The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality thumbnail

The Memoirs of a Lady of Quality

“One evening, while I was conversing with three or four of my friends, my lawyer came in, and told me he had something of consequence to impart; upon which all the gentlemen but one went away. Then he gave me to understand, that my suit would immediately come to trial; and, though he hoped the best, the issue was uncertain. That, if it should be given against me, the decision would inspire my lord with fresh spirits to disturb my peace, and, therefore, it would be convenient for me to retire, until the affair should be brought to a determination.

“I was very much disconcerted at this intelligence; and the gentleman who stayed, perceiving my concern, asked what I intended to do, or if he could serve me in any shape, and desired to know whither I proposed to retreat. I affected to laugh, and answered, “To a garret, I believe.” To this overstrained reasoning he replied, that if I should, his friendship and regard would find the way to my apartment; and I had no reason to doubt the sincerity of his declaration. We consulted about the measures I should take, and I determined to remove into the country, where I was soon favoured with a letter from him, wherein he expressed the infinite pleasure he had in being able to assure me that my suit had been successful, and that I might appear again with great safety.

“Accordingly, I returned to town in his coach and six, which he had sent for my convenience, and the same evening went with him to the masquerade, where we passed the night very agreeably, his spirits, as well as mine, being elevated to a joyous pitch by the happy event of my process. This gentleman was a person of great honour, worth, and good-nature; he loved me extremely, but did not care that I should know the extent of his passion. On the contrary, he endeavoured to persuade me, he had laid it down as a maxim, that no woman should ever have power enough over his heart to give him the least pain or disquiet. In short, he had made a progress in my affection, and to his generosity was I indebted for my subsistence two whole years; during which, he was continually professing this philosophic indifference, while, at the same time, he was giving me daily assurances of his friendship and esteem, and treated me with incessant marks of the most passionate love; so that I concluded his intention was cold, though his temper was warm. Considering myself as an encumbrance upon his fortune, I redoubled my endeavours to obtain a separate maintenance from my lord, and removed from St. James’s-square to lodgings at Kensington, where I had not long enjoyed myself in tranquility, before I was interrupted by a very unexpected visit.

“While I was busy one day dressing in my dining-room, I found his lordship at my elbow before I was aware of his approach, although his coach was at the door, and the house already in the possession of his servants. He accosted me in the usual style, as if we had parted the night before; and I answered him with an appearance of the same careless familiarity, desiring him to sit down, while I retreated to my chamber, locked the door, and fairly went to bed; being perhaps the first woman who went thither for protection from the insults of a man. Here, then. I immured myself with my faithful Abigail. My lord finding me secured, knocked at the door, and through the keyhole begged to be admitted, assuring me that all he wanted was a conference. I desired to be excused, though I believed his assurance; but I had no inclination to converse with him, because I knew from experience the nature of his conversation, which was so disagreeable and tormenting, that I would have exchanged it at any time for a good beating, and thought myself a gainer by the bargain.

However, he persisted in his importunities to such a degree, that I assented to his proposal, on condition that the duke of L– should be present at the interview: and he immediately sent a message for his grace, while I, in peace, ate my breakfast, conveyed in a basket, which was hoisted up to the window of my bedchamber.

“The duke was so kind as to come at my lord’s request, and, before I would open the door, gave me his word, that I should be protected from all violence and compulsion. Thus assured, they were permitted to enter. My little gentleman, sitting down by my bedside, began to repeat the old hackneyed arguments he had formerly used, with a view of inducing me to live with him; and I, on my side, repeated my former objections, or pretended to listen to his representations, while my imagination was employed in contriving the means of effecting an escape, as the duke easily perceived by my countenance.

“Finding all his remonstrances ineffectual, he quitted the chamber, and left his cause to the eloquence of his grace, who sat with me a whole half-hour, without exerting himself much in behalf of his client, because he knew I was altogether obstinate and determined on that score; but joked upon the behaviour of his lordship, who, though jealous of most people, had left him alone with me in my bedchamber, observing, that he must neither have great confidence in his virtue, or a very bad opinion of him otherwise. In short, I found means to defer the categorical answer till next day, and invited the duke and his lordship to dine with me to-morrow. My wise yoke-fellow seemed to doubt the sincerity of this invitation, and was very much disposed to keep possession of my house. But, by the persuasion of his grace, and the advice of H–, who was his chief counsellor and back, he was prevailed upon to take my word, and for the present left me.

“They were no sooner retired, than I rose with great expedition, packed up my clothes, and took shelter in Essex for the first time.

Next day, my lord and his noble friend came to dinner, according to appointment; and being informed of my escape by my woman, whom I left in the house, his lordship discovered some signs of discontent, and insisted upon seeing my papers; upon which my maid produced a parcel of bills which I owed to different people. Notwithstanding this disappointment, he sat down to what was provided for dinner, and with great deliberation ate up a leg of lamb, the best part of a fowl, and something else, which I do not now remember; and then very peaceably went away, giving my maid an opportunity of following me to the place of my retreat.

“My intention was to have sought refuge, as formerly, in another country; but I was prevented from putting my design in execution by a fit of illness, during which I was visited by my physician and some of my own relations, particularly a distant cousin of mine, whom my lord had engaged in his interests, by promising to recompense her amply, if she could persuade me to comply with his desire. In this office she was assisted by the doctor, who was my friend, and a man of sense, for whom I have the most perfect esteem, though he and I have often differed in point of opinion. In a word, I was exposed to the incessant importunities of all my acquaintance, which, added to the desperate circumstances of my fortune, compelled me to embrace the terms that were offered, and I again returned to the domestic duties of a wife.

“I was conducted to my lord’s house by an old friend of mine, a gentleman turned of fifty, of admirable parts and understanding; he was a pleasing companion, cheerful and humane, and had acquired a great share of my esteem and respect. In a word, his advice had great weight in my deliberations, because it seemed to be the result of experience and disinterested friendship. Without all doubt, he had an unfeigned concern for my welfare; but, being an admirable politician, his scheme was to make my interest coincide with his own inclinations; for I had, unwittingly, made an innovation upon his heart; and as he thought I should hardly favour his passion while I was at liberty to converse with the rest of my admirers, he counselled me to surrender that freedom, well knowing that my lord would be easily persuaded to banish all his rivals from the house; in which case, he did not doubt of his being able to insinuate himself into my affections; because he laid it down as an eternal truth, that, if any two persons of different sexes were obliged to live together in a desert, where they would be excluded from all other human intercourse, they would naturally and inevitably contract an inclination for each other.

“How just this hypothesis might be, I leave to the determination of the curious; though, if I may be allowed to judge from my own disposition, a couple so situated would be apt to imbibe mutual disgusts from the nature and necessity of their union, unless their association was at first the effect of reciprocal affection and esteem. Be this as it will, I honour the gentleman for his plan, which was ingeniously contrived, and artfully conducted; but I happened to have too much address for him in the sequel, cunning as he was, though at first I did not perceive his drift; and his lordship was much less likely to comprehend his meaning.

“Immediately after this new accommodation, I was carried to a country house belonging to my lord, and was simple enough to venture myself, unattended by any servant on whose integrity I could depend, in the hands of his lordship, and H–, whose villainy I always dreaded; though, at this time, my apprehensions were considerably increased by recollecting, that it was not his interest to let me live in the house, lest his conduct should be inquired into; and by remembering that the very house to which we were going had been twice burnt down in a very short space of time, not without suspicion of his having been the incendiary, on account of some box of writings which was lost in the conflagration. True it is, this imputation was never made good; and, perhaps, he was altogether innocent of the charge, which nevertheless affected my spirits in such a manner, as rendered me the most miserable of all mortals.

In this terror did I remain, till my consternation was awakened by the arrival of Mr. B–, a good-natured worthy man, whom my lord had invited to his house, and I thought would not see me ill-used.

In a few weeks we were joined by Dr. S– and his lady, who visited us according to their promise; and it was resolved that we should set out for Tunbridge, on a party of pleasure, and at our return examine H–‘s accounts.

“This last part of our scheme was not at all relished by our worthy steward, who therefore determined to overturn our whole plan, and succeeded accordingly. My lord, all of a sudden, declared himself against the jaunt we had projected, and insisted upon my staying at home, without assigning any reason for this peremptory behaviour; his countenance being cloudy, and, for the space of three days, he did not open his mouth. At last, he one night entered my bedchamber, to which he now had free access, with his sword under his arm, and, if I remember aright, it was ready drawn. I could not help taking notice of this alarming circumstance, which shocked me the more, as it happened immediately after a gloomy fit of discontent. However, I seemed to overlook the incident, and, dismissing my maid, went to bed; because I was ashamed to acknowledge, even to my own heart, any dread of a person whom I despised so much. However, the strength of my constitution was not equal to the fortitude of my mind. I was taken ill, and the servants were obliged to be called up; while my lord himself, terrified at my situation, ran upstairs to Mrs. S–, who was in bed, told her, with evident perturbation of spirits, that I was very much indisposed, and said, he believed I was frightened by his entering my chamber with his sword in hand.

“This lady was so startled at his information, that she ran into my apartment half naked, and as she went down-stairs, asked what reason could induce him to have carried his sword with him. Upon which he gave her to understand, that his intention was to kill the bats. I believe and hope he had no other design than that of intimidating me; but when the affair happened, I was of a different opinion. Mrs. S–, having put on her clothes, sat up all night by my bedside, and was so good as to assure me that she would not leave me until I should be safely delivered from the apprehensions that surrounded me in this house, to which she and the doctor had been the principal cause of my coming; for my lord had haunted and importuned them incessantly on this subject, protesting that he loved me with the most inviolable affection; and all he desired was, that I would sit at his table, manage his family, and share his fortune. By these professions, uttered with an air of honesty and good-nature, he had imposed himself upon them for the best tempered creature upon earth; and they used all their influence with me to take him into favour. This has been the case with a great many people, who had but a superficial knowledge of his disposition; but, in the course of their acquaintance, they have never failed to discern and acknowledge their mistake.

“The doctor, on his return from Tunbridge, to which place he had made a trip by himself, found me ill abed, and the whole family in confusion. Surprised and concerned at this disorder, he entered into expostulation with my lord, who owned, that the cause of his displeasure and disquiet was no other than jealousy. He had informed him, that I had been seen to walk out with Mr. Bal– in a morning; and that our correspondence had been observed, with many additional circumstances, which were absolutely false and groundless. This imputation was no sooner understood, than it was resolved that the accuser should be examined in presence of us all. He accordingly appeared, exceedingly drunk, though it was morning, and repeated the articles of the charge, as an information he had received from a man who came from town to hang the bells, and was long ago returned to London.

“This was an instance of his cunning and address, which did not forsake him even in his hours of intoxication. Had he fixed the calumny on any one of the servants, he would have been confronted and detected in his falsehood. Nevertheless, though he could not be legally convicted, it plainly appeared that he was the author of this defamation, which incensed Mr. Bal– to such a degree, that he could scarce be withheld from punishing him on the spot, by manual chastisement. However, he was prevailed upon to abstain from such immediate vengeance, as a step unworthy of his character; and the affair was brought to this issue, that his lordship should either part with me or Mr. H–; for I was fully determined against living under the same roof with such an incendiary.

“This alternative being proposed, my lord dismissed his steward, and we returned to town with the doctor and Mrs. S–; for I had imbibed such horror and aversion for this country seat, though one of the pleasantest in England, that I could not bear to live in it.

We therefore removed to a house in Bond-street, where, according to the advice of my friends, I exerted my whole power and complaisance in endeavours to keep my husband in good-humour, but was so unsuccessful in my attempts, that, if ever he was worse tempered, more capricious, or intolerable, at one time than at another, this was the season in which his ill-humour predominated in the most rancorous degree. I was scarce ever permitted to stir abroad, saw nobody at home, but my old male friend, whom I have mentioned above; and the doctor, with his lady, from whose conversation, also, I was at last excluded.

“Nevertheless, I contrived to steal a meeting now and then with my late benefactor, for whom I entertained a great share of affection, exclusive of that gratitude that was due to his generosity. It was not his fault that I compromised matters with my lord; for he was as free of his purse as I was unwilling to use it. It would, therefore, have been unfriendly, unkind, and ungrateful in me, now that I was in affluence, to avoid all intercourse with a man who had supported me in adversity. I think people cannot be too shy and scrupulous in receiving favours; but once they are conferred, they ought never to forget the obligation. And I was never more concerned at any incident of my life, than at hearing that this gentleman did not receive a letter, in which I acknowledged the last proof of his friendship and liberality which I had occasion to use, because I have since learned that he suspected me of neglect.

“But to return to my situation in Bond-street. I bore it as well as I could for the space of three months, during which I lived in the midst of spies, who were employed to watch my conduct, and underwent every mortification that malice, power, and folly could inflict.

Nay, so ridiculous, so unreasonable was my tyrant in his spleen, that he declared he would even be jealous of Heydigger, if there was no other man to incur his suspicion: he expected that I should spend my whole time with him tete-a-tete; when I sacrificed my enjoyment to these comfortable parties, he never failed to lay hold on some innocent expression of mine, which he made the foundation of a quarrel; and, when I strove to avoid these disagreeable misinterpretations by reading or writing, he incessantly teased and tormented me with the imputation of being peevish, sullen, and reserved.

“Harassed by this insufferable behaviour, I communicated my case to Dr. S– and his lady, intimating that I neither could nor would expose myself any longer to such usage. The doctor exhorted me to bear my fate with patience; and Mrs. S– was silent on the subject; so that I still hesitated between staying and going, when the doctor, being one night at supper, happened to have some words with my lord, who was so violently transported with passion, that I was actually afraid of going to bed with him; and next morning, when he awakened, there was such an expression of frantic wildness in his countenance, that I imagined he was actually distracted.

“This alarming circumstance confirmed me in my resolution of decamping; and I accordingly moved my quarters to a house in Sackville-street, where I had lodged when I was a widow. From thence I sent a message to the duke of L–, desiring he would make my lord acquainted with the place of my abode, my reasons for removing, and my intention to defend myself against all his attempts. The first night of this separation I went to bed by myself with as much pleasure as a man would feel in going to bed to his mistress whom he had long solicited in vain, so rejoiced was I to be delivered from my obnoxious bedfellow! “From these lodgings I soon moved to Brook-street, where I had not long enjoyed the sweets of my escape, when I was importuned to return, by a new steward whom my lord had engaged in the room of H–. This gentleman, who bore a very fair character, made such judicious representations, and behaved so candidly in the discharge of his function, that I agreed he should act as umpire in the difference betwixt us, and once more a reconciliation was effected, though his lordship began to be dissatisfied even before the execution of our agreement; in consequence of which he attended me to Bath, whither I went for the benefit of my health, which was not a little impaired.

“This accommodation had a surprising effect upon my lover, who, notwithstanding his repeated declarations, that no woman should ever gain such an ascendancy over his heart as to be able to give him pain, suffered all the agonies of disappointed love, when he now found himself deprived of the opportunities of seeing me, and behaved very differently from what he had imagined he should. His words and actions were desperate: one of his expressions to me was, “It is like twisting my heart-strings, and tearing it out of my body.” Indeed, I never should have acted this part had I foreseen what he would have suffered; but I protest I believed him, when he said otherwise, so much, that his declaration on that subject was the occasion of my giving him up; and it was now too late to retract.

“In our expedition to Bath, I was accompanied by a very agreeable young lady, with whom I passed my time very happily, amid the diversions of the place, which screened me, in a good measure, from the vexatious society of my hopeful partner. From this place we repaired to his seat in the country, where we spent a few months, and thence returned again to our house in Bond-street. Here, while I was confined to my bed by illness, it was supposed my indisposition was no other than a private lying-in, though I was under the roof with my lord, and attended by his servants.

“While the distemper continued, my lord, to do him justice, behaved with all imaginable tenderness and care; and his concern on these occasions I have already mentioned as a strange inconsistency in his disposition. If his actions were at all accountable, I should think he took pains to fret me into a fever first, in order to manifest his love and humanity afterwards. When I recovered my strength and spirits, I went abroad, saw company, and should have been easy, had he been contented; but as my satisfaction increased, his good-humour decayed, and he banished from his house, one by one, all the people whose conversation could have made my life agreeable.

“I often expostulated with him on his malignant behaviour, protesting my desire of living peaceably with him, and begging he would not lay me under the necessity of changing my measures. He was deaf to all my remonstrances, though I warned him more than once of the event, persisted in his maxims of persecution; and, after repeated quarrels, I again left his house fully determined to suffer all sorts of extremity, rather than subject myself to the tyranny of his disposition.

“This year was productive of one fatal event, which I felt with the utmost sensibility of sorrow, and I shall always remember with regret:–I mean the death of Mr. B–, with whom I had constantly maintained an intimate correspondence since the first commencement of our acquaintance. He was one of the most valuable men, and promised to be one of the brightest ornaments that this or any other age had produced. I enjoyed his friendship without reserve; and such was the confidence he reposed in my integrity, from long experience of my truth, that he often said he would believe my bare assertion, even though it should contradict the evidence of his own senses. These being the terms upon which we lived, it is not to be supposed that I bore the loss of him without repining.

Indeed, my grief was unspeakable; and, though the edge of it be now smoothed by the lenient hand of time, I shall never cease to cherish his memory with the most tender remembrance.

“During the last period of my living with my lord, I had agreed to the expediency of obtaining an act of parliament, which would enable him to pay his debts; on which occasion there was a necessity of cancelling a deed that subsisted between us, relating to a separate maintenance, to which, on certain provisions, I was entitled; and this was to be set aside, so far as it interfered with the above-mentioned scheme, while the rest of it should remain in force. When this affair was about to be transacted, my lord very generously insisted upon my concurrence in annulling the whole settlement; and, when I refused to comply with this demand, because this was the sole resource I had against his ill-usage, he would not proceed in the execution of his plan, though, by dropping it, he hurt nobody but himself; and he accused me of having receded from my word, after I had drawn him into considerable expense.

“This imputation of breaking my word, which I defy the whole world to prove I ever did, incensed me the more, as I myself had proposed the scheme for his service, although I knew the accomplishment of it would endanger the validity of my own settlement; and my indignation was still more augmented by the behaviour of Mr. G–, who had always professed a regard for my interest, and upon my last accommodation with my lord, undertaken to effect a reconciliation between my father and me; but, when he was questioned about the particulars of this difference, and desired to declare whether his lordship or I was to blame, he declined the office of arbitrator, refused to be explicit upon the subject, and by certain shrewd hums and ha’s, signified his disapprobation of my conduct. Yet this very man, when I imparted to him, in confidence, my intention of making another retreat, and frankly asked his opinion of my design, seemed to acquiesce in the justice of it in these remarkable words: “Madam, if I thought or had hopes of my lord growing better, I would down on my knees to desire you to stay; but, as I have not, I say nothing.”

“If he connived at my conduct in this particular, why should he disapprove of it when all I asked was but common justice? But he was a dependant; and therefore I excuse his phlegmatic, not to call it unfriendly, behaviour. Indeed, he could not be too cautious of giving offence to his lordship, who sometimes made him feel the effects of that wrath which other people had kindled; particularly in consequence of a small adventure which happened about this very period of time.

“A very agreeable, sprightly, good-natured young man, a near relation of my lord, happening to be at our house one evening, when there was a fire in the neighbourhood, we agreed to go and sup at the tavern en famille; and, having spent the evening with great mirth and good-humour, this young gentleman, who was naturally facetious, in taking his leave, saluted us all round. My lord, who had before entertained some jealousy of his kinsman, was very much provoked by this trifling incident, but very prudently suppressed his displeasure till he returned to his own house, where his rage co-operating with the champagne he had drunk, inflamed him to such a degree of resolution, that he sprang upon the innocent G–, and collared him with great fury, though he was altogether unconcerned in the cause of his indignation.

“This extravagant and frantic behaviour, added to other grievances under which I laboured, hastened my resolution of leaving him; and he, to this day, blames his relation as the immediate cause of my escape, whereas he ought to place it to the account of his own madness and indiscretion. When I retired to Park-street, he cautioned all my tradesmen, not even excepting my baker, against giving me credit, assuring them that he would not pay any debts I should contract; and the difficulties to which I was reduced, in consequence of this charitable declaration, together with the reflection of what I had suffered, and might undergo, from the caprice and barbarity of his disposition, affected my health so much, that I was again taken ill, and my life thought in danger.

“My constitution, however, got the better of my distemper, and I was ordered into the country by my physicians, for the benefit of the air; so that I found myself under the necessity of keeping two houses, when I was little able to support one, and set up my chariot, because I could not defray the expense of a hackney-coach; for I had as much credit given me as I asked for, notwithstanding my lord’s orders to the contrary.

“Having recruited my spirits in the country, I returned to town, and was visited by my friends, who never forsook me in adversity, and in the summer removed to a house in Essex, where I lived a few months in great tranquility, unmolested by my tyrant, who sometimes gave me a whole year’s respite. Here I used to ride and drive by turns, as my humour dictated, with horses which were lent me; and I had the company of my lover, and another gentleman, who was a very agreeable companion, and of singular service to me in the sequel.

“At last, my lord having received intelligence of the place of my abode, and his tormenting humour recurring, he set out for my habitation, and in the morning appeared in his coach and six, attended by Mr. G– and another person, whom he had engaged for the purpose, with several domestics armed. I immediately shut up my doors at his approach, and refused him admittance, which he endeavoured to obtain by a succession of prayers and threats; but I was deaf to both, and resolved to hold out to the last. Seeing me determined, he began his attack, and his servants actually forced their way into the house; upon which I retreated up-stairs, and fortified myself in my apartment, which the assailants stormed with such fury, that the door began to give way, and I retired into another room.

“Whilst I remained in this post, Mr. G– demanded a parley, in which he begged I would favour my lord with an interview, otherwise he knew not what might be the consequence. To this remonstrance I replied, that I was not disposed to comply with his request; and though their design should be murder, I was not at all afraid of death. Upon this declaration they renewed their attacks, which they carried on with indifferent success till the afternoon, when my lord, as if he had been at play, sent a formal message to me, desiring that all hostilities should cease, till after both parties should have dined. At the same time, my own servants came for instructions; and I ordered them to let him have everything which he should call for, as far as the house would afford.

“He did not fail to make use of this permission; but sitting down with his companions, ate up my dinner without hesitation, after he had paid me the compliment of desiring to know what he should send up to my apartment. Far from having any stomach to partake of his meal, I sat solitary upon my bed, in a state of melancholy expectation, having fastened the door of the outward room for my security, while I kept my chamber open for the convenience of air, the weather being excessively hot. His lordship, having indulged his appetite, resumed his attempt, and all of a sudden I heard a noise in the next room; upon which I started up, and perceiving that he had got into my ante-chamber, by the help of a bench that stood under the window, I flung to the door of my room, which I locked with great expedition, and opening another that communicated with the staircase, ran out of the house, through a crowd of more than a hundred people, whom this fray had gathered together.

“Being universally beloved in the neighbourhood, and respected by my lord’s servants, I passed among them untouched, and took refuge in a neighbouring cottage; while his lordship bawled and roared for assistance, being afraid to come out as he had gone in. Without waiting for his deliberations, I changed clothes with the poor woman who had given me shelter, and in her blue apron and straw hat sallied out into the fields, intending to seek protection in the house of a gentleman not far off, though I was utterly ignorant of the road that led me to it. However, it was my good fortune to meet with a farmer, who undertook to conduct me to the place; otherwise I should have missed my way, and in all probability lain in the fields; for by this time it was eight o’clock at night.

“Under the direction of this guide, I traversed hedges and ditches; for I would not venture to travel in the highway, lest I should fall into the hands of my pursuer, and after I had actually tumbled into the mire, and walked six or seven long miles by the help of a good spirit, which never failed me on such occasions, I arrived at the place, and rung the bell at the garden gate for admittance.

Seeing my figure, which was very uncouth, together with my draggled condition, they denied me entrance; but, when they understood who I was, immediately opened the door, and I was hospitably entertained, after having been the subject of mirth, on account of my dress and adventure.

“Next day I returned and took possession of my house again, where I resumed my former amusements, which I enjoyed in quiet for the space of a whole month, waiting with resignation for the issue of my lawsuit; when, one afternoon, I was apprised of his lordship’s approach by one of my spies, whom I always employed to reconnoitre the road; and so fortunate was I in the choice of these scouts, that I never was betrayed by one of them, though they were often bribed for that purpose. I no sooner received this intelligence, than I ordered my horse to be saddled, and, mounting, rode out of sight immediately, directing my course a different way from the London road. I had not long proceeded in this track, when my career was all of a sudden stopped by a five-bar gate, which, after some hesitation, I resolved to leap (my horse being an old hunter), if I should find myself pursued. However, with much difficulty I made a shift to open it, and arrived in safety at the house of my very good friend Mr. G–, who, being a justice of the peace, had promised me his protection, if it should be wanted.

“Thus secured for the present, I sent out spies to bring information of his lordship’s proceedings, and understood that he had taken possession of my house, turned my servants adrift, and made himself master of all my movables, clothes, and papers. As for the papers, they were of no consequence, but of clothes I had a good stock; and, when I had reason to believe that he did not intend to relinquish his conquest, I thought it was high time for me to remove to a greater distance from his quarters. Accordingly, two days after my escape, I set out at eleven o’clock at night, in a chariot and four, which I borrowed of my friend, attended by a footman, who was a stout fellow, and well armed, I myself being provided with a brace of good pistols, which I was fully determined to use against any person who should presume to lay violent hands upon me, except my lord, for whom a less mortal weapon would have sufficed, such as a bodkin or a tinder-box. Nothing could be farther from my intention than the desire of hurting any living creature, much less my husband: my design was only to defend myself from cruelty and oppression, which I knew, by fatal experience, would infallibly be my lot, should he get me into his power. And I thought I had as good a right to preserve my happiness, as that which every individual has to preserve his life, especially against a set of ruffians, who were engaged to rob me of it for a little dirty lucre.

“In the midst of our journey, the footman came up, and told me I was dogged; upon which I looked out, and, seeing a man riding by the chariot side, presented one of my pistols out of my window, and preserved that posture of defence, until he thought proper to retreat, and rid me of the fears that attended his company. I arrived in town, and, changing my equipage, hired an open chaise, in which, though I was almost starved with cold, I travelled to Reading, which I reached by ten next morning; and from thence proceeded farther in the country, with a view of taking refuge with Mrs. C–, who was my particular friend. Here I should have found shelter, though my lord had been beforehand with me, and endeavoured to prepossess her against my conduct, had not the house been crowded with company, among whom I could not possibly have been concealed, especially from her brother, who was an intimate friend of my persecutor.

“Things being thus situated, I enjoyed but a very short interview with her, in which her sorrow and perplexity on my account appeared with great expression in her countenance; and, though it was not in her power to afford me the relief I expected, she, in the most genteel manner, sent after me a small sum of money, thinking that, considering the hurry in which I left my house, I might have occasion for it on the road. I was, by this time, benumbed with cold, fatigued with travelling, and almost fretted to death by my disappointment. However, this was no time to indulge despondence; since nobody could or would assist me, I stood the more in need of my own resolution and presence of mind. After some deliberation, I steered my course back to London; and, being unwilling to return by the same road in which I came, as well as impatient to be at the end of my journey, I chose the Bagshot way, and ventured to cross the heath by moonlight.

“Here I was attacked by a footpad armed with a broad-sword, who came up and demanded my money. My stock amounted to twelve guineas; and I foresaw that should I be stripped of the whole sum, I could not travel without discovering who I was, and consequently running the risk of being detected by my pursuer. On these considerations, I gave the fellow three guineas and some silver; with which he was so far from being satisfied, that he threatened to search me for more: but I ordered the coachman to proceed, and by good fortune escaped that ceremony, though I was under some apprehension of being overtaken with a pistol bullet in my flight, and therefore held down my head in the chaise, in imitation of some great men, who are said to have ducked in the same manner in the day of battle. My fears happened to be disappointed: I lay at an inn upon the road, and next day arrived in town, in the utmost difficulty and distress; for I knew not where to fix my habitation, and was destitute of all means of support. In this dilemma, I applied to my lawyer, who recommended me to the house of a tradesman in Westminster, where I lodged and boarded upon credit, with my faithful Abigail (whom I shall distinguish by the name of Mrs. S–), for the space of ten weeks, during which I saw nobody, and never once stirred abroad.

“While I was thus harassed out of all enjoyment of life, and reduced to the utmost indigence, by the cruelty of my persecutor, who had even stripped me of my wearing apparel, I made a conquest of Lord D–, a nobleman who is now dead, and therefore I shall say little of his character, which is perfectly well known: this only will I observe, that, next to my own tyrant, he was the person of whom I had the greatest abhorrence. Nevertheless, when these two came in competition, I preferred the offers of this new lover, which were very considerable; and as an asylum was the chief thing I wanted, agreed to follow him to his country seat, whither I actually sent my clothes, which I had purchased upon credit.

“However, upon mature deliberation, I changed my mind, and signified my resolution in a letter, desiring at the same time that my baggage might be sent back. In consequence of this message, I expected a visit from him, in all the rage of indignation and disappointment, and gave orders that he should not be admitted into my house yet, notwithstanding this precaution, he found means to procure entrance; and one of the first objects that I saw, next morning, in my bedchamber, was my lover, armed with a horsewhip, against which, from the knowledge of the man, I did not think myself altogether secure; though I was not much alarmed, because I believed myself superior to him in point of bravery, should the worst come to the worst. But, contrary to my expectation, and his usual behaviour to our sex, he accosted me very politely, and began to expostulate on the contents of my letter. I freely told him, that I had rashly assented to his proposal, for my own convenience only; that, when I reflected on what I had done, I thought it ungenerous in me to live with him upon these terms; and that, as I did not like him, and could not dissemble, such a correspondence could never tend to the satisfaction of either. He allowed the inference was just, though he was very much chagrined at my previous proceeding. He relinquished his claim, restored my clothes, and never afterwards upbraided me with my conduct in this affair; though he at one time owned, that he still loved me, and ever should, because I had used him ill; a declaration that strongly marks the peculiarity of his character. As for my own part, I own that my behaviour on this occasion is no other way excusable, than on account of the miserable perplexity of my circumstances, which were often so calamitous, that I wonder I have not been compelled to take such steps as would have rendered my conduct much more exceptionable than it really is.

“At last all my hopes were blasted by the issue of my suit, which was determined in favour of my lord. Even then I refused to yield: on the contrary, coming out of retirement, I took lodgings in Suffolk-street, and set my tyrant at defiance. But, being unwilling to trust my doors to the care of other people, I hired a house in Conduit-street; and no sooner appeared in the world again, than I was surrounded by divers and sundry sorts of admirers. I believe I received the incense and addresses of all kinds under the sun, except that sort which was most to my liking, a man capable of contracting and inspiring a mutual attachment; but such a one is equally rare and inestimable; not but that I own myself greatly obliged to all those who cultivated my good graces, though they were very little beholden to me; for where I did not really love, I could never profess that passion; that sort of dissimulation is a slavery that no honest nature will undergo. Except one worthy young man whom I sometimes saw, they were a strange medley of insignificant beings: one was insipid, another ridiculously affected, a third void of all education, a fourth altogether inconsistent; and, in short, I found as many trifling characters among the men, as ever I observed in my own sex. Some of them I endeavoured to bring over to my maxims, while they attempted to make a proselyte of me; but, finding the task impracticable on both sides, we very wisely dropped each other.

“At length, however, I was blessed with the acquaintance of one nobleman, who is, perhaps, the first character in England, in point of honour, integrity, wit, sense, and benevolence; when I have thus distinguished him, I need scarce mention Lord –. This great, this good man, possesses every accomplishment requisite to inspire admiration, love, and esteem. With infinitely more merit than almost ever fell to one man’s share, he manifests such diffidence of his own qualifications, as cannot fail to prepossess every company in his favour. He seems to observe nothing, yet sees everything; his manner of telling a story, and making trifles elegant, is peculiar to himself; and, though he has a thousand oddities, they serve only to make him more agreeable. After what I have said, it may be supposed that I was enamoured of his person; but this was not the case; love is altogether capricious and fanciful; yet I admire, honour, and esteem him to the highest degree, and when I observe that his character resembled that of my dear departed friend Mr.

B–; or rather, that Mr. B–, had he lived, would have resembled Lord –, I pay the highest compliment I can conceive both to the living and to the dead.

“In this nobleman’s friendship and conversation I thought myself happy; though I was, as usual, exposed to the indefatigable efforts of my lord, who, one day, while I was favoured with the company of this generous friend, appeared at my door in his coach, attended by another gentleman, who demanded entrance with an air of authority.

A very honest footman, who had been long in my service, ran upstairs in the utmost consternation, and gave me an account of what had happened below. Upon which I told him he had nothing to answer for, and ordered him to keep the door fast shut against all opposition; though I was so much affected with this unexpected assault, that Lord — said he was never more surprised and shocked in his life, than at the horror which appeared in my countenance, when I saw the coach stop at my door.

“My little hero being refused admittance, went away, threatening to return speedily with a reinforcement; and during this interval, I provided myself with a soldier, whom I placed sentinel at the door, within side, to guard me from the danger of such assaults for the future. My lord, true to his promise, marched back with his auxiliaries, reinforced with a constable, and repeated his demand of being admitted; and my soldier opening the sash, in order to answer him, according to my directions, he no sooner perceived the red coat, than he was seized with such a panic, that he instantly fled with great precipitation; and, when he recounted the adventure, like Falstaff in the play, multiplied my guard into a whole file of musqueteers. He also made a shift to discover the gentleman who had been so kind as to lend me one of his company, and complained of him to the duke of N–, in hopes of seeing him broke for his misdemeanour; but in that expectation he was luckily disappointed.

“Perceiving that in England I should never enjoy peace, but be continually subject to those alarms and disquiets which had already impaired my health and spirits, I resolved to repair again to France, my best refuge and sure retreat from the persecution of my tyrant. Yet, before I took this step, I endeavoured, by the advice of my friends, to conceal myself near Windsor; but was in a little time discovered by my lord, and hunted out of my lurking-place accordingly. I then removed to Chelsea, where I suffered inconceivable uneasiness and agitation of mind, from the nature of my situation, my tranquility being thus incessantly invaded by a man who could not be satisfied with me, and yet could not live without me. So that, though I was very much indisposed, I set out for France, by way of the Hague, as the war had shut up all other communication, having no other attendant but my woman S–, who, though she dreaded the sea, and was upon the brink of matrimony, would not quit me in such a calamitous condition, until I was joined by my footman and another maid, whom I ordered to follow me with the baggage. But, before my departure, I sent a message to Lord –, demanding my clothes, which he had seized in Essex; and, he refusing to deliver them, I was obliged to equip myself anew, upon credit.

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