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MARY ANNE CLARKE.
Into the unsavoury revelations of Mary Anne Clarke, her traffic in the sale of military commissions, and still worse, in a system of ecclesiastical patronage in which she alleged his Royal Highness connived, we need not enter. They are set out as far as is necessary in Mr. Grego's book, and also in Mr. Wright's treatise on James Gillray and his works. Suffice it to say, that all these miserable exposures would have been saved, had the duke, instead of seeking to save his pocket, paid the annuity to which the woman was entitled. If by resigning, he thought to silence his unscrupulous persecutor, he was quickly and unpleasantly undeceived. The clever, unscrupulous woman had reserved her trump card to the last. All this time she had been engaged in preparing her “Memoirs," comprising not only the history of her transactions with his Royal Highness, but a series of his letters, containing, it is said, anecdotes of illustrious personages of the most curious and recherché description. The immediate publication of these “Memoirs ” having been announced to his Royal Highness, the duke was driven in spite of himself to effect an arrangement. For a payment of £7,005 down, an annuity of £400 for her own life, and one of £200 for each of her daughters, the printed “Memoirs ” (eighteen thousand copies) were destroyed, the publication suppressed, and above all the terrible private correspondence duly surrendered.
The mover of the committee of inquiry was one Wardle, colonel of a militia regiment, who for a very brief space of time was permitted to figure as a patriot ; that he was a mere instrument in the hands of other persons seems now abundantly clear. No sooner had Mary Anne Clarke landed his Royal Highness, than she fixed her hook in the jaws of the luckless colonel, who, tool as he was, proved to be by no means a sharp one. It is obvious a woman of Mrs. Clarke's character would be the last person to open her lips, unless it was made clear to her that it would be worth her while to do so. Her go-between in the transaction was a certain “ Major” Dodd. Wardle gave Mrs. Clarke £ 100 for present necessities, and by way of earnest of more liberal promises which seem afterwards to have been repudiated by his employers. Through Major Dodd, the clever, unprincipled woman secured a house in Westbourne Place, which she furnished in a style of comfortable elegance, and succeeded by her blandishments in swindling Wardle into becoming security for her furniture. The inevitable result of course followed. On the 3rd July, 1809, Wright, the upholsterer, brought his action against Wardle and recovered £1,400 damages,* besides costs, " for furniture sold to the defendant to the use of Mary Anne Clarke.” The colonel, like the commander-in-chief, thus found himself not only out-manæuvred by his clever and unscrupulous ex-ally, but reaped the obloquy attendant on exposure and ridicule, instead of the glorification which had at first greeted his patriotic exertions.
Mary Anne Clarke and the Duke of York, afforded (as might have been expected) plenty of employment to the caricaturists. The theme, however, is treated too grossly for description, a subject to be regretted, as most of the satires, containing as they do admirable portraits of the principal personages, are exceedingly clever.
The subject suited an artist who delighted in delineating the immodest and full-blown beauties of Drury Lane; and accordingly, more than forty caricatures on the subject of “The Delicate Investigation,” as it was called, are due to the pencil of Thomas Rowlandson.
In order to show the character of this infamous woman, we must follow her progress a little farther than either Mr. Grego or Mr. Wright appear to have done. In February, 1814, she once more made a public appearance: this time in the Court of Queen's Bench. She seems to have got the Right Hon. William Fitzgerald, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, by some means or other into her clutches, in connection with the proceedings of 1809. By this time, however, she had descended so low, that exposure was threatened unless a sum of money was deposited under a stone. In her threats, she announced her intention of “submitting to the public in a very short time two or three volumes, which might be followed by others as opportunity should suit or circumstances
THE END OF
* According to Mr. Grego, £2,000.
IMBECILITY OF GILLRAY.
require.” This threat, instead of extorting money, consigned Mary Anne to the custody of the marshal of the King's Bench Prison for the space of nine calendar months, at the end of which period she was ordered to find securities to keep the peace for a space of three years. It might have gone harder with the brazen woman is the proceedings had taken any other form than that of an indictment for libel, and if she had not admitted her fault, and in some measure thrown herself upon the mercy of the court. The pages of history do not appear to be sullied with the intrusion of Mary Anne Clarke's rame after this period.
The year 1811 is marked by an event which claims special record in a work treating of English caricatures and caricaturists of the century. In that year, James Gillray executed the last of his famous etchings; and although mere existence was prolonged for nearly four years afterwards, till the ist of June, 1815, he sank in 1811 into that hopeless and dreary state of mingled imbecility and delirium from which the intellect of this truly great and original genius was destined never to recover.
MISCELLANEOUS CARICATURES AND SUBJECTS OF
Drury Lane Theatre, which was burnt down in 1811, was rebuilt the following year, and the committee, anxious to celebrate the opening by an address of merit corresponding to the occasion, advertised in the papers for such a composition. Theatrical addresses, however, as we all know by reference to a recent occasion, * are not always up to the mark; and whether the result of their appeal was unsatisfactory, or whether—as appears not unlikely—they were appalled by the number of competitors, which is said to have been upwards of one hundred, not one was accepted, the advertisers preferring to seek the assistance of Lord Byron, who wrote the actual address which was spoken at the opening on the Toth of October, 1812. Among the competitors was a Dr. Busby, living in Queen Anne Street, who apparently unable to realize the fact that competent men could have the effrontery to reject his “monologue," refused to accept the verdict of the committee. A few evenings afterwards, the audience and the company were electrified by an unexpected sensation. Busby and his son sat in one of the stage boxes; and the latter, to the amazement of the audience, stepped at the end of the play from his box upon the stage, and began to recile his father's nonsense, as follows:
“ When energizing objects men pursue,
The question remained unanswered; for Raymond, the stage
manager, walked at this moment upon the stage accompanied by a constable, and gave the amateur performer into custody. It is said that his father, not content with this failure, actually made an attempt to recite the “monologue" from his box, until hissed and howled down by the half laughing, half indignant audience. The circumstance is commemorated by an admirable pictorial satire entitled, A Buz in a Box, or the Poet in a Pet, published by S. W. Fores on the 21st of October, in which we see the doctor gesticulating from his box, and imploring the audience to listen to his “ monologue.” Young Busby, seated on his father's Pegasus (an ass), quotes one of the verses of the absurd composition, while the animal (after the manner of its kind) answers the hisses of the audience by elevating its heels and uttering a characteristic “hee haw.” By the side of Busby junior stands the manager (Raymond), apologetically addressing the audience. Certain pamphlets lie scattered in front of the stage, on which are inscribed (among others) the following doggerel :
“ A Lord and a Doctor once started for Fame,
Which for the best poet should pass;
The Doctor cried down for an ass."
“Doctor Buz, he assures us, on Drury's new stage
No horses or elephants there should engage;
Dr. Busby was a person desirous of achieving literary notoriety at any amount of personal inconvenience. He translated Lucretius, and is said to have given public recitations, accompanied with bread and butter and tea; but in spite of these attractions, the public did not come and the book would not sell, facts which a wicked wag of the period ridiculed, by inserting the following announcement in the column of births of one of the newspapers : “ Yesterday, at his house in Queen Anne Street, Dr. Busby of a stillborn Lucretius."
The medical profession is ridiculed in a satire published in