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The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality

“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.

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