Memoirs

Published in 18th–19th - Century History, Features, Issue 2 (Mar/Apr 2009), Volume 17

Mezzotint, published 1760, of Laetitia Pilkington (née Van Lewen) by Richard Purcell, after Nathaniel Hone. (National Portrait Gallery, London.)

Mezzotint, published 1760, of Laetitia Pilkington (née Van Lewen) by Richard Purcell, after Nathaniel Hone. (National Portrait Gallery, London.)

From Memoirs, a personal appearance on her balcony opposite White’s:
‘The next day, as I was sprinkling some flower pots, which stood on very broad leads, under the dining-room window, Colonel Duncombe, the Duke of Bolton, and the Earl of Winchilsea stood filling out wine, and drinking to me: So I took up the pen and ink, full in their view; and as I was not acquainted with any of them, except the Colonel, I sent over to him these lines:

Your rosy wine
Looks bright and fine;
But yet it does not chear me:
The cause I guess.
Is surely this,
The bottle is not near me.

You shew that sight
To give delight,
If I may truly judge ye:
But would ye move
My wit, or love,
I beg, sir, I may pledge ye.

Lord Winchilsea bid the Colonel send me all the wine in the house: “Ah!” (said the colonel) “that might injure her health; but I will send her one bottle of burgundy, to cheer her spirits.” Accordingly the waiter brought it; the noblemen all gathered to the window, so he filled me out a glass, which, making them a low reverence, I drank, and retired.’

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