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INCLINED TO MARRY MY DUTCA MERCHANT.
We had several meetings after this, in which still we had 80 many preliminaries to go through, that we scarce ever bordered upon the main subject; once, indeed, he said something of it, and I put it off with a kind of a jest. Alas! says I, those things are out of the question now ; 'tis almost two ages since those things were talked between us, says I. You see I am grown an old woman since that. Another time he gave a little push at it again, and I laughed again. Why, what dost thou talk of? said I, in a formal way, dost thou not see I am turned Quaker? I cannot speak of those things
Why, says he, the Quakers marry as well as other people, and love one another as well; besides, says he, the Quakers' dress does not ill become you, and so jested with me again, and so it went off for a third time; however, I began to be kind to him in process of time, as they call it, and we grew very intimate; and if the following accident had not unluckily intervened, I had certainly married him, or consented to marry him, the very next time he had asked
I had long waited for a letter from Amy, who, it seems, was just at that time gone to Rouen the second time, to make her inquiries about him ; and I received a letter from her at this unhappy juncture, which gave me the following account of my business :
I. That for my gentleman, who I bad now, as may say, in my arms, she said he had been gone from Paris, as I have hinted, having met with some great losses and misfortunes ; that he had been in Holland on that very account, whither he had also carried his children; that he was after that settled for some time at Rouen; that she had been at Rouen, and found there (by a mere accident), from a Dutch skipper, that he was at London, had been there above three years, that he was to be found upon the Exchange, on the French walk, and that he lodged at St. Laurence Pountney’s-lane, and the like; so Amy said she supposed I might soon find him out, but that she doubted he was poor, and not worth looking after. This she did because of the next clause, which the jade had most mind to on many accounts. II. That as to the Prince
-; that, as above, he was gone into Germany, where his estate lay ; that he had quitted the French service, and lived retired ; that she had seen his gentleman, who remained at Paris to solicit his arrears, &c.;
that he had given her an account how his lord had employed him to inquire for me, and find me out, as above, and told her what pains he had taken to find me; that he had understood that I was gone to England ; that he once had orders to go to England to find me; that his lord had resolved, if he could have found me, to have called me a countess, and so have married me, and have carried me into Germany with him; and that his commission was still to assure me that the prince would marry me if I would come to him, and that he would send him an account that he had found me, and did not doubt but he would have orders to come over to England to attend me in a figure suitable to my quality.
Amy, an ambitious jade, who knew my weakest part, namely, that I loved great things, and that I loved to be flattered and courted, said abundance of kind things upon this occasion, which she knew were suitable to me, and would prompt my vanity; and talked big of the prince's gentleman having orders to come over to me, with a procuration to marry me by proxy (as princes usually do in like cases), and to furnish me with an equipage, and I know not how many fine things; but told me withal, that she had not yet let him know that she belonged to me still, or that she knew where to find me, or to write to me; because she was willing to see the bottom of it, and whether it was a reality or a gasconade. She had indeed told him that if he had any such commission, she would endeavour to find me out, but no more.
III. For the Jew, she assured me that she had not been able to come at a certainty what was become of him, or in what part of the world he was; but that thus much she had learned from good hands, that he had committed a crime, in being concerned in a design to rob a rich banker at Paris ; and that he was fled, and had not been heard of there for above six years.
IV. For that of my husband, the brewer, she learned, that being commanded into the field upon an occasion of some action in Flanders, he was wounded at the battle of Mons, and died of his wounds in the Hospital of the Invalids ; so there was an end of my four inquiries, which I sent her over to make.
This account of the prince, and the return of his affection to me, with all the flattering great things which seemed to come along with it ; and especially as they came gilded, and
UNLUCKY INTERVENTION OF AMY'S LETTTER.
set out by my maid Amy; I say this account of the prince came to me in a very unlucky hour, and in the very crisis of
The merchant and I had entered into close conferences upon the grand affair. I had left off talking my platonics, and of my independency, and being a free woman, as before ; and he having cleared up my doubts too, as to his circumstances, and the misfortunes he had spoken of, I had gone so far, that we had begun to consider where we should live, and in what figure, what equipage, what house, and the like.
I had made some harangues upon the delightful retirement of a country life, and how we might enjoy ourselves so effectually without the incumbrances of business and the world ; but all this was grimace, and purely because I was afraid to make any public appearance in the world, for fear some impertinent person of quality should chop upon me again, and cry out, Roxana, Roxana, by with an oath, as had been done before.
My merchant, bred to business, and used to converse among men of business, could hardly tell how to live without it; at least it appeared he should be like a fish out of water, uneasy and dying; but however, he joined with me, only argued that we might live as near London as we could, that he might sometimes come to 'Change, and hear how the world should go abroad, and how it fared with his friends and his children.
I answered, that if he chose still to embarrass himself with business, I supposed it would be more to his satisfaction to be in his own country, and where his family was so well known, and where his children also were.
He smiled at the thoughts of that, and let me know, that he should be very willing to embrace such an offer, but that he could not expect it of me, to whom England was, to be sure, so naturalized now, as that it would be carrying me out of my native country, which he would not desire by any means, however agreeable it might be to him.
I told him he was mistaken in me; that as I had told him so much of a married state being a captivity, and the family being a house of bondage, that when I married I expected to be but an upper servant; so, if I did notwithstanding
submit to it, I hoped he should see I knew how to act the servant's part, and do everything to oblige my master; that if I did not resolve to go with him wherever he desired to go, he might depend I would never have him. And did I not, said I, offer myself to go with you to the East Indies ?
All this while this was indeed but a copy of my countenance; for as my circumstances would not admit of my stay in London, at least not so as to appear publicly, I resolved, if I took him, to live remote in the country, or go out of England with him.
But in an evil hour, just now came Amy's letter, in the very middle of all these discourses ; and the fine things she had said about the prince began to make strange work with me; the notion of being a princess, and going over to live where all that had happened here would have been quite sunk out of knowledge as well as out of memory (conscience excepted), was mighty taking; the thoughts of being surrounded with domestics, honoured with titles, be called her highness, and live in all the splendour of a court, and which was still more, in the arms of a man of such rank, and who I knew loved and valued me; all this, in a word, dazzled my eyes, turned my head, and I was as truly crazed and distracted, for about a fortnight, as most of the people in Bedlam, though perhaps not quite so far gone. When
my gentleman came to me the next time, I had no notion of him, I wished I had never received him at all; in short, I resolved to have no more to say to him, so I feigned myself indisposed ; and though I did come down to him, and speak to him a little, yet I let him see that I was so ill that I was (as we say) no company, and that it would be kind in him to give me leave to quit him for that time.
The next morning he sent a footman to inquire how I did; and I let him know I had a violent cold, and was very ill with it; two days after he came again, and I let him see me again, but feigned myself so hoarse that I could not speak to be heard, and that it was painful to me but to whisper ; and, in a word, I held him in this suspense near three weeks.
During this time I had a strange elevation upon my mind; and the prince, or the spirit of him, had such a possession of me, that I spent most of this time in the realizing all the greut things of a life with the prince, to my mind, pleasing
DESIROUS TO GET RID OF MY MERCHANT FRIEND. 207
my fancy with the grandeur I was supposing myself to enjoy, and withal, wickedly studying in what manner to put off this gentleman, and be rid of him for ever.
I cannot but say that sometimes the baseness of the action stuck hard with me; the honour and sincerity with which he had always treated me, and, above all, the fidelity he had showed me at Paris, and that I owed my life to him ; I say, all these stared in my face, and I frequently argued with myself upon the obligation I was under to him, and how base would it be, now too, after so many obligations and engagements, to cast him off.
But the title of highness, and of a princess, and all those fine things, as they came in, weighed down all this ; and the sense of gratitude vanished as if it had been a shadow.
At other times I considered the wealth I was mistress of; that I was able to live like a princess, though not a princess; and that my merchant (for he had told me all the affair of his misfortunes) was far from being poor, or even mean ; that together, we were able to make up an estate of between three and four thousand pounds a year, which was in itself equal to some princes abroad. But though this was true, yet the name of princess, and the flutter of it, in a word, the pride, weighed them down; and all these arguings generally ended to the disadvantage of my merchant; so that, in short, I resolved to drop him, and give him a final answer at his next coming; namely, that something had happened in my affairs, which had caused me to alter my measures unexpectedly; and, in a word, to desire him to trouble himself no farther.
I think, verily, this rude treatment of him was for some time the effect of a violent fermentation in my blood; for the very motion which the steady contemplation of my fancied greatness had put my spirits into, had thrown me into a kind of fever, and I scarce knew what I did.
I have wondered since that it did not make me mad; nor do I now think it strange to hear of those who have been quite lunatic with their pride, that fancied themselves queens and empresses, and have made their attendants serve them upon the knee, given visitors their hand to kiss, and the like; for certainly, if pride will not turn the brain, nothing can.
However, the next time my gentleman came, I had not courage enough, or not ill-nature enough, to treat him in the