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of August, 1818, and died apoplectic. on the 25th of the same month.
The public is well aware that the private conduct of Mrs. Billington has been subjected to much censure. During her life she was annoyed by some of the most defamatory publications that ever issued from the English press.; and, after her death, her memory has not been spared. We decline entering on a subject that shrinks from investigation; and, while we draw a veil over her real or supposed failings, are eager to testify her merits. She was the best of daughters. Her father, in his latter years, amidst declining fortune and increasing infirmities, found a comfortable asylum under her roof. She never was fated to appear in the character of a mother; but what nature denied was supplied by adoption. Two little girls were taken under her immediate protection, at different periods of life. The first of these was selected at nine years
and educated at a convent at Brussels; the second, who was the daughter of a friend, was brought to her when only seven days old, and brought up with great care, and the most fastidious attention to morals, at a reputable boarding-school. To this young lady it was designed at one period to bequeath all her fortune; two thousand pounds of which, we believe, were once actually settled upon her.
her. She accompanied Mrs. Billington and her husband to Italy, and was always an object of particular care and solicitude.
It is now confessed by all, that in point of musical talents, the subject of this memoir was the first private singer, not of her country only, but of her age; and this will doubtless be adduced as a proof, that these almost hyperborean regions, may one day equal Italy itself, in point of musical excellence. We hail not; on the contrary, we deprecate such an event ; as, before this can occur, the manly character of an Englishman must be obliterated; our manners must become degenerate ; and our national pre-eminence be lost for ever!
In point of person Mrs. Billington appears to have been lovely in early youth; and to have preserved her charms during a long protracted period. But towards the latter
part of her life, she became somewhat coarse and masculine, Such was her prudence, arising perhaps from her early poverty and acknowledged good sense, that she always contrived to live under, rather than above her income. The pencil of Sir Joshua has depicted her as St. Cecilia, by way of companion to that of Mrs. Siddons, in the Tragic Muse; while Ward has executed a very faithful and spirited representation of the original.
It is not a little singular, that this lady had amassed, at different epochs, three different fortunes. One was spent with her friends; another was chiefly seized by the enemy; a third is partly in possession of, and the remainder claimed by her surviving husband, to the amount of about 20,0001.
FORMERLY ONE OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF NORTH CAROLINA,
A FIELD-OFFICER IN THE SERVICE OF THE AMERICAN STATES, AND SUPERVISOR OF THE LONDON DOCKS, &c. &c.
[With original Specimens of his Writings.]
Both the life and death of the subject of the present memoir were singular in no common degree; the former was replete with adventures, the latter presents a catastrophe, novel in its kind, and, indeed, such as never appears to have occurred before. Happily, we are furnished with authentic particulars of both; and intend also, to present to the public some specimens of his literary labours, which were never before printed.
William Tatham was a native of England. He was born in the year 1752, at Hutton-in-the-Forest, in the county of Cumberland, of which parish his father, the Reverend Sandford Tatham, afterwards became rector, holding it with the living of Appleby. That the family was both ancient and respectable, may be seen from Burn's history of Cumberland and Westmoreland ; and according to some accounts, can be traced up to Lord Morville, who was the remote * ancestor. His parents had five children, four sons and a daughter, and of these the eldest, of whom we now treat, was brought up at Lancaster, by his maternal grandmother, the widow of Henry Marsden, of Gisborne Hall, in the county of York, Esq. With this worthy lady he resided until her death, which occurred in 1760, when he was only eight years of age.
Before this unfortunate event William had received the rudiments of education under the tuition of Mr. Ashburner,
* The late William Tatham, Esquire, of Askham Hall, in the county of Westmoreand, was his paternal uncle ; and he was vearly related to the family of Lowther, of which the Earl of Lonsdale is the head.
who superintended the “ Friends' School" at Lancaster, and by whom the Rawlinsons, the Delworths, the Lawsons, and other respectable inhabitants of that little commercial town, were brought up.
After this he was placed for a short time under Mr. Lee, a clergyman of the established church; then he removed to Over Kellet, where he obtained the remainder of the “scanty education,” as he was accustomed to term it, bestowed on him. Whether it was that his father was estranged from him, in consequence of his long absence from the paternal mansion, or that his own circumstances were too narrow to provide properly for his offspring, it is now difficult to determine; but certain it is, that but little care was taken of his future welfare. Here follows his own account:
“ Some of the events of the life of this gentleman, (alluding to himself,) are equally singular and surprising; nor is it one of the least remarkable, that, although the eldest son of respectable parents, he was sent across the Atlantic before he had finished his studies, and actually launched,' to use his own words, into a world of strangers,' in the
• a month of April, 1769, when he was only seventeen years of age, without profession, trade, or employment, and with no more than one single family guinea in his pocket. Bred to no occupation, brought up to no calling, utterly unacquainted with business, although abandoned and forsaken, he was not however lost ; for meeting with an acquaintance, he was by him introduced into the house of Messrs. Carter and Trent, respectable merchants on James' River, in Virginia ; and what reflects no little credit on him, possessed their friendship until the end of their lives."
Our young adventurer, who appears to have acted for some time in the capacity of a clerk to those gentlemen, at length aspired to become a trader himself. Two powerful obstacles, seem, however, to have intervened, and for a time to have frustrated his hopes. In the first place, he was destitute of capital, and in the next, prevented by political considerations from acting with due effect. At this period, the British
cabinet had conceived the idea of subjecting America, although unrepresented in parliament, to internal taxation. The inhabitants, who disowned any such right to exist on the part of a distant legislature, resisted the claim, and recurred to non-importation associations. Measures such as these, by cutting off all commercial communication with the mothercountry, proved highly detrimental, and indeed fatal to the spirit of mercantile enterprise. Finding all views of this kind blasted, young Tatham immediately repaired to the western frontier, in search of better fortune, and remained some time there, with a steady determination to declare himself on the side of his adopted country. Meanwhile his family in England considering resistance as rebellion, signified its displeasure at the part he was likely to take; but as this advice was unaccompanied by any pecuniary assistance, and no feasible means were presented to enable him to withdraw from the threatened conflict, he resolved to swim along the stream of public opinion, which was now most decidedly directed towards emancipation on the part of the colonies.
Settling for a time in the Tenessee country, Mr. Tatham undertook the task of systematising its jurisprudence, at a period when he had scarcely attained the age of twenty-four ! Nearly at the same time, he obtained a commission as adjutant of the military force of the new district of Washington, where a flourishing capital has since been erected. In this capacity he served during the Indian war. On the attack of the Cherokees and Creeks, at Fort Caswell, on Wantage River, he acted under Colonel John Carter. Towards the latter end of the campaign of 1776, he joined the troops encamped at the long island of Holsten, under the command of Brigadier-General Russell, and during the following year, he also served, with the additional commission of quarter-master, at Fort Williams, on Nolochuckie river, under General Seviers, being then majorcommandant. At the treaty, which soon after took place with the Cherokee Indians, our young officer appears to have taken an active part, having assisted in preparing the documents, and conducting the conferences.