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THE FORTUNATE MISTRESS.
I was born, as my friends told me, at the city of || world, so I had acquainted myself with some of Poictiers, in the province or county of Poictou, our English neighbours, as is the custom in Lonin France, from whence I was brought to Eng-|| don; and as, while I was young, I had picked land by my parents, who fled for their religion up three or four play-fellows and companions, about the year 1683, when the Protestants were suitable to my years; so, as we grew bigger, we banished from France by the cruelty of their | learnt to call one another intimates and friends; persecutors.
and this forwarded very much the finishing me I, who knew little or nothing of what 1 for conversation and the world. was brought over hither for, was well enough 1 I went to English schools, and being young, pleased with being here. London, a large and I learnt the English tongue perfectly well, with gay city, took with me mighty well, who, from all the customs of the English young women; so my being a child, loved a crowd, and to see a that I retained nothing of the French but the great many fine folks.
speech; nor did I so much as keep any remains I retained nothing of France but the language, of the French language tagged to my way of my father and mother being people of better Il speaking, as most foreigners do, but spoke what fashion than ordinarily the people called refugees we call natural English, as if I had been born at that time were ; and having Aled early, while here. it was easy to secure their effects, had, before being to give my own character, I must be their coming over, remitted considerable sums of excused to give it as impartially as possible, and money, or, as I remember, a considerable value as if I was speaking of another body; and the in French brandy, paper, and other goods; and sequel will lead you to judge whether I flatter these selling very much to advantage here, my myself or no. father was in very good circumstances at his I was (speaking of myself at about 14 years of coming over, so that he was far from applying to Il age) tall and very well made: sharp as a hawk the rest of our nation that were here for coun in matters of common knowledge ; quick and tenance and relief. On the contrary, he had his smart in discourse; apt to be satirical ; full of door continually thronged with miserable objects repartce, and a little too forward in conversation ; of the poor starving creatures who at that time or, as we call it in English, bold though perfectly fied hither for shelter on account of conscience modest in my behaviour. Being French born, I or something else.
danced, as some say, naturally, loved it extremely, I have, indeed, heard my father say, that he || and sung well also, and so well that, as you will ras pestered with a great many of those who, for hear, it was afterwards some advantage to me. any religion they had, might even have stayed || With all these things, I wanted neither wit, where they were, but who flocked over hither | beauty, nor money. In this manner I set out in droves, for what they call, in English, a live- || into the world, having all the advantages that lihood; hearing with what open arms the re- 1 any young woman can desire to recommend me fugees were received in England, and how they || to others, and form a prospect of happy living to fell readily into business, being, by the charitable myself. assistance of the people of London, encouraged || At about fifteen years of age, my father gave to work in their manufactories in Spittal-fields, | me, as he called it in French, 25,000 livres, that Canterbury, and other places; and that they || is to say, two thousand pounds portion, and had a much better price for their work than in | married me to an eminent brewer in the city. France and the like.
Pardon me if I conceal bis name, for though he My father, I say, told me that he was more Il was the fountain of my ruin, I cannot take so pestered with the clamours of these people than | severe a revenge upon him. of those who were truly refugees, and filed in 1 With this thing called a husband I lived eight distress merely for conscience.
| years in good fashion, and for some part of the I was about ten years old when I was brought || time kept a coach, that is to say, a kind of mock over hither, where, as I have said, my father coach; for all the week the horses were kept at lived in very good circumstances, and died in about || work in the dray-carts, but on the Sunday I had eleven years more; in which time as I had ac- | the privilege to go abroad in my chariot, either complished myself for the sociable part of the to church or otherways, as my husband and I
could agree about it, which, by the way, was not || make anybody that heard bim sick and ashamed very often; but of that hereafter.
of him. Before I proceed in the history of the married Secondly, he was positive and obstinate, and part of my life, you must allow me to give as
the most positive in the most simple and inconimpartial an account of my husband as I have sistent things, such as were intolerable to bear. done of myself. He was a jolly, handsome fellow | These two articles, if there had been no more, as any woman need wish for a companion : tall Il qualified him to be a most unbearable creature and well made; rather a little too large, but not || for a husband; and so it may be supposed, at so as to be ungenteel; he danced well, which I
first sight, what a kind of life I led with him.' think was the first thing that brought us to
However, I did as well as I could, and held my ! gether. He had an old father who managed the
tongue, which was the only victory I gained business carefully, so that he had little of that over him ; for when he would talk after his part lay on him, but now and then to appear and || own empty rattling way with me, and I would show himself; and he took the advantage of it, || not answer, or enter into discourse with him on for he troubled himself very little about it, but
the point he was upon, he would rise up in the : went abroad, kept company, hunted much, and ||
greatest passion imaginable, and go away, which! loved it exceedingly.
was the cheapest way I had to be delivered. After I have told you that he was a handsome ||
I could enlarge here much upon the method man and a good sportsman, I have indeed said all;
I took to make my life passable and easy with the and unhappy was I, like other young people of our
most incorrigible temper in the world, but it is sex, I chose him for being a handsome jolly fel
too long, and the articles too trifling : I shal' low as I have said; for he was otherwise a
mention some of them as the circumstances I am , weak, empty-headed, untaught creature, as any
to relate shall necessarily bring them in. woman could ever desire to be coupled with.
After I had been married about four years, my And here I must take the liberty, whatever I have
own father died, my mother having been dead to reproach myself with in my after conduct, to
before. He liked my match so ill, and saw so little turn to my fellow-creatures, the young ladies of
room to be satisfied with the conduct of my hos this country, and speak to them by way of pre
band, that though he left me 5,000 livres, and caution. If you have any regard to your future
more, at his death, yet he left it in the hands of happiness-any view of living comfortably with a
my elder brother, who, running on too rashly in husband--any hope of preserving your fortunes,
his adventures as a merchant, failed, and lost not or restoring them after any disaster, never,
only what he had, but what he had for me ton ladies, marry a fool; any husband rather than a
as you shall hear presently. fool ; with some other husbands you may be un
Thus I lost the last gift of my father's bounty happy, but with a fool you will be miserable.
by having a husband not fit to be trusted with With another husband you may, I say, be un
it: there is one of the benefits of marrying a happy, but with a fool you must ; nay, if he
fool. would, he cannot make you easy; everything he
Within two years after my own father's death does is so awkward, everything he says is so
my husband's father also died, and, as I thought, empty, a woman of any sense cannot but be sur
left him a considerable addition to his estate, the feited and sick of him twenty times a day. What
whole trade of the brewhouse, which was a very is more shocking than for a woman to bring a
good one, being now his own. handsome, comely fellow of a husband in com
But this addition to his stock was his ruin, for pany, and then be obliged to blush for him every
he had no genius for his business; he had no time she hears him speak? To hear other gen
knowledge of his accounts; he bustled a little tlemen talk sense, and he able to say nothing ?
about, indeed, at first, and put on a face of busiAnd so look like a fool, or which is worse, hear
ness, but he soon grew slack; it was below him him talk nonsense, and be laughed at for a fool ?
to inspect his books, he committed all that to his
clerks and book-keepers; and while he found In the next place, there are so many sorts of
money in cash to pay his malt-map and the es. fools, such an infinite variety of fools, and so
cise, and put some in his pocket, he was perfectly hard it is to know the worst of the kind, that I easy and indolent, let the main chance go how it am obliged to say, no fool, ladics, at all, no kind
would. of fool, whether a mad fool or a sober fool, a wise I foresaw the consequence of this, and alfool or a silly fool; take anything but a fool, nay,
thing out a 1001, nay, tempted several times to persuade him to apply be anything, be even an old maid, the worst of himself to his business; I put him in mind how nature's curses, rather than take up with a fool.
| his customers complained of the neglect of his But to leave this awhile, for I shall have occa servants on one hand, and how abundance broke sion to speak of it again ; my case was particu.
| in his debt, on the other hand, for want of the larly hard, for I had a variety of foolish things
clerk's care to secure him, and the like; but he complicated in this unhappy match.
thrust me by, either with hard words or fraudoFirst, and which I confess is very insufferable, || lently, with representing the cases otherwise he was a conceited fool, tout opiniatre, everything they were. he said was right, was best, and was to the pur | However, to cut short a dull story, which pose, whoever was in company, and whatever ll ought not to be long, he began to find his track was advanced by others, though with the greatest || sink, his stock declined, and that, in short, De modesty imaginable ; and yet when he came to ll could not carry on his business, and once or tw1 defend what he had said by argument and rea- || his brewing utensils were extented for the excix. son, he would do it so weakly, so emptily, and and the last time he was put to great extremis so nothing to the purpose, that it was enough toll to clear them.
This alarmed him, and he resolved to lay down | He stayed, however, at home all that day, and his trade; which, indeed, I was not sorry for ; || lay at home that night; early the next morning foreseeing that if he did not lay it down in time, || he gets out of bed, goes to a window which looked he would be forced to do it in another way, namely, || out towards the stables, and sounds bis French 38 a bankrupt. Also I was willing he should horn, as he called it, which was his usual signal draw out while he had something left, lest I should to call his men to go out a hunting. come to be stripped at home, and be turned out It was about the latter end of August, and 50 of doors with my children; for I had now five was light yet at five o'clock, and it was about children by him, the only work (perhaps) that that time that I heard him and his two men go fools are good for.
out and shut the yard gates after them. He said I thought myself happy when he got another nothing to me more than as usual when he used man to take his brewhouse clear off his hands ; to go out upon his sport; neither did I rise, or for paying down a large sum of money, my hus say anything to him that was material, but went band found himself a clear man, all his debts paid, to sleep again after he was gone, for two hours l and with between two and three thousand pounds or thereabouts. in his pocket; and being now obliged to remove It must be a little surprising to the reader from the brewhouse, we took a house at - to tell him at once, that after this, I never saw a village about two miles out of town; and happy my husband more; but to go farther, I not only I thought myself, all things considered, that I was never saw him more, but I never heard from him, got off clear, upon so good terms; and had my or of him, neither of any or either of his two serhandsome fellow had but one cap full of wit, I vants, or of the horses, either what became o had been still well enough.
them, where or which way they went, or what I proposed to him either to buy some place they did, or intended to do, no more than if the with the money, or with part of it, and offered ground had opened and swallowed them all up, to join my part to it, which was then in being, and nobody had known it, except as hereafter." and might have been secured ; so we might have l I was not, for the first night or two, at all surlived tolerably, at least, during his life. But as li prised, no, nor very much the first week or two, it is the part of a fool to be void of counsel, so he || believing that if anything evil had befallen them, neglected it, lived on as he did before, kept his || I should soon enough have heard of that; and horses and men, rode every day out to the forest || also knowing, that as he had two servants a hunting, and nothing was done all this wbile ; and three horses with him, it would be the but the money decreased apace, and I thought I | strangest thing in the world that anything could saw my ruin hastening on, without any possible || befal them all but that I must some time or other way to prevent it.
hear of them. I was not wanting with all that persuasions | But you will easily allow, that as time ran on, a and entreaties could perform, but it was all fruit- || week, two weeks, a month, two months, and so on, less; representing to him how fast our money || I was dreadfully frightened at last, and the more wasted, and what would be our condition when when I looked into my own circumstances, and it was gone, made no impression on him; but like considered the condition in which I was left, with one stupid, he went on, not valuing all that tears five children, and not one farthing subsistence for and lamentations could be supposed to do; nor them, other than about seventy pounds in money, did he abate his figure or equipage, his horses or and what few things of value I had about me, servants, even to the last, till he had not a hun which, though considerable in themselves, were dred pounds left in the whole world.
yet nothing to feed a family, and for a length of It was not above three years that all the ready time too. money was thus spending off; yet he spent it, as What to do I knew not, nor to whom to have I may say, foolishly too, for he kept no valuable recourse; to keep in the house where I was I company neither, but generally with huntsmen could not, the rent being too great, and to leave and horse-coursers, and men meaner than him it without his order, if my husband should return, self, which is another consequence of a man's I could not think of that neither; so that I conbeing a fool; such can never take delight in men tinued extremely perplexed, melancholy, and more wise and capable than themselves, and that discouraged, to the last degree. makes them converse with scoundrels, drink I remained in this dejected condition near á belch with porters, and keep company always
twelvemonth. My husband had two sisters, who below themselves.
were married, and lived very well, and some This was my wretched condition, when one other near relations that I knew of, and I hoped morning my husband told me he was sensible he would do something for me, and I frequently should come to a miserable condition, and he sent to these, to know if they could give me any would go and seek his fortune somewhere or account of my vagrant creature; but they all other. He had said something to that purpose declared to me in answer, that they knew nothing several times before that, upon my pressing him
about him; and after frequent sending, began to to consider his circumstances, and the circum
think me troublesome, and to let me know they chances of his family, before it should be too late: ll thought so too, by their treating my maid with
found he had no meaning in anything of ll very slight and unhandsome returns to her inthat kind, as, indeed, he had not much in any
quiries. thing he ever said, so I thought they were but This grated hard, and added to my affliction,
of course now. When he said he would H but I had no recourse but to my tears, for I had
me, I used to wish secretly, and even say in ll not a friend of my own left me in the world. I my thoughts, I wish you would, for if you go on U shoul thus, you will starve us all.
| should have observed, that it was about half a
year before this elopement of my husband, that
the disaster I mentioned above befel my brother, I though plain, and the other a long gun, so that who broke, and that in such bad circumstances, they did not go out as sportsmen, but rather as that I had the mortification to hear, not only that travellers; what part of the world they went to he was in prison, but that there would be little || I never heard for many years. or nothing to be had by way of composition.
As I have said, I sent to his relations, but they Misfortunes seldom come alone: this was the sent me short and surly answers ; nor did any one forerunner of my husband's flight; and as my of them offer to come to see me, or to see the chil. expectations were cut off on that side, my hus dren, or so much as to inquire after them, wel! band gone, and my family of children on my perceiving that I was in a condition that was hands, and nothing to subsist them, my condition likely to be soon troublesome to them ; but it was the most deplorable that words can express. was no time now to dally with them, or with the I had some plate and some jewels, as might be
Il world; I left off sending to them, and went my. supposed, my fortune and former circumstances self among them, laid my circumstances open to considered; and my husband, who had never them, told them my whole case, and the condition stayed to be distressed, had not been put to the | I was reduced to, begged they would advise the necessity of rifling me, as husbands usually do in what course to take, laid myself as low as they such cases. But, as I had seen an end of all the could desire, and entreated them to consider that, ready money during the long time I had lived in | I was not in a condition to help mysell, and that a state of expectation for my husband, so I began without some assistance we must all inevitably to make away one thing after another, till those perish; I told them, that if I had but one child, few things of value which I had began to lessen or two children, I would have done my endeavour apace, and I saw nothing but misery and the ut. I to have worked for them with my needle, and most distress before me, even to have my children should only have come to them to beg them to starve before my face. I leave any one that is a help me to some work, that I might get our brcad mother of children, and has lived in plenty and by my labour; but to think of one single woman, good fashion, to consider and reflect what must not bred to work, and at a loss where to get erg. be my condition. As to my husband, I had now ployment, to get the bread of five children, that no hope or expectation of seeing him any more ; was not possible, some of my children being too and indeed, if I had, he was the man, of all the young too, and none of them big enough to help men in the world, the least able to help me, or to one another. have turned his hand to the gaining one shilling | It was all one; I received not one farthing of towards lessening our distress: he neither had assistance from anybody, was hardly asked to sit the capacity nor the inclination; he could have | down at the two sisters' houses, nor offered to eat been no clerk, for he scarce wrote a legible hand; or drink at two more near relations. The fifth, he was so far from being able to write sense, that an ancient gentlewoman, aunt-in-law to my bas. } he could not make sense of what others wrote; Il band, a widow, and the least able also of any he was so far from understanding good English of the rest, did, indeed, ask me to sit down, gare that he could not spell good English ; to be out me a dinner, and refreshed me with a. kioder of all business was his delight, and he would stand treatment than any of the rest, but added the leaning against a post for half an hour together, melancholy part, viz. that she would have belpad with a pipe in his mouth, with all the tranquillity me, but that, indeed, sbe was not able, which, in the world, smoking, like Dryden's countryman, however, I was satisfied was very true. who whistled as he went for want of thought, Here I relieved myself with the constant assistand this even when his family was, as it were, | ant of the afflicted, I mean tears, for, relating starving, that little he had wasting, and that we to her how I was received by the other of my were all bleeding to death; he not knowing, and husband's relations, it made me burst into tears, as little considering, where to get another shilling and I cried vehemently for a great while together, when the last was spent.
till I made the good old gentlewoman cry too This being his temper and the extent of his several times. capacity, I confess I did not see so much loss in However, I came home from them all without his parting with me as at first I thought I did, any relief, and went on at home till I was rethough it was hard and cruel to the last degree duced to such inexpressible distress that is not to in him not giving me the least notice of his de- | be described. I had been several times after this sign, and indeed that which I was most astonished at the old aunt's, for I prevailed with her toi at was, that seeing he must certainly have in- | promise me to go and talk with the other rele tended this excursion some few moments at least tions, at least, that, if possible, she could bring before he put it in practice, yet he did not come some of them to take off the children, or to cos. and take what little stock of money we had left, 1 tribute something towards their maintenance; ! or at least a share of it, to bear his expenses for and, to do her justice, she did use her endeavour a little while, but he did not; and I am morally with them, but all was to no purpose, they would certain he had not five guineas with him in the do nothing, at least that way. I think, wiibi world when he went away. All that I could much entreaty, she obtained, by a kind of eal. come to the knowledge of about him was, that lection among them all, about eleven or twelve i he left his hunting horn, which he called the shillings in money, which, though it was a present French horn, in the stable, and his hunting comfort, was yet not to be named as capable to saddle, went away in a handsome furniture, as deliver me from any part of the load that lay they call it, which he used sometimes to travel upon me. with, having an embroidered housing, a case of | There was a poor woman that had been a kiot pistols, and other things belonging to them; and of a dependent upon our family, and whom I had one of his servants had another saddle with pistols, I often, among the rest of the relations, been very
kind to; my maid put it into my head one morn. After these two good creatures had sat, as I ing to send to this poor woman, and to see say, in silence some time, and had then looked whether. she might not be able to help in this about them, my maid Amy came in, and brought dreadful case.
( with her a small breast of mutton and two great I must remember it here, to the praise of this bunches of turnips, which she intended to stew poor girl, my maid, that though I was not able to for our dinner. . As for me, my heart was so give her any wages, and had told her so, nay, I overwhelmed at seeing these two friends, for such was not able to give her the wages that I was in they were, though poor, and at their seeing me arrears to her, yet she would not leave me; nay, in such a condition, that I fell into another violent and as long as she had any money, when I had fit of crying, so that in short I could not speak to none, she would help me out of her own, for them for a great while longer. which, though I acknowledged her kindness and During my being in such an agony, they went fidelity, yet it was but a bad coin that she was to my maid Amy at another part of the same paid in at last, as will appear in its place.
room, and talked with her. Åmy told them all Amy (for that was her name) put it into my my circumstances, and set them forth in such thoughts to send for this poor woman to come to inoving terms, and so to the life, that I could not me, for I was now in great distress, and I re | upon any terms have done it like her myself, and, solved to do so ; but just the very morning that in a word, affected them both with it in such a I intended it, the old aunt, with the poor woman manner, that the old aunt came to me, and in her company, came to see me; the good old i though hardly able to speak for tears, “ Look ye, gentlewoman was, it seems, heartily concerned cousin,” said she, “in a few words, things must for me, and had been talking again among those not stand thus, some course must be taken, and people, to see what she could do for me, but to that forthwith ; pray where were these children very little purpose.
born?” I told her the parish where we lived beYon shall judge a little of my present distress fore; that four of them were born there, and one by the posture she found me in : I had five little in the house where I now was, where the land. children, the eldest was under ten years old, and lord, after having seized my goods for the rent I had not one shilling in the house to buy them past, not then knowing my circumstances, had victuals, but had sent Amy out with a silver now given me leave to live for a whole year more spoon to sell it, and bring home something from without any rent, being moved with compassion, the butcher's; and I was in a parlour, sitting on but that this year was now almost expired. the ground, with a great heap of old rags, linen, Upon hearing this account, they came to this and other things about me, looking them over, | resolution, that the children should be all carried to see if I had anything among them that would by them to the door of one of the relations men. sell or pawn for a little money, and had been tioned above, and be set down there by the maid (rying ready to burst myself, to think what 11 Amy, and that I, the mother, should remove for should do next.
some days, shut up the doors, and be gone; that At this juncture they knocked at the door; Il the people should be told, that if they did not thought it had been Amy, so I did not rise up, think fit to take some care of the children, they but one of the children opened the door, and they might send for the church-wardens, if they came directly into the room where I was, and thought that better, for that they were born in where they found me in that posture, and crying that parish, and there they must be provided for; vehemently, as above. I was surprised at their as for the other child, which was born in the coming, you may be sure, especially seeing the parish of that was already taken care of person I had but just before resolved to send for; by the parish officers there, for indeed they were but when they saw me, how I looked, for my so sensible of the distress of the family, that they eyes were swelled with crying, and what a condi- || had at first word done what was their part to do. tion I was in as to the house, and the heaps of This was what these good women proposed, things that were about me, and especially when and bade me leave the rest to them. I was at I told them what I was doing, and on what oc first sadly afflicted at the thoughts of parting casion, they sat down, like Job's three comforters, with my children, and especially at that terrible and said not one word to me for a great while, thing, their being taken into the parish keeping; but both of them cried as fast and as heartily and then a hundred terrible things came into my as I did.
thoughts, viz. of parish children being starved at The truth was, there was no need of much nurse ; of their being ruined, let grow crooked, discourse in the case, the thing spoke itself, they lamed, and the like, for want of being taken care saw me in rags and dirt, who was but a little of, and this sunk my very heart within me. before riding in my coach; thin, and looking al But the misery of my own circumstances har. most like one starved, who was before fat and dened my heart against my own flesh and blood; beautiful. The house that was before handsomely! | and when I considered they must inevitably be furnished with pictures and ornaments, cabinets, starved, and I too, if I continued to keep them pierglasses, and every thing suitable, was now about me, I began to be reconciled to parting stripped and naked, most of the goods having with them all, any how, and anywhere, that I been seized by the landlord for rent, or sold to might be freed from the dreadful necessity of seebuy necessaries; in a word, all was misery and ing them all perish, and perishing with them my. distress, the face of ruin was everywhere to be self; so I agreed to go away outof the house, and seen; we had eaten up almost every thing, and leave the management of the whole matter to my little remained, unless, like one of the pitiful maid Amy and to them, and accordingly I did women of Jerusalem, I should eat up my very SO; and the same afternoon they carried them all children themselves.
away to one of their aunts.