She, brought up by such detestably mean parents, without protection, exposed to temptation at every turn, was more to be pitied than blamed.
This the town felt, and when, on 5 February, , her benefit was given at Covent Garden Theatre, the house was packed. The performance was not the attraction; the overruling anxiety was to be present at the reappearance of Miss Foote. A more intense interest could not have been displayed; it was without parallel in the records of theatrical history. For many weeks past every seat in the boxes [Pg 31] —in the dress circle—of the first circle—in the slips—all were engaged, and would have been engaged had the theatre been double its dimensions.
Even part of the orchestra was appropriated to the accommodation of visitors with guinea tickets; and an additional douceur was in the course of the evening given even for tolerable sight-room. Not the fraction of a seat was to be had; and before the rising of the curtain the whole interior of the theatre was crowded almost to suffocation.
At length, at an advanced period of the first act, Miss Foote appeared. All the persons in the pit and, with scarcely an exception, in the boxes and other parts of the house, stood up and welcomed her return to the stage with the most marked and emphatic kindness. The waving of hats, handkerchiefs, was resorted to. There was something, too, in the manner of her appearance, which contributed greatly to enhance, while it seemed to entreat, the indulgent consideration with which the audience were inclined to receive her.
She advanced with downcast look and faltering step to the front of the stage, and became affected even to tears.
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There was a diffidence, a timidity, and a truly distressing embarrassment in her mode of coming forward, which, together with her beauty and the recollection of her sufferings, was calculated to compel pity. It was a scene which did equal honour to the [Pg 32] audience, who duly appreciated the distress of her situation, and to the object of their sympathy, who gave such a pathetic attestation of her consciousness of it. Many ladies—and there were many present—could not refrain from tears. At the delivery of the lines.
The two lines which succeeded were, if possible, still more applicable to recent events, which have occupied so much of the attention of the Bar and of the public. The good-humoured approval that followed these lines, which was in no degree abated by the arch air with which Miss Foote gave them, cannot be conveyed by verbal description. She has been hailed as a favourite of the public, who has been basely lured from virtue, but who is not on that account treated as an alien from its path.
At the latter end of , Madame Vestris took the Olympic Theatre, and opened it, on 3 January of the following year, with a drama on the subject of Mary [Pg 33] Queen of Scots, in which Miss Foote, who appears for a time to have been in partnership with her, played the heroine. But she soon after quitted the stage, and on 7 April, , was married to the eccentric Charles Stanhope, eighth Earl of Harrington and Viscount Petersham.
He was aged fifty-one and she aged thirty-three. They had one daughter; he died in , and she, as Dowager Countess of Harrington, lived until 27 December, He would often recall not only the charm she possessed as an accomplished actress, but her good-nature to everybody, high and low, in the theatre My mother had never met Lady Harrington, but she soon grew much attached to one who became a true friend to me, and as time went on seemed more and more endeared to me.go
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She must have been very beautiful when young, being still extremely handsome as an old lady. She was as good, too, as she was handsome; and I can never forget her kindness to me. When I was once seriously ill with an attack of bronchitis, Lady Harrington was unwearying in her attention to me, and would, day after day, sit by my bedside reading to me, and would bring with her all the delicacies she could think of.
When I had sufficiently recovered my strength, she sent me to the seaside to recruit my health. To record all the kindnesses she bestowed on me and mine would fill up many pages, but my gratitude is indelibly written on my heart. She gave me a portrait of herself, as Maria Darlington in [Pg 34] A Roland for an Oliver , and by it one can see how lovely she must have been. Among her other gifts was a beautiful old-fashioned diamond and ruby ring, which she told me was given to her by the Earl when he was engaged to be married to her Lady Harrington was much attached to her old butler Payne, and also to her maid, who, I believe, had been in her service since she was quite young, and often spoke of them as Romeo and Juliet.
I recall many a happy visit to Richmond Terrace, and until her last illness I had no better friend than Lady Harrington. Worall ordered that she should be brought to Knole, and presently the overseer returned with a slim damsel, dressed poorly but quaintly, with a sort of turban about her head, not precisely beautiful, but with very intelligent speaking eyes. Neither Mr. Worall could make heads or tails of what she said.
He had a Greek valet who knew or could recognize most of the languages spoken in the Levant, but he also was at fault; he could not catch a single word of her speech that was familiar to him.
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By signs she was questioned as to whether she had any papers, and she produced from her pocket a bad sixpence and a few halfpence. Under her arm she carried a small bundle containing some necessaries, and a piece of soap wound up in a bit of linen.
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Her dress consisted of a black stuff gown with a muslin [Pg 36] frill round her neck, a black cotton shawl twisted about her head, and a red and black shawl thrown over her shoulders, leather shoes, and black worsted stockings. The general impression produced from her person and manners was favourable. Her head was small, her eyes black, hair also black; the forehead was low, nose short, in complexion a brunette.
The cheeks were faintly tinged with red.
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The mouth was rather wide, teeth pearly white, lips large and full, the underlip slightly projecting. The chin small and round. Her height was 5 ft. Her hands were clean and small and well cared for. Obviously they had not been accustomed to labour.
She wore no ear-rings, but the marks of having worn them remained. Her age appeared to be twenty-five. After consultation, it was thought advisable to send her to the village inn; and as Mrs. Worall was interested in her, she sent her own maid and the footman to attend the stranger to the public-house, it being late in the evening, and to request the landlady to give her a private room and a comfortable bed.
The young woman seemed to be greatly fatigued and walked with difficulty.
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When shown the room in which she was to sleep, she prepared to lie down on the mat upon the floor; whereupon the landlady put her own little girl into the bed, so as to explain its purport to her guest. The stranger then undressed and went to bed. Next morning Mrs. The clergyman of the parish had brought some books of travel and illustrated geographies to show her, so that she might give some clue as to whence she came.
She manifested pleasure at the pictures of China and the Chinese. Worall now took her to Knole, where by signs, pointing to herself and uttering the word Caraboo, she explained to her hostess that this was her name. At dinner she declined all animal food, and took nothing to drink but water, showing marked disgust at beer, cyder, and meat.
Next day she was conveyed to Bristol and examined before the mayor and magistrates, but nothing was made out concerning her, and she was consigned to St. There she remained till the ensuing Monday—three days—refusing food of every description. On that day Mrs. Worall went into Bristol and visited her at the hospital. The friendless situation of the foreign lady had in the interim become public, and several gentlemen had called upon her, bringing with them foreigners of their acquaintance, in the hope of discovering who she was.
Caraboo expressed lively delight at seeing Mrs. Worall again, and that lady, deeply touched, removed her from the hospital to the office of Mr. Worall, in Bristol, where she remained for ten days under the care of the housekeeper. Daily efforts were made to discover her language and country, but without effect. At last a Portuguese of the name of Manuel Eynesso, who happened to be in Bristol, had an interview, and he professed that he was able to interpret what she said. The tale he revealed was that she was a person of consequence in her own country, and had been decoyed from an island in the East Indies, brought to England against her wishes, and then deserted.
He further added that her language was not a pure dialect, but was a mixture of several tongues spoken in Sumatra.
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On this Mrs. Worall removed Caraboo to Knole, and from 3 April [Pg 38] to 6 June her hostess, the whole family, and the domestics treated her with the utmost consideration and regard.
Among the visitors at Knole was a gentleman who had made many voyages in the East Indies, and he took a lively interest in the girl, and conversed with her, partly by word of mouth and partly—when at fault for words—by signs. It must have been an interesting sight, the travelled gentleman interrogating Caraboo and taking notes of her reply, with an admiring circle around of the family and visitors, wondering at his linguistic acquirements and facility of speech in Oriental tongues.
This traveller committed to writing the following particulars obtained from Caraboo. She was daughter of a person of high rank, of Chinese origin, by a Mandin , or Malay woman, who was killed in war between the Boogoos cannibals and the Mandins Malays. Whilst walking in her garden at Javasu attended by three sammen women , she was seized by pirates commanded by a man named Chee-ming, bound hand and foot, her mouth covered, and carried off.
After eleven days she was sold to the captain of a brig called the Tappa-Boo. A month later she arrived at a port, presumably Batavia, remained there two days, and then started for England, which was reached in eleven weeks. In consequence of ill-usage by the crew, she made her escape to shore. She had had a dress of silk embroidered and interwoven with gold, but she had been induced to exchange this with a woman in a cottage whose doors were painted green, but the situation of which she could not describe.
After wandering over the country for six weeks, she had arrived at Almondsbury. Her father had three more wives, and he was usually borne upon the shoulders of macratoos common men in a palanquin.