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THE PRINCESS CAKEN ILL AND DIES.
but in beauty, wit, and a thousand good qualities, superior, not to most women, but even to all her sex; and as to her virtue, the character which was most justly her due, was that of, not only the best of princesses, but even the best of
They lived in the utmost harmony, as with such a princess it was impossible to be otherwise ; but yet the princess was not insensible that her lord had his foibles, that he did make some excursions, and particularly that he had one favourite mistress, which sometimes engrossed him more than she (the princess) could wish, or be easily satisfied with. However, she was so good, so generous, so truly kind a wife, that she never gave him any uneasiness on this account; except so much as must arise from his sense of her bearing the affront of it with such patience, and such a profound respect for him as was in itself enough to have reformed him, and did sometimes shock his generous mind, so as to keep him at home, as I may call it, a great while together. And it was not long before I not only perceived it by his absence, but really got a knowledge of the reason of it, and once or twice he even acknowledged it to me.
It was a point that lay not in me to manage. I made a kind of motion once or twice to him, to leave me, and keep himself to her, as he ought by the laws and rites of matrimony to do, and argued the generosity of the princess to him, to persuade him; but I was a hypocrite; for had I prevailed with him really to be honest, I had lost him, which I could not bear the thoughts of; and he might easily see I was not in earnest. One time in particular, when I took upon me to talk at this rate, I found, when I argued so much for the virtue and honour, the birth, and above all the generous usage he found in the person of the princess with respect to his private amours, and how it should prevail upon him, &c., 1 found it began to affect him, and he returned, And do you indeed, says he, persuade me to leave you? Would you have me think
in his face, smiling Not for any other favourite, my lord, says I; that would break my heart; but for madam the princess! said I; and then I could say no more ; tears followed, and I sat silent awhile. Well, said he, if ever I do leave you, it shall be on the virtuous account, it shall be for the princess; I assure you it shall be for no other woman. That's enough, my lord,
said I; there I ought to submit; and while I am assured it shall be for no other mistress, I promise your highness I will not repine ; or that, if I do, it shall be a silent grief; it shall not interrupt your felicity.
All this while I said I knew not what, and said what I was no more able to do than he was able to leave me; which, at that time, he owned he could not do: no, not for the princess herself.
But another turn of affairs determined this matter; for the princess was taken very ill, and, in the opinion of all her physicians, very dangerously so. In her sickness she desired to speak with her lord, and to take her leave of him. At this grievous parting she said so many passionate, kind things :0 him, lamented that she had left him no children (she had had three, but they were dead); hinted to him that it was one of the chief things which gave her satisfaction in death, as to this world, that she should leave him room to have heirs to his family, by some princess that should supply her place; with all humility, but with a Christian earnestness, recommended to him to do justice to such princess, whoever it should be, from whom, to be sure, he would expect justice; that is to say, to keep to her singly, according to the solemnest part of the marriage covenant; humbly asked his highness's pardon, if she had any way offended him ; and appealing to heaven, before whose tribunal she was to appear, that she had never violated her honour or her duty to him; and praying to Jesus and the blessed Virgin for his highness. And thus, with the most moving and most passionate expressions of her affection to him, took her last leave of him, and died the next day.
This discourse, from a princess so valuable in herself, and so dear to him, and the loss of her following so immediately after, made such deep impressions on him, that he looked back with detestation upon the former part of his life, grew melancholy and reserved, changed his society, and much of the general conduct of his life, resolved on a life regulated most strictly by the rules of virtue and piety; and, in a word, was quite another man.
The first part of his reformation was a storm upon me; for about ten days after the princess's funeral he sent a message to me by his gentleman, intimating, though in very civil terms and with a short preamble or introduction, hat he
desired I would not take it ill that he was obliged to let me know that he could see me no more. His gentleman told me a long story of the new regulation of life his lord had taken up; and that he had been so afflicted for the loss of his princess, that he thought it would either shorten his life, or he would retire into some religious house, to end bis days in solitude. I need not direct anybody to suppose how I received this
I was indeed exceedingly surprised at it, and had much ado to support myself when the first part of it was delivered, though the gentleman delivered his errand with great respect, and with all the regard to me that he was able, and with a great deal of ceremony, also telling me how much he was concerned to bring me such a message.
But when I heard the particulars of the story at large, and especially that of the lady's discourse to the prince, a little before her death, I was fully satisfied ; I knew very well he done nothing but what any man must do that had a true sense upon him of the justice of the princess's discourse to him, and of the necessity there was of his altering his course of life, if he intended to be either a Christian or an honest man. when I heard this I was perfectly easy; I confess it was a circumstance that it might be reasonably expected should have wrought something also upon me; I that had so much to reflect upon more than the prince; that had now no more temptation of poverty, or of the powerful motive which Amy used with m namely, comply and live, deny and starve; I say, I that had no poverty to introduce vice, but was grown not only well supplied, but rich; and not only rich, but was very rich ; in a word, richer than I knew how to think of, for the truth of it was, that thinking of it sometimes almost distracted me, for want of knowing how to dispose of it, and for fear of losing it all again by some cheat or trick, not knowing anybody that I could commit the trust of it to.
Besides, I should add, at the close of this affair, that the prince did not, as I may say, turn me off rudely and with disgust, but with all the decency and goodness peculiar to himself, and that could consist with a man reformed and struck with the sense of his having abused so good a lady as his late princess had been; nor did he send me away empty, but did everything like himself; and, in particular, ordered his gentleman to pay the rent of the house and all the ex
pense of his two sons, and to tell me how they were taken care of, and where, and also that I might at all times inspect the usage they had, and it I disliked anything it should be rectified; and having thus finished everything, he retired into Lorraine, or somewhere that way, where he had an estate ; and I never heard of him more, I mean not as a mistress.
Now I was at liberty to go to any part of the world, and take care of my money myself. The first thing that I resolved to do, was to go directly to England, for there, I thought, being among my country-folks (for I esteemed myself an English woman, though I was born in France), but there, I say, I thought I could better manage things than in France; at least, that I would be in less danger of being circumvented and deceived; but how to get away with such a treasure as I had with me was a difficult point, and what I was greatly at a loss about.
There was a Dutch merchant in Paris, that was a person of great reputation for a man of substance and of honesty, but I had no manner of acquaintance with him, nor did I know how to get acquainted with him, so as to discover my circumstances to him ; but at last I employed my maid Amy (such I must be allowed to call her, notwithstanding what has been said of her, because she was in the place of a maidservant), I say I employed my maid Amy to go to him, and she got a recommendation to him from somebody else, I knew not who, so that she got access to him well enough.
But now was my case as bad as before, for when I came to him what could I do? I had money and jewels, to a vast value, and I might leave all those with him; that I might, indeed, do; and so I might with several other merchants in Paris, who would give me bills for it, payable at London ; but then I ran a hazard of my money; and I had nobody at London to send the bills to, and so to stay till I had an account that they were accepted; for I had not one friend in London that I could have recourse to, so that indeed I knew not what to do.
In this case I had no remedy but that I must trust somebody; so I sent Amy to this Dutch merchant, as I said above. He was a little surprised when Amy came to him, and talked to him of remitting a sum of about twelve thousand pistoles to England, and began to think she came to put some cheat
A MERCHANT OFFERS TO DISPOSE OF MY JEWELS.
apon him ; but when he found that Amy was but a servant, and that I came to him myself, the case was altered presently.
When I came to him myself, I presently saw such a plainness in his dealing, and such honesty in his countenance, that I made no scruple to tell him my whole story; viz., that I was a widow, that I had some jewels to dispose of, and also some money which I had a mind to send to England, and to follow there myself; but being but a woman, and having no correspondence in London, or anywhere else, I knew not what to do, or how to secure my effects.
He dealt very candidly with me, but advised me, when he knew my case so particularly, to take bills upon Amsterdam, and to go that way to England; for that I might lodge my treasure in the bank there, in the most secure manner in the world, and that there he could recommend me to a man who perfectly understood jewels, and would deal faithfully with me in the disposing them.
I thanked him, but scrupled very much the travelling so far in a strange country, and especially with such a treasure about me; that whether known or concealed I did not know how to venture with it. Then he told me he would try to dispose of them there, that is, at Paris, and convert them into money, and so get me bills for the whole ; and in a few days he brought a Jew to me, who pretended to buy the jewels. As soon as the Jew saw the jewels, I saw my folly, and it was ten thousand to one but I had been ruined, and perhaps put to death in as cruel a manner as possible ; and I was put in such a fright by it, that I was once upon the point of flying for my life, and leaving the jewels and money too in the hands of the Dutchman, without any bills or anything else. The case was thus :
As soon as the Jew saw the jewels, he falls a jabbering, in Dutch or Portuguese, to the merchant; and I could presently perceive that they were in some great surprise, both of them; the Jew held up his hands, looked at me with some horror, then talked Dutch again, and put himself into a thousand shapes, twisting his body, and wringing up his face this way and that way in his discourse; stamping with his feet, and throwing abroad his hands, as if he was not in a rage only, but in a mere fury. Then he would turn and give a look at me like the devil. I thought I never saw anything so frightful in my life.