days of her prosperity, and when basking in the sunshine of
princely protection, the subject of our memoir had been in the
habit of visiting with her infant offspring, the residence of a con-
fectioner to his late Majesty George the Third, where she used to
meet former acquaintances, whom she could not with propriety
tolerate in the Stable-yard, St. James's. On such occasions the
party to whom we refer used to gambol with the thriving progeny
of the princely father, and, as may be supposed, the choicest of
sweetmeats used to be spread to regale them ; in short, during
such visits (and we are not exactly certain that the Royal parent
himself was not in some instances present) all reserve was laid
aside, and our actress enjoyed that unrestrained intei'course which
was so consonant with the unsophisticated effusions of her heart.

Thus far we have to state as regards the season of prospeiity :
we must now suffer the revolution of years and events previously
developed in these pages, to transpire, when not only our actress
experienced the sad reverse already pourtrayed, but the individual
to whom we allude, from enjoying affluence acquired as a confec-
tioner of George the Third, became in some degree reduced, and
repaired to Paris ; in which city, with the residue of his means,
he established himself in his former business. Aware that his
old munificent visitor was at St. Cloud, he proceeded thither,

96 Life of Mrs. Jordan.

under the hope of obtaining an interview, but to his no small
astonishment found our heroine subjected to a positive state of
esjnonage. A variety of questions were asked, and in reply to his
anxious desire to be introduced to the unfortunate lady, evasive
answers were given, so that he was ultimately compelled to re-
linquish the attempt, and thus retired without seeing the object
of his enquiry.

Shortly after this occurrence, a letter came to his hands penned
by Mrs. Jordan, entreating he would attend after midnight under
a certain window designated, of the dwelling she inhabited at St.
Cloud, when it may be naturally supposed he proved punctual to
the appointment given. From the casement in question, he as-
certained that our wretched actress was in a complete state of
captivity ; that she tvas environed by spies ; and stood in need of
the necessaries of life — being reduced to a state of great indigence.
This interview continued for two hours, and such were the imme-
diate wants of the poor supplicant, that she literally received the
eighteen or twenty fi-ancs her visitant had about him, with a
promise that he would return the following day ; an appointment
being made when she might communicate with him unmolested ;
he having further promised to provide himself with twenty pounds,
the loan required at his hands, in order to make the necessary
arrangements preparatory to her escape to England.

True to his word, he met the suffering creature, and gave into
her hands twenty-four Napoleons, when it was agreed that in ten
days after they should meet — the requisite plans being entered
into — and that, under his protection, she would return to her
native land. Strict to his promise, he attended at the time
stipulated, when, to his infinite mortification and sorrow, he was
given to understand she had expired the day pi'eceding.

A few years elapsed, when circumstances not becoming more
prosperous with our informant, he returned to England ; and,
pressed by the exigency to which he was reduced, made application
in a certain quarter for repayment of the twenty pounds, advanced
as above-mentioned ; but the demand was resisted, under the plea
that he possessed no receipt from the borrowei' — though letters
were produced supplicating the loan in question — and thus the
matter terminated \ at least when we last saw the creditor (a year
ago), who at the period in question produced a bundle of docu-
ments, which he stated his determination to make public, in
consequence of the non-liquidation of the advance so philanthropi-
cally made upon his part. He farther added, that in the course
of his application — being much changed in appearance and dress,
and not being recognised by them — he nevertheless saw two or

Life of Mrs. Jordan. 97

three individuals enjoying posts in a great establishment who he
recollected as having lield the situations of spies, or keepers, over
Mrs. Joi'dan. We may be asked the name of the individual of
whom this information was acquired — which we certainly could
communicate — but as twelve months have elapsed, and since that
period he may have obtained the twenty pounds, we forbear to
implicate him further. We know the last lodging in which he
resided, where a sum for rental has been left unpaid, but we have
not been able down to the present moment to trace him further,
otherwise a moi'e detailed account of this mysterious and black
afi'air should have been given to the public, as we have very little
idea that his applications were attended to subsequent to our final

To return to our wretched actress. Left to feed upon the
anguish of her mind, she gradually became enfeebled in body, and
a bilious attack was the result, which slowly increased, but its
growth did not create uneasiness, so completely dejected and lost
was the wretched lady to everything connected with herself, or
that took place around her. Thus circumstanced life became so
burthensome that she was led to contemplate the approach of
dissolution with calmness, being resolved to welcome the final
struggle with placidity.

The chambers occupied by our sufierer were in a hotel in the
square adjoining the palace ; the mansion was spacious, gloomy,
cold, and inconvenient — similar to those habitations so frequently
pictured in the romances of thirty years back. A long flagged
corridor stretched from one extremity of the building to the other,
the chambers were lofty and comfortless, and the toiit ensemble
demonstrated that the edifice had once been the habitation of a
French nobleman. The apartments of the poor sufferer were
most shabbily decorated ; not one of those domestic comforts, so
common in her native land, having saluted her regard during the
last scene of existence ! A small tarnished sofa was the most
respectable article of furniture that adorned what might be termed
the drawing-room, whereon she incessantly reclined, and upon
which she yielded up her tortured spirit into the hands of her

We shall now proceed to delineate the closing scene of our un-
fortunate heroine, as described by the owner of the dwelling ; and
we venture to say a more afiecting finale never stood recorded in
the page of biogi'aphy.

The individual in question, denominated as Mr. C , con-
ceived she was poor and tendered her the loan of money, which

98 Life of Mrs. Jordan.

was declined ; notwitlistanding this he uniformly regai'ded her
apparent poverty and the wearing upon her finger a diamond ring
an enigma not to be unravelled. The gem in question, from some
secret motive, she never would relinquish — added to this, she is
stated to have been possessed of some other valuable articles of

From the moment of lier arrival at St. Cloud, as previously
observed, Mrs. Jordan manifested the most restless anxiety for
intelligence from England. That feeling gradually increased, and
became so intense that the skin actually became discoloured ; she

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13

Online LibraryRichard MantPublic and private life of that celebrated actress, Miss Bland, otherwise Mrs. Ford, or, Mrs. Jordan; late mistress of H. R. H. the D. of Clarence; now King William IV., founder of the Fitzclarence family .. → online text (page 10 of 13)