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TO THE MEMORY OF A REVERED MOTHER.
“ Be ready, reader, if thou hast a tear,
We shall not enter into a full detail of the circumstances relative to her connexion with Mr. Ford.
At the close of the season of 1790, incessant attendance on her theatrical duties had so far impaired the health of Mrs. Jordan, that she became seriously indisposed, and a spitting of blood that took place seemed indicatory of an approaching decline. As her medical adviser thought change of air essential, and being partial to the north of England, Mrs. Jordan determined upon a visit to York, where she had not been for some years. Thither she repaired, accompanied by Mr. Ford, and performed during the race week in several of her first-rate parts. A dislike, however, to the luke-warm conduct displayed by the
York audience, led her to refuse the fulfilment of stipulations previously entered into, wherefore, she chose to forfeit the sum named in case of failure, rather than play, and being then at Castle Howard for the benefit of the country air, she forwarded a letter, of which the annexed were the contents :
“I agree with pleasure to your proposal of giving you thirty pounds, rather than ever perform in York. I shall return to-morrow, and settle the balance of the account.
“I am, Sir,
After continuing her tour to Newcastle, and other towns of the north, Mrs. Jordan returned to the London boards, being, however, compelled at intervals to absent herself, owing to the increase of her family by Mr. Ford. In this state, affairs continued until the summer of 1791, when following her professional avocations at York, she was on many occasions subjected to gross insults while on the stage, from the interference of some strict moralists, in consequence of her cohabiting with Mr. Ford in the character of his mistress, and it was then for the first time that she began seriously to contemplate a separation, unless he consented to ratify his promise by making her his wife.
On resuming her engagement in London, immediately after the occurrence above referred to, it was the adverse fate of Mrs. Jordan to arrest the attention of the Duke of Clarence, who became particularly fascinated by her personification of “ Little Pickle,” in “ The Spoiled Child," The exquisite syinmetry of Mrs. Jordan's form in male attire, and more particularly her unmatched talents, in delineating the character of “ Little Pickle,” combined to subdue the affections of the personage in question, and in consequence, overtures were made, when the lady, with that delicacy of feeling so invariably characteristic of her actions, rejected the offer, situated as she still was with Mr. Ford. Thus for a time, matters continued; the lover's importunities encreasing, while pecuniary offers were tendered in the way of a settlement, to the amount of one thousand pounds per annum, which ultimately led Mrs. Jordan to conceive that it became a bounden duty, on account of her offspring, to reflect seriously on the subject. The ultimatum of this painful scrutiny, was a proposal on the part of Mrs Jordan, that as she had for so many years cohabited with, and borne him (Mr. Ford,) a family of children; in consideration also of her having been uniformly introduced into society as his wife, she conceived herself justly entitled to his hand, and in consequence she stipulated that Mr. Ford should at once name a day to ratify the promise so incessantly made, or in the event of refusal, she conceived herself at liberty to act as the dictates of prudence should prescribe. Mr. Ford, however, thought fit to evade the question, when she conceived herself at liberty to embrace the protection offered by the Duke of Clarence, as in that case, she conceived ample means would be placed at her disposal to provide for her offspring, in whose behalf no legal plea on Mr. Ford could be set forth.
This state of affairs was soon bruited abroad, when a party sprung up in vindication of Mr. Ford, by whom he was represented as an abandoned and injured man, to which were added aspersions on her conduct in a professional point of view. Mrs. Jordan, however, who, when roused, was as capable as any woman to vindicate her own wrongs, determined by a bold step to effect that end, and in consequence the following letter appeared in all the public prints, dated from the treasury of Drury Lane theatre, the 30th of November, 1790.
"I have submitted in silence to the unprovoked and unmanly abuse, which for some time past, has been directed against me,-because it bas related to subjects about which the public could not be interested; but to an attack upon my conduct in my profession, and the charge of want of respect and gratitude to the public, I tbink it my duty to reply.
“Nothing can be more cruel and unfounded than the insinuation that I absented inyself from the theatre, on Saturday last, from any other cause than real iuability, from illness, to sustain my part in the entertainment.
“ I have ever been ready and proud to exert myself to the utmost of my