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The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality

“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.

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