“And, vanquish’d, quit victoriously the field.”
Griselda flung the book from her as her husband entered the room.
“You have had an answer, madam, from your friend, Mrs. Nettleby, I perceive,” said he, calmly.
“I have, sir. Family reasons prevent her from receiving me at present; therefore I have determined upon going to Weymouth; where, indeed, I always wished to spend this summer.”
Mr. Bolingbroke evinced no surprise, and made not the slightest opposition. Mrs. Bolingbroke was so much vexed, that she could scarcely command her countenance: she bit her lip violently.
“With respect to any arrangements that are to be made, I am to understand that you wish me to address myself to Mr. J. Nettleby,” said her husband.
“No, to myself, if you please; I am prepared to listen, sir, to whatever you may have to propose.”
“These things are always settled best in writing,” replied Mr. Bolingbroke. “Be so obliging as to leave me your direction, and you shall hear from me, or from Mrs. Granby, in a few days.”
Mrs. Bolingbroke hastily wrote a direction upon a card, and put it into her husband’s hand, with as much unconcern as she could maintain. Mr. Bolingbroke continued, precisely in the same tone: “If you have any thing to suggest, that may contribute to your future convenience, madam, you will be so good as to leave a memorandum with me, to which I shall attend.”
He placed a sheet of paper before Mrs. Bolingbroke, and put a pen into her hand. She made an effort to write, but her hand trembled so that she could not form a letter. Her husband took up Saint Lambert, and read, or seemed to read. —“Open the window, Mr. Bolingbroke,” said she. He obeyed, but did not, as formerly, “hang over her enamoured.” He had been so often duped by her fainting-fits and hysterics, that now, when she suffered in earnest, he suspected her of artifice. He took up his book again, and marked a page with his pencil. She wrote a line with a hurried hand, then starting up, flung her pen from her, and exclaimed —“I need not, will not write; I have no request to make to you, Mr. Bolingbroke; do what you will; I have no wishes, no wish upon earth — but to leave you.”
“That wish will be soon accomplished, madam,” replied he, unmoved.
She pulled the bell till it broke. — A servant appeared.
“My carriage to the door directly, if you please, sir,” cried she.
A pause ensued. Griselda sat swelling with unutterable rage. —“Heavens! have you no feeling left?” exclaimed she, snatching the book from his hand; “have you no feeling left, Mr. Bolingbroke, for any thing?”
“You have left me none for some things, Mrs. Bolingbroke, and I thank you. All this would have broken my heart six months ago.”
“You have no heart to break,” cried she. — The carriage drove to the door.
“One word more, before I leave you for ever, Mr. Bolingbroke,” continued she. —“Blame yourself, not me, for all this. — When we were first married, you humoured, you spoiled me; no temper could bear it. — Take the consequences of your own weak indulgence. — Farewell.”
He made no effort to retain her, and she left the room.
——“Thus it shall befall
Him who to worth in woman overtrusting
Lets tier will rule: restraint she will not brook;
And left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.”
A confused recollection of this warning of Adam’s was in Mr. Bolingbroke’s head at this moment.
Mrs. Bolingbroke’s carriage drove by the window, and she kissed her hand to him as she passed. He had not sufficient presence of mind to return the compliment. Our heroine enjoyed this last triumph of superior temper.
Whether the victory was worth the winning, whether the modern Griselda persisted in her spirited sacrifice of happiness, whether she was ever reconciled to her husband, or whether the fear of “reforming and growing stupid” prevailed, are questions which we leave to the sagacity or the curiosity of her fair contemporaries.
“He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
Let him now speak, ’tis charity to shew.”
This web edition published by:
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:54