Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/374

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Lee
Lee
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Queens' a passionate speech of Alexander (act iii. 8C. 1) to illustrate ' passion in its purity, without mixture of reason . . . drawn by a mad poet.' Addison's criticism is charitable and just. Lee's thoughts.' he writes in the 'Spectator.' No. 39, are . . . frequently lost in such a cloud of words that it is hard to see the beauty of them. There is an infinite fire in his works, but so involved in smoke that it does not appear in half its lustre. He frequently succeeds in the passionate part of the tragedy, but more particularly when he slackens his efforts and eases the style of those epithets and metaphors in which he so much abounds.' 'Dedicating Lee' is the title given the dramatist in the 'Satyr on the Poets' (State Poems, 1698, pt. iii. p. 57). John Dennis calls him 'fiery Lee' in his prologue to Gildon's 'Patriot.' Steele, in his prologue to Mrs. Manley's 'Lucius.' 1717, writes of him approvingly, and states that his success as a dramatist was due to his sedulous endeavour to adapt his pieces to the taste of every class of his audience.

A portrait of Lee appears in the 'Monthly Mirror.' 1812, xiii. 76. It is there described 'as the first that has been published.' and the painting from which it was engraved as 'the only portrait that now exists, or that probably was ever taken.'

[Genest's Account of the Stage ; Theophilus Cibber's Lives of the Poets ; Langbaine's Lives with Oldys's notes; Colley Cibber's Apology, ed. Lowe; Nichols's Miscellany Poems: Bakers Biog. Dram. ; Ward's English Dramatic Literature ; Biog. Brit.; Tom Brown's Works; Dryden's Works, ed. Scott; Beljame's Le Public et les Hommes de Lettres, 1660-1744, Paris, 1881; Retrospective Review, iii. 240-68. The registers of Hatfield and of St. Martin's Orgar have been searched in vain for the date of Lee's birth.]

S. L.


LEE, Mrs. RACHEL FANNY ANTONINA (1774?–1829), heroine of a criminal trial, and the subject of chapter iv. of De Quincey's 'Autobiographic Sketches,' was a natural daughter of Francis Dashwood, lord le Despenser, and was probably born about 1774. The incidents of her early life have been related by herself, but in so confused a manner, and with such liberal resort to dashes and initials, that it is exceedingly difficult to frame any coherent narrative from her statements. It appears, however, that she was very carefully educated, and endowed by her father with a fortune amounting, De Quincey says, to 46,000l. After several advantageous offers of marriage had been declined under her mother's influence, she eloped, as it would appear, about 1794, with Matthew Allen Lee, esq. Lee married her, but she separated from him about a year and a half afterwards. Her husband was 'distinguished for nothing.' according to De Quincey, 'but a very splendid person, which had procured him the distinguishing title of Handsome Lee.' Shortly after leaving her husband she took up her residence at Manchester, where she made the acquaintance of De Quincey's mother. Manchester society was dazzled by her beauty, astonished by her learning (rather extensive, however, than profound, for she speaks of the chisel of Zeuxis), and horrified by the violence of her attacks on Christianity. After several changes of residence, and continual quarrels with friends and connections, she was in 1803 living in Bolton Row, Piccadilly, whence, on 15 Jan. 1804, she eloped with a young Oxonian named Loudoun Gordon, accompanied by his brother, Lockhart Gordon, a married clergyman. The circumstances of this affair were differently represented by the parties, but there can be no reasonable doubt that the Gordons could not have carried Mrs. Lee off against her will, and that consequently the case was not one of abduction. That they behaved very basely to an unprotected and half-deranged woman is equally certain. Mrs. Lee and her companions were pursued at the instance of Mrs. Lee's trustee, and overtaken at Gloucester, where Loudoun Gordon was arrested on a warrant (cf. Gent Mag. 1804, pt. i. p. 81). Mrs. Lee, under pressure, as was supposed, from her husband, committed the irreparable fault of appearing as a witness against the brothers at the Oxford assizes on 6 March following. Her examination was speedily stopped upon her declaration of disbelief in Christianity. De Quincey, who was present at the trial, says that she also professed disbelief in God, but this is contradicted by the report, and is at variance with the entire tenor of her writings. The case against the Gordons having thus broken down, they were acquitted, though severely censured by the judge; and Mrs. Lee, regarded not unjustly as a false witness, was dangerously mobbed, and had much difficulty in escaping. Public interest in the scandal was prolonged by the sad death at Dorchester, 'of a broken heart.' of Lockhart Gordon's deserted wife in the following May (cf. ib. pt. i. pp. 485, 594). Mrs. Lee's friends placed her in the family of a Gloucestershire clergyman, distinguished, De Quincey says, for his learning and piety, but in Mrs. Lee's estimation a fell and insidious persecutor. This became, sooner or later, her opinion of every one with whom she was brought into intimate connection, and there can be hardly any doubt that she was partially insane as