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an uriparalleled bounty, I could not resist; and therefore, that it was very lawful for me to do it, being at that time perfectly single, and unengaged to any other man, as I was, most certainly, by the unaccountable absence of my first husband, and the murder of my gentleman who went for my second.
It cannot be doubted but that I was the easier to persuade myself of the truth of such a doctrine as this, when it was so much for my ease, and for the repose of my mind, to have it be so.
“In things we wish, 'tis easy to deceive,
What we would have, we willingly believe." Besides, I had no casuists to resolve this doubt; the same devil that put this into my head bade me go to any of the Romish clergy, and, under the pretence of confession, state the case exactly, and I should see they would either resolve it to be no sin at all, or absolve me upon the easiest penance. This I had a strong inclination to try, but I know not what scruple put me off of it, for I could never bring myself to like having to do with those priests; and though it was strange that I, who had thus prostituted my chastity, and given up all sense of virtue, in two such particular cases, living a life of open adultery, should scruple anything, yet so
I argued with myself that I could not be a cheat in anything that was esteemed sacred; that I could not be of one opinion, and then pretend myself to be of another; nor could I go to confession, who knew nothing of the manner of it, and should betray myself to the priest to be a Huguenot, and then might come into trouble; but, in short, though I was a whore, yet I was a protestant whore, and could not act as if I was popish, upon any account whatsoever.
But, I say, I satisfied myself with the surprising occasion, that, as it was all irresistible, so it was all lawful; for that Heaven would not suffer us to be punished for that which it was not possible for us to avoid ; and with these absurdities I kept conscience from giving me any considerable disturbance in all this matter; and I was as perfectly easy as to the lawfulness of it, as if I had been married to the prince, and had had no other husband : so possible is it for us to roll ourselves up in wickedness, till we grow invulnerable by conscience; and that sentinel once dozed, sleeps fast, not to be awakened
while the tide of pleasure continues to flow, or till something dark and dreadful brings us to ourselves again.
I have, I.confess, wondered at the stupidity that my intellectual part was under all that while; what lethargic fumes dozed the soul; and how it was possible that I, who in the case before, where the temptation was many ways more forcible, and the arguments stronger, and more irresistible, was yet under a continued inquietude, on account of the wicked life I led, could now live in the most profound tranquillity, and with an uninterrupted peace, nay, even rising up to satisfaction and joy, and yet in a more palpable state of adultery than before; for before, my gentleman, who called me wife, had the pretence of his wife being parted from him, refusing to do the duty of her office as a wife to him. As for me, my circumstances were the same; but as for the prince, as he had a fine and extraordinary lady, or princess, of his own, so he had had two or three mistresses more besides me, and made no scruple of it at all.
However, I say, as to my own part, I enjoyed myself in perfect tranquillity; and as the prince was the only deity I worshipped, so I was really his idol; and however it was with his princess, I assure you his other mistresses found a sensible difference, and though they could never find me out, yet I had good intelligence that they guessed very well that their lord had got some new favourite that robbed them of his company, and, perhaps, of some of his usual bounty too. And now I must mention the sacrifices he made to his idol, and they were not a few, I
assure you. As he loved like a prince, so he rewarded like a prince, for though he declined my making a figure, as above, he let me see that he was above doing it for the saving the expense of it, and so he told me, and that he would make it
in other things. First of all, he sent me a toilet, with all the appurtenances of silver, even so much as the frame of the table; and then for the house, he gave me the table, or sideboard of plate I mentioned above, with all things belonging to it, of massy silver, so that, in short, I could not for my life study to ask him for anything of plate which I had not.
He could, then, accommodate me in nothing more but jewels and clothes, or money for clothes ; he sent his gentleman to the mercer's, and bought me a suit, or whole piece of the finest brocaded silk, figured with gold and another
with silver, and another of crimson; so that I had three suits of clothes, such as the Queen of France would not have disdained to have worn at that time; yet I went out nowhere ; but as those were for me to put on when I went out of mourning, I dressed myself in them, que after another, always when his highness came to see me.
I had no less than five several morning dresses besides these, so that I need never be seen twice in the same dress; to these he added several parcels of fine linen and of lace, so much that I had no room to ask for more, or, indeed, for so much.
I took the liberty once, in our freedoms, to tell him he was too bountiful, and that I was too chargeable to him for a mistress, and that I would be his faithful servant at less expense to him; and that he not only left me no room to ask him for anything, but that he supplied me with such a profusion of good things, that I scarce could wear them, or use them, unless I kept a great equipage, which he knew was no way convenient for him or for me; he smiled, and took me in his arms, and told me he was resolved, while I was his, I should never be able to ask him for anything, but that he would be daily asking new favours of me.
After we were up (for this conference was in bed), he desired I would dress me in the best suit of clothes I had. It was a day or two after the three suits were made and brought home. I told him, if he pleased, I would rather dress me in that suit which I knew he liked best. He asked me how I could know which he would like best before he had seen them. I told him I would presume for once to guess at his fancy by my own; so I went away and dressed me in the second suit, brocaded with silver, and returned in full dress, with a suit of lace upon my head, which would have been worth in England two hundred pounds sterling; and I was every way set out as well as Amy could dress me, who was a very genteel dresser too. In this figure I came to him, out of my dressing-room, which opened with folding-doors into his bedchamber.
He sat as one astonished a good while, looking at me, without speaking a word, till I came quite up to him, kneeled on one knee to him, and almost, whether he would or no, kissed his hand. He took me up, and stood up himself, but was surprised when, taking me in his arms, he perceived
PRESENTS ME WITH A NECKLACE OF DIAMONDS.
tears to run down my cheeks. My dear, says he, aloud, what mean these tears ? My lord, said I, after some little check, for I could not speak presently, I beseech you to believe me, they are not tears of sorrow, but tears of joy. It is impossible for me to see myself snatched from the misery I was fallen into, and at once to be in the arms of a prince of such goodness, such immense bounty, and be treated in such a manner; it is not possible, my lord, said I, to contain the satisfaction of it; and it will break out in an excess in some measure proportioned to your immense bounty, and to the affection which your highness treats me with, who am so infinitely below you.
It would look a little too much like a romance, here to repeat all the kind things he said to me on that occasion, but I can't omit one passage; as he saw the tears drop down my cheek, he pulls out a fine cambric handkerchief, and was going to wipe the tears off, but checked his hand, as if he was afraid to deface something; I say, he checked his hand, and tossed the handkerchief to me to do it myself. I took the hint immediately, and with a kind of pleasant disdain, How, my lord, said I, have you kissed me so often, and don't you know whether I am painted or not? Pray let your highness satisfy yourself that you have no cheats put upon you; for once let me be vain enough to say, I have not deceived
you with false colours. With this, I put a handkerchief into his hand, and taking his hand into mine, I made him wipe my face so hard that he was unwilling to do it, for fear of hurting me.
He appeared surprised more than ever, and swore, which was the first time that I had heard him swear from ту
first knowing him, that he could not have believed there was any such skin without paint in the world. Well, my lord, said I, your highness shall have a farther demonstration than this, as to that which you are pleased to accept for beauty, that it is the mere work of nature; and with that I stepped to the door, and rung a little bell for my woman Amy, and bade her bring me a cup full of hot water, which she did ; and when it was come, I desired his highness to feel if it was warm, which he did, and I immediately washed my face all over with it before him. This was, indeed, more than satisfaction, that is to say, than believing, for it was an undeni. able demonstration, and he kissed my cheeks and breasts a
thousand times, with expressions of the greatest surprise imaginable.
Nor was I a very indifferent figure as to shape; though I had had two children by my gentleman, and six by my true husband, I say I was no despisable shape ; and my prince (I must be allowed the vanity to call him so), was taking his view of me as I walked from one end of the room to the other. At last he leads me to the darkest part of the room, and standing behind me, bade me hold up my head, when putting both his hands round my neck, as if he was spanning my neck, to see how small it was, for it was long and
, he held my neck so long and so hard in his hand, that I complained he hurt me a little. What he did it for, I knew not, nor had I the least suspicion but that he was spanning my neck; but when I said he hurt me, he seemed to let go, and in half a minute more, led me to a pier-glass, and behold I saw my neck clasped with a fine necklace of diamonds ; whereas I felt no more what he was doing, than if he had really done nothing at all, nor did I suspect it in the least. If I had an ounce of blood in me that did not fly up into my face, neck, and breasts, it must be from some interruption in the vessels. I was all on fire with the sight, and began to wonder what it was that was coming to me.
However, to let him see that I was not unqualified to receive benefits, I turned about; My lord, says I, your highness is resolved to conquer, by your bounty, the very gratitude of your servants; you will leave no room for anything but thanks, and make those thanks useless too, by their bearing no proportion to the occasion.
I love, child, says he, to see everything suitable. A fine gown and petticoat, a fine laced head, a fine face and neck, and no necklace, would not have made the object perfect, But why that blush, my dear? says the prince. My lord, said I, all your gifts call for blushes, but above all, I blush to receive what I am so ill able to merit, and may become so ill also.
Thus far I am a standing mark of the weakness of great men in their vice, that value not squandering away immense wealth upon the most worthless creatures ; or, to sum it up in a word, they raise the value of the object which they pretend to pitch upon by their fancy. I say, raise the value of