The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality.
“By the circumstances of the story which I am going to relate, you will be convinced of my candour, while you are informed of my indiscretion. You will be enabled, I hope, to perceive, that, howsoever my head may have erred, my heart hath always been uncorrupted, and that I have been unhappy, because I loved, and was a woman.
“I believe I need not observe, that I was the only child of a man of good fortune, who indulged me in my infancy with all the tenderness of paternal affection; and, when I was six years old, sent me to a private school, where I stayed till my age was doubled, and became such a favourite, that I was, even in those early days, carried to all the places of public diversion, the court itself not excepted, an indulgence that flattered my love of pleasure, to which I was naturally addicted, and encouraged those ideas of vanity and ambition which spring up so early in the human mind.
“I was lively and good-natured, my imagination apt to run riot, my heart liberal and disinterested, though I was so obstinately attached to my own opinions, that I could not well brook contradiction; and, in the whole of my disposition, resembled that of Henry V., as described by Shakespeare.
“In my thirteenth year I went to Bath, where I was first introduced into the world as a woman, having been entitled to that privilege by my person, which was remarkably tall for my years; and there my fancy was quite captivated by the variety of diversions in which I was continually engaged. Not that the parties were altogether new to me, but because I now found myself considered as a person of consequence, and surrounded by a crowd of admirers, who courted my acquaintance, and fed my vanity with praise and adulation. In short, whether or not I deserved their encomiums, I leave the world to judge; but my person was commended, and my talent in dancing met with universal applause. No wonder, then, that everything appeared joyous to a young creature, who was so void of experience and dissimulation, that she believed everybody’s heart as sincere as her own, and every object such as it appeared to be.
“Among the swains who sighed, or pretended to sigh for me, were two that bore a pretty equal share of my favour (it was too superficial to deserve the name of love). One of these was a forward youth of sixteen, extremely handsome, lively, and impudent. He attended in quality of page upon the Princess Amelia, who spent that season at Bath. The other was a Scotch nobleman turned of thirty, who was graced with a red ribbon, and danced particularly well, two qualifications of great weight with a girl of my age, whose heart was not deeply interested in the cause. Nevertheless, the page prevailed over this formidable rival; though our amour went no farther than a little flirting, and ceased entirely when I left the place.
“Next year, however, I revisited this agreeable scene, and passed my time in the same circle of amusements; in which, indeed, each season at Bath is exactly resembled by that which succeeds, allowing for the difference of company, which is continually varying. There I met with the same incense, and again had my favourite, who was a North Briton, and captain of foot, near forty years of age, and a little lame, an impediment which I did not discover, until it was pointed out by some of my companions, who rallied me upon my choice. He was always cheerful, and very amorous, had a good countenance, and an excellent understanding, possessed a great deal of art, and would have persuaded me to marry him, had I not been restrained by the authority of my father, whose consent was not to be obtained in favour of a man of his fortune.
“At the same time, many proposals of marriage were made to my parents; but as they came from people whom I did not like, I rejected them all, being determined to refuse every man who did not make his addresses to myself in person, because I had no notion of marrying for anything but love. Among these formal proposers was a Scottish earl, whose pretensions were broke off by some difference about settlements; and the son of an English baron, with whom my father was in treaty, when he carried me to town, on a visit to a young lady. with whom I had been intimate from my infancy. She was just delivered of her first son, for whom we stood sponsors; so that this occasion detained us a whole month, during which I went to a ball at court, on the Queen’s birthday, and there, for the first time, felt what love and beauty were.
“The second son of Duke H — who had just returned from his travels, was dancing with the princess royal, when a young lady came and desired me to go and see a stranger, whom all the world admired. Upon which I followed her into the circle, and observed this object of admiration. He was dressed in a coat of white cloth, faced with blue satin, embroidered with silver, of the same piece with his waistcoat; his fine hair hung down his back in ringlets below his waist; his hat was laced with silver, and garnished with a white feather; but his person beggared description. He was tall and graceful, neither corpulent nor meagre, his limbs finely proportioned, his countenance open and majestic, his eyes full of sweetness and vivacity, his teeth regular, and his pouting lips of the complexion of the damask rose. In short, he was formed for love, and inspired it wherever he appeared; nor was he a niggard of his talents, but liberally returned it, at least, what passed for such; for he had a flow of gallantry, for which many ladies of this land can vouch from their own experience. But he exclaimed against marriage, because he had, as yet, met with no woman to whose charms he would surrender his liberty, though a princess of France, and lady of the same rank in — were said to be, at that time, enamoured of his person.
“I went home, totally engrossed by his idea, flattering myself that he had observed me with some attention; for I was young and new, and had the good fortune to attract the notice and approbation of the queen herself.
“Next day, being at the opera, I was agreeably surprised with the appearance of this amiable stranger, who no sooner saw me enter, than he approached so near to the place where I sat, that I overheard what he said to his companions; and was so happy as to find myself the object of his discourse, which abounded with rapturous expressions of love and admiration. I could not listen to these transports without emotion; my colour changed, my heart throbbed with unusual violence, and my eyes betrayed my inclination in sundry favourable glances, which he seemed to interpret aright, though he could not then avail himself of his success, so far as to communicate his sentiments by speech, because we were strangers to each other.
“I passed that night in the most anxious suspense, and several days elapsed before I saw him again. At length, however, being at court on a ball-night, and determined against dancing, I perceived him among the crowd, and, to my unspeakable joy, saw him advance, with my Lord P — who introduced him to my acquaintance. He soon found means to alter my resolution, and I condescended to be his partner all the evening; during which he declared his passion in the most tender and persuasive terms that real love could dictate, or fruitful imagination invent.
“I believed his protestations, because I wished them true, and was an unexperienced girl of fifteen. I complied with his earnest request of being permitted to visit me, and even invited him to breakfast next morning; so that you may imagine (I speak to those that feel) I did not, that night, enjoy much repose. Such was the hurry and flutter of my spirits, that I rose at six to receive him at ten. I dressed myself in a new pink satin gown, and my best laced night-clothes, and was so animated by the occasion that, if ever I deserved a compliment upon my looks, it was my due at this meeting. The wished-for moment came that brought my lover to my view. I was overwhelmed with joy, modesty, and fear of I knew not what. We sat down to breakfast, but did not eat. He renewed his addresses with irresistible eloquence, and pressed me to accept of his hand without further hesitation. But to such a precipitate step I objected, as a measure repugnant to my decency, as well as to that duty which I owed to my father, whom I tenderly loved.
“Though I withstood this premature proposal, I did not attempt to disguise the situation of my thoughts; and thus commenced a tender correspondence, which was maintained by letters while I remained in the country, and carried on, when I was in town, by private interviews twice or thrice a week at the house of my milliner, where such endearments passed as refined and happy lovers know, and others can only guess. Truth and innocence prevailed on my side, while his heart was fraught with sincerity and love. Such frequent intercourse created an intimacy which I began to think dangerous, and therefore yielded to his repeated desire that we might be united for ever. Nay, I resolved to avoid him, until the day should be fixed, and very innocently, though not very wisely, told him my reason for this determination, which was no other than a consciousness of my incapacity to refuse him anything he should demand as a testimony of my love.
“The time was accordingly appointed, at the distance of a few days, during which I intended to have implored my father’s consent, though I had but faint hopes of obtaining it. But he was by some means or other apprised of our design, before I could prevail upon myself to make him acquainted with our purpose. I had danced with my lover at the ridotto on the preceding evening, and there perhaps our eyes betrayed us. Certain it is, several of Lord W—‘s relations, who disapproved of the match, came up and rallied him on his passion; Lord S— k, in particular, used this remarkable expression, “Nephew, as much love as you please, but no matrimony.”
“Next day, the priest being prepared, and the bridegroom waiting for me at the appointed place, in all the transports of impatient expectation, I was, without any previous warning, carried into the country by my father, who took no notice of the intelligence he had received, but decoyed me into the coach on pretence of taking the air; and, when we had proceeded as far as Turnham Green, gave me to understand, that he would dine in that place.
“There was no remedy. I was obliged to bear my disappointment, though with an aching heart, and followed him up-stairs into an apartment, where he told me he was minutely informed of my matrimonial scheme. I did not attempt to disguise the truth, but assured him, while the tears gushed from my eyes, that my want of courage alone had hindered me from making him privy to my passion; though I owned, I should have married Lord W — even though he had disapproved of my choice. I reminded him of the uneasy life I led at home, and frankly acknowledged, that I loved my admirer too well to live without him; though, if he would favour me with his consent, I would defer my intention, and punctually observe any day he would fix for our nuptials. Meanwhile I begged he would permit me to send a message to Lord W — who was waiting in expectation of my coming, and might, without such notice, imagine I was playing the jilt. He granted this last request; in consequence of which I sent a letter to my lover, who, when he received it, had almost fainted away, believing I should be locked up in the country, and snatched for ever from his arms. Tortured with these apprehensions, he changed clothes immediately, and, taking horse, resolved to follow me whithersoever we should go.
“After dinner, we proceeded as far as Brentford, where we lay, intending to be at my father’s country house next night; and my admirer putting up at the same inn, practised every expedient his invention could suggest to procure an interview; but all his endeavours were unsuccessful, because I, who little dreamed of his being so near, had gone to bed upon our first arrival, overwhelmed with affliction and tears. In the morning I threw myself at my father’s feet, and conjured him, by all the ties of paternal affection, to indulge me with an opportunity of seeing my admirer once more, before I should be conveyed from his wishes. The melancholy condition in which I preferred this supplication, melted the tender heart of my parent, who yielded to my supplications, and carried me back to town for that purpose.
“Lord W — who had watched our motions, and arrived at his own lodgings before we arrived at my father’s house, obeyed my summons on the instant, and appeared before me like an angel. Our faculties were for some minutes suspended by a conflict of grief and joy. At length I recovered the use of speech, and gave him to understand, that I was come to town in order to take my leave of him, by the permission of my father, whom I had promised to attend into the country next day, before he would consent to my return; the chief cause and pretence of which was my earnest desire to convince him, that I was not to blame for the disappointment he had suffered, and that I should see him again in a month, when the nuptial knot should be tied in spite of all opposition.
“My lover, who was better acquainted with the world, had wellnigh run distracted with this information. He swore he would not leave me, until I should promise to meet and marry him next day; or, if I refused to grant that request, he would immediately leave the kingdom, to which he would never more return; and, before his departure, sacrifice Lord H. B — son to the Duke of S. A — who was the only person upon earth who could have betrayed us to my father, because he alone was trusted with the secret of our intended marriage, and had actually undertaken to give me away; an office which he afterwards declined. Lord W— also affirmed, that my father decoyed me into the country with a view of cooping me up, and sequestering me entirely from his view and correspondence.
“In vain I pleaded my father’s well-known tenderness, and used all the arguments I could recollect to divert him from his revenge upon Lord H—. He was deaf to all my representations, and nothing, I found, would prevail upon him to suppress his resentment, but a positive promise to comply with his former desire. I told him I would hazard everything to make him happy; but could not, with any regard to my duty, take such a step without the knowledge of my parent; or, if I were so inclined, it would be impracticable to elude his vigilance and suspicion. However, he employed such pathetic remonstrances, and retained such a powerful advocate within my own breast, that, before we parted, I assured him my whole power should be exerted for his satisfaction; and he signified his resolution of sitting up all night, in expectation of seeing me at his lodgings.
“He had no sooner retired, than I went into the next room, and desired my father to fix a day for the marriage; in which case I would cheerfully wait upon him into the country; whereas, should he deny my request, on pretence of staying for the consent of my mother’s relations, which was very uncertain, I would seize the first opportunity of marrying Lord W — cost what it would. He consented to the match, but would not appoint a day for the ceremony, which he proposed to defer until all parties should be agreed; and such a favourable crisis, I feared, would never happen.
“I therefore resolved within myself to gratify my lover’s expectation, by eloping, if possible, that very night; though the execution of this plan was extremely difficult, because my father was upon the alarm, and my own maid, who was my bedfellow, altogether in his interest. Notwithstanding these considerations, I found means to engage one of the housemaids in my behalf, who bespoke a hackney-coach, to be kept in waiting all night; and to bed I went with my Abigail, whom, as I had not closed an eye, I waked about five in the morning, and sent to pack up some things for our intended journey.
“While she was thus employed, I got up, and huddled on my clothes, standing upon my pillow, lest my father, who lay in the chamber below, should hear me afoot, and suspect my design. Having dressed myself with great despatch and disorder, I flounced downstairs, stalking as heavily as I could tread, that he might mistake me for one of the servants; and my confederate opening the door, I sallied out into the street, though I knew not which way to turn; and, to my unspeakable mortification, neither coach nor chair appeared.
“Having travelled on foot a good way, in hope of finding a convenience, and being not only disappointed in that particular, but also bewildered in my peregrination, I began to be exceedingly alarmed with the apprehension of being met by some person who might know me; because in that case, my design would undoubtedly have been discovered, from every circumstance of my appearance at that time of day; for I had put on the very clothes which I had pulled off overnight, so that my dress was altogether odd and peculiar. My shoes were very fine, and over a large hoop I wore a pink satin quilted petticoat trimmed with silver, which was partly covered by a white dimity night-gown, a full quarter of a yard too short; my handkerchief and apron were hurried on without pinning; my nightcap could not contain my hair, which hung about my ears in great disorder; and my countenance denoted a mixture of hope and fear, joy and shame.
“In this dilemma, I made my addresses to that honourable member of society, a shoe-black, whom I earnestly entreated to provide me with a coach or chair, promising to reward him liberally for his trouble, but he, having the misfortune to be lame, was unable to keep up with my pace; so that by his advice and direction, I went into the first public-house I found open, where I stayed some time, in the utmost consternation, among a crew of wretches whom I thought proper to bribe for their civility, not without the terror of being stripped. At length, however, my messenger returned with a chair, of which I took immediate possession; and fearing that, by this time, my family would be alarmed, and send directly to Lord W—‘s lodgings, I ordered myself to be carried thither backwards, that so I might pass undiscovered.
“This stratagem succeeded according to my wish; I ran upstairs, in a state of trepidation, to my faithful lover, who waited for me with the most impatient and fearful suspense. At sight of me his eyes lightened with transport: he caught me in his arms, as the richest present Heaven could bestow; gave me to understand that my father had already sent to his lodgings in quest of me; then applauding my love and resolution in the most rapturous terms, he ordered a hackney-coach to be called, and, that we might run no risk of separation, attended me to church, where we were lawfully joined in the sight of Heaven.
“His fears were then all over, but mine recurred with double aggravation: I dreaded the sight of my father, and shared all the sorrow he suffered on account of my undutiful behaviour; for I loved him with such piety of affection, that I would have endured every other species of distress, rather than given him the least uneasiness; but love, where he reigns in full empire, is altogether irresistible, surmounts every difficulty, and swallows up all other considerations. This was the case with me; and now the irrevocable step was taken, my first care was to avoid his sight. With this view, I begged that Lord W— would think of some remote place in the country, to which we might retire for the present, and he forthwith conducted me to a house on Blackheath, where we were very civilly received by a laughter-loving dame, who seemed to mistake me for one of her own sisterhood. I no sooner perceived her opinion, than I desired Lord W— to undeceive her; upon which she was made acquainted with the nature of my situation, and showed us into a private room, where I called for pen and paper, and wrote an apology to my father, for having acted contrary to his will in so important a concern.
“This task being performed, the bridegroom gave me to understand, that there was a necessity for our being bedded immediately, in order to render the marriage binding, lest my father should discover and part us before consummation. I pleaded hard for a respite till the evening, objecting to the indecency of going to bed before noon; but he found means to invalidate all my arguments, and to convince me that it was now my duty to obey. Rather than hazard the imputation of being obstinate and refractory on the first day of my probation, I suffered myself to be led into a chamber, which was darkened by my express stipulation, that my shame and confusion might be the better concealed, and yielded to the privilege of a dear husband, who loved me to adoration.
“About five o’clock in the afternoon we were called to dinner, which we had ordered to be ready at four; but such a paltry care had been forgot amidst the transports of our mutual bliss. We got up, however, and when we came downstairs, I was ashamed to see the light of day, or meet the eyes of my beloved lord. I ate little, said less, was happy, though overwhelmed with confusion, underwent a thousand agitations, some of which were painful, but by far the greater part belonged to rapture and delight; we were imparadised in the gratification of our mutual wishes, and felt all that love can bestow, and sensibility enjoy.
“In the twilight we returned to Lord W—‘s lodgings in town, where I received a letter from my father, importing that he would never see me again. But there was one circumstance in his manner of writing, from which I conceived a happy presage of his future indulgence. He had begun with his usual appellation of ‘Dear Fanny,’ which, though it was expunged to make way for the word ‘Madam,’ encouraged me to hope that his paternal fondness was not yet extinguished.
“At supper we were visited by Lord W—‘s younger sister, who laughed at us for our inconsiderate match, though she owned she envied our happiness, and offered me the use of her clothes until I could retrieve my own. She was a woman of a great deal of humour, plain but genteel, civil, friendly, and perfectly well bred. She favoured us with her company till the night was pretty far advanced, and did not take her leave till we retired to our apartment.
“As our lodgings were not spacious or magnificent, we resolved to see little company; but this resolution was frustrated by the numerous acquaintance of Lord W — who let in half the town: so that I ran the gauntlet for a whole week among a set of wits, who always delight in teasing a young creature of any note, when she happens to make such a stolen match. Among those that visited us upon this occasion was my lord’s younger brother, who was at that time in keeping with a rich heiress of masculine memory, and took that opportunity of making a parade with his equipage, which was indeed very magnificent, but altogether disregarded by us, whose happiness consisted in the opulence of mutual love.
“This ceremony of receiving visits being performed, we went to wait on his mother, the duchess of H — who, hearing I was an heiress, readily forgave her son for marrying without her knowledge and consent, and favoured us with a very cordial reception; insomuch, that for several months, we dined almost constantly at her table; and I must own, I always found her unaltered in her civility and affection, contrary to her general character, which was haughty and capricious. She was undoubtedly a woman of great spirit and understanding, but subject to an infirmity which very much impairs and disguises every other qualification.
“In about three weeks after our marriage, I was so happy as to obtain the forgiveness of my father, to whose house we repaired, in order to pay our respects and submission. At sight of me he wept; nor did I behold his tears unmoved. My heart was overcharged with tenderness and sorrow, for having offended such an indulgent parent; so that I mingled my tears with his, while my dear husband, whose soul was of the softest and gentlest mould, melted with sympathy at the affecting scene. Being thus reconciled to my father, we attended him into the country, where we were received by my mother, who was a sensible good woman, though not susceptible to love, and therefore less apt to excuse a weakness to which she was an utter stranger. This was likewise the case with an uncle, from whom I had great expectations. He was a plain good-natured man, and treated us with great courtesy, though his notions, in point of love, were not exactly conformable to ours. Nevertheless, I was, and seemed to be so happy in my choice, that my family not only became satisfied with the match, but exceedingly fond of Lord W—.
“After a short stay with them in the country, we returned to London, in order to be introduced at court, and then set out for the north, on a visit to my brother-in-law the duke of H — who had, by a letter to Lord W — invited us to his habitation. My father accordingly equipped us with horses and money; for our own finances were extremely slender, consisting only of a small pension, allowed by his grace, upon whom the brothers were entirely dependent, the father having died suddenly, before suitable provision could be made for his younger children.
“When I took leave of my relations, bidding adieu to my paternal home, and found myself launching into a world of care and trouble, though the voyage on which I embarked was altogether voluntary, and my companion the person on whom I doted to distraction — I could not help feeling some melancholy sensations, which, however, in a little time, gave way to a train of more agreeable ideas. I was visited in town by almost all the women of fashion, many of whom, I perceived, envied me the possession of a man who had made strange havoc among their hearts, and some of them knew the value of his favour. One in particular endeavoured to cultivate my friendship with singular marks of regard; but I thought proper to discourage her advances, by keeping within the bounds of bare civility; and, indeed, to none of them was I lavish of my complaisance; for I dedicated my whole time to the object of my affection, who engrossed my wishes to such a degree, that, although I was never jealous, because I had no reason to be so, I envied the happiness of every woman whom he chanced at any time to hand into a coach.
“The duchess of — who was newly married to the earl of P — a particular friend of Lord W—‘s, carried me to court, and presented me to the queen, who expressed her approbation of my person in very particular terms, and, observing the satisfaction that appeared in my countenance, with marks of admiration, desired her ladies to take notice, how little happiness depended upon wealth, since there was more joy in my face than in all her court besides.
“Such a declaration could not fail to overwhelm me with blushes, which her Majesty seemed to behold with pleasure; for she frequently repeated the remark, and showed me to all the foreigners of distinction, with many gracious expressions of favour. She wished Lord W— happiness instead of joy, and was pleased to promise, that she would provide for her pretty beggars. And poor enough we certainly were in every article but love. Nevertheless, we felt no necessities, but passed the summer in a variety of pleasures and parties; the greatest part of which were planned by Lord W—‘s sister and another lady, who was at that time mistress to the prime minister. The first was a wit, but homely in person; the other a woman of great beauty and masculine understanding; and a particular friendship subsisted between them, though they were both lovers of power and admiration.
“This lady, who sat at the helm, was extremely elegant, as well as expensive in her diversions, in many of which we bore a share, particularly in her parties upon the water, which were contrived in all the magnificence of taste. In the course of these amusements, a trifling circumstance occurred, which I shall relate as an instance of that jealous sensibility which characterised Lord W—‘s disposition. A large company of ladies and gentlemen having agreed to dine at Vauxhall, and sup at Marble-hall, where we proposed to conclude the evening with a dance, one barge being insufficient to contain the whole company, we were divided by lots; in consequence of which, my husband and I were parted. This separation was equally mortifying to us both, who, though married, were still lovers; and my chagrin increased when I perceived that I was doomed to sit by Sir W. Y — a man of professed gallantry; for, although Lord W— had, before his marriage, made his addresses to every woman he saw, I knew very well he did not desire that any person should make love to his wife.
“That I might not, therefore, give umbrage, by talking to this gallant, I conversed with a Scotch nobleman, who, according to common report, had formerly sighed among my admirers. By these means, in seeking to avoid one error, I unwittingly plunged myself into a greater, and disobliged Lord W— so much, that he could not conceal his displeasure; nay, so deeply was he offended at my conduct, that, in the evening, when the ball began, he would scarce deign to take me by the hand in the course of dancing, and darted such unkind looks, as pierced me to the very soul. What augmented my concern, was my ignorance of the trespass I had committed. I was tortured with a thousand uneasy reflections; I began to fear that I had mistaken his temper, and given my heart to a man who was tired of possession; though I resolved to bear without complaining the misfortune I had entailed upon myself.
“I seized the first opportunity of speaking to him, and thereby discovered the cause of his chagrin; but, as there was no time for expostulation, the misunderstanding continued on his side, with such evident marks of uneasiness, that every individual of the company made up to me, and inquired about the cause of his disorder; so that I was fain to amuse their concern, by saying, that he had been ill the day before, and dancing did not agree with his constitution. So much was he incensed by this unhappy circumstance of my conduct, which was void of all intention to offend him, that he determined to be revenged on me for my indiscretion, and at supper, chancing to sit between two very handsome ladies, one of whom is lately dead, and the other, at present, my neighbour in the country, he affected an air of gaiety, and openly coquetted with them both.
“This was not the only punishment he inflicted on his innocent wife. In the course of our entertainment, we engaged in some simple diversion, in consequence of which the gentlemen were ordered to salute the ladies; when Lord W — in performing this command, unkindly neglected me in my turn; I had occasion for all my discretion and pride, to conceal from the company the agonies I felt at this mark of indifference and disrespect. However, I obtained the victory over myself, and pretended to laugh at his husband-like behaviour, while the tears stood in my eyes and my heart swelled even to bursting.
“We broke up about five, after having spent the most tedious evening I had ever known; and this offended lover went to bed in a state of sullen silence and disgust. Whatever desire I had to come to an explanation, I thought myself so much aggrieved by his unreasonable prejudice, that I could not prevail upon myself to demand a conference, till after his first nap, when my pride giving way to my tenderness, I clasped him in my arms, though he pretended to discourage these advances of my love. I asked how he could be so unjust as to take umbrage at my civility to a man whom he knew I had refused for his sake; I chid him for his barbarous endeavours to awake my jealousy, and used such irresistible arguments in my own vindication, that he was convinced of my innocence, scaled my acquittal with a kind embrace, and we mutually enjoyed the soft transports of a fond reconciliation.
“Never was passion more eager, delicate, or unreserved, than that which glowed within our breasts. Far from being cloyed with the possession of each other, our raptures seemed to increase with the term of our union. When we were separated, though but for a few hours, by the necessary avocations of life, we were unhappy during that brief separation, and met again like lovers, who knew no joy but in one another’s presence. How many delicious evenings did we spend together, in our little apartment, after we had ordered the candles to be taken away, that we might enjoy the agreeable reflection of the moon in a fine summer’s evening! Such a mild and solemn scene naturally disposes the mind to peace and benevolence; but when improved with conversation of the man one loves, it fills the imagination with ideas of ineffable delight! For my own part, I can safely say, my heart was so wholly engrossed by my husband, that I never took pleasure in any diversion where he was not personally concerned; nor was I ever guilty of one thought repugnant to my duty and my love.
“In the autumn, we set out for the north, and were met on the road by the duke and twenty gentlemen, who conducted us to H— n, where we lived in all imaginable splendour. His grace, at that time, maintained above a hundred servants, with a band of music, which always performed at dinner, kept open table, and was visited by a great deal of company. The economy of his house was superintended by his eldest sister, a beautiful young lady of an amiable temper, with whom I soon contracted an intimate friendship. She and the duke used to rally me upon my fondness for Lord W — who was a sort of humourist, and apt to be in a pet, in which case he would leave the company and go to bed by seven o’clock in the evening. On these occasions, I always disappeared, giving up every consideration to that of pleasing my husband, notwithstanding the ridicule of his relations, who taxed me with having spoiled him with too much indulgence. But how could I express too much tenderness and condescension for a man, who doted upon me to such excess, that, when business obliged him to leave me, he always snatched the first opportunity to return, and often rode through darkness, storms, and tempests to my arms?
“Having stayed about seven months in this place, I found myself in a fair way of being a mother, and that I might be near my own relations in such an interesting situation, I and my dear companion departed from H— n, not without great reluctance; for I was fond of the Scots in general, who treated me with great hospitality and respect; and to this day, they paid me the compliment of saying, I was one of the best wives in that country which is so justly celebrated for good women.
“Lord W— having attended me to my father’s house, was obliged to return to Scotland, to support his interest in being elected member of Parliament; so that he took his leave of me, with a full resolution of seeing me again before the time of my lying-in; and all the comfort I enjoyed in his absence, was the perusal of his letters, which I punctually received, together with those of his sister, who, from time to time, favoured me with assurances of his constancy and devotion. Indeed, these testimonials were necessary to one of my disposition; for I was none of those who could be contented with half a heart. I could not even spare one complacent look to any other woman, but expected the undivided homage of his love. Had I been disappointed in this expectation, I should, though a wife, have rebelled or died.
“Meanwhile my parents treated me with great tenderness, intending that Lord W— should be settled in a house of his own, and accommodated with my fortune, and his expectations from the queen were very sanguine, when I was taken ill, and delivered of a dead child, an event which affected me extremely. When I understood the extent of my misfortune, my heart throbbed with such violence, that my breast could scarce contain it; and my anxiety, being aggravated by the absence of my lord, produced a dangerous fever, of which he was no sooner apprised by letter, than he came post from Scotland; but, before his arrival, I was supposed to be in a fair way.
“During this journey, he was tortured with all that terrible suspense which prevails in the minds of those who are in danger of losing that which is most dear to them; and, when he entered the house, was so much overwhelmed with apprehension, that he durst not inquire about the state of my health. As for my part, I never closed an eye from the time on which I expected his return; and, when I heard his voice, I threw open my curtains, and sat up in the bed to receive him, though at the hazard of my life. He ran towards me with all the eagerness of passion, and clasped me in his arms; he kneeled by the bedside, and kissed my hand a thousand times, and wept with transports of tenderness and joy. In short, this meeting was so pathetic as to overcome my enfeebled constitution, and we were parted by those who were wiser than ourselves, and saw that nothing was so proper for us as a little repose.
“But how shall I relate the deplorable transition from envied happiness to excess of misery which I now sustained! My month was hardly up, when my dear husband was taken ill; perhaps the fatigue of body, as well as mind, which he had undergone on my account, occasioned a fatal ferment in his blood, and his health fell a sacrifice to his love. Physicians were called from London, but alas! they brought no hopes of his recovery. By their advice, he was removed to town, for the convenience of being punctually attended. Every moment was too precious to be thrown away; he was therefore immediately put into the coach, though the day was far spent; and I, though exceedingly weak, accompanied him in the journey, which was performed by the light of flambeaus, and rendered unspeakingly shocking by the dismal apprehension of losing him every moment.
“At length, however, we arrived at our lodgings in Pall Mall, where I lay by him on the floor, and attended the issue of his distemper in all the agonies of horror and despair. In a little time his malady settled upon his brain, and, in his delirium, he uttered such dreadful exclamations, as were sufficient to pierce the most savage heart. What effect then must they have had on mine, which was fraught with every sentiment of the most melting affection! It was not a common grief that took possession of my soul; I felt all the aggravation of the most acute distress. I sometimes ran down the street in a fit of distraction: I sent for the doctors every minute: I wearied Heaven with my prayers; even now my heart aches at the remembrance of what I suffered, and I cannot, without trembling, proceed with the woeful story.
“After having lain insensible some days, he recovered the use of speech, and called upon my name, which he had a thousand times repeated while he was bereft of reason. All hopes of his life were now relinquished, and I was led to his bedside to receive his last adieus, being directed to summon all my fortitude, and suppress my sorrow, that he might not be disturbed by my agitation. I collected all my resolution to support me in this affecting scene. I saw my dear lord in extremity. The beauties of his youth were all decayed; yet his eyes, though languid, retained unspeakable sweetness and expression. He felt his end approaching, put forth his hand, and, with a look full of complacency and benevolence, uttered such a tender tale — good Heaven! how had I deserved such accumulated affliction, the bare remembrance of which now melts me into tears? Human nature could not undergo my situation without suffering an ecstasy of grief. I clasped him in my arms, and kissed him a thousand times, with the most violent emotions of woe; but I was torn from his embrace, and in a little time he was ravished for ever from my view.
“On that fatal morning, which put a period to his life, I saw the duchess of L— approach my bed, and, from her appearance, concluded that he was no more; yet I begged she would not confirm the unhappy presage by announcing his death; and she accordingly preserved the most emphatic silence. I got up, and trod softly over his head, as if I had been afraid of interrupting his repose. Alas! he was no longer sensible of such disturbance. I was seized with a stupefaction of sorrow; I threw up the window and, looking around, thought the sun shone with the most dismal aspect; everything was solitary, cheerless, and replete with horror.
“In this condition I was, by the direction of my friend, conveyed to her house, where my faculties were so overpowered by the load of anguish which oppressed me, that I know not what passed during the first days of my unhappy widowhood; this only I know, the kind duchess treated me with all imaginable care and compassion, and carried me to her country house, where I stayed some months; during which, she endeavoured to comfort me with all the amusements she could invent, and laid me under such obligations as shall never be erased from my remembrance. Yet, notwithstanding all her care and concern, I was, by my excess of grief, plunged into a languishing distemper, for which my physicians advised me to drink the Bath waters.
“In compliance with this prescription, I went thither towards the end of summer, and found some benefit by adhering to their directions. Though I seldom went abroad, except when I visited my sister-in-law, who was there with the princess; and, upon these occasions, I never failed to attract the notice of the company, who were struck with the appearance of such a young creature in weeds. Nor was I free from the persecution of professed admirers; but, being dead to all joy, I was deaf to the voice of adulation.
“About Christmas I repaired to my father’s house, where my sorrows were revived by every object that recalled the idea of my dear lamented lord. But these melancholy reflections I was obliged to bear, because I had no other home or habitation, being left an unprovided widow, altogether dependent on the affection of my own family. During this winter, divers overtures were made to my father by people who demanded me in marriage; but my heart was not yet sufficiently weaned from my former passion to admit the thoughts of another master. Among those that presented their proposals was a certain young nobleman, who, upon the first news of Lord W—‘s death, came post from Paris, in order to declare his passion. He made his first appearance in a hired chariot-and-six, accompanied by a big fat fellow, whom (as I afterwards learned) he had engaged to sound his praises, with a promise of a thousand pounds, in lieu of which he paid him forty. Whether it was with a view of screening himself from the cold, or of making a comfortable medium in case of being overturned, and falling under his weighty companion, I know not; but, certain it is, the carriage was stuffed with hay, in such a manner, that, when he arrived, the servants were at some pains in rummaging and removing it, before they could come at their master, or help him to alight. When he was lifted out of the chariot, he exhibited a very ludicrous figure to the view. He was a thin, meagre, shivering creature, of a low stature, with little black eyes, a long nose, sallow complexion, and pitted with the smallpox; dressed in a coat of light brown frieze, lined with pink-coloured shag, a monstrous solitaire and bag, and, if I remember right, a pair of huge jack-boots. In a word, his whole appearance was so little calculated for inspiring love, that I had, on the strength of seeing him once before at Oxford, set him down as the last man on earth whom I would choose to wed; and I will venture to affirm, that he was in every particular the reverse of my late husband.
“As my father was not at home, he stayed but one evening, and left his errand with my mother, to whom he was as disagreeable as to myself; so that his proposal was absolutely rejected, and I heard no more of him during the space of three whole months, at the expiration of which I went to town, where this mortifying figure presented itself again, and renewed his suit, offering such advantageous terms of settlement, that my father began to relish the match, and warmly recommended it to my consideration.
“Lord W—‘s relations advised me to embrace the opportunity of making myself independent. All my acquaintance plied me with arguments to the same purpose. I was uneasy at home, and indifferent to all mankind. I weighed the motives with the objections, and with reluctance yielded to the importunity of my friends. In consequence of this determination, the little gentleman was permitted to visit me; and the manner of his address did not alter the opinion I had conceived of his character and understanding. I was even shocked at the prospect of marrying a man whom I could not love; and, in order to disburden my own conscience, took an opportunity of telling him, one evening, as we sat opposite to each other, that it was not in my power to command my affection, and therefore he could not expect the possession of my heart, Lord W—‘s indulgence having spoiled me for a wife; nevertheless, I would endeavour to contract a friendship for him, which would entirely depend upon his own behaviour.
“To this declaration he replied, to my great surprise, that he did not desire me to love him; my friendship was sufficient; and next day repeated this strange instance of moderation in a letter, which I communicated to my sister, who laughed heartily at the contents, and persuaded me, that since I could love no man, he was the properest person to be my husband.
“Accordingly, the wedding clothes and equipage being prepared, the day — the fatal day — was fixed; on the morning of which I went to the house of my brother-in-law, duke H — who loved me tenderly, and took my leave of the family, a family which I shall always remember with love, honour, and esteem. His grace received me in the most affectionate manner, saying at parting, “Lady W — if he does not use you well, I will take you back again.”
“The bridegroom and I met at Ox — Chapel, where the ceremony was performed by the bishop of W — in presence of his lordship’s mother, my father, and another lady. The nuptial knot being tied, we set out for my father’s house in the country, and proceeded full twenty miles on our journey before my lord opened his mouth, my thoughts having been all that time employed on something quite foreign to my present situation; for I was then but a giddy girl of eighteen. At length my father broke silence, and clapping his lordship on the shoulder, told him he was but a dull bridegroom; upon which my lord gave him to understand that he was out of spirits. This dejection continued all the day, notwithstanding the refreshment of a plentiful dinner which he ate upon the road; and in the evening we arrived at the place of our destination, where we were kindly received by my mother, though she had no liking to the match; and, after supper, we retired to our apartment.
“It was here that I had occasion to perceive the most disagreeable contrast between my present helpmate and my former lord. Instead of flying to my arms with all the eagerness of love and rapture, this manly representative sat moping in a corner, like a criminal on execution day, and owned he was ashamed to bed with a woman whose hand he had scarce ever touched.
“I could not help being affected with this pusillanimous behaviour. I remembered Lord W — while I surveyed the object before me, and made such a comparison as filled me with horror and disgust: nay, to such a degree did my aversion to this phantom prevail, that I began to sweat with anguish at the thought of being subjected to his pleasure; and when, after a long hesitation, he ventured to approach me, I trembled as if I had been exposed to the embraces of a rattlesnake. Nor did the efforts of his love diminish this antipathy. His attempts were like the pawings of an imp, sent from hell to seize and torment some guilty wretch, such as are exhibited in some dramatic performance, which I have never seen acted without remembering my wedding-night. By such shadowy, unsubstantial, vexatious behaviour was I tantalized, and robbed of my repose; and early next morning I got up, with a most sovereign contempt for my bedfellow, who indulged himself in bed till eleven.
“Having passed a few days in this place, I went home with him to his house at Twickenham, and soon after we were presented at court, when the queen was pleased to say to my lord’s mother, she did not doubt that we should be a happy couple, for I had been a good wife to my former husband.
“Whatever deficiencies I had to complain of in my new spouse, he was not wanting in point of liberality. I was presented with a very fine chariot, studded with silver nails, and such a profusion of jewels as furnished a joke to some of my acquaintance, who observed, that I was formerly queen of hearts, but now metamorphosed into the queen of diamonds. I now also had an opportunity, which I did not let slip, of paying Lord W—‘s debts from my privy purse; and on that score received the thanks of his elder brother, who, though he had undertaken to discharge them, delayed the execution of his purpose longer than I thought they should remain unpaid. This uncommon splendour attracted the eyes and envy of my competitors, who were the more implacable in their resentments, because, notwithstanding my marriage, I was as much as ever followed by the men of gallantry and pleasure, among whom it is a constant maxim, that a woman never withholds her affections from her husband, without an intention to bestow them somewhere else. I never appeared without a train of admirers, and my house in the country was always crowded with gay young men of quality.
“Among those who cultivated my good graces with the greatest skill and assiduity, were the Earl C— and Mr. S—-, brother to Lord F—. The former of whom, in the course of his addresses, treated me with an entertainment of surprising magnificence, disposed into a dinner, supper, and ball, to which I, at his desire, invited eleven ladies, whom he paired with the like number of his own sex; so that the whole company amounted to twenty-four. We were regaled with a most elegant dinner, in an apartment which was altogether superb, and served by gentlemen only, no livery servant being permitted to come within the door. In the afternoon we embarked in two splendid barges, being attended by a band of music in a third; and enjoyed a delightful evening upon the river till the twilight, when we returned and began the ball, which was conducted with such order and taste, that mirth and good-humour prevailed. No dissatisfaction appeared, except in the countenance of one old maid, since married to a son of the duke of — who though she would not refuse to partake of such an agreeable entertainment, was displeased that I should have the honour of inviting her. O baleful Envy! thou self-tormenting fiend! how dost thou predominate in all assemblies, from the grand gala of a court, to the meeting of simple peasants at their harvest-home! Nor is the prevalence of this sordid passion to be wondered at, if we consider the weakness, pride, and vanity of our sex. The presence of one favourite man shall poison the enjoyment of a whole company, and produce the most rancorous enmity betwixt the closest friends.
“I danced with the master of the ball, who employed all the artillery of his eloquence in making love; yet I did not listen to his addresses, for he was not to my taste, though he possessed an agreeable person, and a good acquired understanding; but he was utterly ignorant of that gentle prevailing art which I afterwards experienced in Mr. S—-, and which was the only method he could have successfully practised in seducing a young woman like me, born with sentiments of honour, and trained up in the paths of religion and virtue. This young gentleman was indeed absolutely master of those insinuating qualifications which few women of passion and sensibility can resist; and had a person every way adapted for profiting by these insidious talents. He was well acquainted with the human heart, conscious of his own power and capacity, and exercised these endowments with unwearied perseverance. He was tall and thin, of a shape and size perfectly agreeable to my taste, with large blue eloquent eyes, good teeth, and a long head turned to gallantry. His behaviour was the standard of politeness, and all his advances were conducted with the most profound respect; which is the most effectual expedient a man can use against us, if he can find means to persuade us that it proceeds from the excess and delicacy of his passion. It is no other than a silent compliment, by which our accomplishments are continually flattered. and pleases in proportion to the supposed understanding of him who pays it.
“By these arts and advantages this consummate politician in love began by degrees to sap the foundation of my conjugal faith: he stole imperceptibly into my affection, and by dint of opportunity, which he well knew how to improve, triumphed at last over all his rivals.
“Nor was he the only person that disputed my heart with Earl C—. That nobleman was also rivalled by Lord C. H — a Scotchman, who had been an intimate and relation of my former husband. Him I would have preferred to most of his competitors, and actually coquetted with him for some time: but the amour was interrupted by his going to Ireland; upon which occasion, understanding that he was but indifferently provided with money, I made him a present of a gold snuff-box, in which was enclosed a bank-note; a trifling mark of my esteem, which he afterwards justified by the most grateful, friendly, and genteel behaviour; and as we corresponded by letters, I frankly told him, that Mr. S—— had stepped in, and won the palm from all the rest of my admirers.
“This new favourite’s mother and sister, who lived in the neighbourhood, were my constant companions; and, in consequence of this intimacy, he never let a day pass without paying his respects to me in person; nay, so ingenious was he in contriving the means of promoting his suit, that whether I rode or walked, went abroad or stayed at home, he was always of course one of the party; so that his design seemed to engross his whole vigilance and attention. Thus he studied my disposition, and established himself in my good opinion at the same time. He found my heart was susceptible of every tender impression, and saw that I was not free from the vanity of youth; he had already acquired my friendship and esteem, from which he knew there was a short and easy transition to love. By his penetration choosing proper seasons for the theme, he urged it with such pathetic vows and artful adulation, as well might captivate a young woman of my complexion and experience, and circumstanced as I was, with a husband whom I had such reason to despise.
“Though he thus made an insensible progress in my heart, he did not find my virtue an easy conquest; and I myself was ignorant of the advantage he had gained with regard to my inclinations, until I was convinced of his success by an alarm of jealousy which I one day felt, at seeing him engaged in conversation with another lady. I forthwith recognized this symptom of love, with which I had been formerly acquainted, and trembled at the discovery of my own weakness. I underwent a strange agitation and mixture of contrary sensations. I was pleased with the passion, yet ashamed of avowing it even to my own mind. The rights of a husband, though mine was but a nominal one, occurred to my reflection, and virtue, modesty, and honour, forbade me to cherish the guilty flame.
“When I encouraged these laudable scruples, and resolved to sacrifice my love to duty and reputation, my lord was almost every day employed in riding post to my father, with complaints of my conduct, which was hitherto irreproachable; though the greatest grievance which he pretended to have suffered was my refusing to comply with his desire, when he entreated me to lie, a whole hour every morning, with my neck uncovered, that, by gazing, he might quiet the perturbation of his spirits. From this request you may judge of the man, as well as of the regard I must entertain for his character and disposition.
“During the whole summer I was besieged by my artful undoer, and in the autumn set out with my lord for Bath, where, by reason of the intimacy that subsisted between our families, we lived in the same house with my lover and his sister, who, with another agreeable young lady, accompanied us in this expedition. By this time Mr. S— had extorted from me a confession of a mutual flame, though I assured him that it should never induce me to give up the valuable possession of an unspotted character, and a conscience void of offence. I offered him all the enjoyment he could reap from an unreserved intercourse of souls, abstracted from any sensual consideration. He eagerly embraced the platonic proposal, because he had sagacity enough to foresee the issue of such chimerical contracts, and knew me too well to think he could accomplish his purpose without seeming to acquiesce in my own terms, and cultivating my tenderness under the specious pretext.
“In consequence of this agreement, we took all opportunities of seeing each other in private; and these interviews were spent in mutual protestations of disinterested love. This correspondence, though dangerous, was, on my side, equally innocent and endearing; and many happy hours we passed, before my sentiments were discovered. At length my lover was taken ill, and then my passion burst out beyond the power of concealment; my grief and anxiety became so conspicuous in my countenance, and my behaviour was so indiscreet, that everybody in the house perceived the situation of my thoughts, and blamed my conduct accordingly.
“Certain it is, I was extremely imprudent, though intentionally innocent. I have lain whole nights by my lord, who teased and tormented me for that which neither I could give nor he could take, and ruminated on the fatal consequences of this unhappy flame, until I was worked into a fever of disquiet. I saw there was no safety but in flight, and often determined to banish myself for ever from the sight of this dangerous intruder. But my resolution always failed at the approach of day, and my desire of seeing him as constantly recurred. So far was I from persisting in such commendable determinations, that, on the eve of our departure from Bath, I felt the keenest pangs of sorrow at our approaching separation; and, as we could not enjoy our private interviews at my house in town, I promised to visit him at his own apartments, after he had sworn by all that’s sacred, that he would take no sinister advantage of my condescension, by presuming upon the opportunities I should give.
“He kept his word, for he saw I trusted to it with fear and trembling, and perceived that my apprehension was not affected, but the natural concern of a young creature, distracted between love and duty, whom, had he alarmed, he would never had seen within his doors again. Instead of pressing me with solicitations in favour of his passion, he was more than ever respectful and complaisant; so that I found myself disengaged of all restraint, conducted the conversation, shortened and repeated my visits at my own pleasure, till at last I became so accustomed to this communication, that his house was as familiar to me as my own.
“Having in this manner secured himself in my confidence, he resumed the favourite topic of love, and, warming my imagination by gradual advances on the subject, my heart began to pant; when he saw me thus moved, he snatched the favourable occasion to practise all his eloquence and art. I could not resist his energy nor even fly from the temptation that assailed me, until he had obtained a promise that he should, at our next meeting, reap the fruits of his tedious expectation. Upon this condition, I was permitted to retire, and blessed heaven for my escape, fully determined to continue in the path of virtue I had hitherto trod, and stifle the criminal flame by which my peace and reputation were endangered. But his idea, which reigned in my heart without control, soon baffled all these prudent suggestions.
“I saw him again; and he reminded me of my promise, which I endeavoured to evade with affected pleasantry, upon which he manifested the utmost displeasure and chagrin, shedding some crocodile tears, and upbraided me with levity and indifference. He observed, that he had solicited my favour for ten long months without intermission, and imagined I had held out so long on virtuous motives only; but now he could plainly perceive that his want of success had been owing to my want of affection, and that all my professions were insincere. In a word, he persuaded me that his remonstrances were just and reasonable. I could not see the affliction of a man I loved, when I knew it was in my power to remove it; and, rather than forfeit his opinion of my sincerity and love, I consented to his wish. My heart now flutters at the remembrance of the dear though fatal indiscretion; yet I reflect without remorse, and even remember it with pleasure.
“If I could not avoid the censure of the world, I was resolved to bear it without repining; and sure the guilt, if there was any in my conduct, was but venial; for I considered myself as a person absolved of all matrimonial ties, by the insignificance of Lord — who, though a nominal husband, was in fact a mere nonentity. I therefore contracted a new engagement with my lover, to which I resolved to adhere with the most scrupulous fidelity, without the least intention of injuring my lord or his relations; for, had our mutual passion produced any visible effects, I would immediately have renounced and abandoned my husband for ever, that the fruit of my love for Mr. S— might not have inherited, to the detriment of the right heir. This was my determination, which I thought just, if not prudent; and for which I have incurred the imputation of folly, in the opinion of this wise and honest generation, by whose example and advice I have, since that time, been a little reformed in point of prudentials, though I still retain a strong tendency to return to my primitive way of thinking.
“When I quitted Mr. S — after the sacrifice I had made, and returned to my own bed, it may, perhaps, be supposed that I slept but little. True: I was kept awake by the joyful impatience of revisiting my lover. Indeed I neglected no opportunity of flying to his arms. When Lord — was in the country, we enjoyed each other’s company without interruption; but when he resided in town, our correspondence was limited to stolen interviews, which were unspeakably delicious, as genuine love presided at the entertainment.
“Such was my happiness in the course of this tender communication, that to this day I remember it with pleasure, though it has cost me dear in the sequel, and was at that time enjoyed at a considerable expense; for I devoted myself so entirely to my lover, who was desirous of engrossing my time and thoughts, that my acquaintance, which was very numerous, justly accused me of neglect, and of consequence cooled in their friendships; but I was ‘all for love, or the world well lost;’ and were the same opportunity to offer, I would act the same conduct over again.
“Some there are who possibly may wonder how I could love twice with such violence of affection. But all such observers must be unacquainted with the human heart. Mine was naturally adapted for the tender passions, and had been so fortunate, so cherished in its first impressions, that it felt with joy the same sensations revive, when influenced by the same engaging qualifications. Certain it is, I loved the second time as well as the first, and better was impossible. I gave up my all for both: fortune and my father’s favour for the one; reputation, friends, and fortune for the other. Yet, notwithstanding this intimate connection, I did not relinquish the world all at once; on the contrary, I still appeared at court, and attracted the notice and approbation of my royal patroness; I danced with the P— of W—; a circumstance which so nearly affected Mr. S — who was present, that, in order to manifest his resentment, he chose the ugliest woman in the ball for his partner; and I no sooner perceived his uneasiness, than I gave over, with a view of appeasing his displeasure.
“Without repeating particular circumstances, let it suffice to say, our mutual passion was a perfect copy of that which had subsisted between me and my dear Lord W—. It was jealous, melting and delicate, and chequered with little accident, which serve to animate and maintain the flame, in its first ardency of rapture. When my lover was sick, I attended and nursed him with indefatigable tenderness and care; and during an indisposition, which I caught in the performance of this agreeable office, he discharged the obligation with all the warmth of sympathy and love.
“It was, however, judged necessary by the physicians, that I should use the Bath waters for the recovery of my health; and I set out for that place, glad of a pretence to be absent from Lord — with whom I lived on very unhappy terms. He had, about nine months after our marriage, desired that we might sleep in separate beds, and gave a very whimsical reason for this proposal. He said, the immensity of his love deprived him of the power of gratification, and that some commerce with an object, to which his heart was not attached, might, by diminishing the transports of his spirits, recompose his nerves, and enable him to enjoy the fruits of his good fortune.
“You may be sure I made no objection to this plan, which was immediately put into execution. He made his addresses to a nymph of Drury Lane, whose name, as he told me, was Mrs. Rock. She made shift to extract some money from her patient; but his infirmity was beyond the power of her art, though she made some mischief between us; and I communicated my suspicion to the duke of H — who intended to have expostulated with her upon the subject; but she got intimation of his design, and saved him the trouble by a precipitate retreat.
“After my return from Bath, where Mr. S— and I had lived happily, until we were interrupted by the arrival of my husband, his lordship expressed an inclination to be my bedfellow again. In this particular I desired to be excused. I would not be the first to propose the separation, which, though usual in other countries, is contrary to the custom of England, being unwilling to furnish the least handle for censure, as my character was still unblemished; yet, when the proposal came from him, I thought myself entitled to refuse a reunion; to which I accordingly objected.
“This opposition produced a quarrel, which rose to a state of perpetual animosity; so that we began to talk of parting. My lord relished the expedient, agreeing to add three hundred pounds a year to my pin-money, which, by the bye, was never paid; and I renounced all state and grandeur, to live in a small house that I hired at Carshalton, where I passed my time for two months, in the most agreeable retirement, with my dear lover. At length I was disturbed by the intrusion of my lord, who molested me with visits and solicitations to return, pretending that he had changed his mind, and insisting upon my compliance with his desire.
“I exhausted my invention in endeavours to evade his request; but he persecuted me without ceasing. So that I was fain to capitulate, on condition that he should immediately set out for France; and that he should not presume to approach my bed till our arrival at Calais. We accordingly departed for that kingdom; and, far from infringing the least article of our treaty, his lordship did not insist upon his privilege before we reached the capital of France.
“Meanwhile, I began to feel the effect of my passion in a very interesting manner, and communicated my discovery to the dear author of it, who would not leave me in such an affecting situation, but took the first opportunity of following us to France.
“In our road to Paris, we stopped to visit Chantilly, a magnificent chateau belonging to the prince of Conde, and there met by accident with some English noblemen, to whom I was known. The prince and his sisters invited me very politely into the gallery where they sat. They complimented me on my person, and seemed to admire my dress, which was altogether new to them, being a blue English riding-habit, trimmed with gold, and a hat with a feather. They were particularly well pleased with my hair which hung down to my waist, and pressed me to stay a fortnight at their house; an invitation which I was very much mortified at being obliged to refuse, because my lord did not understand the French language. I was enchanted with the place and the company, the women being amiable, and the men polite; nor were they strangers to my name and story; for Mr. S— calling at the same place a few days after, they rallied him on my account.
“When we arrived at Paris, the first thing I did was to metamorphose myself into a Frenchwoman. I cut off my hair, hid a very good complexion of my own with rouge, reconciled myself to powder, which I had never used before, put on a robe with a large hoop, and went to the Tuileries, full of spirits and joy; for, at that time, everything conspired to make me happy. I had health, youth, and beauty, love, vanity, and affluence, and found myself surrounded with diversions which were gay, new, and agreeable. My appearance drew upon me the eyes of the whole company, who considered me a stranger, but not a foreigner, so completely was I equipped in the fashion of the French; and when they understood who I was, they applauded my person with the most lavish encomiums, according to their known politeness.
“After having made a circuit round all the public places of entertainment in Paris, I was introduced into the company by an English family, residing in that city; and, among others, became acquainted with a French lady, whose charms were remarkably attractive. The duke of K— was her admirer; but she lived in reputation with her mother, and an agreeable sister, whose lover was the prince of C — for almost every lady in France has her aimant.
“With this charming woman, whose name was Madame de la T — I often made parties of pleasure. The duke, Mr. S — she, and I, used to meet in the Bois de Boulogne, which is a pleasant wood, at a small distance from Paris, whither the company repairs in the summer season for the benefit of the air; and, after having amused ourselves among the groves, embarked in his grace’s equipage, which was extremely elegant, being a calash drawn by six fine long-tailed greys, adorned with ribbons, in the French taste; and thus we were conducted to a little enchanted, or at least enchanting, palace, possessed by the duke, at one end of the town. The lower apartment, appropriated to me, was furnished with yellow and silver, the bed surrounded with looking-glasses, and the door opened into the garden, laid out in a cradle walk, and intervening parterres of roses and other flowers. Above-stairs, my female companion lodged in a chamber furnished with chintz. We supped all together in the saloon, which, though small, was perfectly elegant. The company was always good-humoured, the conversation sprightly and joyous, and the scene, though often repeated, still delightful and entertaining.
“At other times, Mr. S— and I used to pass our evenings at the palace of the prince of C — which his highness lent us for our accommodation. The apartments opened into the gardens of the Luxembourg, and were, in point of magnificence, suitable to the owner. Thither I used to repair in a flaming equipage, on pretence of visiting, and spent the best part of the night with him who was dearer to me than all the princes in the world.
“While I was happily engaged in these ravishing parties, my little lord was employed in his efforts to recover his health by restoratives, and I know not what; for he still lamented the enfeebling effects of his passion, and complained that he loved me more like an angel than a woman, though he strove to govern his affections according to the doctrines of the Christian religion, as he regulated his life by the maxims of Charles the Twelfth of Sweden. The meaning of this declaration I could never learn; and, indeed, I have been often tempted to believe he had no meaning at all.
“Be that as it will, I found my size visibly increasing, and my situation extremely uneasy, on account of the perpetual wrangling which prevailed between us, in consequence of his desiring to sleep with me again, after we had parted beds for the second time; and, that I might no longer be exposed to such disagreeable persecutions, I resolved to leave him, though at the hazard of my life.
“Thus determined, I went to the British ambassador, in a hackney-coach; and, in order to disguise my youth, which might have prepossessed him against my judgment, muffled myself up in a black hood, which, as he said, instead of lending an air of gravity to my countenance, added a wildness to my looks, which was far from being disagreeable. He had been a gallant man in his youth, and even then, though well stricken in years, was not insensible to the power of beauty. This disposition, perhaps, rendered him more favourable to my cause, though he first advised me to return to my husband; but finding me obstinate, he undertook to serve me in my own way, and procured a protection from the French king, by virtue of which I could live at Paris unmolested by my lord. Nevertheless, he advised me, if I was determined to leave him, to make the best of my way to England and sue for a divorce. I relished his opinion, and concealed myself about three days in Paris, during which I borrowed some linen; for, as it was impossible to convey anything out of my own house without suspicion, I had neither clothes for my accommodation, nor a servant to wait on me.
“In this solitary condition, I took the road to Flanders, after I had put my lord upon a wrong scent, by writing a letter to him, dated at Calais, and travelled through an unknown country, without any other attendant than the postillion, being subjected to this inconvenience by the laws of France, which are so severe in some particulars, that, if any person had been apprehended with me, he would have suffered death for going off with a man’s wife; though any man might go to bed with that same woman, without fear of incurring any legal punishment.
“I proceeded night and day without intermission, that I might the sooner reach Flanders, where I knew I should be safe; and as the nights were excessively cold, I was fain to wrap myself up in flannel, which I bought for the purpose, as I had no clothes to keep me warm, and travelled in an open chaise. While we passed through dreary woods, quite remote from the habitations of men, I was not without apprehension of being stripped and murdered by the postillion; and, in all probability, owed my safety to the indigence of my appearance, which might also protect me in two miserable places, where I was obliged to lie, before I got out of the territories of France; for, as I could not reach the great towns where I intended to lodge, I was under the necessity of putting up at little wretched hovels, where no provision was to be had, but sour brown bread, and sourer cheese; and everything seemed to denote the dens of despair and assassination.
“I made shift, however, to subsist on this fare, uncomfortable as it was, confiding on the meanness of my equipage for the security of my person; and at length arriving at Brussels, fixed my quarters in the Hotel de Flandre (so well known to the English since), where I thought myself extremely happy in the accomplishment of my flight.
“I had not been two full days in this place, when I was blessed with the sight of my lover, who followed me on the wings of love, in pursuance of the plan we had projected before my departure from Paris. Here we concerted measures for proceeding to England. I hired a tall fine Liegeoise for my maid, and setting out for Ostend, we embarked in a vessel, in which Mr. S— had bespoke our passage. Our voyage was short and prosperous, and our time most agreeably spent in the company of my dear partner, who was a most engaging man in all respects, as I dare say my Lady C— has since found him.
“I assumed a fictitious name, took private lodgings in Poland-street, retained lawyers, and commenced a suit for separation against my lord. I communicated the reasons of my elopement to my father, who was shocked and surprised at my conduct, which he condemned with expressions of sorrow and resentment. But the step was taken; nor did I repent of what I had done, except on his account.
“In the morning after my arrival at London, I waited upon the lord chief justice, to whom I complained of the usage I had received from my lord, whose temper was teasing, tiresome, and intolerably capricious. Indeed, his behaviour was a strange compound of madness and folly, seasoned with a small proportion of sense. No wonder then, that I, who am hot and hasty, should be wretched, under the persecution of such a perverse humourist, who used to terrify me, and scold at me the whole night without intermission, and shake my pillow from time to time, that I might not sleep, while he tormented me with his disagreeable expostulations. I have been often frightened almost out of my senses, at seeing him convulsed with the most unreasonable passion; and chagrined to the highest degree of disgust, to find, by repeated observation, his disposition so preposterous, that his satisfaction and displeasure never depended upon the cause he had to be satisfied or disobliged; but, on the contrary, when he had most reason to be pleased, he was always most discontented, and very often in good-humour when he had reason enough for vexation.
“While I lived in Poland-street, I was engaged with lawyers, and so often visited by my father, that I could not dedicate my whole time as usual to my lover; nor was it convenient that he should be seen in my company: he therefore took a small house at Camberwell, whither I went as often as I had an opportunity; and maintained the correspondence with such eagerness and industry, that, although I was six months gone with child, I have often, by myself, set out for his habitation, in a hackney-coach, at eleven o’clock at night, and returned by six in the morning, that I might be in my own bed when my father came to see me; for I concealed my amour, as well as the effects of it, from his knowledge, and frequently took water from the bridge, that my motions might not be discovered. Nothing but the most passionate love could have supported my spirits under such vicissitudes of fatigue, or enabled my admirer to spend whole days by himself in such a solitary retirement.
“By this time, my lord was arrived in England, and employed in discovering the place of my retreat; so that I lived in continual alarm, and provided myself with a speaking-trumpet, which stood by my bedside, to be used in calling for assistance, in case my pursuer should make an attack upon my lodgings.
“This situation being extremely uncomfortable, I had no sooner begun my process against him, than I put myself entirely under the protection of Mr. S — who conducted me to the house of a friend of his who lived in the country, where I was secure from the attempts of my husband. The world had now given me up, and I had renounced the world with the most perfect resignation. I weighed in my breast what I should lose in point of character, with what I suffered in my peace at home, and found, that my reputation was not to be preserved, except at the expense of my quiet, for his lordship was not disposed to make me easy, had I been ever so discreet. I therefore determined to give up a few ceremonial visits, and empty professions, for the more substantial enjoyments of life.
“We passed our time very agreeably in various amusements with this friend of Mr. S — until the term of my reckoning was almost expired, then returned to London, and took lodgings in Southampton-street, where I began to make the preparations for the approaching occasion. Here I proposed to live with the utmost circumspection. I disguised my name, saw nobody but my lawyer and lover, and never approached the window lest I should be discovered by accident. Notwithstanding these precautions, my French maid, whom I had sent for some of my clothes, was dogged in her return, and next morning my lord took my lodgings by storm. Had he given the assault in his person only, I make no doubt but he would have suffered a repulse from the opposition of the Liegeoise, who made all the resistance in her power; but was obliged to give way to superior numbers. I was at that time abed, and hearing an unusual noise below, rang my bell, in order to know the cause of such disturbance. I drew my curtain at the same time, and who should I see entering my chamber but his lordship, attended by a constable, and the footman who had discovered my retreat!
“Such an unexpected visit could not fail to affect me with surprise and consternation. However, I summoned all my fortitude to my aid, and perceiving the fellows were about to open my window-shutters, desired their principal to order them down-stairs. He readily complied with my request, and sitting down by my bedside, told me with an air of triumph, that he had found me at last; and I frankly owned, that I was heartily sorry for his success. Instead of upbraiding me with my escape, he proceeded to entertain me with all the news in town, and gave me a minute detail of everything that happened to him since our parting; among other articles of intelligence, giving me to understand, that he had challenged Mr. S — who refused to fight him, and was in disgrace with the prince of W— on that account.
“But here his lordship did not strictly adhere to the naked truth. He had indeed, before our departure from the country, gone to my lover, and insisted upon having satisfaction in Hyde Park, two days from the date of his demand, and at three o’clock in the afternoon; S — believing him in earnest, accepted the invitation; though he observed, that these affairs could not be discussed too soon, and wished the time of meeting might be an earlier hour. But his lordship did not choose to alter the circumstances of his first proposal; and, when he went away, said he should expect him at the appointed place and time, if it did not rain.
“His antagonist gave me an account of the conversation, when I assured him the whole business would end in smoke. Accordingly, my lord sent him a letter on Monday, desiring that the assignation might be deferred till Thursday, that he might have time to settle his affairs, and pay S— a hundred pounds, which he had formerly borrowed of him. When Thursday came, he was favoured with another epistle, importing that the challenger had changed his mind, and would seek satisfaction at law. Thus ended that heroic exploit, which his lordship now boasted of with such arrogant misrepresentation.
“While he thus regaled me with these interesting particulars, I was contriving a scheme to frustrate the discovery he had made; so that I did not contradict his assertions, but told him, that, if he would go down-stairs, I would rise and come to breakfast. He consented to this proposal with great cheerfulness; and I own I was not a little surprised to find him, at this first interview, in as good a humour as if nothing had happened to interrupt the felicity of our matrimonial union.
“It cost me some invention to conceal my condition from his notice, being now within a week of the expected crisis. But I knew I had to do with a man of no great penetration, and succeeded in my attempt accordingly. We breakfasted with great harmony, and I invited him to dinner, after having prevailed upon him to send away his myrmidons, whom, nevertheless, he ordered to return at eleven o’clock at night. We conversed together with great gaiety and mirth. When I rallied him for visiting me in such a dishabille, he stood on tiptoe to view himself in the glass; and, owning I was in the right, said he would go and dress himself before dinner. He accordingly went away, charging my maid to give him entrance at his return; and he was no sooner gone than I wrote to Mr. S — giving him an account of what had happened. Then, without having determined on any certain plan, I huddled on my clothes, muffled myself up, and calling a chair, went to the next tavern, where I stayed no longer than was sufficient to change my vehicle; and, to the astonishment of the drawers, who could not conceive the meaning of my perturbation, proceeded to a shop in the neighbourhood, where I dismissed my second chair, and procured a hackney-coach, in which I repaired to the lodgings of my lawyer, whom I could trust. Having made him acquainted with the circumstances of my distress, and consulted him about a proper place of retreat, after some recollection, he directed me to a little house in a court, to which, by the assistance of my lover, my woman and clothes were safely conveyed that same evening.
“My lord, however, came to dinner, according to invitation, and did not seem at all alarmed when my maid told him I was gone, but stepped to my lawyer to know if he thought I should return. Upon his answering in the affirmative, and advising his lordship to go back in the meantime, and eat the dinner I had provided, he very deliberately took his advice, made a very hearty meal, drank his bottle of wine, and, as I did not return according to his expectation, withdrew in order to consult his associates. This motion of his furnished my woman with an opportunity of making her retreat; and, when he returned at night, the coast was clear, and he found nobody in the house, but a porter, who had been left to take care of the furniture. He was so enraged at this disappointment, that he made a furious noise, which raised the whole neighbourhood, reinforced his crew with the authority of a justice of the peace, tarried in the street till three o’clock in the morning, discharged a lodging he had hired at a barber’s shop opposite to the house from which I had escaped, and retired with the comfortable reflection of having done everything which a man could do to retrieve me.
“The hurry of spirits and surprise I had undergone in effecting this retreat, produced such a disorder in my constitution, that I began to fear I should be delivered before I could be provided with the necessaries for the occasion. I signified my apprehension to Mr. S — who, with infinite care and concern, endeavoured to find a more convenient place; and, after all his inquiries, was obliged to fix upon a paltry apartment in the city, though his tenderness was extremely shocked at the necessity of choosing it. However, there was no remedy, nor time to be lost, To this miserable habitation I was carried in a hackney-coach; and, though extremely ill, bore my fate with spirit and resignation, in testimony of my sincere and indelible attachment to my lover, for whose case and pleasure, I could have suffered every inconvenience, and even sacrificed my life.
“Immediately after I had taken possession of my wretched apartment, I was constrained by my indisposition to go to bed, and send for necessary help; and in a few hours a living pledge of my love and indiscretion saw the light, though the terrors and fatigue I had undergone had affected this little innocent so severely, that it scarce discovered any visible signs of life. My grief at this misfortune was inexpressible. I forthwith despatched a message to the dear, the anxious father, who flew to my arms, and shared my sorrow, with all the gentleness of love and parental fondness; yet our fears were, for that time, happily disappointed by the recovery of our infant daughter, who was committed to the charge of a nurse in the neighbourhood; so that I could every day be satisfied in my inquiries about her health. Thus I continued a whole fortnight in a state of happiness and tranquility, being blessed with the conversation and tender offices of my admirer, whose love and attention I wholly engrossed. In a word, he gave up all business and amusement, and concentrated all his care and assiduity in ministering to my ease and satisfaction: and sure I had no cause to regret what I had suffered on his account.
“But this my agreeable situation was one day disturbed by a most alarming accident, by which my life was drawn into imminent danger. The room under my bed-chamber took fire: I immediately smelt it, and saw the people about me in the utmost perplexity and consternation, though they would not own the true cause of their confusion, lest my health should suffer in the fright. Nevertheless, I was so calm in my inquiries, that they ventured to tell me my suspicion was but too just; upon which I gave such directions as I thought would secure me from catching cold, in case there should be a necessity for removing me; but the fire being happily extinguished, I escaped that ceremony, which might have cost me my life. Indeed, it was surprising that the agitation of my spirits did not produce some fatal effect upon my constitution; and I looked upon my deliverance as the protection of a particular providence.
“Though I escaped the hazard of a sudden removal, I found it was high time to change my lodgings, because the neighbours rushing into the house, upon the alarm of fire, had discovered my situation, though they were ignorant of my name; and I did not think myself safe in being the subject of their conjectures. Mr. S — therefore, procured another compartment, with better accommodation, to which I was carried as soon as my health would admit of my removal; and soon after my lord wrote to me by the hands of my lawyer, earnestly entreating me to drop my prosecution, and come home; but I would not comply with his request; and nothing was farther from my intention than the desire of receiving any favours at his hands.
“Thus repulsed, he set on foot a most accurate search for my person; in the course of which he is said to have detected several ladies and young girls, who had reasons for keeping themselves concealed; and had like to have been very severely handled for his impertinent curiosity. Being unsuccessful in all his attempts, he entered into a treaty with one Sir R— H — a person of a very indifferent character, who undertook to furnish him with an infallible expedient to discover the place of my abode, if he would gratify him with a bond for a thousand pounds; which being executed accordingly, this worthy knight advertised me and my maid in the public papers, offering one hundred pounds as a reward to any person who should disclose the place of our retirement.
“As soon as the paper fell into my hands, I was again involved in perplexity; and, being afraid of staying in town, resolved, with the concurrence of my lover, to accept of an invitation I had received from the duke of K — who had by this time arrived in England, with that lady whom I have already mentioned as one of our parties at Paris. Having visited my little infant, I next day set out for the duke’s country seat, which is a most elegant chateau, and stands in a charming situation. Mr. S—— followed in a few days. We met with a very cordial reception; his grace was civil and good-natured, lived nobly, and loved pleasure; Madame de la T— was formed to please. There was always a great deal of company in the house; so that we passed our time agreeably in playing at billiards and cards, hunting, walking, reading, and conversation.
“But my terms of happiness were generally of short duration. In the midst of this felicity I was overtaken by a most severe affliction, in the death of my dear hapless infant, who had engrossed a greater share of my tenderness than perhaps I even should have paid to the offspring of a legitimate contract; because the circumstance of her birth would have been an insurmountable misfortune to her through the whole course of her life, and rendered her absolutely dependent on my love and protection.
“While I still lamented the untimely fate of this fair blossom, Lord — came down, and demanded me as his wife; but the suit which I then maintained against him deprived him, for the present, of a husband’s right; and therefore the duke would not deliver me into his hands. In six months he repeated his visit and demand; and an agreement was patched up, in consequence of which I consented to live in the same house with him, on condition that he should never desire to sleep with me, or take any other measure to disturb my peace; otherwise I should be at liberty to leave him again, and entitled to the provision of a separate maintenance. To these articles I assented, by the advice of my lawyers, with a view of obtaining the payment of my pin-money, which I had never received since our parting, but subsisted on the sale of my jewels, which were very considerable, and had been presented to me with full power of alienation. As to my lover, he had no fortune to support me; and for that reason I was scrupulously cautious of augmenting his expense.
“We had now enjoyed each other’s company for three years, during which our mutual passions had suffered no abatement, nor had my happiness been mixed with any considerable alloy, except that late stroke of providence which I have already mentioned, and the reflection of the sorrow that my conduct had entailed upon my dear father, whom I loved beyond expression, and whom nothing could have compelled me to disoblige but a more powerful flame, that prevailed over every other consideration. As I was now forced to break off this enchanting correspondence, it is not to be doubted that our parting cost us the most acute sensations of grief and disappointment. However, there was no remedy. I tore myself from his arms, took my leave of the family, after having acknowledged my obligations to the duke, and set out for the place of rendezvous, where I was met by my lord, attended by a steward whom he had lately engaged, and who was one chief cause of our future separations. My lord, having quitted his house in town, conducted me to his lodgings in Pall Mall, and insisted upon sleeping with me the first night; but I refused to gratify his desire, on the authority of our agreement.
“This dispute produced a quarrel, in consequence of which I attempted to leave the house. He endeavouring to prevent my retreat, I fairly locked him in, ran down-stairs, and, calling a hackney-coach, made the best of my way into the city, to my father’s lodgings, where I lay, the family being in town, though he himself was in the country. I wrote to him immediately; and, when he came to London, declared my intention of separating from my lord; in which, seeing me obstinate and determined, he at length acquiesced, and a formal separation accordingly ensued, which at that time I thought binding and immutable.
“I was now sheltered under the wings of an indulgent father, who had taken me into favour again, on the supposition that my commerce with Mr. S— was absolutely at an end. Nevertheless, though we had separated, in all appearance for ever, we had previously agreed to maintain our correspondence in private interviews, which should escape the notice of the world, with which I was again obliged to keep some measures.
“Our parting at the duke of K—‘s house in the country was attended with all the genuine marks of sincere and reciprocal affection, and I lived in the sweet hope of seeing him again, in all the transport of his former passion, when my lawyer, who received my letters, brought me a billet one night, just as I had gone to bed. Seeing the superscription of S—‘s handwriting, I opened it with all the impatience of an absent lover; but how shall I describe the astonishment and consternation with which I was seized, when I perused the contents! Instead of the most tender vows and protestations, this fatal epistle began with, Madam, the best thing you can do is to return to your father, or some cold and killing expression to that effect.
“Heaven and earth! what did I feel at this dire conjuncture! the light forsook my eyes, a cold sweat bedewed my limbs, and I was overwhelmed with such a torrent of sorrow and surprise, that everybody present believed I would have died under the violent agitation. They endeavoured to support my spirits with repeated draughts of strong liquor, which had no sensible effect upon my constitution, though for eight whole years I had drunk nothing stronger than water; and I must have infallibly perished in the first ecstasy of my grief, had it not made its way in a fit of tears and exclamation, in which I continued all night, to the amazement of the family, whom my condition had alarmed, and raised from their repose. My father was the only person who guessed the cause of my affliction; he said he was sure I had received some ill-usage in a letter or message from that rascal S—; so he termed him in the bitterness of passion.
“At mention of that name, my agony redoubled to such a degree that all who were present wept at sight of my deplorable condition. My poor father shed a flood of tears, and conjured me to tell him the cause of my disquiet; upon which, rather than confess the truth, I amused his concern by pretending that my lover was ill. The whole family having stayed by me till I was a little more composed, left me to the care of my maid, who put me into bed about six in the morning, but I enjoyed no rest. I revolved every circumstance of my conduct, endeavouring to find out the cause of this fatal change in S—‘s disposition; and as I could recollect nothing which could justly give offence, concluded that some malicious persons had abused his ears with stories to my prejudice.
“With this conjecture I got up, and sent my lawyer to him with a letter, wherein I insisted upon seeing him, that I might have an opportunity of justifying myself in person; a task which would be easily performed, as I had never offended, but in loving too well. I waited with the most anxious impatience for the return of my messenger, who brought me an answer couched in the coldest terms of civility which indifference could dictate; acknowledging, however, that he had nothing to lay to my charge, but that it was for the good of us both that we should part. He ought to have reflected on that before, not after I had sacrificed my all for his love! I was well-nigh distracted by this confirmation of his inconstancy; and I wonder to this day how I retained the use of my reason under such circumstances of horror and despair! My grief laid aside all decorum and restraint; I told my father that S— was dying, and that I would visit him with all expedition.
“Startled at the proposal, this careful parent demonstrated the fatal consequence of such an unguarded step, reminded me of the difficulty with which he had prevailed upon my mother and uncle to forgive my former imprudence, observed that his intention was to carry me into the country next day, in order to effect a perfect reconciliation; but now I was on the brink of forfeiting all pretensions to their regard, by committing another fatal error, which could not possibly be retrieved; and that, for his part, whatever pangs it might cost him, he was resolved to banish me from his sight for ever.
“While he uttered this declaration, the tears trickled down his cheeks, and he seemed overwhelmed with the keenest sorrow and mortification; so it may be easily conceived what were the impressions of my grief, reinforced with the affliction of a father whom I dearly loved, and the consciousness of being the cause of all his disquiet! I was struck dumb with remorse and woe; and, when I recovered the use of speech, I told him how sensible I was of his great goodness and humanity, and owned how little I deserved his favour and affection; that the sense of my own unworthiness was one cause of my present distraction; for such was the condition of my fate, that I must either see S— or die. I said, though I could not expect his forgiveness, I was surely worthy of his compassion; that nothing but the most irresistible passion could have misled me at first from my duty, or tempted me to incur the least degree of his displeasure; that the same fatal influence still prevailed, and would, in all probability, continue to the grave, which was the only abode in which I hoped for peace.
“While I expressed myself in this manner, my dear good father wept with the most tender sympathy, and, saying I might do as I pleased, for he had done with me, quitted the room, leaving me to the cruel sensations of my own heart, which almost burst with anguish, upbraiding me with a fault which I could not help committing. I immediately hired a chariot and six, and would have set out by myself, had not my father’s affection, which all my errors could not efface, provided an attendant. He saw me quite delirious and desperate; and therefore engaged a relation of my own to accompany and take care of me in this rash expedition.
“During this journey, which lasted two days, I felt no remission of grief and anxiety, but underwent the most intolerable sorrow and suspense. At last we arrived at a little house called the Hut, on Salisbury Plain, where, in the most frantic agitation, I wrote a letter to S — describing the miserable condition to which I was reduced by his unkindness, and desiring to see him, with the most earnest solicitations. This billet I committed to the care of my attendant, and laid strong injunctions upon him to tell Mr. S — my injuries were so great, and my despair so violent, that, if he did not favour me with a visit, I would go to him, though at his sister’s house, where he then was.
“He received my message with great coldness, and told my friend, that, if I would return to London without insisting upon the interview I demanded, he would, in a little time, follow me to town, and everything should be amicably adjusted; but when the messenger assured him, that I was too much transported with grief to hear of such a proposal, he consented to meet me in the middle of Salisbury Plain, that we might avoid all observation. And though I was little able to walk, I set out for the place of assignation, my companion following at a small distance.
“When I saw him leading his horse down the hill, I collected all my fortitude, and advanced to him with all the speed I could exert; but when I made an effort to speak, my tongue denied its office, and so lively was the expression of unutterable sorrow in my countenance, that his heart, hard as it was, melted at the sight of my sufferings, which he well knew proceeded from the sincerity of my love. At length I recovered the use of speech enough to tell him, that I was come to take my leave; and, when I would have proceeded, my voice failed me again. But, after a considerable pause, I found means, with great difficulty, to let him know how sensible I was of my own incapacity to retrieve his lost affections; but that I was willing, if possible, to retain his esteem, of which could I be assured, I would endeavour to compose myself; that I was determined to leave the kingdom, because I could not bear the sight of those places where we had been so happy in our mutual love; and that, till my departure, I hoped he would visit me sometimes, that I might, by degrees, wean myself from his company; for I should not be able to survive the shock of being deprived of him all at once.
“This address may seem very humble to an unconcerned observer; but love will tame the proudest disposition, as plainly appeared in my case; for I had naturally as much spirit, or more, than the generality of people have. Mr. S— was so much confounded at the manner of my behaviour, that he scarce knew what answer to make; for, as he afterwards owned, he expected to hear himself upbraided; but he was not proof against my tenderness. After some hesitation, he said, he never meant to forsake me entirely. that his affection was still unimpaired, and that he would follow me directly to London. I imposed upon myself, and believed what he said, because I could not bear to think of parting with him for ever, and returned to town in a more tranquil state of mind than that in which I had left my father, though my heart was far from being at ease; my fears being ingenious enough to foresee, that I should never be able to overcome his indifference.
“I took lodgings in Mount-street, and my maid having disposed of herself in marriage, hired another, who supplied her place very much to my satisfaction. She was a good girl, had a particular attachment to me, and for many years, during which she lived in my service, was indefatigably assiduous in contributing to my ease, or rather in alleviating my affliction. For, though S— came up to town according to promise, and renewed a sort of correspondence with me for the space of five months, his complaisance would extend no farther; and he gave me to understand, that he had determined to go abroad with Mr. V—; whom he accordingly accompanied in his envoying to D—.
“I understood the real cause of this expedition, which, notwithstanding his oaths and protestations of unabated love and regard, I construed into a palpable mark of dislike and disrespect; nor could the repeated assurances I received from him in letters mitigate the anguish and mortification that preyed upon my heart. I therefore gave up all hopes of recovering the happiness I had lost. I told him on the eve of his departure, that he might exercise his gallantry a great while, before he would meet with my fellow, in point of sincerity and love; for I would rather have been a servant in his house, with the privilege of seeing him, than the queen of England debarred of that pleasure.
“When he took his leave, and went down-stairs, I shrunk at every step he made, as if a new wound had been inflicted upon me and when I heard the door shut behind him, my heart died within me. I had the satisfaction to hear afterwards, he lamented the loss of me prodigiously, and that he had never been so happy since. I sat down to write a letter, in which I forgave his indifference, because I knew the affections are altogether involuntary, and wished him all the happiness he deserved. I then walked up and down the room in the most restless anxiety, was put to bed by my maid, rose at six, mounted my horse and rode forty miles, in order to fatigue myself that I might next night enjoy some repose. This exercise I daily underwent for months together; and, when it did not answer my purpose, I used to walk round Hyde-park in the evening, when the place was quite solitary and unvisited by any other human creature.
“In the course of this melancholy perambulation, I was one day accosted by a very great man, who, after the first salutation, asked whether or not my intercourse with S— was at an end, and if I had any allowance from my husband. To the first of these questions I replied in the affirmative; and to the last answered, that my lord did not allow me a great deal; indeed, I might have truly said nothing at all; but I was too proud to own my indigence. He then expressed his wonder, how one like me, who had been used to splendour and affluence from my cradle, could make shift to live in my present narrow circumstances; and, when I told him that I could make a very good shift, so I had peace, he seemed to lament my situation, and very kindly invited me to sup with his wife at his house. I accepted the invitation, without any apprehension of the consequence; and, when I went to the place, was introduced into an apartment magnificently lighted up, I suppose, for my reception.
“After I had stayed alone for some time in this mysterious situation, without seeing a living soul, my inviter appeared, and said, he hoped I would not take it amiss that he and I were to sup by ourselves, as he had something to say, which could not be so properly communicated before company or servants. I then, for the first time, perceived his drift, to my no small surprise and indignation; and, with evident marks of displeasure, told him, I was sure he had nothing to propose that would be agreeable to my inclination, and that I would immediately leave the house. Upon which he gave me to understand, that I could not possibly retire, because he had sent away my chair, and all his servants were disposed to obey his orders.
“Incensed at this declaration, which I considered as an insult, I answered, with an air of resolution, it was very well; I despised his contrivance, and was afraid of nothing. Seeing me thus alarmed, he assured me I had no reason to be afraid; that he had loved me long, and could find no other opportunity of declaring his passion. He said the Q— had told him that Lord — had renewed his addresses to me; and, as he understood from my own mouth, my correspondence with S— was absolutely broke off, he thought himself as well entitled as another to my regard. In conclusion, he told me that I might command his purse, and that he had power enough to bring me into the world again with eclat. To these advances I replied, that he was very much mistaken in his opinion of my character, if he imagined I was to be won by any temptations of fortune; and very frankly declared, that I would rather give myself to a footman, than sell myself to a prince.
“Supper being served, we sat down together; but I would neither eat nor drink anything, except a little bread and water; for I was an odd whimsical girl, and it came into my head, that he might perhaps have mixed something in the victuals or wine, which would alter my way of thinking. In short, finding himself baffled in all his endeavours, he permitted me about twelve o’clock to depart in peace, and gave up his suit as a desperate cause.
“This uncomfortable life did I lead for a whole twelvemonth, without feeling the least abatement of my melancholy. Finding myself worn to a skeleton, I resumed my former resolution of trying to profit by change of place, and actually went abroad, with no other attendant than my woman, and the utmost indifference for life. My intention was to have gone to the south of France, where I thought I could have subsisted on the little I had left, which amounted to five hundred pounds, until the issue of my law-suit, by which I hoped to obtain some provision from my lord; and, without all doubt, my expectation would have been answered, had I put this my plan in execution; but, being at Paris, from whence I proposed to set forward in a few days, I sent to M. K — who had been formerly intimate with my father, and shown me many civilities during my first residence in France.
“This gentleman favoured me with a visit, and, when I made him acquainted with my scheme, dissuaded me from it, as an uncomfortable determination. He advised me to stay at Paris, where, with good economy, I could live as cheap as in any other place, and enjoy the conversation and countenance of my friends, among which number he declared himself one of the most faithful. He assured me, that I should be always welcome to his table, and want for nothing. He promised to recommend me as a lodger to a friend of his, with whom I would live in a frugal and decent manner; and observed, that, as the woman was well known and esteemed by all the English company in Paris, it would be the most reputable step I could take, considering my youth and situation, to lodge with a creditable person, who could answer for my conduct. Thus persuaded, I very simply followed his advice; I say simply, because, notwithstanding his representations, I soon found my money melt away, without any prospect of a fresh supply. In lieu of this, however, I passed my time very agreeably in several English and some French families, where, in a little time, I became quite intimate, saw a great deal of company, and was treated with the utmost politeness and regard; yet, in the midst of these pleasures, many a melancholy sigh would rise at the remembrance of my beloved S — whom, for several years, I could not recollect without emotion; but time, company, amusements, and change of place, in a great measure dissipated these ideas, and enabled me to bear my fate with patience and resignation.
“On my last arrival at Paris, I was surrounded by a crowd of professed admirers, who sighed and flattered in the usual forms; but, besides that my heart was not in a condition to contract new engagements, I was prepossessed against them all, by supposing that they presumed upon the knowledge of my indiscretion with S—; and therefore rejected their addresses with detestation and disdain; for, as I have already observed, I was not to be won but by the appearance of esteem, and the most respectful carriage; and though, by a false step, I had, in my own opinion, forfeited my title to the one, I was resolved to discourage the advances of any man who seemed deficient in the other.
“In this manner my lovers were one by one repulsed, almost as soon as they presented themselves, and I preserved the independence of my heart, until I became acquainted with a certain peer, whom I often saw at the house of Mrs. P — an English lady then resident at Paris. This young nobleman professed himself deeply enamoured of me, in a style so different from that of my other admirers, that I heard his protestations without disgust; and, though my inclinations were still free, could not find in my heart to discountenance his addresses, which were preferred with the most engaging modesty, disinterestedness, and respect.
“By these never-failing arts, he gradually conquered my indifference, and gained the preference in my esteem from Lord C— and the prince of C — who were at that time his rivals. But what contributed more than any consideration to his success was his declaring openly, that he would marry me without hesitation, as soon as I could obtain a divorce from my present husband, which, in all probability, might have been easily procured; for, before I left England, Lord — had offered me five thousand pounds if I would consent to such a mutual release, that he might be at liberty to espouse one Miss W — of Kent, to whom he then made love upon honourable terms; but I was fool enough to refuse his proposal, by the advice of S—. And whether or not his lordship, finding it impracticable to wed his new mistress, began to make love upon another footing, I know not; but, certain it is, the mother forbade him the house, a circumstance which he took so heinously ill, that he appealed to the world in a public advertisement, beginning with “Whereas, for some time, I have passionately loved Miss W — and, upon my not complying with the mother’s proposals, they have turned me out of doors, this is to justify,” etc.
“This declaration, signed with his name, was actually printed in a number of detached advertisements, which he ordered to be distributed to the public; and afterwards, being convinced by some of his friends that he had done a very silly thing, he recalled them at half a guinea apiece. A copy of one of them was sent to me at Paris, and I believe my father has now one of the originals in his possession. After this wise vindication of his conduct, he made an attempt to carry off the lady from church by force of arms; but she was rescued by the neighbours, headed by her brother, who, being an attorney, had like to have made his lordship smart severely for this exploit.
“Meanwhile my new admirer had made some progress in my heart; and, my finances being exhausted, I was reduced to the alternative of returning to Lord — again, or accepting Earl B—‘s love. When my affairs were brought to an issue, I made no hesitation in my choice, putting myself under the protection of a man of honour whom I esteemed, rather than suffer every sort of mortification from a person who was the object of my abhorrence and contempt. From a mistaken pride, I chose to live in Lord B—‘s house, rather than be maintained at his expense in another place. We spent several months agreeably in balls and other diversions, visited Lord B — who lived at the distance of a few leagues from Paris, and stayed some days at his house, where the entertainment was, in all respects, delightful, elegant, and refined. Their habitation was the rendezvous of the best company in France; and Lady B— maintained the same superiority in her own sex, for which her lord is so justly distinguished among the men.
“About Christmas we set out for England, accompanied by a little North Briton, who lived with Lord B— as his companion, and did not at all approve of our correspondence; whether out of real friendship for his patron, or apprehension that in time I might supersede his own influence with my lord, I shall not pretend to determine. Be that as it will, the frost was so severe, that we were detained ten days at Calais before we could get out of the harbour; and, during that time, I reflected seriously on what my new lover proposed. As he was very young, and unacquainted with the world, I thought my story might have escaped him; and therefore determined to give him a faithful detail of the whole, that he might not have anything to reproach me with in the sequel; besides, I did not think it honest to engage him to do more for me than he might afterwards perhaps think I was worth. Accordingly, I communicated to him every particular of my life; and the narration, far from altering his sentiments, rather confirmed his good opinion, by exhibiting an undoubted proof of my frankness and sincerity. In short, he behaved with such generosity, as made an absolute conquest of my heart. But my love was of a different kind from that which had formerly reigned within my breast, being founded upon the warmest gratitude and esteem, exclusive of any other consideration, though his person was very agreeable, and his address engaging.
“When we arrived in England, I went directly to his country seat, about twelve miles from London, where he soon joined me, and we lived some time in perfect retirement. His relations being greatly alarmed with the apprehension that Lord — would bring an action against him, though he himself desired nothing more, and lived so easy under that expectation, that they soon laid aside their fears on his account.
“We were visited by Mr. H. B — a relation of my lord, and one Mr. R — of the Guards, who, with the little Scotchman and my lover, made an agreeable set, among whom I enjoyed hunting, and all manner of country diversions. As to Mr. H. B — if ever there was perfection in one man, it centred in him; or, at least, he, of all the men I ever knew, approached the nearest to that idea which I had conceived of a perfect character. He was both good and great, possessed an uncommon genius, and the best of hearts. Mr. R— was a very sociable man, had a good person, and cultivated understanding; and my lord was excessively good-humoured; so that, with such companions, no place could be dull or insipid. For my own part, I conducted the family; and, as I endeavoured to please and make everybody happy, I had the good fortune to succeed. Mr. B— told me, that before he saw me, he heard I was a fool; but finding, as he was pleased to say, that I had been egregiously misrepresented, he courted my friendship, and a correspondence commenced between us. Indeed, it was impossible for any person to know him, without entertaining the utmost esteem and veneration for his virtue.
“After I had lived some time in this agreeable retreat, my husband began to make a bustle. He sent a message, demanding me from Lord B—; then came in person, with his nightcap in his pocket, intending to have stayed all night, had he been asked, and attended by a relation, whom he assured that I was very fond of him, and detained by force from his arms. Finding himself disappointed in his expectations, he commenced a law-suit against Lord B — though not for a divorce, as we desired, but with a view to reclaim me as his lawful wife. His lawyers, however, attempted to prove criminal conversation, in hopes of extorting money from my lover. But their endeavours were altogether fruitless; for no servant of Lord B—‘s or mine could with justice say we were ever seen to trespass against modesty and decorum; so that the plaintiff was nonsuited. While this cause was depending, all my lover’s friends expressed fear and concern for the issue, while he himself behaved with the utmost resolution, and gave me such convincing proofs of a strong and steady affection, as augmented my gratitude, and riveted the ties of my love, which was unblemished, faithful, and sincere.
“Soon after this event, I was seized with a violent fit of illness, in which I was visited by my father, and attended by two physicians, one of whom despaired of my life, and took his leave accordingly; but Dr. S — who was the other, persisted in his attendance, and, in all human appearance, saved my life; a circumstance by which he acquired a great share of reputation. Yet, notwithstanding all his assistance, I was confined to my bed for ten weeks; during which Lord B—‘s grief was immoderate, his care and generosity unlimited. While I lay in this extremity, Mr. S — penetrated by my melancholy condition, which revived his tenderness, begged leave to be admitted to my presence; and Lord B— would have complied with his request, had I not been judged too weak to bear the shock of such an interview. My constitution, however, agreeably disappointed my fears; and the fever had no sooner left me, than I was removed to a hunting seat belonging to my lover, from whence, after I had recovered my strength, we went to B— castle, where we kept open house. And, while we remained at this place, Lord B— received a letter from Lord — dated in November, challenging him to single combat in May, upon the frontiers of France and Flanders. This defiance was sent in consequence of what had passed between them long before my indisposition, at a meeting in a certain tavern, where they quarrelled, and in the fray, my lover threw his antagonist under the table. I counselled him to take no notice of this rhodomontade, which I knew was void of all intention of performance; and he was wise enough to follow my advice, resolved, however, should the message be repeated, to take the challenger at his word.
“Having resided some time at this place, we returned to the other country house which he had left, where Lord B— addicted himself so much to hunting, and other male diversions, that I began to think he neglected me, and apprised him of my suspicion, assuring him, at the same time, that I would leave him as soon as my opinion should be confirmed. This declaration had no effect upon his behaviour, which became so remarkably cold, that even Mr. R — who lived with us, imagined that his affection was palpably diminished. When I went to town, I was usually attended by his cousin, or this gentleman, or both, but seldom favoured with his company; nay, when I repaired to Bath, for the re-establishment of my health, he permitted me to go alone; so that I was quite persuaded of his indifference; and yet I was mistaken in my opinion. But I had been spoiled by the behaviour of my first husband, and Mr. S — who never quitted me for the sake of any amusement, and often resisted the calls of the most urgent business, rather than part from me, though but for a few hours. I thought every man who loved me truly would act in the same manner; and, whether I am right or wrong in my conjectures, I leave wiser casuists to judge. Certain it is, such sacrifice and devotion is the most pleasing proof of an admirer’s passion; and, Voyez-moi plus souvent, et ne me donnez rien, is one of my favourite maxims. A man may give money, because he is profuse; he may be violently fond, because he is of a sanguine constitution. But, if he gives me his time, he gives me an unquestionable proof of my being in full possession of his heart.
“My appearance at Bath, without the company of Lord B — occasioned a general surprise, and encouraged the men to pester me with addresses, every new admirer endeavouring to advance his suit by demonstrating the unkind and disrespectful behaviour of his lordship. Indeed, this was the most effectual string they could touch. My pride and resentment were alarmed, I was weak enough to listen to one man, who had like to have insinuated himself into my inclinations. He was tall and large-boned, with white hair, inclining to what is called sandy, and had the reputation of being handsome, though I think he scarce deserved that epithet. He possessed a large fortune, loved mischief, and stuck at nothing for the accomplishment of his designs, one of his chief pleasures being that of setting any two lovers at variance. He employed his address upon me with great assiduity, and knew so well how to manage my resentment, that I was pleased with his manner, heard his vows without disgust, and, in a word, promised to deliberate with myself upon his proposals, and give him an account of my determination in writing.
“Thus resolved, I went to Lord B — in Wiltshire, whither I was followed by this pretender to my heart, who visited us on the footing of an acquaintance; but when I reflected on what I had done, I condemned my own conduct as indiscreet, though nothing decisive had passed between us, and began to hate him in proportion to the self-conviction I felt, perceiving that I had involved myself in a difficulty from which I should not be easily disengaged. For the present, however, I found means to postpone my declaration. He admitted my excuse, and I returned to London with Lord B — who was again summoned to the field by his former challenger.
“H— d — n, governor, counsellor, and steward to this little hero, came to Lord B— with a verbal message, importing that his lordship had changed his mind about going to Flanders, but expected to meet him, on such a day and hour, in the burying-ground near Red Lion-square. Lord B— accepted the challenge, and gave me an account of what had passed; but he had been anticipated by the messenger, who had already tried to alarm my fears from the consideration of the consequence, that I might take some measures to prevent their meeting. I perceived his drift, and told him plainly, that Lord — had no intention to risk his person, though he endeavoured with all his might to persuade me, that his principal was desperate and determined. I knew my little husband too well to think he would bring matters to any dangerous issue, and was apprehensive of nothing but foul play, from the villainy of H— d — n, with which I was equally well acquainted. Indeed, I signified my doubts on that score to Mr. B — who would have attended his kinsman to the field, had he not thought he might be liable to censure, if anything should happen to Lord B — because he himself was heir at law: for that reason he judiciously declined being personally concerned; and we pitched upon the earl of A — his lordship’s uncle, who willingly undertook the office.
“At the appointed time they went to the house of rendezvous, where they had not waited long when the challenger appeared, in a new pink satin waistcoat, which he had put on for the occasion, with his sword under his arm. and his steward by him, leaving, in a hackney-coach at some distance, a surgeon whom he had provided for the care of his person. Thus equipped he advanced to his antagonist, and desired him to choose his ground; upon which Lord B— told him, that if he must fall, it was not material which grave he should tumble over.
“Our little hero, finding him so jocose and determined, turned to Lord A — and desired to speak with him, that he might disburden his conscience before they should begin the work of death. They accordingly went aside; and he gave him to understand, that his motive for fighting, was Lord B—‘s detaining his wife from him by compulsion. The earl of A— assured him, he was egregiously mistaken in his conjecture; that his nephew used no force or undue influence to keep me in his house; but it could not be expected that he would turn me out of doors.
“This explanation was altogether satisfactory to Lord — who said he was far from being so unreasonable as to expect Lord B— would commit such a breach of hospitality; and all he desired was, that his wife should be left to her own inclinations. Upon these articles, peace was concluded, and they parted without bloodshed. At least these are the particulars of the story, as they were related by Lord A — with whom I laughed heartily at the adventure, for I never doubted that the challenger would find some expedient to prevent the duel, though I wondered how he mustered up resolution enough to carry it so far.
“That he might not, however, give us any more trouble, we resolved to go and enjoy ourselves in France. whither I went by myself, in hopes of being soon joined by my lover, who was obliged to stay some time longer in England, to settle his affairs. He was so much affected at our parting, though but for a few weeks, that he was almost distracted. And this affliction renewed my tenderness for him, because it was an undoubted proof of his love. I wrote to him every post from France; and, as I had no secrets, desired him to take care of all the letters that should come to his house, directed to me, after my departure from England.
“This was an unfortunate office for him, in the execution of which he chanced to open a letter from Sir T— A — with whom, as I have already observed, I had some correspondence at Bath. I had according to my promise, given this gentleman a decisive answer, importing that I was determined to remain in my present situation; but as Lord B— was ignorant of my sentiments in that particular, and perceived from the letter that something extraordinary had passed between us, and that I was earnestly solicited to leave him, he was seized with the utmost consternation and concern; and, having previously obtained the king’s leave to go abroad, set out that very night for France, leaving his affairs in the greatest confusion.
“Sir T— A— hearing I was gone, without understanding the cause of my departure, took the same route, and both arrived at Dover next day. They heard of each other’s motions. Each bribed the master of a packet-boat to transport him with expedition; but that depending upon the wind, both reached Calais at the same time, though in different vessels. Sir T— sent his valet-de-chambre post, with a letter, entreating me to accompany him into Italy, where he would make me mistress of his whole fortune, and to set out directly for that country, that he might not lose me by the arrival of Lord B — promising to join me on the road, if I would consent to make him happy. I sent his messenger back with an answer, wherein I expressed surprise at his proposals, after having signified my resolution to him before I left England. He was scarce dismissed, when I received another letter from Lord B — beseeching me to meet him at Clermont, upon the road from Calais; and conjuring me to avoid the sight of his rival, should he get the start of him in travelling. This, however, was not likely to be the case, as Lord B— rode post, and the other was, by his corpulence, obliged to travel in a chaise; yet, that I might not increase his anxiety, I left Paris immediately on the receipt of his message, and met him at the appointed place, where he received me with all the agitation of joy and fear, and asked if I had ever encouraged Sir T— A— in his addresses. I very candidly told him the whole transaction, at which he was incensed; but his indignation was soon appeased, when I professed my penitence, and assured him that I had totally rejected his rival. Not that I approved of my behaviour to Sir T — who, I own, was ill-used in this affair; but surely it was more excusable to halt here, than proceed farther in my indiscretion.
“My lover being satisfied with my declaration, we went together to Paris, being attended by the Scotchman, whom I have already mentioned, though I believe he was not over and above well pleased to see matters thus amicably compromised. The furious knight followed us to the capital; insisted on seeing me in person; told this North Briton, that I was actually engaged to him; wrote every hour, and railed at my perfidious conduct. I took no notice of these delirious transports, which were also disregarded by Lord B — till, one night, he was exasperated by the insinuations of Mr. C — who, I believe, inflamed his jealousy, by hinting a suspicion that I was really in love with his rival. What passed betwixt them I know not, but he sent for me from the opera, by a physician of Paris, who was a sort of go-between among us all, and who told me, that, if I did not come home in the instant, a duel would be fought on my account.
“I was very much shocked at this information; but, by being used to alarms from the behaviour of Lord — I had acquired a pretty good share of resolution, and with great composure entered the room where Lord B— was, with his companion, whom I immediately ordered to withdraw. I then gave his lordship to understand, that I was informed of what had passed, and thought myself so much injured by the person who had just quitted the apartment, that I would no longer live under the same roof with him. Lord B— raved like a bedlamite, taxing me with want of candour and affection; but I easily justified my own integrity, and gave him such assurances of my love, that his jealousy subsided, and his spirits were recomposed. Nevertheless, I insisted upon his dismissing Mr. C — on pain of my leaving the house, as I could not help thinking he had used his endeavours to prejudice me in the opinion of my lord. If his conduct was the result of friendship for his patron, he certainly acted the part of an honest and trusty adherent. But I could not easily forgive him, because, a few weeks before, he had, by my interest, obtained a considerable addition to his allowance; and even after the steps he had taken to disoblige me, I was not so much his enemy but that I prevailed upon Lord B— to double his salary, that his leaving the family might be no detriment to his fortune. His lordship having complied with my demand, this gentleman, after having stayed three days in the house, to prepare for his departure, during which I would not suffer him to be admitted into my presence, made his retreat with a fine young girl, who was my companion; and I have never seen him since that time.
“Sir T— still continued furious, and would not take a denial, except from my own mouth, upon which, with the approbation of Lord B — I indulged him with an interview. He entered the apartment with a stern countenance, and told me I had used him ill. I pleaded guilty to the charge, and begged his pardon accordingly. I attempted to reason the case with him, but he would hear no arguments except his own, and even tried to intimidate me with threats; which provoked me to such a degree, that I defied his vengeance. I told him, that I feared nothing but the report of my own conscience; that, though I had acted a simple part, he durst not say there was anything criminal in my conduct, and that, from his present frantic and unjust behaviour, I thought myself happy in having escaped him. He swore I was the most inflexible of all creatures; asked if nothing would move me; and when I answered, “Nothing,” took his leave, and never after persecuted me with his addresses; though I have heard he was vain and false enough to boast of favours, which, upon my honour, he never received, as he himself, at one time, owned to Dr. Cantwell, at Paris.
“While he underwent all this frenzy and distraction upon my account, he was loved with the same violence of passion by a certain Scotch lady of quality, who, when he followed me to France, pursued him thither with the same eagerness and expedition. Far from being jealous of me as a rival, she used to come to my house, implore my good offices with the object of her love, and, laying herself on the floor at full length before the fire, weep and cry like a person bereft of her senses. She bitterly complained that he had never obliged her but once; and begged, with the most earnest supplications, that I would give her an opportunity of seeing him at my house. But I thought proper to avoid her company, as soon as I perceived her intention.
“We continued at Paris for some time, during which I contracted an acquaintance with the sister of Madame de la T—. She was the supposed mistress of the prince of C — endowed with a great share of understanding, and loved pleasure to excess, though she maintained her reputation on a respectable footing, by living with her husband and mother. This lady, perceiving that I had inspired her lover with a passion, which gave me uneasiness on her account, actually practised all her eloquence and art in persuading me to listen to his love; for it was a maxim with her to please him at any rate. I was shocked at her indelicate complaisance, and rejected the proposal as repugnant to my present engagement, which I held as sacred as any nuptial tie, and much more binding than a forced or unnatural marriage.
“Upon our return to England, we lived in great harmony and peace, and nothing was wanting to my happiness, but the one thing to me the most needful; I mean the enchanting tenderness and delightful enthusiasm of love. Lord B—‘s heart, I believe, felt the soft impressions; and, for my own part, I loved him with the most faithful affection. It is not enough to say I wished him well; I had the most delicate, the most genuine esteem for his virtue; I had an intimate regard and anxiety for his interest; and felt for him as if he had been my own son. But still there was a vacancy in my heart; there was not that fervour, that transport, that ecstasy of passion which I had formerly known; my bosom was not filled with the little deity; I could not help recalling to my remembrance the fond, the ravishing moments I had passed with S—. Had I understood the conditions of life, those pleasures were happily exchanged for my present situation, because, if I was now deprived of those rapturous enjoyments, I was also exempted from the cares and anxiety that attended them; but I was generally extravagant in my notions of happiness, and therefore construed my present tranquility into an insipid languor and stagnation of life.
“While I remained in this inactivity of sentiment, Lord — having received a very considerable addition to his fortune, sent a message to me, promising, that if I would leave Lord B — he would make me a present of a house and furniture, where I should live at my case, without being exposed to his visits, except when I should be disposed to receive them. This proposal he made in consequence of what I had always declared, namely, that if he had not reduced me to the necessity of putting myself under the protection of some person or other, by depriving me of any other means of subsistence, I should never have given the world the least cause to scandalize my reputation; and that I would withdraw myself from my present dependence, as soon as he should enable me to live by myself. I was therefore resolved to be as good as my word, and accepted his offer, on condition that I should be wholly at my own disposal, and that he should never enter my door but as a visitant or common friend.
“These articles being ratified by his word and honour, the value of which I did not then know, a house was furnished according to my directions; and I signified my intention to Lord B — who consented to my removal, with this proviso, that I should continue to see him. I wrote also to his relation, Mr. B — who, in his answer, observed, that it was too late to advise, when I was actually determined. All my friends and acquaintance approved of the scheme, though it was one of the most unjustifiable steps I had ever taken, being a real act of ingratitude to my benefactor; which I soon did, and always shall regret and condemn. So little is the world qualified to judge of private affairs!
“When the time of our parting drew near, Lord B— became gloomy and discontented, and even entreated me to postpone my resolution; but I told him, that now everything was prepared for my reception, I could not retract without incurring the imputation of folly and extravagance. On the very day of my departure, Mr. B— endeavoured, with all the arguments he could suggest, to dissuade me from my purpose; and I made use of the same answer which had satisfied his friend. Finding me determined on removing, he burst out into a flood of tears, exclaiming, “By God! if Lord B— can bear it, I can’t.” I was thunderstruck at this expression; for though I had been told that Mr. B— was in love with me, I gave no credit to the report, because he had never declared his passion, and this was the first hint of it that ever escaped him in my hearing. I was therefore so much amazed at the circumstance of this abrupt explanation, that I could make no answer; but having taken my leave, went away, ruminating on the unexpected declaration.
“Lord B — as I was informed, spoke not a word that whole night, and took my leaving him so much to heart, that two years elapsed before he got the better of his grief. This intelligence I afterwards received from his own mouth, and asked his forgiveness for my unkind retreat, though I shall never be able to obtain my own. As for Mr. B — he was overwhelmed with sorrow, and made such efforts to suppress his concern, as had well nigh cost him his life. Dr. S— was called to him in the middle of the night, and found him almost suffocated. He soon guessed the cause, when he understood that I had left the house. So that I myself was the only person concerned, who was utterly ignorant of his affection; for I solemnly declare he never gave me the least reason to suspect it while I lived with his relation, because he had too much honour to entertain a thought of supplanting his friend, and too good an opinion of me to believe he should have succeeded in the attempt. Though my love for Lord B— was not so tender and interesting as the passion I had felt for S — my fidelity was inviolable, and I never harboured the most distant thought of any other person, till after I had resolved to leave him, when, I own, I afforded some small encouragement to the addresses of a new admirer by telling him, that I should, in a little time, be my own mistress, though I was not now at my own disposal.
“I enjoyed my new house as a little paradise. It was accommodated with all sorts of conveniences; everything was new, and therefore pleasing, and the whole absolutely at my command. I had the company of a relation, a very good woman, with whom I lived in the most amicable manner; was visited by the best people in town — I mean those of the male sex, the ladies having long ago forsaken me; I frequented all reputable places of public entertainment, and had a concert at home once a week; so that my days rolled on in happiness and quiet, till all my sweets were embittered by the vexatious behaviour of my husband, who began to importune me again to live with him; and by the increasing anxiety of Lord B — who, though I still admitted his visits, plainly perceived that I wanted to relinquish his correspondence. This discovery raised such tempests of jealousy and despair within his breast, that he kept me in continual alarm. He sent messages to me every hour, signed his letters with his own blood, raved like a man in ecstasy of madness, railed at my ingratitude, and praised my conduct by turns. He offered to sacrifice everything for my love, to leave the kingdom forthwith, and live with me for ever in any part of the world where I should choose to reside.
“These were generous and tempting proposals; but I was beset with counsellors who were not totally disinterested, and who dissuaded me from embracing the proffers of my lover, on pretence that Lord — would be highly injured by my compliance. I listened to their advice, and hardened my heart against Lord B—‘s sorrow and solicitations. My behaviour on this occasion is altogether unaccountable; this was the only time that ever I was a slave to admonition. The condition of Lord B— would have melted any heart but mine, and yet mine was one of the most sensible. He employed his cousin as an advocate with me, till that gentleman actually refused the office, telling him candidly, that his own inclinations were too much engaged to permit him to perform the task with fidelity and truth. He accordingly resolved to avoid my presence, until my lord and I should come to some final determination, which was greatly retarded by the perseverance of his lordship, who would not resign his hopes, even when I pretended that another man had engaged my heart, but said, that in time my affection might return.
“Our correspondence, however, gradually wore off; upon which Mr. B— renewed his visits, and many agreeable and happy hours we passed together. Not that he, or any other person whom I now saw, succeeded to the privilege of a fortunate lover; I knew he loved me to madness; but I would not gratify his passion any other way than by the most profound esteem and veneration for his virtues, which were altogether amiable and sublime; and I would here draw his character minutely, but it would take up too much time to set forth his merit; the only, man living of my acquaintance who resembles him, is Lord F — of whom I shall speak in the sequel.
“About this time I underwent a very interesting change in the situation of my heart. I had sent a message to my old lover S — desiring he would allow my picture, which was in his possession, to be copied; and he now transmitted it to me by my lawyer, whom he directed to ask, if I intended to be at the next masquerade. This curiosity had a strange effect upon my spirits; my heart fluttered at the question, and my imagination glowed with a thousand fond presages. I answered in the affirmative; and we met by accident at the ball. I could nut behold him without emotion: when he accosted me, his well-known voice made my heart vibrate, like a musical chord, when its unison is struck. All the ideas of our past love, which the lapse of time and absence had enfeebled and lulled to sleep, now awoke, and were reinspired by his appearance; so that his artful excuses were easily admitted: I forgave him all that I had suffered on his account, because he was the natural lord of my affection; and our former correspondence was renewed.
“I thought myself in a new world of bliss in consequence of this reconciliation, the rapture of which continued unimpaired for the space of four months, during which time he was fonder of me, if possible, than before; repeated his promise of marriage, if we should ever have it in our power; assured me he had never been happy since he left me: that he believed no woman loved like me. And indeed, to have a notion of my passion for that man, you must first have loved as I did. But, through a strange caprice, I broke off the correspondence, out of apprehension that he would forsake me again. From his past conduct I dreaded what might happen; and the remembrance of what I had undergone by his inconstancy, filled my imagination with such horror, that I could not endure the shocking prospect, and prematurely plunged myself into the danger, rather than endure the terrors of expectation. I remembered that his former attachment began in the season of my prosperity, when my fortune was in the zenith, and my youth in its prime; and that he had forsaken me in the day of trouble when my life became embarrassed, and my circumstances were on the decline. I foresaw nothing but continual persecution from my husband, and feared, that, once the keener transports of our reconciliation should be over, his affection would sink under the severity of its trial. In consequence of this desertion, I received a letter from him, acknowledging that he was rightly served, but that my retreat gave him inexpressible concern.
“Meanwhile Lord — continued to act in the character of a fiend, tormenting me with his nauseous importunities. He prevailed upon the duke of L— to employ his influence in persuading me to live with him; assuring his grace, that I had actually promised to give him that proof of my obedience, and that I would come home the sooner for being pressed to compliance by a person of his rank and character. Induced by these representations, the duke honoured me with a visit; and, in the course of his exhortations, I understood how he had been thus misinformed. Upon which I sent for Lord — and, in his presence, convicted him of the falsehood, by communicating to his grace the articles of our last agreement, which he did not think proper to deny; and the duke, being undeceived, declared, that he would not have given me the trouble of vindicating myself, had he not been misled by the insincerity of my lord.
“Baffled in this attempt, he engaged Mr. H— V — and afterwards my own father, in the same task; and though I still adhered to my first resolution, persisted with such obstinacy in his endeavours to make me unhappy, that I determined to leave the kingdom. Accordingly, after I had spent the evening with him at Ranelagh, I went away about two o’clock in the morning, leaving my companion, with directions to restore to my lord his house, furniture, plate, and everything he had given me since our last accommodation; so far was I, upon this occasion, or at any other time of my life, from embezzling any part of his fortune. My friend followed my instructions most punctually: and his lordship knows and will acknowledge the truth of this assertion.
“Thus have I explained the true cause of my first expedition to Flanders, whither the world was good-natured enough to say, I followed Mr. B— and the whole army, which happened to be sent abroad that summer. Before my departure, I likewise transmitted to Lord B— the dressing plate, china, and a very considerable settlement, of which he had been generous enough to make me a present. This was an instance of my integrity, which I thought due to a man who had laid me under great obligations; and though I lived to be refused a small sum both by him and S — I do not repent of my disinterested behaviour; all the revenge I harbour against the last of these lovers, is the desire of having it in my power to do him good.
“I now found myself adrift in the world again, and very richly deserved the hardships of my condition, for my indiscretion in leaving Lord B — and in trusting to the word of Lord — without some further security; but I have dearly paid for my imprudence. The more I saw into the character of this man, whom destiny hath appointed my scourge, the more was I determined to avoid his fellowship and communication; for he and I are, in point of disposition, as opposite as any two principles in nature. In the first place, he is one of the most unsocial beings that ever existed; when I was pleased and happy, he was always out of temper; but if he could find means to overcast and cloud my mirth, though never so innocent, he then discovered signs of uncommon satisfaction and content, because, by this disagreeable temper, he banished all company from his house. He is extremely weak of understanding, though he possesses a good share of low cunning, which has so egregiously imposed upon some people, that they have actually believed him a good-natured easy creature, and blamed me because I did not manage him to better purpose; but, upon further acquaintance, they have always found him obstinate as a mule, and capricious as a monkey. Not that he is utterly void of all commendable qualities. He is punctual in paying his debts, liberal when in good humour, and would be well-bred, were he not subject to fits of absence, during which he is altogether unconversable; but he is proud, naturally suspicious, jealous, equally with and without cause, never made a friend, and is an utter stranger to the joys of intimacy; in short, he hangs like a damp upon society, and may be properly called Kill-joy, an epithet which he has justly acquired. He honoured me with constant professions of love; but his conduct is so opposite to my sentiments of that passion, as to have been the prime source of all my misfortunes and affliction; and I have often wished myself the object of his hate, in hopes of profiting by a change in his behaviour.
“Indeed, he has not been able to make me more unhappy than I believe he is in his own mind; for he is literally a self-tormentor, who never enjoyed one gleam of satisfaction except at the expense of another’s quiet; and yet with this, I had almost called it diabolical quality, he expects that I should cherish him with all the tenderness of affection. After he has been at pains to incur my aversion, he punishes my disgust, by contriving schemes to mortify and perplex me, which have often succeeded so effectually, as to endanger my life and constitution; for I have been fretted and frighted into sundry fits of illness, and then I own I have experienced his care and concern.
“Over and above the oddities I have mentioned, he is so unsteady in his economy, that he is always new-modelling his affairs, and exhausting his fortune, by laying out ten pounds, in order to save a shilling. He inquires into the character of a servant, after he has lived two years in his family, and is so ridiculously stocked with vanity and self-conceit, that, notwithstanding my assurance before, and the whole series of my conduct since our marriage, which ought to have convinced him of my dislike, he is still persuaded, that, at bottom, I must admire and be enamoured of his agreeable person and accomplishments, and that I would not fail to manifest my love, were I not spirited against him by his own relations. Perhaps it might be their interest to foment the misunderstanding betwixt us; but really they give themselves no trouble about our affairs; and, so far as I know them, are a very good sort of people. On the whole, I think I may with justice pronounce my precious yoke-fellow a trifling, teasing, insufferable, inconsistent creature.
“With the little money which remained of what I had received from his lordship for house-keeping, I transported myself to Flanders, and arrived in Ghent a few days after our troops were quartered in that city, which was so much crowded with these new visitants, that I should have found it impracticable to procure a lodging, had I not been accommodated by Lord B — the duke of A—‘s youngest brother, who very politely gave me up his own. Here I saw my friend Mr. B — who was overjoyed at my arrival, though jealous of every man of his acquaintance; for he loved me with all the ardour of passion, and I regarded him with all the perfection of friendship, which, had he lived, in time might have produced love; though that was a fruit which it never brought forth. Notwithstanding his earnest solicitations to the contrary, I stayed but a week in Ghent, from whence I proceeded to Brussels, and fixed my abode in the Hotel de Flandre, among an agreeable set of gentlemen and ladies, with whom I spent my time very cheerfully. There was a sort of court in this city, frequented by all the officers who could obtain permission to go thither; and the place in general was gay and agreeable. I was introduced to the best families, and very happy in my acquaintance; for the ladies were polite, good-tempered, and obliging, and treated me with the utmost hospitality and respect. Among others, I contracted a friendship with Madame la comtesse de C— and her two daughters, who were very amiable young ladies; and became intimate with the Princess C— and Countess W — lady of the bedchamber to the queen of Hungary, and a great favourite of the governor, Monsieur d’H — in whose house she lived with his wife, who was also a lady of a very engaging disposition.
“Soon after I had fixed my habitation in Brussels, the company at our hotel was increased by three officers, who professed themselves my admirers, and came from Ghent, with a view of soliciting my love. This triumvirate consisted of the Scotch earl of — Lord R-M — and another young officer. The first was a man of a very genteel figure and amorous complexion, danced well, and had a great deal of good-humour, with a mixture of vanity and self-conceit. The second had a good face, though a clumsy person, and a very sweet disposition, very much adapted for the sentimental passion of love. And the third, Mr. W— by name, was tall, thin, and well-bred, with a great stock of good-nature and vivacity. These adventurers began their addresses in general acts of gallantry, that comprehended several of my female friends, with whom we used to engage in parties of pleasure, both in the city and the environs, which are extremely agreeable. When they thought they had taken the preliminary steps of securing themselves in my good opinion and esteem, they agreed to go on without further delay, and that Lord — should make the first attack upon my heart
“He accordingly laid siege to me, with such warmth and assiduity, that I believe he deceived himself, and began to think he was actually in love; though, at bottom, he felt no impulse that deserved the sacred name. Though I discouraged him in the beginning, he persecuted me with his addresses; he always sat by me at dinner, and imparted a thousand trifles in continual whispers, which attracted the notice of the company so much, that I began to fear his behaviour would give rise to some report to my prejudice, and therefore avoided him with the utmost caution. Notwithstanding all my care, however, he found means one night, while my maid, who lay in my room, went downstairs, to get into my chamber after I was abed. Upon which, I started up, and told him, that, if he should approach me, I would alarm the house; for I never wanted courage and resolution. Perceiving my displeasure, he kneeled by the bedside, begged I would have pity on his sufferings, and swore I should have carte blanche to the utmost extent of his fortune. To these proposals I made no other reply, but that of protesting I would never speak to him again, if he did not quit my apartment that moment; upon which he thought proper to withdraw; and I never afterwards gave him an opportunity of speaking to me on the same subject. So that, in a few weeks, he separated himself from our society; though the ladies of Brussels considered him as my lover, because, of all the other officers, he was their greatest favourite.
“His lordship being thus repulsed, Mr. W— took the field, and assailed my heart in a very different manner. He said he knew not how to make love, but was a man of honour, and would keep the secret, and so forth. To this cavalier address I answered, that I was not angry as I otherwise should have been, at his blunt declaration, because I found by his own confession, he did not know what was due to the sex; and my unhappy situation in some shape excused him for a liberty which he would not have dreamed of taking, had not my misfortunes encouraged his presumption. But I would deal with him in his own way; and, far from assuming the prude, frankly assured him, that he was not at all to my taste, hoping he would consider my dislike as a sufficient reason to reject his love.
“Lord R— began to feel the symptoms of a genuine passion, which he carefully cherished in silence, being naturally diffident and bashful; but, by the very means he used to conceal it from my observation, I plainly discerned the situation of his heart, and was not at all displeased at the progress I had made in his inclinations. Meanwhile he cultivated my acquaintance with great assiduity and respect, attended me in all my excursions, and particularly in an expedition to Antwerp, with two other gentlemen, where, in downright gaiete de coeur, we sat for our pictures, which were drawn in one piece, one of the party being represented in the dress of a hussar, and another in that of a running footman. This incident I mention, because the performance, which is now in my possession, gave birth to a thousand groundless reports circulated in England at our expense.
“It was immediately after this jaunt that Lord R— began to disclose his passion; though he, at the same time, started such objections as seemed to extinguish his hopes, lamenting that, even if he should have the happiness to engage my affections, his fortune was too inconsiderable to support us against the efforts of Lord — should he attempt to interrupt our felicity, and that he himself was obliged to follow the motions of the army. In short, he seemed to consider my felicity more than his own, and behaved with such delicacy, as gradually made an impression on my heart. so that, when we parted, we agreed to renew our correspondence in England.
“In the midst of these agreeable amusements, which I enjoyed in almost all the different towns of Flanders, I happened to be at Ghent one day, sitting among a good deal of company, in one of their hotels, when a post-chaise stopped at the gate; upon which we went to the windows to satisfy our curiosity, when who should step out of the convenience, but my little insignificant lord! I no sooner announced him to the company, than all the gentlemen asked whether they should stay and protect me, or withdraw; and when I assured them that their protection was not necessary, one and all of them retired; though Lord R— M— went no farther than the parlour below, being determined to screen me against all violence and compulsion. I sent a message to my lord, desiring him to walk up into my apartment; but although his sole errand was to see and carry me off, he would not venture to accept of my invitation, till he had demanded me in form from the governor of the place. That gentleman, being altogether a stranger to his person and character, referred him to the commanding officer of the English troops, who was a man of honour, and, upon his lordship’s application, pretended to doubt his identity; observing, that he had always heard Lord — represented as a jolly, corpulent man. He gave him to understand, however, that even granting him to be the person, I was by no means subject to military law, unless he could prove that I had ever listed in his Majesty’s service.
“Thus disappointed in his endeavours, he returned to the inn, and, with much persuasion, trusted himself in my dining-room, after having stationed his attendants at the door, in case of accidents. When I asked what had procured me the honour of this visit, he told me, his business and intention were to carry me home. This declaration produced a conference, in which I argued the case with him; and matters were accommodated for the present, by my promising to be in England some time in September, on condition that he would permit me to live by myself, as before, and immediately order the arrears of my pin-money to be paid. He assented to everything I proposed, returned in peace to his own country, and the deficiencies of my allowance were made good; while I returned to Brussels, where I stayed until my departure for England, which I regulated in such a manner as was consistent with my engagement.
“I took lodgings in Pall-mall, and, sending for my lord, convinced him of my punctuality, and put him in mind of his promise, when, to my utter astonishment and confusion, he owned, that his promise was no more than a decoy to bring me over, and that I must lay my account with living in his house like a dutiful and obedient wife. I heard him with the indignation such treatment deserved, upbraiding him with his perfidious dealing, which I told him would have determined me against cohabitation with him had I not been already resolved; and, being destitute of all resource, repaired to Bath, where I afterwards met with Mr. D— and Mr. R — two gentlemen who had been my fellow-passengers in the yacht from Flanders, and treated me with great friendship and politeness, without either talking or thinking of love.
“With these gentlemen, who were as idle as myself, I went to the jubilee at Preston, which was no other than a great number of people assembled in a small town, extremely ill-accommodated, to partake of diversions that were bad imitations of plays, concerts, and masquerades. If the world should place to the account of my indiscretion my travelling in this manner with gentlemen to whom I had no particular attachment, let it also be considered, as an alleviation, that I always lived in terror of my lord, and consequently was often obliged to shift my quarters; so that, my finances being extremely slender, I stood the more in need of assistance and protection. I was, besides, young, inconsiderate, and so simple, as to suppose the figure of an ugly man would always secure me from censure on his account; neither did I ever dream of any man’s addresses, until he made an actual declaration of his love.
“Upon my return to Bath, I was again harassed by Lord — who came thither accompanied by my father, whom I was very glad to see, though he importuned me to comply with my husband’s desire, and for the future keep measures with the world. This remonstrance about living with my lord, which he constantly repeated, was the only instance of his unkindness which I ever felt. But all his admonitions were not of force sufficient to shake my resolution in that particular; though the debate continued so late, that I told his lordship, it was high time to retire, for I could not accommodate him with a bed. He then gave me to understand, that he would stay where he was; upon which my father took his leave, on pretence of looking out for a lodging for himself. The little gentleman being now left with me, began to discover some signs of apprehension in his looks; but, mustering up all his resolution, he went to the door, called up three of his servants, whom he placed as sentinels upon the stairs, and flounced into my elbow-chair, where he resigned himself to rest. Intending to go to bed, I thought it was but just and decent that I should screen myself from the intrusion of his footmen, and with that view bolted the door. Lord — hearing himself locked in, started up in the utmost terror and consternation, kicked the door with his heel, and screamed aloud, as if he had been in the hands of an assassin. My father, who had not yet quitted the house, hearing these outcries, ran upstairs again, and, coming through my bedchamber into the dining-room where we were, found me almost suffocated with laughter, and his heroic son-in-law staring like one who had lost his wits, with his hair standing on end.
“When my father asked the meaning of his exclamations, he told him, with all the symptoms of dismay, that I had locked him in, and he did not understand such usage. But I explained the whole mystery, by saying, I had bolted the door because I did not like the company of his servants, and could not imagine the cause of his panic, unless he thought I designed to ravish him; an insult than which nothing was farther from my intention. My father himself could scarce refrain from laughing at his ridiculous fear; but, seeing him in great confusion, took pity on his condition, and carried him off to his own lodgings, after I had given my word that I would not attempt to escape, but give him audience next morning. I accordingly kept my promise, and found means to persuade them to leave me at my own discretion. Next day I was rallied upon the stratagem I had contrived to frighten Lord —; and a thousand idle stories were told about this adventure, which happened literally as I have related it.
“From Bath I betook myself to a small house near Lincoln, which I had hired of the d — of A — because a country life suited best with my income, which was no more than four hundred pounds a year, and that not well paid. I continued some months in this retirement, and saw no company, except Lord R— M — who lived in the neighbourhood, and visited me twice; till, finding myself indisposed, I was obliged to remove to London, and took lodgings in Maddox-street, where my garrison was taken by storm by my Lord — and his steward, reinforced by Mr. L— V— (who, as my lord told me, had a subsidy of five-and-twenty pounds before he would take the field) and a couple of hardy footmen. This formidable band rushed into my apartment, laid violent hands upon me, dragged me down-stairs without gloves or a cloak, and, thrusting me into a coach that stood at the door, conveyed me to my lord’s lodgings in Gloucester-street. Upon this occasion, his lordship courageously drew his sword upon my woman, who attempted to defend me from his insults, and, in all probability, would have intimidated him from proceeding; for he looked pale and aghast, his knees knocked together, and he breathed thick and hard, with his nostrils dilated, as if he had seen a ghost; but he was encouraged by his mercenary associate, who, for the five-and-twenty pounds, stood by him in the day of trouble, and spirited him on to this gallant enterprise.
“In consequence of this exploit, I was cooped up in a paltry apartment in Gloucester-street, where I was close beset by his lordship and his worthy steward Mr. H — with a set of servants that were the creatures of this fellow, of whom my lord himself stood in awe, so that I could not help thinking myself in Newgate, among thieves and ruffians. To such a degree did my terror avail, that I actually believed I was in danger of being poisoned, and would not receive any sustenance, except from the hands of one harmless-looking fellow, a foreigner, who, was my lord’s valet-de-chambre. I will not pretend to say my fears were just; but such was my opinion of H — that I never doubted he would put me out of the way, if he thought my life interfered with his interest. On the second day of my imprisonment, I was visited by the duke of L — a friend of my lord, who found me sitting upon a trunk, in a poor little diningroom filled with lumber, and lighted with two bits of tallow candle, which had been left overnight. He perceived in my face a mixture of rage, indignation, terror, and despair. He compassionated my sufferings, though he could not alleviate my distress any other way than by interceding with my tyrant to mitigate my oppression. Nevertheless, I remained eleven days in this uncomfortable situation: I was watched like a criminal all day, and one of the servants walked from one room to another all night, in the nature of a patrol; while my lord, who lay in the chamber above me, got out of bed and tripped to the window at the sound of every coach that chanced to pass through the street. H — who was consummate in the arts of a sycophant, began to court my favour, by condoling my affliction, and assuring me, that the only method by which I could regain my liberty was a cheerful compliance with the humour of my lord. I was fully convinced of the truth of this observation; and, though my temper is altogether averse to dissimulation, attempted to affect an air of serenity and resignation. But this disguise, I found, would not answer my purpose; and therefore I had recourse to the assistance of my maid, who was permitted to attend me in my confinement. With her I frequently consulted about the means of accomplishing my escape. In consequence of our deliberations, she directed a coach and six to be ready at a certain part of the town, and to wait for me three days in the same place, in case I could not come before the expiration of that term.
“This previous measure being taken according to my instructions, the next necessary step was to elude the vigilance of my guard: and in this manner did I effectuate my purpose. Being by this time indulged in the liberty of going out in the coach for the benefit of the air, attended by two footmen, who had orders to watch all my motions, I made use of this privilege one forenoon, when Lord — expected some company to dinner, and bade the coachman drive to the lodgings of a man who wrote with his mouth, intending to give my spies the slip, on pretence of seeing this curiosity; but they were too alert in their duty to be thus outwitted, and followed me up-stairs into the very apartment.
“Disappointed in this hope, I resolved another scheme, which was attended with success. I bought some olives at an oil-shop; and, telling the servants I would proceed to St. James’s-gate, and take a turn in the park, broke one of the bottles by the way, complained of the misfortune when I was set down, and desired my coach might be cleaned before my return. While my attendants were employed in this office, I tripped across the Parade to the Horse Guards, and chanced to meet with an acquaintance in the park, who said, he saw by my countenance that I was upon some expedition. I owned his suspicion was just, but, as I had not time to relate particulars, I quickened my pace, and took possession of a hackney-coach, in which I proceeded to the vehicle I had appointed to be in waiting.
“While I thus compassed my escape, there was nothing but perplexity and confusion at home; dinner was delayed till six o’clock; my lord ran half the town over in quest of his equipage, which at last returned, with an account of my elopement. My maid was brought to the question, and grievously threatened; but, like all the women I ever had, remained unshaken in her fidelity. In the meantime, I travelled night and day towards my retreat in Lincolnshire, of which his lordship had not, as yet, got the least intelligence; and as my coachman was but an inexperienced driver, I was obliged to make use of my own skill in that exercise, and direct his endeavours the whole way, without venturing to go to bed, or take the least repose, until I reached my own habitation. There I lived in peace and tranquility for the space of six weeks, when I was alarmed by one of my lord’s myrmidons, who came into the neighbourhood, blustering and swearing that he would carry me off either dead or alive.
“It is not to be supposed that I was perfectly easy when I was made acquainted with his purpose and declaration, as my whole family consisted of no more than a couple of women and one footman. However, I summoned up my courage, which had been often tried, and never forsook me in the day of danger; and sent him word, that, if ever he should presume to approach my house, I would order him to be shot without ceremony. The fellow did not choose to put me to the trial, and returned to town without his errand: but as the place of my abode was now discovered, I laid my account with having a visit from his employer; I therefore planted spies upon the road, with a promise of reward to him who should bring me the first intelligence of his lordship’s approach.
“Accordingly, I was one morning apprised of his coming, and, mounting horse immediately, with my woman and valet, away we rode, in defiance of winter. In two days I traversed the wilds of Lincolnshire and hundreds of Essex, crossed the river at Tilbury, breakfasted at Chatham, by the help of a guide and moonlight arrived at Dover the same evening, embarked for Calais, in which place I found myself next day at two o’clock in the afternoon; and being heartily tired with my journey, betook myself to rest. My maid, who was not able to travel with such expedition, followed me at an easier pace; and the footman was so astonished at my perseverance, that he could not help asking me upon the road, if ever I was weary in my life. Certain it is, my spirits and resolution have enabled me to undergo fatigues that are almost incredible. From Calais I went to Brussels, where I again set up my rest in private lodgings; was again perfectly well received by the fashionable people of that place; and, by the interest of my friends, obtained the queen of Hungary’s protection against the persecution of my husband, while I should reside in the Austrian Netherlands. Thus secured, I lived uncensured, conversing with the English company, with which this city was crowded; but spent the most agreeable part of my time with the countess of Calemberg, in whose house I generally dined and supped. And I also contracted an intimacy with the princess of Chemay, who was a great favourite with Madame d’Harrach, the governor’s lady.
“I had not been long in this happy situation, when I was disturbed by the arrival of Lord — who demanded me of the governor; but finding me sheltered from his power, he set out for Vienna; and, in consequence of his representations, strengthened with the duke of N—‘s name, my protection was withdrawn. But, before this application, he had gone to the camp, and addressed himself to my Lord Stair, who was my particular friend and ally by my first marriage, desiring he would compel me to return to his house. His lordship told him, that I was in no shape subject to his command; but invited him to dinner, with a view of diverting himself and company at the expense of his guest. In the evening, he was plied with so many bumpers to my health, that he became intoxicated, and extremely obstreperous, insisted upon seeing Lord Stair after he was retired to rest, and quarrelled with Lord D — who being a tall, large, raw-boned Scotchman, could have swallowed him at one mouthful; but he thought he might venture to challenge him, in hopes of being put under arrest by the general. Though he reckoned without his host; Lord Stair knew his disposition, and, in order to punish his presumption, winked at the affair. The challenger, finding himself mistaken in his conjecture, got up early in the morning, and went off post for Vienna. And Lord Stair desired a certain man of quality to make me a visit, and give me an account of his behaviour.
“Being now deprived of my protection and pin-money, which my generous husband would no longer pay, I was reduced to great difficulty and distress. The duchess d’Aremberg, Lord G — and many other persons of distinction, interceded in my behalf with his Majesty, who was then abroad; but he refused to interpose between man and wife. The countess of Calemberg wrote a letter to my father, in which she represented my uncomfortable situation, and undertook to answer for my conduct, in case he would allow me a small annuity, on which I could live independent of Lord — who, by all accounts, was a wretch with whom I could never enjoy the least happiness or quiet, otherwise she would be the first to advise me to an accommodation. She gave him to understand, that her character was neither doubtful nor obscure; and that, if my conduct there had not been irreproachable, she should not have taken me under her protection. That, as I proposed to board in a convent, a small sum would answer my occasions; but, if that should be denied, I would actually go to service, or take some other desperate step, to avoid the man who was my bane and aversion.
“To this kind remonstrance my father answered that his fortune would not allow him to assist me; he had now a young family; and that I ought, at all events, to return to my husband. By this time, such was the extremity of my circumstances, that I was forced to pawn my clothes, and every trifling trinket in my possession, and even to descend so far as to solicit Mr. S— for a loan of fifty pounds, which he refused. Thus was I deserted in my distress by two persons, to whom, in the season of my affluence, my purse had been always open. Nothing so effectually subdues a spirit unused to supplicate, as want. Repulsed in this manner, I had recourse to Lord B — who was also, it seems, unable to relieve my necessities. This mortification I deserved at his hands, though he had once put it in my power to be above all such paltry applications; and I should not have been compelled to the disagreeable task of troubling my friends, had not I voluntarily resigned what he formerly gave me. As to the other gentleman to whom I addressed myself on this occasion, I think he might have shown more regard to my situation, not only for the reasons already mentioned, but because he knew me too well to be ignorant of what I must have suffered in condescending to make such a request.
“Several officers, who guessed my adversity, generously offered to supply me with money; but I could not bring myself to make use of their friendship, or even to own my distress, except to one person, of whom I borrowed a small sum. To crown my misfortunes, I was taken very ill, at a time when there was no other way of avoiding the clutches of my persecutor but by a precipitate flight. In this emergency, I applied to a worthy gentleman of Brussels, a very good friend of mine, but no lover. I say no lover, because every man is supposed to act in that capacity who befriends a young woman in distress. This generous Fleming set out with me in the night from Brussels, and conducted me to the frontier of France. Being very much indisposed both in mind and body when I was obliged to undertake this expedition, I should in all probability have sunk under the fatigue of travelling, had not my spirits been kept up by the conversation of my companion, who was a man of business and consequence, and undertook to manage my affairs in such a manner as would enable me to re-establish my residence in the place I had left. He was young and active, attended me with the utmost care and assiduity, and left nothing undone which he thought would contribute to my ease and satisfaction. I believe his friendship for me was a little tinctured with another passion; but he was married, and lived very well with his wife, who was also my friend; so that he knew I would never think of him in the light of a lover.
“Upon our arrival at Valenciennes, he accommodated me with a little money, for a little was all I would take, and returned to his own city, after we had settled a correspondence by letters. I was detained a day or two in this place by my indisposition, which increased; but, nevertheless, proceeded to Paris, to make interest for a protection from the king of France, which that monarch graciously accorded me, in three days after my first application, and his minister sent orders to all the governors and intendants of the province towns, to protect me against the efforts of Lord — in whatever place I should choose to reside.
“Having returned my thanks at Versailles for this favour, and tarried a few days at Paris, which was a place altogether unsuitable to the low ebb of my fortune, I repaired to Lisle, where I intended to fix my habitation; and there my disorder recurred with such violence, that I was obliged to send for a physician, who seemed to have been a disciple of Sangrado; for he scarce left a drop of blood in my body, and yet I found myself never a whit the better. Indeed, I was so much exhausted by these evacuations, and my constitution so much impaired by fatigue and perturbation of mind, that I had no other hope of recovering but that of reaching England, and putting myself under the direction of a physician on whose ability I could depend.
“With this doubtful prospect, therefore, I determined to attempt a return to my native air, and actually departed from Lisle, in such a melancholy, enfeebled condition, that I had almost fainted when I was put into the coach. But before I resolved upon this journey, I was reduced to the utmost exigence of fortune, so that I could scarce afford to buy provisions, had it been in my power to eat, and should not have been able to defray my travelling expenses, had I not been generously befriended by Lord R— H — who, I am sure, would have done anything for my case and accommodation, though he has unjustly incurred the imputation of being parsimonious, and I had no reason to expect any such favour at his hands.
“In this deplorable state of health I was conveyed to Calais, being all the way, as it were, in the arms of death, without having swallowed the least sustenance on the road. So much was my indisposition augmented by the fatigue of the journey, that I swooned when I was brought into the inn, and had almost expired before I could receive the least assistance or advice. However, my spirits were a little revived by some bread and wine, which I took at the persuasion of a French surgeon, who, chancing to pass by the door, was called up to my relief. Having sent my servant to Brussels, to take care of my clothes, I embarked in the packet-boat, and by the time we arrived at Dover was almost in extremity.
“Here I found a return coach, in which I was carried to London, and was put to bed at the house we put up at, more dead than alive. The people of the inn sent for an apothecary, who administered some cordial that recalled me to life; and, when I recovered the use of speech, I told him who I was, and desired him to wait upon Dr. S — and inform him of my situation. A young girl, who was niece to the landlord’s wife, seeing me unattended, made a tender of her service to me, and I accepted the offer, as well as of a lodging in the apothecary’s house, to which I was conveyed as soon as my strength would admit of my removal. There I was visited by my physician, who was shocked to find me in such a dangerous condition. However, having considered my case, he perceived that my indisposition proceeded from the calamities I had undergone, and encouraged me with the hope of a speedy cure, provided I could be kept easy and undisturbed. I was accordingly attended with all imaginable care; my lord’s name being never mentioned in my hearing, because I considered him as the fatal source of all my misfortunes; and in a month I recovered my health, by the great skill and tenderness of my doctor, who now finding me strong enough to encounter fresh troubles, endeavoured to persuade me, that it would be my wisest step to return to my husband, whom at that time he had often occasion to see. But I rejected his proposal, commencing a new lawsuit for separation, and took a small house in St. James’s-square.
“About this time my woman returned from Brussels, but without my clothes, which were detained on account of the money I owed in that place; and, asking her dismission from my service, set up shop for herself. I had not lived many weeks in my new habitation, when my persecutor renewed his attempts to make himself master of my person; but I had learned from experience to redouble my vigilance, and he was frustrated in all his endeavours. I was again happy in the conversation of my former acquaintance, and visited by a great number of gentlemen, mostly persons of probity and sense, who cultivated my friendship, without any other motive of attachment. Not that I was unsolicited on the article of love. That was a theme on which I never wanted orators; and could I have prevailed upon myself to profit by the advances that were made, I might have managed my opportunities so as to have set fortune at defiance for the future. But I was none of these economists who can sacrifice their hearts to interested considerations.
“One evening, while I was conversing with three or four of my friends, my lawyer came in, and told me he had something of consequence to impart; upon which all the gentlemen but one went away. Then he gave me to understand, that my suit would immediately come to trial; and, though he hoped the best, the issue was uncertain. That, if it should be given against me, the decision would inspire my lord with fresh spirits to disturb my peace, and, therefore, it would be convenient for me to retire, until the affair should be brought to a determination.
“I was very much disconcerted at this intelligence; and the gentleman who stayed, perceiving my concern, asked what I intended to do, or if he could serve me in any shape, and desired to know whither I proposed to retreat. I affected to laugh, and answered, “To a garret, I believe.” To this overstrained reasoning he replied, that if I should, his friendship and regard would find the way to my apartment; and I had no reason to doubt the sincerity of his declaration. We consulted about the measures I should take, and I determined to remove into the country, where I was soon favoured with a letter from him, wherein he expressed the infinite pleasure he had in being able to assure me that my suit had been successful, and that I might appear again with great safety.
“Accordingly, I returned to town in his coach and six, which he had sent for my convenience, and the same evening went with him to the masquerade, where we passed the night very agreeably, his spirits, as well as mine, being elevated to a joyous pitch by the happy event of my process. This gentleman was a person of great honour, worth, and good-nature; he loved me extremely, but did not care that I should know the extent of his passion. On the contrary, he endeavoured to persuade me, he had laid it down as a maxim, that no woman should ever have power enough over his heart to give him the least pain or disquiet. In short, he had made a progress in my affection, and to his generosity was I indebted for my subsistence two whole years; during which, he was continually professing this philosophic indifference, while, at the same time, he was giving me daily assurances of his friendship and esteem, and treated me with incessant marks of the most passionate love; so that I concluded his intention was cold, though his temper was warm. Considering myself as an encumbrance upon his fortune, I redoubled my endeavours to obtain a separate maintenance from my lord, and removed from St. James’s-square to lodgings at Kensington, where I had not long enjoyed myself in tranquility, before I was interrupted by a very unexpected visit.
“While I was busy one day dressing in my dining-room, I found his lordship at my elbow before I was aware of his approach, although his coach was at the door, and the house already in the possession of his servants. He accosted me in the usual style, as if we had parted the night before; and I answered him with an appearance of the same careless familiarity, desiring him to sit down, while I retreated to my chamber, locked the door, and fairly went to bed; being perhaps the first woman who went thither for protection from the insults of a man. Here, then. I immured myself with my faithful Abigail. My lord finding me secured, knocked at the door, and through the keyhole begged to be admitted, assuring me that all he wanted was a conference. I desired to be excused, though I believed his assurance; but I had no inclination to converse with him, because I knew from experience the nature of his conversation, which was so disagreeable and tormenting, that I would have exchanged it at any time for a good beating, and thought myself a gainer by the bargain. However, he persisted in his importunities to such a degree, that I assented to his proposal, on condition that the duke of L— should be present at the interview: and he immediately sent a message for his grace, while I, in peace, ate my breakfast, conveyed in a basket, which was hoisted up to the window of my bedchamber.
“The duke was so kind as to come at my lord’s request, and, before I would open the door, gave me his word, that I should be protected from all violence and compulsion. Thus assured, they were permitted to enter. My little gentleman, sitting down by my bedside, began to repeat the old hackneyed arguments he had formerly used, with a view of inducing me to live with him; and I, on my side, repeated my former objections, or pretended to listen to his representations, while my imagination was employed in contriving the means of effecting an escape, as the duke easily perceived by my countenance.
“Finding all his remonstrances ineffectual, he quitted the chamber, and left his cause to the eloquence of his grace, who sat with me a whole half-hour, without exerting himself much in behalf of his client, because he knew I was altogether obstinate and determined on that score; but joked upon the behaviour of his lordship, who, though jealous of most people, had left him alone with me in my bedchamber, observing, that he must neither have great confidence in his virtue, or a very bad opinion of him otherwise. In short, I found means to defer the categorical answer till next day, and invited the duke and his lordship to dine with me to-morrow. My wise yoke-fellow seemed to doubt the sincerity of this invitation, and was very much disposed to keep possession of my house. But, by the persuasion of his grace, and the advice of H — who was his chief counsellor and back, he was prevailed upon to take my word, and for the present left me.
“They were no sooner retired, than I rose with great expedition, packed up my clothes, and took shelter in Essex for the first time. Next day, my lord and his noble friend came to dinner, according to appointment; and being informed of my escape by my woman, whom I left in the house, his lordship discovered some signs of discontent, and insisted upon seeing my papers; upon which my maid produced a parcel of bills which I owed to different people. Notwithstanding this disappointment, he sat down to what was provided for dinner, and with great deliberation ate up a leg of lamb, the best part of a fowl, and something else, which I do not now remember; and then very peaceably went away, giving my maid an opportunity of following me to the place of my retreat.
“My intention was to have sought refuge, as formerly, in another country; but I was prevented from putting my design in execution by a fit of illness, during which I was visited by my physician and some of my own relations, particularly a distant cousin of mine, whom my lord had engaged in his interests, by promising to recompense her amply, if she could persuade me to comply with his desire. In this office she was assisted by the doctor, who was my friend, and a man of sense, for whom I have the most perfect esteem, though he and I have often differed in point of opinion. In a word, I was exposed to the incessant importunities of all my acquaintance, which, added to the desperate circumstances of my fortune, compelled me to embrace the terms that were offered, and I again returned to the domestic duties of a wife.
“I was conducted to my lord’s house by an old friend of mine, a gentleman turned of fifty, of admirable parts and understanding; he was a pleasing companion, cheerful and humane, and had acquired a great share of my esteem and respect. In a word, his advice had great weight in my deliberations, because it seemed to be the result of experience and disinterested friendship. Without all doubt, he had an unfeigned concern for my welfare; but, being an admirable politician, his scheme was to make my interest coincide with his own inclinations; for I had, unwittingly, made an innovation upon his heart; and as he thought I should hardly favour his passion while I was at liberty to converse with the rest of my admirers, he counselled me to surrender that freedom, well knowing that my lord would be easily persuaded to banish all his rivals from the house; in which case, he did not doubt of his being able to insinuate himself into my affections; because he laid it down as an eternal truth, that, if any two persons of different sexes were obliged to live together in a desert, where they would be excluded from all other human intercourse, they would naturally and inevitably contract an inclination for each other.
“How just this hypothesis might be, I leave to the determination of the curious; though, if I may be allowed to judge from my own disposition, a couple so situated would be apt to imbibe mutual disgusts from the nature and necessity of their union, unless their association was at first the effect of reciprocal affection and esteem. Be this as it will, I honour the gentleman for his plan, which was ingeniously contrived, and artfully conducted; but I happened to have too much address for him in the sequel, cunning as he was, though at first I did not perceive his drift; and his lordship was much less likely to comprehend his meaning.
“Immediately after this new accommodation, I was carried to a country house belonging to my lord, and was simple enough to venture myself, unattended by any servant on whose integrity I could depend, in the hands of his lordship, and H — whose villainy I always dreaded; though, at this time, my apprehensions were considerably increased by recollecting, that it was not his interest to let me live in the house, lest his conduct should be inquired into; and by remembering that the very house to which we were going had been twice burnt down in a very short space of time, not without suspicion of his having been the incendiary, on account of some box of writings which was lost in the conflagration. True it is, this imputation was never made good; and, perhaps, he was altogether innocent of the charge, which nevertheless affected my spirits in such a manner, as rendered me the most miserable of all mortals. In this terror did I remain, till my consternation was awakened by the arrival of Mr. B — a good-natured worthy man, whom my lord had invited to his house, and I thought would not see me ill-used. In a few weeks we were joined by Dr. S— and his lady, who visited us according to their promise; and it was resolved that we should set out for Tunbridge, on a party of pleasure, and at our return examine H—‘s accounts.
“This last part of our scheme was not at all relished by our worthy steward, who therefore determined to overturn our whole plan, and succeeded accordingly. My lord, all of a sudden, declared himself against the jaunt we had projected, and insisted upon my staying at home, without assigning any reason for this peremptory behaviour; his countenance being cloudy, and, for the space of three days, he did not open his mouth. At last, he one night entered my bedchamber, to which he now had free access, with his sword under his arm, and, if I remember aright, it was ready drawn. I could not help taking notice of this alarming circumstance, which shocked me the more, as it happened immediately after a gloomy fit of discontent. However, I seemed to overlook the incident, and, dismissing my maid, went to bed; because I was ashamed to acknowledge, even to my own heart, any dread of a person whom I despised so much. However, the strength of my constitution was not equal to the fortitude of my mind. I was taken ill, and the servants were obliged to be called up; while my lord himself, terrified at my situation, ran upstairs to Mrs. S — who was in bed, told her, with evident perturbation of spirits, that I was very much indisposed, and said, he believed I was frightened by his entering my chamber with his sword in hand.
“This lady was so startled at his information, that she ran into my apartment half naked, and as she went down-stairs, asked what reason could induce him to have carried his sword with him. Upon which he gave her to understand, that his intention was to kill the bats. I believe and hope he had no other design than that of intimidating me; but when the affair happened, I was of a different opinion. Mrs. S — having put on her clothes, sat up all night by my bedside, and was so good as to assure me that she would not leave me until I should be safely delivered from the apprehensions that surrounded me in this house, to which she and the doctor had been the principal cause of my coming; for my lord had haunted and importuned them incessantly on this subject, protesting that he loved me with the most inviolable affection; and all he desired was, that I would sit at his table, manage his family, and share his fortune. By these professions, uttered with an air of honesty and good-nature, he had imposed himself upon them for the best tempered creature upon earth; and they used all their influence with me to take him into favour. This has been the case with a great many people, who had but a superficial knowledge of his disposition; but, in the course of their acquaintance, they have never failed to discern and acknowledge their mistake.
“The doctor, on his return from Tunbridge, to which place he had made a trip by himself, found me ill abed, and the whole family in confusion. Surprised and concerned at this disorder, he entered into expostulation with my lord, who owned, that the cause of his displeasure and disquiet was no other than jealousy. He had informed him, that I had been seen to walk out with Mr. Bal — in a morning; and that our correspondence had been observed, with many additional circumstances, which were absolutely false and groundless. This imputation was no sooner understood, than it was resolved that the accuser should be examined in presence of us all. He accordingly appeared, exceedingly drunk, though it was morning, and repeated the articles of the charge, as an information he had received from a man who came from town to hang the bells, and was long ago returned to London.
“This was an instance of his cunning and address, which did not forsake him even in his hours of intoxication. Had he fixed the calumny on any one of the servants, he would have been confronted and detected in his falsehood. Nevertheless, though he could not be legally convicted, it plainly appeared that he was the author of this defamation, which incensed Mr. Bal — to such a degree, that he could scarce be withheld from punishing him on the spot, by manual chastisement. However, he was prevailed upon to abstain from such immediate vengeance, as a step unworthy of his character; and the affair was brought to this issue, that his lordship should either part with me or Mr. H—; for I was fully determined against living under the same roof with such an incendiary.
“This alternative being proposed, my lord dismissed his steward, and we returned to town with the doctor and Mrs. S—; for I had imbibed such horror and aversion for this country seat, though one of the pleasantest in England, that I could not bear to live in it. We therefore removed to a house in Bond-street, where, according to the advice of my friends, I exerted my whole power and complaisance in endeavours to keep my husband in good-humour, but was so unsuccessful in my attempts, that, if ever he was worse tempered, more capricious, or intolerable, at one time than at another, this was the season in which his ill-humour predominated in the most rancorous degree. I was scarce ever permitted to stir abroad, saw nobody at home, but my old male friend, whom I have mentioned above; and the doctor, with his lady, from whose conversation, also, I was at last excluded.
“Nevertheless, I contrived to steal a meeting now and then with my late benefactor, for whom I entertained a great share of affection, exclusive of that gratitude that was due to his generosity. It was not his fault that I compromised matters with my lord; for he was as free of his purse as I was unwilling to use it. It would, therefore, have been unfriendly, unkind, and ungrateful in me, now that I was in affluence, to avoid all intercourse with a man who had supported me in adversity. I think people cannot be too shy and scrupulous in receiving favours; but once they are conferred, they ought never to forget the obligation. And I was never more concerned at any incident of my life, than at hearing that this gentleman did not receive a letter, in which I acknowledged the last proof of his friendship and liberality which I had occasion to use, because I have since learned that he suspected me of neglect.
“But to return to my situation in Bond-street. I bore it as well as I could for the space of three months, during which I lived in the midst of spies, who were employed to watch my conduct, and underwent every mortification that malice, power, and folly could inflict. Nay, so ridiculous, so unreasonable was my tyrant in his spleen, that he declared he would even be jealous of Heydigger, if there was no other man to incur his suspicion: he expected that I should spend my whole time with him tete-a-tete; when I sacrificed my enjoyment to these comfortable parties, he never failed to lay hold on some innocent expression of mine, which he made the foundation of a quarrel; and, when I strove to avoid these disagreeable misinterpretations by reading or writing, he incessantly teased and tormented me with the imputation of being peevish, sullen, and reserved.
“Harassed by this insufferable behaviour, I communicated my case to Dr. S— and his lady, intimating that I neither could nor would expose myself any longer to such usage. The doctor exhorted me to bear my fate with patience; and Mrs. S— was silent on the subject; so that I still hesitated between staying and going, when the doctor, being one night at supper, happened to have some words with my lord, who was so violently transported with passion, that I was actually afraid of going to bed with him; and next morning, when he awakened, there was such an expression of frantic wildness in his countenance, that I imagined he was actually distracted.
“This alarming circumstance confirmed me in my resolution of decamping; and I accordingly moved my quarters to a house in Sackville-street, where I had lodged when I was a widow. From thence I sent a message to the duke of L — desiring he would make my lord acquainted with the place of my abode, my reasons for removing, and my intention to defend myself against all his attempts. The first night of this separation I went to bed by myself with as much pleasure as a man would feel in going to bed to his mistress whom he had long solicited in vain, so rejoiced was I to be delivered from my obnoxious bedfellow!
“From these lodgings I soon moved to Brook-street, where I had not long enjoyed the sweets of my escape, when I was importuned to return, by a new steward whom my lord had engaged in the room of H—. This gentleman, who bore a very fair character, made such judicious representations, and behaved so candidly in the discharge of his function, that I agreed he should act as umpire in the difference betwixt us, and once more a reconciliation was effected, though his lordship began to be dissatisfied even before the execution of our agreement; in consequence of which he attended me to Bath, whither I went for the benefit of my health, which was not a little impaired.
“This accommodation had a surprising effect upon my lover, who, notwithstanding his repeated declarations, that no woman should ever gain such an ascendancy over his heart as to be able to give him pain, suffered all the agonies of disappointed love, when he now found himself deprived of the opportunities of seeing me, and behaved very differently from what he had imagined he should. His words and actions were desperate: one of his expressions to me was, “It is like twisting my heart-strings, and tearing it out of my body.” Indeed, I never should have acted this part had I foreseen what he would have suffered; but I protest I believed him, when he said otherwise, so much, that his declaration on that subject was the occasion of my giving him up; and it was now too late to retract.
“In our expedition to Bath, I was accompanied by a very agreeable young lady, with whom I passed my time very happily, amid the diversions of the place, which screened me, in a good measure, from the vexatious society of my hopeful partner. From this place we repaired to his seat in the country, where we spent a few months, and thence returned again to our house in Bond-street. Here, while I was confined to my bed by illness, it was supposed my indisposition was no other than a private lying-in, though I was under the roof with my lord, and attended by his servants.
“While the distemper continued, my lord, to do him justice, behaved with all imaginable tenderness and care; and his concern on these occasions I have already mentioned as a strange inconsistency in his disposition. If his actions were at all accountable, I should think he took pains to fret me into a fever first, in order to manifest his love and humanity afterwards. When I recovered my strength and spirits, I went abroad, saw company, and should have been easy, had he been contented; but as my satisfaction increased, his good-humour decayed, and he banished from his house, one by one, all the people whose conversation could have made my life agreeable.
“I often expostulated with him on his malignant behaviour, protesting my desire of living peaceably with him, and begging he would not lay me under the necessity of changing my measures. He was deaf to all my remonstrances, though I warned him more than once of the event, persisted in his maxims of persecution; and, after repeated quarrels, I again left his house fully determined to suffer all sorts of extremity, rather than subject myself to the tyranny of his disposition.
“This year was productive of one fatal event, which I felt with the utmost sensibility of sorrow, and I shall always remember with regret:— I mean the death of Mr. B — with whom I had constantly maintained an intimate correspondence since the first commencement of our acquaintance. He was one of the most valuable men, and promised to be one of the brightest ornaments that this or any other age had produced. I enjoyed his friendship without reserve; and such was the confidence he reposed in my integrity, from long experience of my truth, that he often said he would believe my bare assertion, even though it should contradict the evidence of his own senses. These being the terms upon which we lived, it is not to be supposed that I bore the loss of him without repining. Indeed, my grief was unspeakable; and, though the edge of it be now smoothed by the lenient hand of time, I shall never cease to cherish his memory with the most tender remembrance.
“During the last period of my living with my lord, I had agreed to the expediency of obtaining an act of parliament, which would enable him to pay his debts; on which occasion there was a necessity of cancelling a deed that subsisted between us, relating to a separate maintenance, to which, on certain provisions, I was entitled; and this was to be set aside, so far as it interfered with the above-mentioned scheme, while the rest of it should remain in force. When this affair was about to be transacted, my lord very generously insisted upon my concurrence in annulling the whole settlement; and, when I refused to comply with this demand, because this was the sole resource I had against his ill-usage, he would not proceed in the execution of his plan, though, by dropping it, he hurt nobody but himself; and he accused me of having receded from my word, after I had drawn him into considerable expense.
“This imputation of breaking my word, which I defy the whole world to prove I ever did, incensed me the more, as I myself had proposed the scheme for his service, although I knew the accomplishment of it would endanger the validity of my own settlement; and my indignation was still more augmented by the behaviour of Mr. G — who had always professed a regard for my interest, and upon my last accommodation with my lord, undertaken to effect a reconciliation between my father and me; but, when he was questioned about the particulars of this difference, and desired to declare whether his lordship or I was to blame, he declined the office of arbitrator, refused to be explicit upon the subject, and by certain shrewd hums and ha’s, signified his disapprobation of my conduct. Yet this very man, when I imparted to him, in confidence, my intention of making another retreat, and frankly asked his opinion of my design, seemed to acquiesce in the justice of it in these remarkable words: “Madam, if I thought or had hopes of my lord growing better, I would down on my knees to desire you to stay; but, as I have not, I say nothing.”
“If he connived at my conduct in this particular, why should he disapprove of it when all I asked was but common justice? But he was a dependant; and therefore I excuse his phlegmatic, not to call it unfriendly, behaviour. Indeed, he could not be too cautious of giving offence to his lordship, who sometimes made him feel the effects of that wrath which other people had kindled; particularly in consequence of a small adventure which happened about this very period of time.
“A very agreeable, sprightly, good-natured young man, a near relation of my lord, happening to be at our house one evening, when there was a fire in the neighbourhood, we agreed to go and sup at the tavern en famille; and, having spent the evening with great mirth and good-humour, this young gentleman, who was naturally facetious, in taking his leave, saluted us all round. My lord, who had before entertained some jealousy of his kinsman, was very much provoked by this trifling incident, but very prudently suppressed his displeasure till he returned to his own house, where his rage co-operating with the champagne he had drunk, inflamed him to such a degree of resolution, that he sprang upon the innocent G — and collared him with great fury, though he was altogether unconcerned in the cause of his indignation.
“This extravagant and frantic behaviour, added to other grievances under which I laboured, hastened my resolution of leaving him; and he, to this day, blames his relation as the immediate cause of my escape, whereas he ought to place it to the account of his own madness and indiscretion. When I retired to Park-street, he cautioned all my tradesmen, not even excepting my baker, against giving me credit, assuring them that he would not pay any debts I should contract; and the difficulties to which I was reduced, in consequence of this charitable declaration, together with the reflection of what I had suffered, and might undergo, from the caprice and barbarity of his disposition, affected my health so much, that I was again taken ill, and my life thought in danger.
“My constitution, however, got the better of my distemper, and I was ordered into the country by my physicians, for the benefit of the air; so that I found myself under the necessity of keeping two houses, when I was little able to support one, and set up my chariot, because I could not defray the expense of a hackney-coach; for I had as much credit given me as I asked for, notwithstanding my lord’s orders to the contrary.
“Having recruited my spirits in the country, I returned to town, and was visited by my friends, who never forsook me in adversity, and in the summer removed to a house in Essex, where I lived a few months in great tranquility, unmolested by my tyrant, who sometimes gave me a whole year’s respite. Here I used to ride and drive by turns, as my humour dictated, with horses which were lent me; and I had the company of my lover, and another gentleman, who was a very agreeable companion, and of singular service to me in the sequel.
“At last, my lord having received intelligence of the place of my abode, and his tormenting humour recurring, he set out for my habitation, and in the morning appeared in his coach and six, attended by Mr. G— and another person, whom he had engaged for the purpose, with several domestics armed. I immediately shut up my doors at his approach, and refused him admittance, which he endeavoured to obtain by a succession of prayers and threats; but I was deaf to both, and resolved to hold out to the last. Seeing me determined, he began his attack, and his servants actually forced their way into the house; upon which I retreated up-stairs, and fortified myself in my apartment, which the assailants stormed with such fury, that the door began to give way, and I retired into another room.
“Whilst I remained in this post, Mr. G— demanded a parley, in which he begged I would favour my lord with an interview, otherwise he knew not what might be the consequence. To this remonstrance I replied, that I was not disposed to comply with his request; and though their design should be murder, I was not at all afraid of death. Upon this declaration they renewed their attacks, which they carried on with indifferent success till the afternoon, when my lord, as if he had been at play, sent a formal message to me, desiring that all hostilities should cease, till after both parties should have dined. At the same time, my own servants came for instructions; and I ordered them to let him have everything which he should call for, as far as the house would afford.
“He did not fail to make use of this permission; but sitting down with his companions, ate up my dinner without hesitation, after he had paid me the compliment of desiring to know what he should send up to my apartment. Far from having any stomach to partake of his meal, I sat solitary upon my bed, in a state of melancholy expectation, having fastened the door of the outward room for my security, while I kept my chamber open for the convenience of air, the weather being excessively hot. His lordship, having indulged his appetite, resumed his attempt, and all of a sudden I heard a noise in the next room; upon which I started up, and perceiving that he had got into my ante-chamber, by the help of a bench that stood under the window, I flung to the door of my room, which I locked with great expedition, and opening another that communicated with the staircase, ran out of the house, through a crowd of more than a hundred people, whom this fray had gathered together.
“Being universally beloved in the neighbourhood, and respected by my lord’s servants, I passed among them untouched, and took refuge in a neighbouring cottage; while his lordship bawled and roared for assistance, being afraid to come out as he had gone in. Without waiting for his deliberations, I changed clothes with the poor woman who had given me shelter, and in her blue apron and straw hat sallied out into the fields, intending to seek protection in the house of a gentleman not far off, though I was utterly ignorant of the road that led me to it. However, it was my good fortune to meet with a farmer, who undertook to conduct me to the place; otherwise I should have missed my way, and in all probability lain in the fields; for by this time it was eight o’clock at night.
“Under the direction of this guide, I traversed hedges and ditches; for I would not venture to travel in the highway, lest I should fall into the hands of my pursuer, and after I had actually tumbled into the mire, and walked six or seven long miles by the help of a good spirit, which never failed me on such occasions, I arrived at the place, and rung the bell at the garden gate for admittance. Seeing my figure, which was very uncouth, together with my draggled condition, they denied me entrance; but, when they understood who I was, immediately opened the door, and I was hospitably entertained, after having been the subject of mirth, on account of my dress and adventure.
“Next day I returned and took possession of my house again, where I resumed my former amusements, which I enjoyed in quiet for the space of a whole month, waiting with resignation for the issue of my lawsuit; when, one afternoon, I was apprised of his lordship’s approach by one of my spies, whom I always employed to reconnoitre the road; and so fortunate was I in the choice of these scouts, that I never was betrayed by one of them, though they were often bribed for that purpose. I no sooner received this intelligence, than I ordered my horse to be saddled, and, mounting, rode out of sight immediately, directing my course a different way from the London road. I had not long proceeded in this track, when my career was all of a sudden stopped by a five-bar gate, which, after some hesitation, I resolved to leap (my horse being an old hunter), if I should find myself pursued. However, with much difficulty I made a shift to open it, and arrived in safety at the house of my very good friend Mr. G — who, being a justice of the peace, had promised me his protection, if it should be wanted.
“Thus secured for the present, I sent out spies to bring information of his lordship’s proceedings, and understood that he had taken possession of my house, turned my servants adrift, and made himself master of all my movables, clothes, and papers. As for the papers, they were of no consequence, but of clothes I had a good stock; and, when I had reason to believe that he did not intend to relinquish his conquest, I thought it was high time for me to remove to a greater distance from his quarters. Accordingly, two days after my escape, I set out at eleven o’clock at night, in a chariot and four, which I borrowed of my friend, attended by a footman, who was a stout fellow, and well armed, I myself being provided with a brace of good pistols, which I was fully determined to use against any person who should presume to lay violent hands upon me, except my lord, for whom a less mortal weapon would have sufficed, such as a bodkin or a tinder-box. Nothing could be farther from my intention than the desire of hurting any living creature, much less my husband: my design was only to defend myself from cruelty and oppression, which I knew, by fatal experience, would infallibly be my lot, should he get me into his power. And I thought I had as good a right to preserve my happiness, as that which every individual has to preserve his life, especially against a set of ruffians, who were engaged to rob me of it for a little dirty lucre.
“In the midst of our journey, the footman came up, and told me I was dogged; upon which I looked out, and, seeing a man riding by the chariot side, presented one of my pistols out of my window, and preserved that posture of defence, until he thought proper to retreat, and rid me of the fears that attended his company. I arrived in town, and, changing my equipage, hired an open chaise, in which, though I was almost starved with cold, I travelled to Reading, which I reached by ten next morning; and from thence proceeded farther in the country, with a view of taking refuge with Mrs. C — who was my particular friend. Here I should have found shelter, though my lord had been beforehand with me, and endeavoured to prepossess her against my conduct, had not the house been crowded with company, among whom I could not possibly have been concealed, especially from her brother, who was an intimate friend of my persecutor.
“Things being thus situated, I enjoyed but a very short interview with her, in which her sorrow and perplexity on my account appeared with great expression in her countenance; and, though it was not in her power to afford me the relief I expected, she, in the most genteel manner, sent after me a small sum of money, thinking that, considering the hurry in which I left my house, I might have occasion for it on the road. I was, by this time, benumbed with cold, fatigued with travelling, and almost fretted to death by my disappointment. However, this was no time to indulge despondence; since nobody could or would assist me, I stood the more in need of my own resolution and presence of mind. After some deliberation, I steered my course back to London; and, being unwilling to return by the same road in which I came, as well as impatient to be at the end of my journey, I chose the Bagshot way, and ventured to cross the heath by moonlight.
“Here I was attacked by a footpad armed with a broad-sword, who came up and demanded my money. My stock amounted to twelve guineas; and I foresaw that should I be stripped of the whole sum, I could not travel without discovering who I was, and consequently running the risk of being detected by my pursuer. On these considerations, I gave the fellow three guineas and some silver; with which he was so far from being satisfied, that he threatened to search me for more: but I ordered the coachman to proceed, and by good fortune escaped that ceremony, though I was under some apprehension of being overtaken with a pistol bullet in my flight, and therefore held down my head in the chaise, in imitation of some great men, who are said to have ducked in the same manner in the day of battle. My fears happened to be disappointed: I lay at an inn upon the road, and next day arrived in town, in the utmost difficulty and distress; for I knew not where to fix my habitation, and was destitute of all means of support. In this dilemma, I applied to my lawyer, who recommended me to the house of a tradesman in Westminster, where I lodged and boarded upon credit, with my faithful Abigail (whom I shall distinguish by the name of Mrs. S—), for the space of ten weeks, during which I saw nobody, and never once stirred abroad.
“While I was thus harassed out of all enjoyment of life, and reduced to the utmost indigence, by the cruelty of my persecutor, who had even stripped me of my wearing apparel, I made a conquest of Lord D — a nobleman who is now dead, and therefore I shall say little of his character, which is perfectly well known: this only will I observe, that, next to my own tyrant, he was the person of whom I had the greatest abhorrence. Nevertheless, when these two came in competition, I preferred the offers of this new lover, which were very considerable; and as an asylum was the chief thing I wanted, agreed to follow him to his country seat, whither I actually sent my clothes, which I had purchased upon credit.
“However, upon mature deliberation, I changed my mind, and signified my resolution in a letter, desiring at the same time that my baggage might be sent back. In consequence of this message, I expected a visit from him, in all the rage of indignation and disappointment, and gave orders that he should not be admitted into my house yet, notwithstanding this precaution, he found means to procure entrance; and one of the first objects that I saw, next morning, in my bedchamber, was my lover, armed with a horsewhip, against which, from the knowledge of the man, I did not think myself altogether secure; though I was not much alarmed, because I believed myself superior to him in point of bravery, should the worst come to the worst. But, contrary to my expectation, and his usual behaviour to our sex, he accosted me very politely, and began to expostulate on the contents of my letter. I freely told him, that I had rashly assented to his proposal, for my own convenience only; that, when I reflected on what I had done, I thought it ungenerous in me to live with him upon these terms; and that, as I did not like him, and could not dissemble, such a correspondence could never tend to the satisfaction of either. He allowed the inference was just, though he was very much chagrined at my previous proceeding. He relinquished his claim, restored my clothes, and never afterwards upbraided me with my conduct in this affair; though he at one time owned, that he still loved me, and ever should, because I had used him ill; a declaration that strongly marks the peculiarity of his character. As for my own part, I own that my behaviour on this occasion is no other way excusable, than on account of the miserable perplexity of my circumstances, which were often so calamitous, that I wonder I have not been compelled to take such steps as would have rendered my conduct much more exceptionable than it really is.
“At last all my hopes were blasted by the issue of my suit, which was determined in favour of my lord. Even then I refused to yield: on the contrary, coming out of retirement, I took lodgings in Suffolk-street, and set my tyrant at defiance. But, being unwilling to trust my doors to the care of other people, I hired a house in Conduit-street; and no sooner appeared in the world again, than I was surrounded by divers and sundry sorts of admirers. I believe I received the incense and addresses of all kinds under the sun, except that sort which was most to my liking, a man capable of contracting and inspiring a mutual attachment; but such a one is equally rare and inestimable; not but that I own myself greatly obliged to all those who cultivated my good graces, though they were very little beholden to me; for where I did not really love, I could never profess that passion; that sort of dissimulation is a slavery that no honest nature will undergo. Except one worthy young man whom I sometimes saw, they were a strange medley of insignificant beings: one was insipid, another ridiculously affected, a third void of all education, a fourth altogether inconsistent; and, in short, I found as many trifling characters among the men, as ever I observed in my own sex. Some of them I endeavoured to bring over to my maxims, while they attempted to make a proselyte of me; but, finding the task impracticable on both sides, we very wisely dropped each other.
“At length, however, I was blessed with the acquaintance of one nobleman, who is, perhaps, the first character in England, in point of honour, integrity, wit, sense, and benevolence; when I have thus distinguished him, I need scarce mention Lord —. This great, this good man, possesses every accomplishment requisite to inspire admiration, love, and esteem. With infinitely more merit than almost ever fell to one man’s share, he manifests such diffidence of his own qualifications, as cannot fail to prepossess every company in his favour. He seems to observe nothing, yet sees everything; his manner of telling a story, and making trifles elegant, is peculiar to himself; and, though he has a thousand oddities, they serve only to make him more agreeable. After what I have said, it may be supposed that I was enamoured of his person; but this was not the case; love is altogether capricious and fanciful; yet I admire, honour, and esteem him to the highest degree, and when I observe that his character resembled that of my dear departed friend Mr. B—; or rather, that Mr. B — had he lived, would have resembled Lord — I pay the highest compliment I can conceive both to the living and to the dead.
“In this nobleman’s friendship and conversation I thought myself happy; though I was, as usual, exposed to the indefatigable efforts of my lord, who, one day, while I was favoured with the company of this generous friend, appeared at my door in his coach, attended by another gentleman, who demanded entrance with an air of authority. A very honest footman, who had been long in my service, ran upstairs in the utmost consternation, and gave me an account of what had happened below. Upon which I told him he had nothing to answer for, and ordered him to keep the door fast shut against all opposition; though I was so much affected with this unexpected assault, that Lord — said he was never more surprised and shocked in his life, than at the horror which appeared in my countenance, when I saw the coach stop at my door.
“My little hero being refused admittance, went away, threatening to return speedily with a reinforcement; and during this interval, I provided myself with a soldier, whom I placed sentinel at the door, within side, to guard me from the danger of such assaults for the future. My lord, true to his promise, marched back with his auxiliaries, reinforced with a constable, and repeated his demand of being admitted; and my soldier opening the sash, in order to answer him, according to my directions, he no sooner perceived the red coat, than he was seized with such a panic, that he instantly fled with great precipitation; and, when he recounted the adventure, like Falstaff in the play, multiplied my guard into a whole file of musqueteers. He also made a shift to discover the gentleman who had been so kind as to lend me one of his company, and complained of him to the duke of N — in hopes of seeing him broke for his misdemeanour; but in that expectation he was luckily disappointed.
“Perceiving that in England I should never enjoy peace, but be continually subject to those alarms and disquiets which had already impaired my health and spirits, I resolved to repair again to France, my best refuge and sure retreat from the persecution of my tyrant. Yet, before I took this step, I endeavoured, by the advice of my friends, to conceal myself near Windsor; but was in a little time discovered by my lord, and hunted out of my lurking-place accordingly. I then removed to Chelsea, where I suffered inconceivable uneasiness and agitation of mind, from the nature of my situation, my tranquility being thus incessantly invaded by a man who could not be satisfied with me, and yet could not live without me. So that, though I was very much indisposed, I set out for France, by way of the Hague, as the war had shut up all other communication, having no other attendant but my woman S — who, though she dreaded the sea, and was upon the brink of matrimony, would not quit me in such a calamitous condition, until I was joined by my footman and another maid, whom I ordered to follow me with the baggage. But, before my departure, I sent a message to Lord — demanding my clothes, which he had seized in Essex; and, he refusing to deliver them, I was obliged to equip myself anew, upon credit.
“I was supplied with money for my journey by my good friend L—; and, after a short and pleasant passage, arrived at the Hague, where I stayed two months, and parted with S — on whom I settled an annuity of five-and-twenty pounds, payable out of the provision which I had or might obtain from my husband. The same allowance had I prevailed upon Lord B— to grant to another maid, who attended me while I lived in his house.
“I did not much relish the people in Holland, because they seemed entirely devoted to self-interest, without any taste for pleasure or politeness; a species of disposition that could not be very agreeable to me, who always despised money, had an unbounded benevolence of heart, and loved pleasure beyond every other consideration. When I say pleasure, I would not be understood to mean sensuality, which constitutes the supreme happiness of those only who are void of sentiment and imagination. Nevertheless, I received some civilities in this place, and, among the rest, the reputation of having for my lover the king of P—‘s minister, who was young and airy, and visited me often; circumstances that were sufficient to lay me under the imputation of an amour, which I frequently incurred without having given the least cause of suspicion.
“Having taken leave of my Dutch friends, I departed from the Hague, in company with an English woman, whom I had chosen for that purpose, and arrived at Antwerp with much difficulty and danger, the highway being infested with robbers. After having reposed myself a few days in this city, I hired a coach for myself, and set out with my companion for Brussels; but, before we reached Mechlin, our vehicle was attacked by two hussars, who, with their sabres drawn, obliged the coachman to drive into a wood near the road. I at first imagined that they wanted to examine our passports, but was soon too well convinced of their design; and, though very much shocked at the discovery, found resolution enough to suppress my concern, so that it should not aggravate the terrors of the young woman, who had almost died with apprehension. I even encouraged her to hope for the best; and, addressing myself to the robbers in French, begged, in the most suppliant manner, that they would spare our lives; upon which one of them, who was a little fellow, assured me, in the same language, that we had nothing to fear for our persons.
“When we were conveyed in a state of dreadful suspense about three-quarters of a mile into the wood, the ruffians came into the coach, and, taking my keys, which I kept ready in my hand for them, opened three large trunks that contained my baggage, and emptying them of everything but my hoops and a few books, packed up their booty in a cloth; then robbed me of my money and jewels, even to my shoe-buckles and sleeve-buttons, took my footman’s laced hat, and gave it, by way of gratification, to a peasant, who came from behind the bushes, and assisted them in packing.
“This affair being despatched, they ordered us to return to the road by a different way from that in which we were carried into the wood; and mounting their horses, rode off with the plunder, though not before the little fellow, who was the least ferocious of the two, had come and shaken me by the hand, wishing us a good journey; a compliment which I heartily returned, being extremely well pleased with the retreat of two such companions, who had detained us a whole half-hour; during which, notwithstanding the assurance I had received, I was in continual apprehension of seeing their operation concluded with the murder of us all; for I supposed they were of that gang who had some time before murdered a French officer, and used a lady extremely ill, after having rifled her of all she had.
“Having thus undergone pillage, and being reduced to the extremity of indigence in a foreign land, it is not to be supposed that my reflections were very comfortable; and yet, though I sustained the whole damage, I was the only person in the company who bore the accident with any resolution and presence of mind. My coachman and valet seemed quite petrified with fear; and it was not till I had repeated my directions that the former drove farther into the wood, and took the first turning to the right, in order to regain the road, according to the command of the robbers, which I did not choose to disobey.
“This misfortune I suffered by the misinformation I received at Antwerp, where I would have provided myself with an escort, had not I been assured that there was not the least occasion to put myself to such extraordinary expense. And, indeed, the robbers took the only half-hour in which they could have had an opportunity of plundering us; for we no sooner returned into the highway, than we met with the French artillery coming from Brussels, which was a security to us during the rest of our journey. We were afterwards informed at a small village, that there was actually a large gang of deserters, who harboured in that wood, from which they made excursions in the neighbourhood, and kept the peasants in continual alarms.
“Having proceeded a little way, we were stopped by the artillery crossing a bridge; and, as the train was very long, must have been detained till night, had not a soldier informed me, that, if I would take the trouble to come out of my coach, and apply to the commandant, he would order them to halt, and allow me to pass. I took the man’s advice, and was by him conducted, with much difficulty, through the crowd, to some officers, who seemed scarce to deserve the name; for, when I signified my request, they neither rose up, nor desired me to sit down; but, lolling in their chairs, with one leg stretched out, asked, with an air of disrespectful raillery. where I was going; and when I answered, “To Paris,” desired to know what I would do there.
“I, who am naturally civil where I am civilly used, and saucy enough where I think myself treated with disregard, was very much piqued at their insolent and unmannerly behaviour, and began to reply to the impertinent questions very abruptly; so that a very tart dialogue would have ensued, had not the conversation been interrupted by a tall, thin, genteel young French nobleman, an officer in the army, who, chancing to come in, asked with great politeness, what I would please to have. I then repeated my desire, and produced my passports, by which he learned who I was. He immediately gave orders that my coach should pass; and afterwards visited me at Paris, having obtained my permission, and taken my address at parting; while the others, understanding my name and quality, asked pardon for their impolite carriage, which they told me was owing to the representation of the soldier, who gave them to understand that I was a strolling actress.
“I could not help laughing heartily at this mistake, which might have proceeded from the circumstances of my appearance, my footman having been obliged to change hats with the peasant, and myself being without buckles on my shoes and buttons on my riding-skirt, while my countenance still retained marks of the fear and confusion I had undergone. After all, perhaps the fellow was a droll, and wanted to entertain himself at my expense. The day was so far consumed in these adventures, that I was obliged to take up my lodgings at Mechlin, where I addressed myself to the intendant, giving him an account of the disaster I had met with, and desiring I might have credit at the inn, as our whole company could not raise the value of a sixpence. This gentleman, though a provincial, was polite in his way, and not only granted my request, but invited me to lodge at his own house. I accordingly gave him my company at supper, but did not choose to sleep at his quarters, because he appeared to be what the French call un vieux debauche.
“Next day, he sent a trumpet to the general, with a detail of my misfortune, in hopes of retrieving what I had lost; but, notwithstanding all possible search, I was fain to put up with my damage, which, in linen, laces, clothes, and baubles, amounted to upwards of seven hundred pounds, a loss which never deprived me of one moment’s rest; for, though I lodged at a miserable inn, and lay in a paltry bed, I slept as sound as if nothing extraordinary had happened, after I had written to London and Paris, directing that the payment of my bills of credit might be stopped. Indeed, I know of but two misfortunes in life capable of depressing my spirits, namely, the loss of health and friends; all others may be prevented or endured. The articles of that calamity which I chiefly regretted, were a picture of Lord W — and some inimitable letters from Mr. B—.
“From Mechlin I proceeded to Brussels, where, being known, I got credit for some necessaries, and borrowed twenty guineas to defray the expense of my journey to Paris. Having consulted with my friends about the safest method of travelling through Flanders, I was persuaded to take places in the public voiture; and accordingly departed, not without fears of finding one part of the country as much infested with robbers as another. Nor were these apprehensions assuaged by the conversation of my fellow-travellers, who, being of the lower sort of people, that delight in exaggerating dangers, entertained me all the way with an account of all the robberies and murders which had been committed on that road, with many additional circumstances of their own invention. After having been two days exposed to this comfortable conversation, among very disagreeable company, which is certainly one of the most disagreeable situations in life, I arrived at Lisle, where, thinking the dangerous part of the journey was now past, I hired a post-chaise, and in two days more reached Paris without any further molestation.
“Upon my arrival in the capital, I was immediately visited by my old acquaintances, who, hearing my disaster, offered me their clothes, and insisted upon my wearing them, until I could be otherwise provided. They likewise engaged me in parties, with a view of amusing my imagination, that I might not grow melancholy in reflecting upon my loss; and desired me to repeat the particulars of my story forty times over, expressing great surprise at our not being murdered, or ravished at least. As for this last species of outrage, the fear of it never once entered my head, otherwise I should have been more shocked and alarmed than I really was. But it seems this was the chief circumstance of my companion’s apprehension; and I cannot help observing, that a homely woman is always more apt to entertain those fears, than one whose person exposes her to much more imminent danger. However, I now learned, that the risk I ran was much greater than I imagined it to be, those ruffians being familiarized to rape as well as murder.
“Soon after my appearance at Paris, I was favoured with the addresses of several French lovers; but I never had any taste for foreigners, or indeed for any amusement of that kind, except such as were likely to be lasting, and settled upon a more agreeable footing than that of common gallantry. When I deviated from this principle, my conduct was the effect of compulsion, and therefore I was never easy under it, having been reduced to the alternative of two evils, the least of which I was obliged to choose, as a man leaps into the sea, in order to escape from a ship that is on fire.
“Though I rejected their love, I did not refuse their company and conversation; and, though my health was considerably impaired by the shock I received in my last adventure, which was considerably greater than I at first imagined, and affected my companion so much, that she did not recover her spirits till she returned to England, I say, though I was for some time a valetudinarian, I enjoyed myself in great tranquility for the space of ten months, during which I was visited by English, Scotch, and French, of all parties and persuasions; for pleasure is of no faction, and that was the chief object of my pursuit; neither was I so ambitious of being a politician, as to employ my time and thoughts upon subjects which I did not understand. I had admirers of all sides, and should have spent my time very much to my liking, had not I felt my funds sensibly diminish, without any prospect of their being repaired; for I had been obliged to lay out a great part of the sum allotted for my subsistence, in supplying my companion, my servant, and myself with necessaries, in lieu of those which we had lost.
“Having before my eyes the uncomfortable prospect of wanting money in a strange place, I found myself under the necessity of returning to England, where I had more resources than I could possibly have among foreigners; and with that view wrote to Lord —‘s agents, desiring that I might be enabled to discharge my obligations at Paris, by the payment of my pin-money. Thus a negotiation commenced, and his lordship promised to remit money for the clearance of my Paris debts, which amounted to four hundred pounds: but he would not advance one farthing more, though I gave him to understand, that, while he protracted the agreement, I must inevitably be adding to my encumbrances, and that I should be as effectually detained by a debt of twenty pounds, as if I owed a thousand. Notwithstanding all my representations, he would not part with one shilling over the net sum which I at first stipulated; so that all my measures were rendered abortive, and I found it altogether impracticable to execute those resolutions I had formed in his favour.
“Thus did he for a mere trifle embarrass the woman for whom he professed the most unlimited love, and whose principles he pretended to hold in the utmost veneration. Indeed, his confidence in my integrity was not without foundation; for many wives, with one half of my provocation, would have ruined him to all intents and purposes; whereas, notwithstanding all the extraordinary expenses to which I had been exposed by his continual persecution, he never paid a shilling on my account except one thousand pounds, exclusive of the small allowance which was my due. In a word, so much time elapsed before my lord could prevail upon himself to advance the bare four hundred, that I was involved in fresh difficulties, from which I found it impossible to extricate myself; and though I had occasion to write a letter to my benefactor Lord — in which I expressed my acknowledgment of past favours, I could not venture to solicit more, even when I was encouraged by a very obliging answer, wherein he declared, that the good qualities of my mind and heart would bind him to me in friendship for ever.
“While I ruminated on my uncomfortable situation, which would neither permit me to return to England, nor to stay much longer where I was, a young Englishman of immense fortune took Paris in his way from Italy, accompanied by a most agreeable Scotchman of very good sense and great vivacity. It was my good or ill fortune to become acquainted with these gentlemen, who, having seen me at the opera, expressed a desire of being known to me, and accordingly favoured me with a visit one afternoon, when the brisk North Briton engrossed the whole conversation, while the other seemed fearful and diffident even to a degree of bashfulness, through which, however, I could discern a delicate sensibility and uncommon understanding. There was in his person, which was very agreeable, as well as in his behaviour, a certain naivete that was very pleasing; and, at this first interview, we relished each other’s company so well, that a sort of intimacy immediately commenced, and was carried on in a succession of parties of pleasure, in the course of which I found him fraught with all the tenderness and sentiment that render the heart susceptible of the most refined love; a disposition that immediately made me partial to him, while it subjected his own heart to all the violent impressions of a passion, which I little imagined our correspondence would have produced.
“Nevertheless, I was far from being displeased with my conquest, because his person and qualifications, as well as his manner of address, were very much to my liking, and recommended him in a particular manner to my affection. Indeed, he made greater progress in my heart than I myself suspected; for there was something congenial in our souls, which, from our first meeting, I believe, had attracted us, unknown to ourselves, under the notions of friendship and regard, and now disclosed itself in the most passionate love.
“I listened to his addresses, and we were truly happy. His attachment was the quintessence of tenderness and sincerity, while his generosity knew no bounds. Not contented with having paid twelve hundred pounds on my account, in the space of one fortnight, he would have loaded me with present after present, had I not absolutely refused to accept such expensive marks of his munificence. I was even mortified at those instances of his liberality, which my situation compelled me to receive, lest, being but little acquainted with my disposition, he should suspect me of being interested in my love, and judge my conduct by the malicious reports of common fame, which, he afterwards owned, had at first obtained such credit with him, that he believed our mutual attachment would not be of long duration. But, in this particular, he was soon undeceived. His heart, though naturally adapted for the melting passion, had hitherto escaped untouched by all the ladies of Italy and France; and, therefore, the first impressions were the more deeply fixed. As he was unpractised in the ways of common gallantry and deceit, the striking simplicity in his character was the more likely to engage the heart of one who knew the perfidy of the world, and despised all the farce and bombast of fashionable profession, which I had always considered as the phrase of vanity and ostentation, rather than the genuine language of love. Besides, gratitude had a considerable share in augmenting my affection, which manifested itself in such a warm, cordial, artless manner, as increased his esteem, and riveted his attachment; for he could easily perceive, from the whole tenor of my conduct, that my breast was an utter stranger to craft and dissimulation; yet I was at first fearful of contracting any engagement with him, because, being younger than me, he might be more apt to change, and the world might be malicious enough to suppose I had practised upon his inexperience; but, conscious of my own integrity, I set slander at defiance, trusting to my own behaviour, and his natural probity, for the continuance of his love. Though we did not live together in the same house, the greatest part of our time was spent in each other’s company; we dined and supped at the same table, frequented public places, went upon parties to the country, and never parted, but for a few hours in the night, which we passed in the utmost impatience to meet again.
“In this agreeable manner did the days roll on, when my felicity was interrupted by a fit of jealousy with which I happened to be seized. I had contracted an acquaintance with a young married lady, who, though her personal attractions were but slender, was upon the whole an agreeable, cheerful, good-natured companion, with a little dash of the coquette in her composition. This woman being in very indigent circumstances, occasioned by some losses her husband had sustained, no sooner had an opportunity of seeing and conversing with my lover, than she formed the design of making a conquest of him. I should have forgiven her for this scheme, whatever pangs it might have cost me, had I believed it the effect of real passion; but I knew her too well to suppose her heart was susceptible of love, and accordingly resented it. In the execution of her plan, she neglected nothing which she thought capable of engaging his attention. She took all opportunities of sitting near him at table, ogled him in the most palpable manner, directed her whole discourse to him, trod upon his toes; nay, I believe, squeezed his hand. My blood boiled at her, though my pride, for some time, enabled me to conceal my uneasiness; till at length her behaviour became so arrogant and gross, that I could no longer suppress my indignation, and one day told my lover that I would immediately renounce his correspondence.
“He was greatly alarmed at this unexpected declaration; and, when he understood the cause of it, assured me, that, for the future, he would never exchange one word with her. Satisfied with this mark of his sincerity and regard, I released him from his promise, which he could not possibly keep, while she and I lived upon any terms; and we continued to visit each other as usual, though she still persisted in her endeavours to rival me in his affection, and contracted an intimacy with his companion, who seemed to entertain a passion for her, that she might have the more frequent opportunities of being among us; for she had no objection against favouring the addresses of both. One evening, I remember, we set out in my coach for the opera; and, in the way, this inamorata was so busy with her feet, that I was incensed at her behaviour; and, when we arrived at the place, refused to alight; but, setting them down, declared my intention of returning home immediately. She was so much pleased with this intimation, that she could not conceal the joy she felt at the thoughts of conversing with him, uninterrupted by my presence; an opportunity with which I had never favoured her before. This open exultation increased my anger and anxiety. I went home; but, being still tortured with the reflection of having left them together, adjusted myself in the glass, though I was too angry to take notice of my own figure, and without further delay returned to the opera.
“Having inquired for the box in which they sat, I took possession of one that fronted them, and, reconnoitring them, without being perceived, had the satisfaction of seeing him removed to as great a distance from her as the place would permit, and his head turned another way. Composed by this examination, I joined them without further scruple, when my young gentleman expressed great joy at my appearance, and told me he was determined to have left the entertainment, and come in quest of me, had I not returned at that instant.
“In our way homewards, my rival repeated her usual hints, and with her large hoop almost overshadowed my lover from my view; upon which my jealousy and wrath recurred with such violence, that I pulled the string as a signal for the coachman to stop, with a view of getting out, and going home afoot; a step which would have afforded a new spectacle to the people of Paris. But I reflected in a moment upon the folly of such a resolution, and soon recollected myself, by calling my pride to my assistance. I determined, however, that she should act no more scenes of this kind in my presence, and that same night insisted upon my lover’s dropping all intercourse and connection with this tormentor. He very cheerfully complied with my desire, and was even glad of an occasion to break off his acquaintance with a person about whom I had plagued him so much.
“Thus was I freed from the persecution of one of those creatures, who, though of little consequence in themselves, are yet the pests of society, and find means to destroy that harmony which reigns between two lovers, by the intrusion of a loose appetite, void of all sensibility and discretion; having no feelings themselves, they cannot sympathize with those of other people; and do mischief out of mere wantonness.
“My lover being obliged to go to England, had settled me in a genteel house in Paris, with a view of returning when his affairs should be adjusted; but, when the time of his departure approached, he began to be uneasy at the prospect of separation, and, in order to alleviate his anxiety, desired me to accompany him to Calais, where we stayed together three or four days, during which the dread of parting became more and more intense; so that we determined upon my following him into England at the first opportunity, where I should live altogether incog. that I might be concealed from the inquiries and attempts of my lord. Even after this resolution was fixed, we parted with all the agonies of lovers who despair of ever meeting again; and the wind blowing very high after he had embarked, increased my fears. But, by the return of the packet-boat I was blessed with the report of his being safe arrived in England, and had the satisfaction of perusing his letters by every post.
“My admirer being thus detached from me, my thoughts were entirely employed in concerting some private method of conveying myself to him. As I would not trust myself in the common packet, for fear of being discovered, after having revolved divers schemes, I determined to transport myself in one of the Dutch fishing-boats, though I knew the passage would be hazardous; but, in a case of such interesting concern, I overlooked all danger and inconvenience. Before I put this resolution in practice, I was so fortunate as to hear of a small English vessel, that arrived in Calais with a prisoner of war, in which I embarked, with my companion and another lady, who lived with me for some time afterwards; and, when we came on board, discovered that the ship was no other than a light collier, and that her whole company amounted to no more than three men. Nevertheless, though the sea was so rough, and the weather so unpromising, that no other boat would venture to put to sea, we set sail, and, between two storms, in about three hours arrived in safety in Dover.
“From hence my first companion went to her friends in the stage-coach, while the other lady and I hired an open post-chaise, though it snowed very hard, and, without any accident, performed our journey to London, where I met with my lover, who flew to my arms in all the transports of impatient joy; and, doubtless, I deserved his affection for the hardships, perils, and difficulties I had undergone to be with him; for I never scrupled to undertake anything practicable, in order to demonstrate the sincerity of what I professed. In consequence of our plan, I assumed a fictitious name, and never appeared in public, being fully satisfied and happy in the company and conversation of the man I loved; and, when he went into the country, contented myself with his correspondence, which he punctually maintained, in a series of letters, equally sensible, sincere, and affectionate.
“Upon his return to town for the remainder of the season, he devoted the greatest part of his time to our mutual enjoyment; left me with reluctance, when he was called away by indispensable business, and the civility which was due to his acquaintance, and very seldom went to any place of public entertainment, because I could not accompany and share with him in the diversion; nay, so much did I engross his attention, that one evening, after he had been teased into an agreement of meeting some friends at a play, he went thither precisely at the appointed hour, and, as they did not arrive punctually at the very minute, he returned to me immediately, as much rejoiced at his escape as if he had met with some signal deliverance. Nor was his constancy inferior to the ardour of his love. We went once together to a ball in the Haymarket, where, in the midst of a thousand fine women, whose charms were enhanced by the peculiarity of the dresses they wore, he remained unshaken, unseduced, preserving his attachment for me in spite of all temptation.
“In the summer, he provided me with a house in the neighbourhood of his own; but the accommodations being bad, and that country affording no other place fit for my residence, he brought me home to his own seat, and, by that step, raised such a universal clamour; though I saw no company, and led such a solitary life, that nothing but excessive love could have supported my spirits. Not but that he gave me as much of his time as he could possibly spare from the necessary duties of paying and receiving visits, together with the avocations of hunting, and other country amusements, which I could not partake. Formerly, indeed, I used to hunt and shoot, but I had left off both, so that I was now reduced to the alternative of reading and walking by myself; but love made up for all deficiencies to me, who think nothing else worth the living for. Had I been blessed with a partner for life, who could have loved sincerely, and inspired me with a mutual flame, I would have asked no more of fate. Interest and ambition have no share in my composition; love, which is pleasure, or pleasure, which is love, makes up the whole. A heart so disposed cannot be devoid of other good qualities; it must be subject to the impressions of humanity and benevolence, and enemy to nothing but itself. This you will give me leave to affirm, in justice to myself, as I have frankly owned my failings and misconduct.
“Towards the end of summer, my heart was a little alarmed by a report that prevailed, of my lover’s being actually engaged in a treaty of marriage; however, I gave little credit to this rumour till I was obliged to go to town about business, and there I heard the same information confidently affirmed. Though I still considered it as a vague surmise, I wrote to him an account of what I had heard; and, in his answer, which is still in my possession, he assured me, with repeated vows and protestations, that the report was altogether false. Satisfied with this declaration, I returned to his house; and, though the tale was incessantly thundered in my ears, still believed it void of all foundation, till my suspicion was awakened by a very inconsiderable circumstance.
“One day, on his return from hunting, I perceived he had a very fine pair of Dresden ruffles on his shirt, which I could not suppose he would wear at such a rustic exercise; and, therefore, my fears took the alarm. When I questioned him about this particular of his dress, his colour changed; and though he attempted to elude my suspicion, by imputing it to a mistake of his servant, I could not rest satisfied with this account of the matter, but inquired into the truth with such eagerness and penetration, that he could not deny he had been to make a visit. By degrees, I even extorted from him a confession, that he had engaged himself further than he ought to have proceeded, without making me acquainted with his design, though he endeavoured to excuse his conduct, and pacify my displeasure, by saying, that the affair would not be brought to bear for a great while, and, perhaps, might never come to a determination but he was in great confusion, and, indeed, hardly knew what he said.
“I would have quitted his house that moment, had not he beforehand obtained a promise that I would take no rash resolution of that kind, and put it out of my power to procure any method of conveyance by which I could make my retreat. I gave no vent to reproaches, but only upbraided him with his having permitted me to return, in ignorance, to the country, after I was once fairly gone; upon which he swore that he could not bear the thoughts of parting with me. This declaration was a mystery at that time, but I have been since so fully satisfied of his reasons for his conduct, that I heartily acquit him of all injustice to me. And, indeed, it is my sincere opinion, that, if ever young man deserved to be happy, he is certainly entitled to that privilege; and, if I may be allowed to judge, has a heart susceptible of the most refined enjoyment.
“The violence of the grief and consternation which I suffered from this stroke having a little subsided, I deliberated with myself about the measures I should take, and determined to leave his house some day when he should be abroad. I was encouraged in this resolution by the advice of our Scotch friend, who came about this time from London, on a visit to his fellow-traveller. We thought such an abrupt departure would be less shocking than to stay and take a formal leave of my lover, whose heart was of such a delicate frame, that, after I told him I should one day withdraw myself in his absence, he never came home from the chase, or any other avocation, without trembling with apprehension that I had escaped.
“After he had been some time accustomed to these fears by my previous intimation, I at length decamped in good earnest, though my heart ached upon the occasion, because I left him loving and beloved; for his affection was evident, notwithstanding the step he had taken by the advice and importunity of all his relations, who laid a disagreeable restraint upon his inclinations, while they consulted his interest in every other particular.
“While I halted in the next great town, until I could be supplied with fresh horses, I was visited by a gentleman who had been formerly intimate with my lover; but a breach had happened in their friendship, and he now came to complain of the treatment he had received. Perceiving that I was not in a humour to listen to his story, he shifted the conversation to my own, and observed, that I had been extremely ill-used. I told him that I was of a different opinion; that it was not only just, but expedient, that a young man of Mr. —‘s fortune should think of making some alliance to strengthen and support the interest of his family; and that I had nothing to accuse him of but his letting me remain so long in ignorance of his intention. He then gave me to understand, that I was still ignorant of a great part of the ill-usage I had received; affirming, that, while I lived in his house, he had amused himself with all the common women in that town, to some of whom this gentleman had personally introduced him.
“At first, I could not believe this imputation; but he supported his assertion with so many convincing circumstances, that I could no longer doubt the truth of them; and I felt so much resentment, that my love vanished immediately into air. Instead of proceeding on my journey to London, I went back a considerable way, and sent a message desiring to see him in a little house, about midway between his own habitation and the town from whence I came. He obeyed my summons, and appeared at the place appointed, where I reproached him with great bitterness. He pleaded guilty to the charge, so far as acknowledging that he had corresponded with other women lately, in order to get the better of his affection for me, but the experiment had failed, and he found that he should be for ever miserable.
“I did not look upon this candid confession as a sufficient atonement for his past dissimulation, and, in the sharpness of my revenge, demanded a settlement, which he peremptorily refused; so that for the present we held each other in the utmost contempt. Indeed, I afterwards despised myself for my condescension, which was owing to the advice of my companion, supported and inflamed by the spirit of resentment. Nevertheless, he begged that I would return to his house, or stay all night where I was; but I was deaf to his entreaties, and, after a great deal of ironical civility on my side, I took my leave, and went away; yet, before I set out, I looked back, and saw him on horseback, with such an air of simplicity and truth, as called up a profound sigh, notwithstanding all that had passed in our conversation.
“Upon my arrival in London, I took lodgings in Leicester-fields, and answered a letter which I had some months before received from my lord, telling him that I would go home to him, without stipulating for any terms, to try what effect my confidence would have upon his generosity. He readily embraced the offer, and took a house in St. James’s-street, where I proposed to comply with his humour in everything that was consistent with my own peace and tranquility.
“Meanwhile, my lover passed his time very disagreeably in the country, with his friend, of whom, it seems, he had conceived some jealousy, which was increased by a letter I wrote to that gentleman, till he was made acquainted with the contents, which he read over forty times; and then his passion breaking out with more violence than ever, he not only expressed his feeling, in an epistle which I immediately received, but when he came to town suffered such agonies of despair as I had never seen before, except in Lord B—. It was then in my power to have taken ample revenge upon him, as well as upon my insolent rival, who had insisted upon my leaving his house in a very abrupt manner, though he absolutely refused to gratify her malice, for he was now disposed to do anything for my satisfaction. But I knew his worth, and had too much regard for his reputation to advise him to act inconsistent with his honour.
“About this time, many tender feelings and sorrowful partings happened between us, till the marriage knot was tied, when he sent me a bank-note for a thousand pounds, by way of specimen, as he called it, of his friendship, and of what he would do for me, should I ever want his assistance. This mark of his generosity I received in a most tender billet, which I shall never part with, together with his picture set in diamonds.
“I now employed my thoughts in keeping measures with my lord; we lay in the same apartment, and for the first four or five months I neither dined nor supped abroad above twice; and then he knew where I was, and approved of my company. But all this complacency and circumspection had no effect upon his temper, which remained as capricious and dissatisfied as ever. Nay, to such a provoking degree did this unhappy humour prevail, that one day, in the presence of his lawyer, he harangued upon my misconduct since our last reunion; and very freely affirmed, that every step I had taken was diametrically opposite to his will.
“Conscious of the pains I had been at to please him, I was so incensed at these unjust invectives, that, starting up, I told him he was a little dirty fellow; and would have left the house immediately, had not his lawyer, and others, who were in the room, interposed, and by dint of argument and importunity diverted me from my purpose. By the bye, I have been informed by a person of rank, that my lord discovered exactly the same disposition in his father’s lifetime, and only changed the subject of his complaint from the word father to that of wife. Indeed, he takes all opportunities of plaguing my dear parent, as he has just sagacity enough to know, that this is the most effectual way he can take to distress me.
“After repeated trials, I have given up all hopes of making him happy, or of finding myself easy in my situation, and live with him at present to avoid a greater inconvenience. Not that his ill-nature is all the grievance of which I complain; exclusive of the personal disgust I entertain for him, his folly is of that species which disobliges rather than diverts, and his vanity and affectation altogether intolerable; for he actually believes himself, or at least would impose himself upon mankind, as a pattern of gallantry and taste; and, in point of business. a person of infinite sagacity and penetration. But the most ridiculous part of his character is his pretended talent for politics, in which he so deeply concerns himself, that he has dismissed many a good servant, because he suspected him of having wrong connections; a theme upon which he has often quarrelled with me, even almost to parting, accusing me with holding correspondence with the earls of B— and C — and Mr. H— V — though I never had the least acquaintance with any of these gentlemen, except the earl of C — to whom I have not spoken these ten years past.
“In short, I have often been at a loss to know, whether he was more mad and malicious in those fits of enthusiasm, wherein he seemed transported with zeal for the commonwealth, and tormented me with his admonitions out of all temper and patience. At length, however, I contrived an expedient which freed me from these troublesome expostulations, and silenced him effectually on the score of politics. This was no other than an open avowal of being connected with all those people whom I have named. Indeed, I knew him too well to believe there was anything solid in his intention or professions, even when he carried himself so far as to demand a private audience of the k — in order to communicate a scheme for suppressing the rebellion; and that being denied, solicited the duke of D—‘s interest, for permission to raise and head a regiment of Kentish smugglers. Nay, to such a pitch did his loyalty soar, that he purchased a firelock of particular mechanism, calculated for the safety of the bearer, in case he had been placed sentinel at his Majesty’s door, and kept his horses ready caparisoned, with a view of attending his sovereign to the field. Notwithstanding all these pompous preparations, had he been put to the proof, he would have infallibly crept out of his engagements, through some sneaking evasion, his imagination being very fertile in such saving pretences. Yet he will talk sometimes so fervently, and even sensibly, on the subject, that a stranger would mistake him for a man of understanding, and determined zeal for the good of his country.
“Since my last return to his house, that act of parliament passed, by which he was enabled to pay his debts, and, among the rest, a thousand pounds of my contracting, the only burden of that kind I ever entailed upon him, exclusive of my pin-money, which was never regularly paid; nor would he have been subject to this, had he not, by his persecution and pursuit, exposed me to an extraordinary expense. I have also had it in my power to reward some of my faithful Abigails; in particular, to relieve from extreme distress that maid to whom, as I have already observed, Lord B— granted an annuity, which she had sold: so that she was reduced to the most abject poverty; and I found her in a dismal hole, with two infants perishing for want; a spectacle which drew tears from my eyes, and indeed could not but make deep impression upon a heart like mine, which the misery of my fellow-creatures never failed to melt.
“Nor did I upon this occasion forget the attachment and fidelity of my other woman Mrs. S — who, hearing I was robbed in my passage through Flanders, had generously relinquished the allowance I had settled upon her at parting. The exercise of such acts of humanity and benevolence, and the pleasure of seeing my dear and tender parent often, in some measure alleviate the chagrin to which I am subject from the disagreeable disposition of my lord, who, consistent with his former inconsistency, upon our last reconciliation, cheerfully agreed to a proposal I made of having concerts in the house, and even approved of the scheme with marks of particular satisfaction. But, before one half of the winter was expired, he found means to banish all the company, beginning with Lord R— B — who, as he walked up-stairs one evening, was stopped by a footman, who plainly told him he had orders to say to him in particular, that his lordship was not at home; yet the very next day, perceiving that nobleman and me walking together in the park, he joins us with an air of alacrity, as if no such thing had happened, and even behaved to Lord R— with the most fawning complaisance. His deportment was equally absurd and impertinent to the rest of his friends, who forsook us gradually, being tired of maintaining any friendly communication with such a disagreeable composition of ignorance and arrogance. For my own part, I look upon him as utterly incorrigible; and, as fate has subjected me to his power, endeavour to make the bitter draught go down, by detaching myself as much as possible from the supposition that there is any such existence upon earth. Indeed, if I had not fatal experience to the contrary, I should be apt to believe that such a character is not to be found among the sons of men; because his conduct is altogether unaccountable by the known rules and maxims of life, and falls entirely under the poet’s observation, when he says,
“’Tis true, no meaning puzzles more than wit.”
Her ladyship having thus concluded her story, to the entertainment of the company, and the admiration of Peregrine, who expressed his astonishment at the variety of adventures she had undergone, which was such as he thought sufficient to destroy the most hardy and robust constitution, and therefore infinitely more than enough to overwhelm one of her delicate frame; one of the gentlemen present roundly taxed her with want of candour, in suppressing some circumstances of her life, which he thought essential in the consideration of her character.
She reddened at this peremptory charge, which had an evident effect upon the countenances of the whole audience, when the accuser proceeded to explain his imputation, by observing, that, in the course of her narration, she had omitted to mention a thousand acts of uncommon charity, of which he himself knew her to be guilty; and that she had concealed a great many advantageous proposals of marriage, which she might have accepted before she was engaged.
The company were agreeably undeceived by this explanation; which her ladyship acknowledged in very polite terms, as a compliment equally genteel and unexpected. And our hero, after having testified the sense he had of her complaisance and condescension, in regaling him with a mark of her confidence and esteem, took his leave, and went home in a state of confusion and perplexity; for, from the circumstances of the tale he had heard, he plainly perceived, that her ladyship’s heart was too delicate to receive such incense as he, in the capacity of an admirer, could at present pay; because, though he had in some measure abridged the empire of Emilia in his own breast, it was not in his own power to restrain it so effectually, but that it would interfere with any other sovereign whom his thoughts should adopt; and unless Lady — could engross his whole love, time, and attention, he foresaw that it would be impossible for him to support the passion which he might have the good fortune to inspire. He was, moreover, deterred from declaring his love, by the fate of her former admirers, who seemed to have been wound up to a degree of enthusiasm, that looked more like the effect of enchantment, than the inspiration of human attractions; an ecstasy of passion which he durst not venture to undergo. He, therefore, resolved to combat with the impressions he had already received, and, if possible, cultivate her friendship without soliciting her affection. But, before he could fix upon this determination, he desired to know the footing on which he stood in her opinion; and, by the intelligence of Crabtree, obtained in the usual manner, understood that her sentiments of him were very favourable, though without the least tincture of love. He would have been transported with joy, had her thoughts of him been of a more tender texture; though his reason was better pleased with the information he received; in consequence of which he mustered up the ideas of his first passion, and set them in opposition to those of this new and dangerous attachment; by which means he kept the balance in equilibrio, and his bosom tolerably quiet.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59