The fate of this princess was in many cases truly melancholy: The king, indeed, paid her every outward attention; but that was all: She easily perceived that the respect he entertained for her daily diminished, in proportion as the credit of her rivals increased: She saw that the king her husband was now totally indifferent about legitimate children, since his all-charming mistresses bore him others. As all the happiness of her life depended upon that blessing, and as she flattered herself that the king would prove kinder to her if Heaven would vouchsafe to grant her desires, she had recourse to all the celebrated secrets against sterility: pious vows, nine days' prayers, and offerings having been tried in all manners, but all to no purpose, she was at last obliged to return to natural means.
What would she have given on this occasion for the ring which Archbishop Turpin wore on his finger, and which made Charlemagne run after him, in the same manner as it had made him run after one of his concubines, from whose finger Turpin had taken it after her death! But it is now many years since the only talismans for creating love are the charms of the person beloved, and foreign enchantments have been looked upon as ineffectual. The queen's physicians, men of great prudence, sagacity, and wisdom, as they always are, having duly weighed and considered that the cold waters of Tunbridge had not succeeded in the preceding year, concluded that it would be advisable for her to try the warm baths at Bristol—[Probably Bath, D.W.]—This journey was therefore fixed for the next season; and in the confidence of its proving effectual, this excursion would have afforded her much pleasure, if the most dangerous of her rivals had not been one of the first that was appointed to attend the court. The Duchess of Cleveland being then near her time, there was no uneasiness on her account: the common rules of decency required a little attention. The public, it is true, was not either more or less acquainted with the circumstances of her situation; by the care which she now took to conceal it; but her appearing at court in her present condition would have been too great an insult to the queen. Miss Stewart, more handsome than ever, was appointed for this excursion, and began to make magnificent preparations. The poor queen durst say nothing against it; but all hopes of success immediately forsook her. What could the baths, or the feeble virtue of the waters, perform against charms that entirely counteracted their effects, either through the grief and uneasiness they occasioned her, or by their still more powerful consequences?
The Chevalier de Grammont, to whom all pleasures were insipid without the presence of Miss Hamilton, was yet unable to excuse himself from attending the court: the king delighted too much in his sprightly conversation to leave him behind; and however pleasing his company might have been in the solitude occasioned by the absence of the court, Miss Hamilton did not think it right to accept his offer of staying in town, because she was obliged to remain there: she, however, granted him the permission of writing her an account of any news that might occur upon the journey. He failed not to make use of this permission, in such a manner as one may imagine: and his own concerns took up so much space in his letters, that there was very little room left for other subjects during his stay at the baths. As absence from the object of his affections rendered this place insupportable, he engaged in everything that might dissipate his impatience, until the happy moment of return arrived.
He had a great esteem for the elder of the Hamiltons; no less esteem, and far more friendship for his brother, whom he made the confidant of his passion and attachment for his sister. The Chevalier was also acquainted with his first engagements with his cousin Wetenhall; but being ignorant of the coldness that had interrupted a commerce so brisk in its commencement, he was surprised at the eagerness he showed upon all occasions to please Miss Stewart: his assiduity appeared to the Chevalier de Grammont to exceed those civilities and attentions that are usually paid for the purpose of making court to the favourites of princes. He observed him more strictly, and soon perceived that he was deeper in love with her than was consistent either with his fortune or his repose. As soon as the remarks he made had confirmed him in his suspicions, he resolved to use his endeavours to prevent the consequences of an engagement pernicious in every respect: but he waited for a proper opportunity of speaking to him upon the subject.
In the mean time, the court enjoyed every kind of diversion, in a place where amusement is sought with avidity. The game of bowls, which in France is the pastime of mechanics and servants only, is quite the contrary in England, where it is the exercise of gentlemen, and requires both art and address: it is only in use during the fair and dry part of the season, and the places where it is practised are charming, delicious walks, called bowling-greens, which are little square grass plots, where the turf is almost as smooth and level as the cloth of a billiard-table. As soon as the heat of the day is over, all the company assemble there: they play deep; and spectators are at liberty to make what bets they please.
The Chevalier de Grammont, long before initiated in the English games and diversions, had been engaged in a horse-race, in which he was indeed unsuccessful; but he had the satisfaction of being convinced by experience, that an English horse can go twenty miles upon the high road in less than an hour. He was more fortunate at cock-fighting; and in the bets he made at the bowling-green, the party he betted upon never failed to win.
Near all these places of diversion there is usually a sort of inn, or house of entertainment, with a bower or arbour, in which are sold all sorts of English liquors, such as cider, mead, bottled beer, and Spanish wines. Here the rooks meet every evening to drink, smoke, and to try their skill upon each other, or, in other words, to endeavour to trick one another out of the winnings of the day. These rooks are, properly speaking, what we call capons or piqueurs, in France; men who always carry money about them, to enable them to lend to losing gamesters, for which they receive a gratification, which is nothing for such as play deep, as it is only two per cent., and the money to be repaid the next day.
These gentlemen are so nice in their calculations, and so particularly skilful in all manner of games, that no person would dare to enter the lists with them, were they even assured that no unfairness would be practised. Besides, they make a vow, to win four or five guineas a day, and to be satisfied with that gain; a vow which they seldom or never break.
It was in the midst of a company of these rooks, that Hamilton found the Chevalier de Grammont, when he called in one evening to get a glass of cider. They were playing at hazard; and as he who holds the dice is supposed to have the advantage, the rooks did the Chevalier de Grammont that honour out of compliment: he had the dice in his hand when Hamilton came into the room. The rooks, secure of their odds, were betting against him at a high rate, and he took all.
Hamilton could hardly believe his eyes, to see a man of his experience and knowledge engaged in so unequal a contest; but it was to no purpose that he informed him of his danger, both aloud in French, and in private by signs; he still disregarded his warnings, and the dice, that bore Caesar and his fortunes, performed a miracle in his favour. The rooks were defeated for the first time, but not without bestowing upon him all the encomiums and praises of being a very fair and honourable player, which they never fail to lavish upon those whom they wish to engage a second time; but all their commendations were lost, and their hopes deceived: the Chevalier was satisfied with the first experiment.
Hamilton, when the king was at supper, related to him how he found the Chevalier de Grammont rashly engaged with the rooks, and in what manner he had been providentially preserved. "Indeed, Sir," said the Chevalier de Grammont, "the rooks were discomfited for once;" and thereupon related the adventure to his majesty in his usual way, attracting the attention of all the company, to a circumstance trifling in itself, but rendered interesting by his humour.
After supper, Miss Stewart, in whose apartment there was play, called Hamilton to her to tell the story. The Chevalier de Grammont, perceiving that she attended to him with pleasure, was fully confirmed in the truth of his first conjectures; and, having carried Hamilton home with him to supper, they began to discourse freely together as usual, "George," said the Chevalier de Grammont, "are you in any want of money? I know you love play: perhaps it may not be so favourable to you as it is to me. We are at a great distance from London. Here are two hundred guineas: take them, I beseech you; they will do to play with at Miss Stewart's." Hamilton, who little expected this conclusion, was rather disconcerted. "How! at Miss Stewart's!" "Yes, in her apartments. Friend George," continued the Chevalier de Grammont, "I have not yet lost my eyes: you are in love with her, and, if I am not mistaken, she is not offended at it; but tell me how you could resolve to banish poor Wetenhall from your heart, and suffer yourself to be infatuated with a girl, who perhaps after all is not worth the other, and who besides, whatever favourable dispositions she may have for you, will undoubtedly in the end prove your ruin. Faith, your brother and you are two pretty fellows, in your choice. What! can you find no other beauties in all the court to fall in love with, except the king's two mistresses! As for the elder brother, I can pardon him he only took Lady Castlemaine after his master had done with her, and after Lady Chesterfield had discarded him; but, as for you, what the devil do you intend to do with a creature, on whom the king seems every day to dote with increasing fondness? Is it because that drunken sot Richmond has again come forward, and now declares himself one of her professed admirers? You will soon see what he will make by it: I have not forgotten what the king said to me upon the subject. 'Believe me, my dear friend, there is no playing tricks with our masters; I mean, there is no ogling their mistresses.' I myself wanted to play the agreeable in France with a little coquette, whom the king did not care about, and you know how dearly I paid for it. I confess she gives you fair play, but do not trust to her. All the sex feel an unspeakable satisfaction at having men in their train, whom they care not for, and to use them as their slaves of state, merely to swell their equipage. Would it not be a great deal better to pass a week or ten days incognito at Peckham, with the philosopher Wetenhall's wife, than to have it inserted in the Dutch Gazette.—We hear from Bristol, that such a one is banished the court on account of Miss Stewart, and that he is going to make a campaign in Guinea on board the fleet that is fitting out for the expedition, under the command of Prince Rupert."
Hamilton, who was the more convinced of the truth of this discourse, the more he considered it, after musing some time, appeared to wake from a dream, and addressing himself with an air of gratitude to the Chevalier de Grammont: "Of all the men in the world, my dear friend," said he, "you have the most agreeable wit, and at the same time the clearest judgment with respect to your friends: what you have told me has opened my eyes. I began to suffer myself to be seduced by the most ridiculous illusion imaginable, and to be hurried away rather by frivolous appearances than any real inclination: to you I owe the obligation of having preserved me from destruction at the very brink of a precipice. This is not the only kindness you have done me, your favours have been innumerable; and, as a proof of my gratitude for this last, I will follow your advice, and go into retirement at my cousin Wetenhall's, to eradicate from my recollection every trace of those chimeras which lately possessed my brain; but so far from going thither incognito, I will take you along with me, as soon as the court returns to London. My sister shall likewise be of the party; for it is prudent to use all precautions with a man who, with a great deal of merit, on such occasions is not over scrupulous, if we may credit your philosopher." "Do not pay any attention to that pedant," replied the Chevalier de Grammont: "but tell me what put it into your head to form a design upon that inanimate statue, Miss Stewart?" "How the devil should I know?" said Hamilton: "you are acquainted with all her childish amusements. The old Lord Carlingford was at her apartment one evening, showing her how to hold a lighted wax candle in her mouth, and the grand secret consisted in keeping the burning end there a long time without its being extinguished. I have, thank God, a pretty large mouth, and, in order to out-do her teacher, I took two candles into my mouth at the same time, and walked three times round the room without their going out. Every person present adjudged me the prize of this illustrious experiment, and Killegrew maintained that nothing but a lanthorn could stand in competition with me. Upon this she was like to die with laughing; and thus was I admitted into the familiarity of her amusements. It is impossible to deny her being one of the most charming creatures that ever was: since the court has been in the country, I have had an hundred opportunities of seeing her, which I had not before. You know that the dishabille of the bath is a great convenience for those ladies, who, strictly adhering to all the rules of decorum, are yet desirous to display all their charms and attractions. Miss Stewart is so fully acquainted with the advantages she possesses over all other women, that it is hardly possible to praise any lady at court for a well-turned arm, and a fine leg, but she is ever ready to dispute the point by demonstration; and I really believe, that, with a little address, it would not be difficult to induce her to strip naked, without ever reflecting upon what she was doing. After all, a man must be very insensible to remain unconcerned and unmoved on such happy occasions; and, besides, the good opinion we entertain of ourselves is apt to make us think a woman is smitten, as soon as she distinguishes us by habitual familiarity, which most commonly signifies nothing. This is the truth of the matter with respect to myself: my own presumption, her beauty, the brilliant station that sets it off, and a thousand kind things she had said to me, prevented me from making serious reflections; but then, as some excuse for my folly, I must likewise tell you, that the facility I found in making her the tenderest declarations by commending her, and her telling me in confidence a thousand things which she ought not to have entrusted me with, might have deceived or infatuated any other man as well as myself.
"I presented her with one of the prettiest horses in England. You know what peculiar grace and elegance distinguish her on horseback. The king, who, of all the diversions of the chase, likes none but hawking, because it is the most convenient for the ladies, went out the other day to take this amusement, attended by all the beauties of his court. His majesty having galloped after a falcon, and the whole bright squadron after him, the rustling of Miss Stewart's petticoats frightened her horse, which was at full speed, endeavouring to come up with mine, that had been his companion; so that I was the only witness of a disorder in her clothes, which displayed a thousand new beauties to my view. I had the good fortune to make such gallant and flattering exclamations upon that charming disorder as to prevent her being concerned or out of countenance upon it: on the contrary, this subject of my admiration has been frequently since the subject of our conversation, and did not seem to displease her.
"Old Lord Carlingford, and that mad fellow, Crofts (for I must now make you my general confession), those insipid buffoons, were frequently telling her some diverting stories, which passed pretty well with the help of a few old threadbare jests, or some apish tricks in the recital, which made her laugh heartily. As for myself, who know no stories, and do not possess the talent of improving them by telling, if I did know any, I was often greatly embarrassed when she desired me to tell her one: 'I do not know one, indeed,' said I, one day, when she was teazing me on the subject. 'Invent one, then,' said she. 'That would be still more difficult,' replied I; 'but if you will give me leave, madam, I will relate to you a very extraordinary dream, which has, however, less appearance of truth in it than dreams generally have.' This excited her curiosity, which would brook no denial. I therefore began to tell her that the most beautiful creature in the world, whom I loved to distraction, paid me a visit in my sleep. I then drew her own portrait, with a rapturous description of all her beauties; adding, that this goddess, who came to visit me with the most favourable intentions, did not counteract them by any unreasonable cruelty. This was not sufficient to satisfy Miss Stewart's curiosity: I was obliged to relate every particular circumstance of the kindness I experienced from this delicate phantom; to which she was so very attentive, that she never once appeared surprised or disconcerted at the luscious tale. On the contrary, she made me repeat the description of the beauty, which I drew as near as possible after her own person, and after such charms as I imagined of beauties that were unknown to me.
"This is, in fact, the very thing that had almost deprived me of my senses: she knew very well that she herself was the person I was describing: we were alone, as you may imagine, when I told her this story; and my eyes did their utmost to persuade her that it was herself whom I drew. I perceived that she was not in the least offended at knowing this; nor was her modesty in the least alarmed at the relation of a fiction, which I might have concluded in a manner still less discreet, if I had thought proper. This patient audience made me plunge headlong into the ocean of flattering ideas that presented themselves to my imagination. I then no longer thought of the king, nor how passionately fond he was of her, nor of the dangers attendant upon such an engagement: in short, I know not what the devil I was thinking of; but I am very certain that, if you had not been thinking for me, I might have found my ruin in the midst of these distracted visions."
Not long after, the court returned to London; and from that time, some malevolent star having gained the ascendant, every thing went cross in the empire of Love: vexation, suspicions, or jealousies, first entered the field, to set all hearts at variance; next, false reports, slander, and disputes, completed the ruin of all.
The Duchess of Cleveland had been brought to bed while the court was at Bristol; and never before had she recovered from her lying-in with such a profusion of charms. This made her believe that she was in a proper state to retrieve her ancient rights over the king's heart, if she had an opportunity of appearing before him with this increased splendour. Her friends being of the same opinion, her equipage was prepared for this expedition; but the very evening before the day she had fixed on to set out, she saw young Churchill, and was at once seized with a disease, which had more than once opposed her projects, and which she could never completely get the better of.
[Churchill—Afterwards the celebrated Duke of Marlborough. He was born midsummer-day, 1650, and died June 16, 1722. Bishop Burnet takes notice of the discovery of this intrigue. "The Duchess of Cleveland finding that she had lost the king, abandoned herself to great disorders; one of which, by the artifice of the Duke of Buckingham, was discovered by the king in person, the party concerned leaping out of the window."—History of his own Times, vol. i. p. 370. This was in 1668. A very particular account of this intrigue is to be seen in the Atalantis of Mrs. Manley, vol. i., p. 30. The same writer, who had lived as companion to the Duchess of Cleveland, says, in the account of her own life, that she was an eye-witness when the duke, who had received thousands from the duchess, refused the common civility of lending her twenty guineas at basset.—The history of Rivella, 4th ed. 1725, p. 33. Lord Chesterfield's character of this noblemen is too remarkable to be omitted.
"Of all the men that ever I knew in my life, (and I knew him extremely well,) the late Duke of Marlborough possessed the graces in the highest degree, not to say engrossed them: and indeed he got the most by them! for I will venture, (contrary to the custom of profound historians, who always assign deep causes to great events,) to ascribe the better half of the Duke of Marlborough's greatness and riches to those graces. He was eminently illiterate, wrote bad English, and spelled it still worse. He had no share of what is commonly called parts; that is, he had no brightness, nothing shining in his genius. He had, most undoubtedly, an excellent good plain understanding, with sound judgment. But these alone would probably have raised him but something higher than they found him, which was page to King James II.'s queen. There the graces protected and promoted him; for while he was an ensign of the guards, the Duchess of Cleveland, then favourite mistress to King Charles II., struck by those very graces, gave him five thousand pounds; with which he immediately bought an annuity for his life, of five hundred pounds a-year, of my grandfather, Halifax; which was the foundation of his subsequent fortune. His figure was beautiful; but his manner was irresistible by either man or woman. It was by this engaging, graceful manner, that he was enabled, during all his wars, to connect the various and jarring powers of the grand alliance, and to carry them on to the main object of the war, notwithstanding their private and separate views, jealousies, and wrong-headednesses. Whatever court he went to, (and he was often obliged to go himself to some restive and refractory ones,) he as constantly prevailed, and brought them into his measures. The pensionary Heinsius, a venerable old minister, grown grey in business, and who had governed the republic of the United Provinces for more than forty years, was absolutely governed by the Duke of Marlborough, as that republic feels to this day. He was always cool; and nobody ever observed the least variation in his countenance. He could refuse more gracefully than other people could grant; and those who went away from him the most dissatisfied, as to the substance of their business, were yet personally charmed with him, and, in some degree, comforted by his manner. With all his gracefulness, no man living was more conscious of his situation, or maintained his dignity better."—Chest. Letters, letter 136.]
A man who, from an ensign in the guards, was raised to such a fortune, must certainly possess an uncommon share of prudence, not to be intoxicated with his happiness. Churchill boasted in all places of the new favour he had received: the Duchess of Cleveland, who neither recommended to him circumspection in his behaviour, nor in his conversation, did not seem to be in the least concerned at his indiscretion. Thus this intrigue was become a general topic in all companies, when the court arrived in London, and occasioned an immense number of speculations and reasonings: some said she had already presented him with Jermyn's pension, and Jacob Hall's salary, because the merits and qualifications of both were united in his person: others maintained that he had too indolent an air, and too delicate a shape, long to maintain himself in her favour; but all agreed that a man who was the favourite of the king's mistress, and brother to the duke's favourite, was in a fair way of preferment, and could not fail to make his fortune. As a proof, the Duke of York soon after gave him a place in his household: this was naturally to be expected; but the king, who did not think that Lady Cleveland's kindness to him was a sufficient recommendation to his favour, thought proper to forbid him the court.
This good-natured king began now to be rather peevish: nor was it altogether without reason: he disturbed no person in their amours, and yet others had often the presumption to encroach upon his. Lord Dorset, first lord of the bed-chamber, had lately debauched from his service Nell Gwyn, the actress. Lady Cleveland, whom he now no longer regarded, continued to disgrace him by repeated infidelities with unworthy rivals, and almost ruined him by the immense sums she lavished on her gallants; but that which most sensibly affected him, was the late coldness and threats of Miss Stewart. He long since had offered her all the settlements and all the titles she could desire, until he had an opportunity more effectually to provide for her, which she had pretended only to decline, for fear of the scandal they might occasion, on her being raised to a rank which would attract the public notice; but since the return of the court, she had given herself other airs: sometimes she was for retiring from court, to appease the continual uneasiness her presence gave the queen: at other times it was to avoid temptations, by which she wished to insinuate that her innocence was still preserved: in short, the king's heart was continually distracted by alarms, or oppressed by humour and caprice.
As he could not for his life imagine what Miss Stewart wished him to do, or what she would be at, he thought upon reforming his establishment of mistresses, to try whether jealousy was not the real occasion of her uneasiness. It was for this reason that, after having solemnly declared he would have nothing more to say to the Duchess of Cleveland, since her intrigue with Churchill, he discarded, without any exception, all the other mistresses which he had in various parts of the town. The Nell Gwyns, the Misses Davis, and the joyous rain of singers and dancers in his majesty's theatre, were all dismissed. All these sacrifices were ineffectual: Miss Stewart continued to torment, and almost to drive the king to distraction; but his majesty soon after found out the real cause of this coldness.
This discovery was owing to the officious Duchess of Cleveland, who, ever since her disgrace, had railed most bitterly against Miss Stewart as the cause of it, and against the king's weakness, who, for an inanimate idiot, had treated her with so much indignity. As some of her grace's creatures were still in the king's confidence, by their means she was informed of the king's uneasiness, and that Miss Stewart's behaviour was the occasion of it—and as soon as she had found the opportunity she had so long wished for, she went directly into the king's cabinet, through the apartment of one of his pages called Chiffinch. This way was not new to her.
The king was just returned from visiting Miss Stewart, in a very ill humour: the presence of the Duchess of Cleveland surprised him, and did not in the least diminish it: she, perceiving this, accosted him in an ironical tone, and with a smile of indignation. "I hope," said she, "I may be allowed to pay you my homage, although the angelic Stewart has forbid you to see me at my own house. I will not make use of reproaches and expostulations, which would disgrace myself: still less will I endeavour to excuse frailties which nothing can justify, since your constancy for me deprives me of all defence, considering I am the only person you have honoured with your tenderness, who has made herself unworthy of it by ill conduct. I come now, therefore, with no other intent than to comfort and to condole with you upon the affliction and grief into which the coldness, or new-fashioned chastity of the inhuman Stewart have reduced your majesty." These words were attended by a fit of laughter, as unnatural and strained as it was insulting and immoderate, which completed the king's impatience: he had, indeed, expected that some bitter jest would follow this preamble; but he did not suppose she would have given herself such blustering airs, considering the terms they were then upon; and, as he was preparing to answer her: "be not offended," said she, "that I take the liberty of laughing at the gross manner in which you are imposed upon: I cannot bear to see that such particular affectation should make you the jest of your own court, and that you should be ridiculed with such impunity. I know that the affected Stuart has sent you away, under pretence of some indisposition, or perhaps some scruple of conscience; and I come to acquaint you that the Duke of Richmond will soon be with her, if he is not there already. I do not desire you to believe what I say, since it might be suggested either through resentment or envy: only follow me to her apartment, either that, no longer trusting calumny and malice, you may honour her with a just preference, if I accuse her falsely; or, if my information be true, you may no longer be the dupe of a pretended prude, who makes you act so unbecoming and ridiculous a part."
As she ended this speech, she took him by the hand, while he was yet undecided, and pulled him away towards her rival's apartments. Chiffinch being in her interest, Miss Stewart could have no warning of the visit; and Babiani, who owed all to the Duchess of Cleveland, and who served her admirably well upon this occasion, came and told her that the Duke of Richmond had just gone into Miss Stewart's chamber. It was in the middle of a little gallery, which, through a private door, led from the king's apartments to those of his mistresses. The Duchess of Cleveland wished him good night, as he entered her rival's chamber, and retired, in order to wait the success of the adventure, of which Babiani, who attended the king, was charged to come and give her an account.
It was near midnight: the king, in his way, met his mistress's chamber-maids, who respectfully opposed his entrance, and in a very low voice, whispered his majesty that Miss Stewart had been very ill since he left her: but that, being gone to bed, she was, God be thanked, in a very fine sleep. "That I must see," said the king, pushing her back, who had posted herself in his way. He found Miss Stewart in bed, indeed, but far from being asleep: the Duke of Richmond was seated at her pillow, and in all probability was less inclined to sleep than herself. The perplexity of the one party, and the rage of the other, were such as may easily be imagined upon such a surprise. The king, who, of all men, was one of the most mild and gentle, testified his resentment to the Duke of Richmond in such terms as he had never before used. The duke was speechless, and almost petrified: he saw his master and his king justly irritated. The first transports which rage inspires on such occasions are dangerous. Miss Stewart, window was very convenient for a sudden revenge, the Thames flowing close beneath it: he cast his eyes upon it; and, seeing those of the king more incensed and fired with indignation than he thought his nature capable of, he made a profound bow, and retired, without replying a single word to the vast torrent of threats and menaces that were poured upon him.
Miss Stewart, having a little recovered from her first surprise, instead of justifying herself, began to talk in the most extravagant manner, and said everything that was most capable to inflame the king's passion and resentment; that, if she were not allowed to receive visits from a man of the Duke of Richmond's rank, who came with honourable intentions, she was a slave in a free country; that she knew of no engagement that could prevent her from disposing of her hand as she thought proper; but, however, if this was not permitted her in his dominions, she did not believe that there was any power on earth that could hinder her from going over to France, and throwing herself into a convent, to enjoy there that tranquillity which was denied her in his court. The king, sometimes furious with anger, sometimes relenting at her tears, and sometimes terrified at her menaces, was so greatly agitated, that he knew not how to answer, either the nicety of a creature who wanted to act the part of Lucretia under his own eye, or the assurance with which she had the effrontery to reproach him. In this suspense, love had almost entirely vanquished all his resentments, and had nearly induced him to throw himself upon his knees, and entreat pardon for the injury he had done her, when she desired him to retire, and leave her in repose, at least for the remainder of that night, without offending those who had either accompanied him, or conducted him to her apartments, by a longer visit. This impertinent request provoked and irritated him to the highest degree: he went out abruptly, vowing never to see her more, and passed the most restless and uneasy night he had ever experienced since his restoration.
The next day the Duke of Richmond received orders to quit the court, and never more to appear before the king; but it seems he had not waited for those orders, having set out early that morning for his country seat.
Miss Stewart, in order to obviate all injurious constructions that might be put upon the adventure of the preceding night, went and threw herself at the queen's feet; where, acting the new part of an innocent Magdalen, she entreated her majesty's forgiveness for all the sorrow and uneasiness she might have already occasioned her. She told her majesty that a constant and sincere repentance had induced her to contrive all possible means for retiring from court: that this reason had inclined her to receive the Duke of Richmond's addresses, who had courted her a long time; but since this courtship had caused his disgrace, and had likewise raised a vast noise and disturbance, which perhaps might be turned to the prejudice of her reputation, she conjured her Majesty to take her under her protection, and endeavour to obtain the king's permission for her to retire into a convent, to remove at once all those vexations and troubles her presence had innocently occasioned at court. All this was accompanied with a proper deluge of tears.
It is a very agreeable spectacle to see a rival prostrate at our feet, entreating pardon, and at the same time justifying her conduct. The queen's heart not only relented, but she mingled her own tears with those of Miss Stewart. After having raised her up, and most tenderly embraced her, she promised her all manner of favour and protection, either in her marriage, or in any other course she thought fit to pursue, and parted from her with the firm resolution to exert all her interest in her support; but, being a person of great judgment, the reflections which she afterwards made, induced her to change her opinion!
She knew that the king's disposition was not capable of an obstinate constancy. She therefore judged that absence would cure him, or that a new engagement would by degrees entirely efface the remembrance of Miss Stewart, and that, since she could not avoid having a rival, it was more desirable she should be one who had given such eminent proofs of her prudence and virtue. Besides, she flattered herself that the king would ever think himself eternally obliged to her, for having opposed the retreat and marriage of a girl, whom at that time he loved to distraction. This fine reasoning determined her conduct. All her industry was employed in persuading Miss Stewart to abandon her schemes; and what is most extraordinary in this adventure, is, that, after having prevailed upon her to think no more either of the Duke of Richmond, or of a nunnery, she charged herself with the office of reconciling these two lovers.
Indeed it would have been a thousand pities if her negotiation had miscarried but she did not suffer this misfortune; for never were the king's addresses so eager and passionate as after this peace, nor ever better received by the fair Stewart.
His majesty did not long enjoy the sweets of a reconciliation, which brought him into the best good humour possible, as we shall see. All Europe was in a profound peace, since the treaty of the Pyrenees: Spain flattered herself she should be able to recruit, by means of the new alliance she had contracted with the most formidable of her neighbours; but despaired of being able to support the shattered remains of a declining monarchy, when she considered the age and infirmities of her prince, or the weakness of his successor: France, on the contrary, governed by a king indefatigable in business, young, vigilant, and ambitious of glory, wanted nothing but inclination to aggrandize herself.
It was about this time, that the king of France, not willing to disturb the tranquillity of Europe, was persuaded to alarm the coasts of Africa, by an attempt, which, if it had even been crowned with success, would have produced little good; but the king's fortune, ever faithful to his glory, has since made it appear, by the miscarriage of the expedition of Gigeri, that such projects only as were planned by himself were worthy of his attention.
[Gigeri is about forty leagues from Algiers. Till the year 1664 the French had a factory there; but then attempting to build a fort on the sea-coast, to be a check upon the Arabs, they came down from the mountains, beat the French out of Gigeri, and demolished their fort. Sir Richard Fanshaw, in a letter to the deputy governor of Tangier, dated 2nd December, 1664, N.S., says, "We have certain intelligence that the French have lost Gigheria, with all they had there, and their fleet come back, with the loss of one considerable ship upon the rocks near Marseilles."—Fanshaw's Letters, vol. i. p. 347.]
A short time after, the king of England, having resolved also to explore the African coasts, fitted out a squadron for an expedition to Guinea, which was to be commanded by Prince Rupert. Those who, from their own experience, had some knowledge of the country, related strange and wonderful stories of the dangers attendant upon this expedition that they would have to fight not only the inhabitants of Guinea, a hellish people, whose arrows were poisoned, and who never gave their prisoners better quarter than to devour them, but that they must likewise endure heats that were insupportable, and rains that were intolerable, every drop of which was changed into a serpent: that, if they penetrated farther into the country, they would be assaulted by monsters a thousand times more hideous and destructive than all the beasts mentioned in the Revelations.
But all these reports were vain and ineffectual: for so far from striking terror into those who were appointed to go upon this expedition, it rather acted as an incentive to glory, upon those who had no manner of business in it. Jermyn appeared among the foremost of those; and, without reflecting that the pretence of his indisposition had delayed the conclusion of his marriage with Miss Jennings, he asked the duke's permission, and the king's consent to serve in it as a volunteer.
Some time before this, the infatuation which had imposed upon the fair Jennings in his favour had begun to subside. All that now inclined her to this match were the advantages of a settlement. The careless indolence of a lover, who faintly paid his addresses to her, as it were from custom or habit, disgusted her; and the resolution he had taken, without consulting her, appeared so ridiculous in him, and so injurious to herself, that, from that moment, she resolved to think no more of him. Her eyes being opened by degrees, she saw the fallacy of the splendour, which had at first deceived her; and the renowned Jermyn was received according to his real merit when he came to acquaint her with his heroical project. There appeared so much indifference and ease in the raillery with which she complimented him upon his voyage, that he was entirely disconcerted, and so much the more so, as he had prepared all the arguments he thought capable of consoling her, upon announcing to her the fatal news of his departure. She told him, "that nothing could be more glorious for him, who had triumphed over the liberty of so many persons in Europe, than too and extend his conquests in other parts of the world; and that she advised him to bring home with him all the female captives he might make in Africa, in order to replace those beauties whom his absence would bring to the grave."
Jermyn was highly displeased that she should be capable of raillery in the condition he supposed her reduced to; but he soon perceived she was in earnest: she told him, that she considered this farewell visit as his last, and desired him not to think of making her any more before his departure.
Thus far everything went well on her side: Jermyn was not only confounded at having received his discharge in so cavalier a manner; but this very demonstration of her indifference had revived, and even redoubled, all the love and affection he had formerly felt for her. Thus she had both the pleasure of despising him, and of seeing him more entangled in the chains of love than he had ever been before. This was not sufficient: she wished still farther, and very unadvisedly, to strain her resentment.
Ovid's Epistles,—[This is the translation of Ovid's Epistles published by Mr. Dryden. The second edition of it was printed in 1681.]— translated into English verse by the greatest wits at court, having lately been published, she wrote a letter from a shepherdess in despair, addressed to the perfidious Jermyn. She took the epistle of Ariadne to Theseus for her model. The beginning of this letter contained, word for word, the complaints and reproaches of that injured fair to the cruel man by whom she had been abandoned. All this was properly adapted to the present times and circumstances. It was her design to have closed this piece with a description of the toils, perils, and monsters, that awaited him in Guinea, for which he quitted a tender mistress, who was plunged into the abyss of misery, and was overwhelmed with grief and despair; but not having had time to finish it, nor to get that which she had written transcribed, in order to send it to him under a feigned name, she inconsiderately put this fragment, written in her own hand, into her pocket, and, still more giddily, dropped it in the middle of the court. Those who took it up, knowing her writing, made several copies of it, which were circulated all over the town; but her former conduct had so well established the reputation of her virtue, that no person entertained the smallest doubt but the circumstances were exactly as we have related them. Some time after, the Guinea expedition was laid aside for reasons that are universally known, and Miss Jenning's subsequent proceedings fully justified her letter; for, notwithstanding all the efforts and attentions Jermyn practised to regain her affections, she would never more hear of him.
But he was not the only man who experienced the whimsical fatality, that seemed to delight in disuniting hearts, in order to engage them soon after to different objects. One would have imagined that the God of Love, actuated by some new caprice, had placed his empire under the dominion of Hymen, and had, at the same time, blind-folded that God, in order to cross-match most of the lovers whom we have been speaking of'
The fair Stewart married the Duke of Richmond; the invincible Jermyn, a silly country girl; Lord Rochester, a melancholy heiress; the sprightly Temple, the serious Lyttleton; Talbot, without knowing why or wherefore, took to wife the languishing Boynton; George Hamilton, under more favourable auspices, married the lovely Jennings; and the Chevalier de Grammont, as the reward of a constancy he had never before known, and which he never afterwards practised, found Hymen and Love united in his favour, and was at last blessed with the possession of Miss Hamilton.
[After the deaths of Miss Boynton and of George Hamilton, Talbot married Miss Jennings, and became afterwards Duke of Tyrconnel.]
["The famous Count Grammont was thought to be the original of The Forced Marriage. This nobleman, during his stay at the court of England, had made love to Miss Hamilton, but was coming away for France without bringing matters to a proper conclusion. The young lady's brothers pursued him, and came up with him near Dover, in order to exchange some pistol-shot with him: They called out, 'Count Grammont, have you forgot nothing at London?' 'Excuse me,' answered the Count, guessing their errand, 'I forgot to marry your sister; so lead on, and let us finish that affair.' By the pleasantry of the answer, this was the same Grammont who commanded at the siege of a place, the governor of which capitulated after a short defence, and obtained an easy capitulation. The governor then said to Monsieur Grammont, I'll tell you a secret—that the reason of my capitulation was, because I was in want of powder.' Monsieur replied, 'And secret for secret—the reason of my granting you such an easy capitulation was, because I was in want of ball."—Biog. Gallica, vol. i., p. 202.
Count Grammont and his lady left England in 1669. King Charles in a letter to his sister, the Duchess of Orleans, dated 24th October, in that year, says, "I writt to you yesterday, by the Compte de Grammont, but I beleeve this letter will come sooner to your handes; for he goes by the way of Diep, with his wife and family; and now that I have named her, I cannot chuse but againe desire you to be kinde to her; for, besides the merrit her family has on both sides, she is as good a creature as ever lived. I beleeve she will passe for a handsome woman in France, though she has not yett, since her lying-inn, recovered that good shape she had before, and I am affraide never will."—Dalxymple's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 26.
"The Count de Grammont fell dangerously ill in the year 1696; of which the king (Louis XIV.) being informed, and knowing, besides, that he was inclined to libertinism, he was pleased to send the Marquis of Dangeau to see how he did, and to advise him to think of God. Hereupon Count de Grammont, turning towards his wife, who had ever been a very devout lady, told her, Countess, if you don't look to it, Dangeau will juggle you out of my conversion. Madame de l'Enclos having afterwards written to M. de St Evremond that Count de Grammont was recovered, and turned devout,—I have learned, answered he to her, with a great deal of pleasure, that Count de Grammont has recovered his former health, and acquired a new devotion. Hitherto I have been contented with being a plain honest man; but I must do something more; and I only wait for your example to become a devotee. You live in a country where people have wonderful advantages of saving their souls, there vice is almost as opposite to the mode as to virtue; sinning passes for ill-breeding, and shocks decency and good manners, as much as religion, Formerly it was enough to be wicked; now one must be a scoundrel withal, to be damned in France. They who have not regard enough for another life, are led to salvation by the consideration and duties of this." —"But there is enough upon a subject in which the conversion of the Count de Grammont has engaged me: I believe it to be sincere and honest. It well becomes a man who is not young, to forget he has been so."—Life of St. Evremond, by Des Marzeaux, p. 136; and St. Evremond's Works, vol. ii. p. 431.]
PG EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
All day poring over his books, and went to bed soon Ambition to pass for a wit, only established her tiresome An affectation of purity of manners As all fools are who have good memories Better memory for injuries than for benefits Better to know nothing at all, than to know too much Better to partake with another than to have nothing at all Busy without consequence By a strange perversion of language, styled, all men of honour Despising everything which was not like themselves Devote himself to his studies, than to the duties of matrimony Duke would see things if he could Embellish the truth, in order to enhance the wonder Entreating pardon, and at the same time justifying her conduct Envy each other those indulgences which themselves refuse Every thing that is necessary is honourable in politics Four dozen of patches, at least, and ten ringlets of hair Good attendants, but understood cheating still better Great earnestness passed for business Grew so fat and plump that it was a blessing to see her Hardly possible for a woman to have less wit, or more beauty He had no sentiments but such as others inspired him with He talked eternally, without saying anything He as little feared the Marquis as he loved him His mistress given him by his priests for penance How I must hate you, if I did not love you to distraction Impenetrable stupidity (passed) for secrecy Impertinent compliments Life, in his opinion, was too short to read all sorts of books Long habit of suffering himself to be robbed by his domestics Maxim of all jealous husbands Never felt the pressure of indigence Not disagreeable, but he had a serious contemplative air Not that he wanted capacity, but he was too self-sufficient Obstinate against all other advices Offended that his good fortune raised him no rivals One amour is creditable to a lady Possessed but little raillery, and still less patience Public is not so easily deceived as some people imagine Public grows familiar with everything by habit Reasons of state assume great privileges Resolved to renounce the church for the salvation of my soul She just said what she ought, and no more So weak as to transform your slave into your tyrant Terrible piece of furniture for the country (educated girl) The shortest follies are the best There are men of real merit, or pretenders to it They can by no means bear the inconstancy of their mistresses Those who open a book merely to find fault Very willing to accept, but was tardy in making returns Wealth was necessary for the conveniencies of a long life What jealousy fears, and what it always deserves What a glory would it be to have a Cato for a husband Would have been criminal even in chastity to spare (her husband)