Изображения страниц


of York, with a variety of Authentic and Important Letters and Curious and Interesting Anecdotes of Several Persons of Political Notoriety.” Encouraged by the reception of this work, she let it be known that she had in active preparation a collection of letters which she had received from the Duke of York. The book was actually printed, but before it appeared Sir Herbert Taylor, at the instance of the Prince Regent and the Duke of York (to the latter he had been private secretary for several years), bought up the issue, and the letters, for a cash payment of £7,000 and a pension of £400 a year for life. All the copies were forthwith destroyed, except one, which was deposited at Drummond's Bank.

Mrs. Clarke met her Waterloo in 1813, when she was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment for having uttered a libel on the Right Honourable William Fitzgerald (afterwards Baron Fitzgerald and Vesey) in connection with the Duke of York enquiry. After Waterloo, she settled at Paris, with her children, and there she remained, popular with a certain set, until her death in 1852 at the age of seventy-six.

Of course, after the scandal the Duke broke off his connection with Mrs. Clarke.

When the Duchess died there was a rumour that the Duke, although in his fifty-eighth year, might marry again in the hope of establishing the succession to the Throne, to which he was heir-presumptive. There was at least some basis for the rumour. “The Earl of Lauderdale was executor, it seems, to the Duchess,” Creevey relates, so, before the poor woman was buried, the Minister from the Elector of Hesse requested an audience of Lauderdale, the object of which was to say that, as the Duke no doubt would marry again, he had thought it his duty to mention that the Elector, his master, had a daughter whom he thought well qualified to be the Duke's second wife, and, well-knowing Lauderdale's great influence with the Duke, he had judged it right to make this early application to him.

About a week after the Duchess's funeral Lauderdale mentioned this to the Duke, who immediately said : “This is the second application to me, for the King has communicated to me his wishes that I should marry again ; but my mind is quite made up to do no such thing, and so I have given the King to understand.” The Duke remained a widower, inspired thereto mainly because of his affection for the wife of the Duke of Rutland, who had been Lady Elizabeth Howard, daughter of Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle, the friend and correspondent of George Selwyn. The Duke and Duchess were spoken of as “a pattern of juvenile sentiment "; and Lord Palmerston alluded drily to “the delight it was to the unsophisticated minds to see the Royal Duke and the Duchess meeting in the mysterious luxury of a first and refined affection.” It was this lady who persuaded him to erect Stafford House (now Lancaster House), which, though unfinished at his death, involved him in such enormous expense (which he could not meet) and deep worry as may well have hastened his end. He died in 1827.


MRS. JORDAN (1762-1816)

Birth—Her mother and father-She goes on the stageHer débutComes to England-Appears at Drury Lane

Criticisms of Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt-Richard Ford-Marriage of her daughtersBecomes the mistress of the Duke of Clarence-Her replies to attacks in the Press—Her large income-Monetary difficulties—The Duke and Mrs. Jordan—The parting—The reasons for this-Miss Tylney Long-Miss Elphinstone-Miss Wykeham-Marriage of the DukeHis affection for the Fitzclarences—Mrs. Jordan in distress—She dies abroad

MRS. JORDAN was born at Waterford on November 22, 1762. Her mother, Grace, one of the three daughters of the Rev. Dr. Phillips, married a Captain Bland. Grace Phillips had, like her sisters, gone on the stage, and the Bland family were strongly opposed to the marriage. They cut off supplies, and Captain Bland had to earn a precarious living on the stage. Ultimately, however, he yielded to the wishes of his parents, and applied successfully for the annulment of the marriage on the ground of nonage.

This is the story of the earlier biographers of Mrs. Jordan, but Joseph Knight pointed out that these statements have grave inherent improbabilities. He inclined to the theory that Bland was employed in some humble capacity in a theatre at Dublin or Cork. There is Mrs. Jordan's own authority for the statement that she began to earn her living at the age of fourteen ; whether she was or was not, in or about 1776, assistant to a milliner in Dame Street, Dublin, is immaterial. What is certain is that in this year she went on the stage, making her debut as Phoebe in As You Like It at the Crow Street Theatre. After some time she became the mistress of Richard Daly, manager of the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin, and husband of Mrs. Lister, a popular and well-to-do actress and singer. Apparently she was frightened of Daly, and, although with child by him, ran away from Dublin to Leeds with her mother, brother, and sister.

At Leeds the Blands found Tate Wilkinson, the wellknown actor, who was manager of the York Circuit, and had years before in Dublin known Dorothy's mother, who had played with him in Othello. Anxious to give a helping hand, he asked Dorothy what she could playtragedy, comedy, or opera. To which question she replied, “ All.” She certainly justified her boast, in so far that she played and sang in all kinds of pieces, playing such different parts as Lady Teazle and Jane Shore. It would seem that Mrs. Jordan-as she now called herself-did not take her work very seriously, and that she was often troublesome in the theatre. As regards her merits as an actress, Yates described her as “a mere piece of theatrical mediocrity”; on the other hand,

Gentleman ” Smith recommended her to the management of Drury Lane. The recommendation was accepted, and she made her first appearance there on October 18, 1785, as Peggy in The Country Girl. She was not at first conspicuously successful, for she was usually cast for tragic or sentimental parts: it was only when she was given comedy rôles and " breeches " rôles that she rose to the first rank of her profession.

Mrs. Alsop, was the daughter of Mrs. Jordan by Richard Daly. Born in 1782, she married in 1808 Thomas Alsop, a clerk in the Ordnance Office. Her theatrical career was brief, and she went to America with her husband. where she died in 1821.

Mrs. Jordan's morals were, to say the least, careless. There were almost certainly more than one or two loveaffairs before she went to live with Richard Ford, a barrister. There was issue also of this connection. A daughter, Dorothea Maria, married in 1809 Frederick Edward March, of the Ordnance Office, a natural son of Lord Henry Fitzgerald. Another, Lucy, who was born about 1787, married Samuel Hawker, colonel of the 14th Dragoons, who later was promoted general and knighted. Mrs. Jordan and Ford seemed to have been happy enough together for a few years. Then, in 1790, the Duke of Clarence made overtures to her, and she gave Ford the choice of legalising their union or losing her. “Enquiry, however, could not fail to acquaint the Duke that Mrs. Jordan was generally supposed to be the wife of Mr. Ford, a barrister, the son of a proprietor of the theatre, though she retained as to the stage the theatrical name she bore at York,” wrote her first biographer, Boaden, who knew her well. “The declared attachment of the Prince weighed at first no more with her than to take the opportunity of ascertaining whether Mr. Ford was sincere in his devotion to her, in which case she thought herself entitled to his hand, and, in fact, even upon a mere worldly estimate of the matter, a desirable match, in possession of a positive and progressive fortune, the honourable result of superior, indeed, unequalled talents. She at length required from Mr. Ford a definite answer to the proposal of marriage, and, finding that he shrunk from the test, she told him distinctly that her mind was made up, at least to one point, that, if she must choose between offers of protection, she would certainly choose those that promised the fairest; but that, if he could think her worthy of being his wife, no temptations would be strong enough to detach

[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »