Page images
PDF
EPUB

RETURN TO ENGLAND AND SETTLE IN LONDON.

143

above; but it could not be, so I was obliged to bear with that part, and get rid of it by the ordinary method of patience and a hard travail. I was above the contemptible usage that women in my

circumstances oftentimes meet with. I had considered all that beforehand; and having sent Amy beforehand, and remitted her money to do it, she had taken me a very handsome house in street, near Charing-cross; had hired me two maids and a footman, who she had put in a good livery; and having hired a glass coach and four horses, she came with them and the man-servant to Harwich to meet me, and had been there near a week before I came : so I had nothing to do but to go away to London to my own house, where I arrived in very good health, and where I passed for a French lady, by the title of

My first business was to get all my bills accepted, which, to cut the story short, was all both accepted and currently paid; and I then resolved to take me a country lodging somewhere near the town, to be incognito, till I was brough: to bed; which, appearing in such a figure, and having such an equipage, I easily managed without anybody's offering the usual insults of parish inquiries. I did not appear in my new house for some time, and afterwards I thought fit, for particular reasons, to quit that house, and not come to it at all, but take handsome large apartments in the Pall Mall, in a house out of which was a private door into the king's garden, by the permission of the chief gardener, who had lived in the house.

I had now all my effects secured; but my money being my great concern at that time, I found it a difficulty how to dispose of it so as to bring me in an annual interest. However, in some time I got a substantial safe mortgage for 14,0001., by the assistance of the famous Sir Robert Clayton, for which I had an estate of 1,8001. a year bound to me; and had 7001. per annum interest for it. This, with some other securities, made me a very

handsome estate of above a thousand pounds a year; enough, one would think, to keep any woman in England from being a whore.

I lay in at about four miles from London, and brought a fine boy into the world, and according to my promise

He gave

sent an account of it to my friend at Paris, the father of it; and in the letter told him how sorry I was for his going away, and did as good as intimate, that if he would come once more to see me, I should use him better than I had done. He gave me a very kind and obliging answer, but took not the least notice of what I had said of his coming over, so I found my interest lost there for ever. me joy of the child, and hinted that he hoped I would make good what he had begged for the poor infant as I had promised, and I sent him word again that I would fulfil his order to a tittle ; and such a fool, and so weak I was in this last letter, notwithstanding what I have said of his not taking notice of my invitation, as to ask his pardon almost for the usage

I

gave him at Rotterdam, and stooped so low as to expostulate with him for not taking notice of my inviting him to come to me again, as I had done; and which was still more, went so far as to make a second sort of an offer to him, telling him, almost in plain words, that if he would come over now, I would have him ; but he never gave me the least reply to it at all, which was as absolute a denial to me as he was ever able to give; so I sat down, I cannot say contented, but vexed heartily that I had made the offer at all, for he had,

I may say, his full revenge of me in scorning to answer, and to let me twice ask that of him, which he with so much importunity begged of me before.

I was now up again, and soon came to my city lodging in the Pall Mall, and here I began to make a figure suitable to my estate, which was very great ; and I shall give you an account of my equipage in a few words, and of myself too. I paid 601. a year for my new apartments, for I took them

year, but then they were handsome lodgings indeed, and very richly furnished. I kept my own servants to clean and look after them, found my own kitchenware and firing. My equipage was handsome, but not very great; I had a coach, a coachman, a footman, my woman Amy, who I now dressed like a gentlewoman, and made her my companion, and three maids; and thus I lived for a time. I dressed to the height of every mode, went extremely rich in clothes, and as for jewels, I wanted none. I gave a very good livery, laced with silver, and as rich as anybody below the nobiny could be seen with; and thus I appeared, leaving the world

as

by the

BESIEGED BY FORTUNE-HUNTERS.

145

to guess who or what I was, without offering to put myself forward.

I walked sometimes in the Mall with my woman Amy, but I kept no company, and made no acquaintances, only made as gay a show as I was able to do, and that upon all occasions. I found, however, the world was not altogether so unconcerned about me as I seemed to be about them; and first I understood that the neighbours begun to be mighty inquisitive about me, as who I was ? and what

my

circumstances were ?

Amy was the only person that could answer their curiosity, or give any account of me; and she, a tattling woman and a true gossip, took care to do that with all the art that she was mistress of. She let them know that I was the widow of a person of quality in France, that I was very rich, that I came over hither to look after an estate that fell to me by some of my relations who died here, that I was worth 40,0001. all in my own hands, and the like.

This was all wrong in Amy, and in me too, though we did not see it at first, for this recommended me indeed to those sort of gentlemen they call fortune-hunters, and who always besieged ladies, as they called it, on purpose to take them prisoners, as I called it, that is to say, to marry the women, and have the spending of their money. But if I was wrong in refusing the honourable proposals of the Dutch merchant, who offered me the disposal of my whole estate, and had as much of his own to maintain me with; I was right now in refusing those offers which came generally from gentlemen of good families and good estates, but who living to the extent of them, were always needy and necessitous, and wanted a sum of money to make themselves easy, as they call it, that is to say, to pay off incumbrances, sisters' portions, and the like; and then the woman is prisoner for life, and may live as they please to give her leave. This life I had seen into clearly enough, and therefore I was not to be catched that way. However, as I said, the reputation of my money brought several of those sort of gentry about me, and they found means, by one stratagem or other, to get access to my ladyship; but in short, I answered them all well enough, that I lived single and was happy; that as I had no occasion to change my condition for an estate, so I did not see that by the best offer that any of them could VOL. IV.

L

make me, I could mend my fortune; that I might be honoured with titles indeed, and in time rank on public occasions with the peeresses (I mention that, because one that offered at me was the eldest son of a peer), but that I was as well without the title as long as I had the estate, and while I had 2,0001. a year of my own, I was happier than I could be in being prisoner of state to a nobleman, for I took the ladies of that rank to be little better.

As I have mentioned Sir Robert Clayton, with whom I had the good fortune to become acquainted, on account of the mortgage which he helped me to, it is necessary to take notice that I had much advantage in my ordinary affairs by his advice, and therefore I called it my good fortune; for as he paid me so considerable an annual income as 7001. a year, so I am to acknowledge myself much a debtor, not only to the justice of his dealings with me, but to the prudence and conduct which he guided me to, by his advice, for the management of my estate ; and as he found I was not inclined to marry, he frequently took occasion to hint how soon I might raise my fortune to a prodigious height, if I would but order my family economy so far within my revenue as to lay up every year something to add to the capital.

I was convinced of the truth of what he said, and agreed to the advantages of it. You are to take it as you go, that Sir Robert supposed by my own discourse, and especially by my woman Amy, that I had 2,0001. a year income. He judged, as he said, by my way of living, that I could not spend above one thousand; and so, he added, I might prudently lay by 1,000l. every year to add to the capital ; and by adding every year the additional interest or income of the money to the capital, he proved to me, that in ten years I should double the 1,0001. per annum that I laid by; and he drew me out a table, as he called it, of the increase, for me to judge by; and by which, he said, if the gentlemen of England would but act so, every family of them would increase their fortunes to a great degree, just as merchants do by trade; whereas now, says Sir Robert, by the humour of living up to the extent of their fortunes, and rather beyond, the gentlemen, says he, ay, and the nobility too, are almost all of them borrowers, and all in necessitous circumstances.

RESOLVE TO SAVE MONEY.

147

As Sir Robert frequently visited me, and was (if I may say so from his own mouth) very well pleased with my way of conversing with him, for he knew nothing, nor so much as guessed at what I had been; I say, as he came often to see me, so he always entertained me with this scheme of frugality; and one time he brought another paper, wherein he showed me, much to the same purpose as the former, to what degree I should increase my estate if I would come into his method of contracting my expenses; and by this scheme of his, it appeared, that laying up a thousand pounds a year, and every year adding the interest to it, I should in twelve years' time have in bank one-and-twenty thousand and fiftyeight pounds, after which I might lay up two thousand pounds a year.

I objected that I was a young woman, that I had been used to live plentifully, and with a good appearance, and that I knew not how to be a miser.

He told me that if I thought I had enough it was well, but that if I desired to have more, this was the way; that in another twelve years I should be too rich, so that I should not know what to do with it.

Ay, sir, says I, you are contriving how to make me a rich old woman, but that won't answer my end, I had rather have 20,0001. now than 60,0001. when I am fifty years old.

Then, madam, says he, I suppose your honour has no children?

None, Sir Robert, said I, but what are provided for; so I left him in the dark as much as I found him. However, I considered his scheme very well, though I said no more to him at that time, and I resolved, though I would make a very good figure, I say, I resolved to abate a little of my expense, and draw in, live closer, and save something, if not so much as he proposed to me. It was near the end of the year that Sir Robert made this proposal to me, and when the year was up, I went to his house in the city, and there I told him I came to thank him for his scheme of frugality; that I had been studying much upon it, and though I had not been able to mortify myself so much as to lay up a thousand pounds a year, yet, as I had not come to him for my interest half-yearly as was usual, I was now come to let him know that I had resolved to lay up that seven hundred

« PreviousContinue »