We had a great deal of close conversation that night, for we neither of us slept much; he was as penitent for having put all those cheats upon me as if it had been felony, and that he was going to execution; he offered me again every shilling of the money he had about him, and said he would go into the army and seek the world for more.
I asked him why he would be so unkind to carry me into Ireland, when I might suppose he could not have subsisted me there. He took me in his arms. 'My dear,' said he, 'depend upon it, I never designed to go to Ireland at all, much less to have carried you thither, but came hither to be out of the observation of the people, who had heard what I pretended to, and withal, that nobody might ask me for money before I was furnished to supply them.'
'But where, then,' said I, 'were we to have gone next?'
'Why, my dear,' said he, 'I'll confess the whole scheme to you as I had laid it; I purposed here to ask you something about your estate, as you see I did, and when you, as I expected you would, had entered into some account with me of the particulars, I would have made an excuse to you to have put off our voyage to Ireland for some time, and to have gone first towards London.
'Then, my dear,' said he, 'I resolved to have confessed all the circumstances of my own affairs to you, and let you know I had indeed made use of these artifices to obtain your consent to marry me, but had now nothing to do but ask to your pardon, and to tell you how abundantly, as I have said above, I would endeavour to make you forget what was past, by the felicity of the days to come.'
'Truly,' said I to him, 'I find you would soon have conquered me; and it is my affliction now, that I am not in a condition to let you see how easily I should have been reconciled to you, and have passed by all the tricks you had put upon me, in recompense of so much good-humour. But, my dear,' said I,
'what can we do now? We are both undone, and what better are we for our being reconciled together, seeing we have nothing to live on?'
We proposed a great many things, but nothing could offer where there was nothing to begin with. He begged me at last to talk no more of it, for, he said, I would break his heart; so we talked of other things a little, till at last he took a husband's leave of me, and so we went to sleep.
He rose before me in the morning; and indeed, having lain awake almost all night, I was very sleepy, and lay till near eleven o'clock. In this time he took his horses and three servants, and all his linen and baggage, and away he went, leaving a short but moving letter for me on the table, as follows:--
'MY DEAR--I am a dog; I have abused you; but I have been drawn into do it by a base creature, contrary to my principle and the general practice of my life. Forgive me, my dear! I ask your pardon with the greatest sincerity; I am the most miserable of men, in having deluded you. I have been so happy to posses you, and now am so wretched as to be forced to fly from you. Forgive me, my dear; once more I say, forgive me! I am not able to see you ruined by me, and myself unable to support you. Our marriage is nothing; I shall never be able to see you again; I here discharge you from it; if you can marry to your advantage, do not decline it on my account; I here swear to you on my faith, and on the word of a man of honour, I will never disturb your repose if I should know of it, which, however, is not likely. On the other hand, if you should not marry, and if good fortune should befall me, it shall be all yours, wherever you are.
'I have put some of the stock of money I have left into your pocket; take places for yourself and your maid in the stage-coach, and go for London; I hope it will bear your charges thither, without breaking into your own. Again I sincerely ask your pardon, and will do so as often as I shall ever think of you. Adieu, my dear, for ever!--I am, your most affectionately, J.E.'
Nothing that ever befell me in my life sank so deep into my heart as this farewell. I reproached him a thousand times in my thoughts for leaving me, for I would have gone with him through the world, if I had begged my bread. I felt in my pocket, and there found ten guineas, his gold watch, and two little rings, one a small diamond ring worth only about #6, and the other a plain gold ring.
I sat me down and looked upon these things two hours together, and scarce spoke a word, till my maid interrupted me by telling me my dinner was ready. I ate but little, and after dinner I fell into a vehement fit of crying, every now and then calling him by his name, which was James. 'O Jemmy!' said I, 'come back, come back. I'll give you all I have; I'll beg, I'll starve with you.' And thus I ran raving about the room several times, and then sat down between whiles, and then walking about again, called upon him to come back, and then cried again; and thus I passed the afternoon, till about seven o'clock, when it was near dusk, in the evening, being August, when, to my unspeakable surprise, he comes back into the inn, but without a servant, and comes directly up into my chamber.
I was in the greatest confusion imaginable, and so was he too. I could not imagine what should be the occasion of it, and began to be at odds with myself whether to be glad or sorry; but my affection biassed all the rest, and it was impossible to conceal my joy, which was too great for smiles, for it burst out into tears. He was no sooner entered the room but he ran to me and took me in his arms, holding me fast, and almost stopping my breath with his kisses, but spoke not a word. At length I began. 'My dear,' said I, 'how could you go away from me?' to which he gave no answer, for it was impossible for him to speak.
When our ecstasies were a little over, he told me he was gone about fifteen miles, but it was not in his power to go any farther without coming back to see me again, and to take his leave of me once more.
I told him how I had passed my time, and how loud I had called him to come back again. He told me he heard me very plain upon Delamere Forest, at a place about twelve miles off. I smiled. 'Nay,' says he, 'do not think I am in jest, for if ever I heard your voice in my life, I heard you call me aloud, and sometimes I thought I saw you running after me.' 'Why,' said I, 'what did I say?'--for I had not named the words to him.
'You called aloud,' says he, 'and said, O Jemmy! O Jemmy! come back, come back.'
I laughed at him. 'My dear,' says he, 'do not laugh, for, depend upon it, I heard your voice as plain as you hear mine now; if you please, I'll go before a magistrate and make oath of it.' I then began to be amazed and surprised, and indeed frightened, and told him what I had really done, and how I had called after him, as above.
When we had amused ourselves a while about this, I said to him: 'Well, you shall go away from me no more; I'll go all over the world with you rather.' He told me it would be very difficult thing for him to leave me, but since it must be, he hoped I would make it as easy to me as I could; but as for him, it would be his destruction that he foresaw.
However, he told me that he considered he had left me to travel to London alone, which was too long a journey; and that as he might as well go that way as any way else, he was resolved to see me safe thither, or near it; and if he did go away then without taking his leave, I should not take it ill of him; and this he made me promise.
He told me how he had dismissed his three servants, sold their horses, and sent the fellows away to seek their fortunes, and all in a little time, at a town on the road, I know not where.
'And,' says he, 'it cost me some tears all alone by myself, to think how much happier they were than their master, for they could go to the next gentleman's house to see for a service, whereas,' said he, 'I knew not wither to go, or what to do with myself.'
I told him I was so completely miserable in parting with him, that I could not be worse; and that now he was come again, I would not go from him, if he would take me with him, let him go whither he would, or do what he would. And in the meantime I agreed that we would go together to London; but I could not be brought to consent he should go away at last and not take his leave of me, as he proposed to do; but told him, jesting, that if he did, I would call him back again as loud as I did before. Then I pulled out his watch and gave it him back, and his two rings, and his ten guineas; but he would not take them, which made me very much suspect that he resolved to go off upon the road and leave me.
The truth is, the circumstances he was in, the passionate expressions of his letter, the kind, gentlemanly treatment I had from him in all the affair, with the concern he showed for me in it, his manner of parting with that large share which he gave me of his little stock left--all these had joined to make such impressions on me, that I really loved him most tenderly, and could not bear the thoughts of parting with him.
Two days after this we quitted Chester, I in the stage-coach, and he on horseback. I dismissed my maid at Chester. He was very much against my being without a maid, but she being a servant hired in the country, and I resolving to keep no servant at London, I told him it would have been barbarous to have taken the poor wench and have turned her away as soon as I came to town; and it would also have been a needless charge on the road, so I satisfied him, and he was easy enough on the score.
He came with me as far as Dunstable, within thirty miles of London, and then he told me fate and his own misfortunes obliged him to leave me, and that it was not convenient for him to go to London, for reasons which it was of no value to me to know, and I saw him preparing to go. The stage-coach we were in did not usually stop at Dunstable, but I desiring it but for a quart of an hour, they were content to stand at an inndoor a while, and we went into the house.
Being in the inn, I told him I had but one favour more to ask of him, and that was, that since he could not go any farther, he would give me leave to stay a week or two in the town with him, that we might in that time think of something to prevent such a ruinous thing to us both, as a final separation would be; and that I had something of moment to offer him, that I had never said yet, and which perhaps he might find practicable to our mutual advantage.
This was too reasonable a proposal to be denied, so he called the landlady of the house, and told her his wife was taken ill, and so ill that she could not think of going any farther in the stage-coach, which had tired her almost to death, and asked if she could not get us a lodging for two or three days in a private house, where I might rest me a little, for the journey had been too much for me. The landlady, a good sort of woman, well-bred and very obliging, came immediately to see me; told me she had two or three very good rooms in a part of the house quite out of the noise, and if I saw them, she did not doubt but I would like them, and I should have one of her maids, that should do nothing else but be appointed to wait on me. This was so very kind, that I could not but accept of it, and thank her; so I went to look on the rooms and liked them very well, and indeed they were extraordinarily furnished, and very pleasant lodgings; so we paid the stage-coach, took out our baggage, and resolved to stay here a while.
Here I told him I would live with him now till all my money was spent, but would not let him spend a shilling of his own. We had some kind squabble about that, but I told him it was the last time I was like to enjoy his company, and I desired he would let me be master in that thing only, and he should govern in everything else; so he acquiesced.
Here one evening, taking a walk into the fields, I told him I would now make the proposal to him I had told him of; accordingly I related to him how I had lived in Virginia, that I had a mother I believed was alive there still, though my husband was dead some years. I told him that had not my effects miscarried, which, by the way, I magnified pretty much, I might have been fortune good enough to him to have kept us from being parted in this manner. Then I entered into the manner of peoples going over to those countries to settle, how they had a quantity of land given them by the Constitution of the place; and if not, that it might be purchased at so easy a rate this it was not worth naming.
I then gave him a full and distinct account of the nature of planting; how with carrying over but two or three hundred pounds value in English goods, with some servants and tools, a man of application would presently lay a foundation for a family, and in a very few years be certain to raise an estate.
I let him into the nature of the product of the earth; how the ground was cured and prepared, and what the usual increase of it was; and demonstrated to him, that in a very few years, with such a beginning, we should be as certain of being rich as we were now certain of being poor.
He was surprised at my discourse; for we made it the whole subject of our conversation for near a week together, in which time I laid it down in black and white, as we say, that it was morally impossible, with a supposition of any reasonable good conduct, but that we must thrive there and do very well.
Then I told him what measures I would take to raise such a sum of #300 or thereabouts; and I argued with him how good a method it would be to put an end to our misfortunes and restore our circumstances in the world, to what we had both expected; and I added, that after seven years, if we lived, we might be in a posture to leave our plantations in good hands, and come over again and receive the income of it, and live here and enjoy it; and I gave him examples of some that had done so, and lived now in very good circumstances in London.
In short, I pressed him so to it, that he almost agreed to it, but still something or other broke it off again; till at last he turned the tables, and he began to talk almost to the same purpose of Ireland.
He told me that a man that could confine himself to country life, and that could find but stock to enter upon any land, should have farms there for #50 a year, as good as were here let for #200 a year; that the produce was such, and so rich the land, that if much was not laid up, we were sure to live as handsomely upon it as a gentleman of #3000 a year could do in England and that he had laid a scheme to leave me in London, and go over and try; and if he found he could lay a handsome foundation of living suitable to the respect he had for me, as he doubted not he should do, he would come over and fetch me.
I was dreadfully afraid that upon such a proposal he would have taken me at my word, viz. to sell my little income as I called it, and turn it into money, and let him carry it over into Ireland and try his experiment with it; but he was too just to desire it, or to have accepted it if I had offered it; and he anticipated me in that, for he added, that he would go and try his fortune that way, and if he found he could do anything at it to live, then, by adding mine to it when I went over, we should live like ourselves; but that he would not hazard a shilling of mine till he had made the experiment with a little, and he assured me that if he found nothing to be done in Ireland, he would then come to me and join in my project for Virginia.
He was so earnest upon his project being to be tried first, that I could not withstand him; however, he promised to let me hear from him in a very little time after his arriving there, to let me know whether his prospect answered his design, that if there was not a possibility of success, I might take the occasion to prepare for our other voyage, and then, he assured me, he would go with me to America with all his heart.
I could bring him to nothing further than this. However, those consultations entertained us near a month, during which I enjoyed his company, which indeed was the most entertaining that ever I met in my life before. In this time he let me into the whole story of his own life, which was indeed surprising, and full of an infinite variety sufficient to fill up a much brighter history, for its adventures and incidents, than any I ever say in print; but I shall have occasion to say more of him hereafter.
We parted at last, though with the utmost reluctance on my side; and indeed he took his leave very unwillingly too, but necessity obliged him, for his reasons were very good why he would not come to London, as I understood more fully some time afterwards.
I gave him a direction how to write to me, though still I reserved the grand secret, and never broke my resolution, which was not to let him ever know my true name, who I was, or where to be found; he likewise let me know how to write a letter to him, so that, he said, he would be sure to receive it.
I came to London the next day after we parted, but did not go directly to my old lodgings; but for another nameless reason took a private lodging in St. John's Street, or, as it is vulgarly called, St. Jones's, near Clerkenwell; and here, being perfectly alone, I had leisure to sit down and reflect seriously upon the last seven months' ramble I had made, for I had been abroad no less. The pleasant hours I had with my last husband I looked back on with an infinite deal of pleasure; but that pleasure was very much lessened when I found some time after that I was really with child.
This was a perplexing thing, because of the difficulty which was before me where I should get leave to lie in; it being one of the nicest things in the world at that time of day for a woman that was a stranger, and had no friends, to be entertained in that circumstance without security, which, by the way, I had not, neither could I procure any.
I had taken care all this while to preserve a correspondence with my honest friend at the bank, or rather he took care to correspond with me, for he wrote to me once a week; and though I had not spent my money so fast as to want any from him, yet I often wrote also to let him know I was alive. I had left directions in Lancashire, so that I had these letters, which he sent, conveyed to me; and during my recess at St. Jones's received a very obliging letter from him, assuring me that his process for a divorce from his wife went on with success, though he met with some difficulties in it that he did not expect.
I was not displeased with the news that his process was more tedious than he expected; for though I was in no condition to have him yet, not being so foolish to marry him when I knew myself to be with child by another man, as some I know have ventured to do, yet I was not willing to lose him, and, in a word, resolved to have him if he continued in the same mind, as soon as I was up again; for I saw apparently I should hear no more from my husband; and as he had all along pressed to marry, and had assured me he would not be at all disgusted at it, or ever offer to claim me again, so I made no scruple to resolve to do it if I could, and if my other friend stood to his bargain; and I had a great deal of reason to be assured that he would stand to it, by the letters he wrote to me, which were the kindest and most obliging that could be.
I now grew big, and the people where I lodged perceived it, and began to take notice of it to me, and, as far as civility would allow, intimated that I must think of removing. This put me to extreme perplexity, and I grew very melancholy, for indeed I knew not what course to take. I had money, but no friends, and was like to have a child upon my hands to keep, which was a difficulty I had never had upon me yet, as the particulars of my story hitherto make appear.
In the course of this affair I fell very ill, and my melancholy really increased my distemper; my illness proved at length to be only an ague, but my apprehensions were really that I should miscarry. I should not say apprehensions, for indeed I would have been glad to miscarry, but I could never be brought to entertain so much as a thought of endeavouring to miscarry, or of taking any thing to make me miscarry; I abhorred, I say, so much as the thought of it.
However, speaking of it in the house, the gentlewoman who kept the house proposed to me to send for a midwife. I scrupled it at first, but after some time consented to it, but told her I had no particular acquaintance with any midwife, and so left it to her.
It seems the mistress of the house was not so great a stranger to such cases as mine was as I thought at first she had been, as will appear presently, and she sent for a midwife of the right sort--that is to say, the right sort for me.
The woman appeared to be an experienced woman in her business, I mean as a midwife; but she had another calling too, in which she was as expert as most women if not more. My landlady had told her I was very melancholy, and that she believed that had done me harm; and once, before me, said to her, 'Mrs. B----' (meaning the midwife), 'I believe this lady's trouble is of a kind that is pretty much in your way, and therefore if you can do anything for her, pray do, for she is a very civil gentlewoman'; and so she went out of the room.
I really did not understand her, but my Mother Midnight began very seriously to explain what she mean, as soon as she was gone. 'Madam,' says she, 'you seem not to understand what your landlady means; and when you do understand it, you need not let her know at all that you do so.
'She means that you are under some circumstances that may render your lying in difficult to you, and that you are not willing to be exposed. I need say no more, but to tell you, that if you think fit to communicate so much of your case to me, if it be so, as is necessary, for I do not desire to pry into those things, I perhaps may be in a position to help you and to make you perfectly easy, and remove all your dull thoughts upon that subject.'
Every word this creature said was a cordial to me, and put new life and new spirit into my heart; my blood began to circulate immediately, and I was quite another body; I ate my victuals again, and grew better presently after it. She said a great deal more to the same purpose, and then, having pressed me to be free with her, and promised in the solemnest manner to be secret, she stopped a little, as if waiting to see what impression it made on me, and what I would say.
I was too sensible to the want I was in of such a woman, not to accept her offer; I told her my case was partly as she guessed, and partly not, for I was really married, and had a husband, though he was in such fine circumstances and so remote at that time, as that he could not appear publicly.
She took me short, and told me that was none of her business; all the ladies that came under her care were married women to her. 'Every woman,' she says, 'that is with child has a father for it,' and whether that father was a husband or no husband, was no business of hers; her business was to assist me in my present circumstances, whether I had a husband or no. 'For, madam,' says she, 'to have a husband that cannot appear, is to have no husband in the sense of the case; and, therefore, whether you are a wife or a mistress is all one to me.'
I found presently, that whether I was a whore or a wife, I was to pass for a whore here, so I let that go. I told her it was true, as she said, but that, however, if I must tell her my case, I must tell it her as it was; so I related it to her as short as I could, and I concluded it to her thus. 'I trouble you with all this, madam,' said I, 'not that, as you said before, it is much to the purpose in your affair, but this is to the purpose, namely, that I am not in any pain about being seen, or being public or concealed, for 'tis perfectly indifferent to me; but my difficulty is, that I have no acquaintance in this part of the nation.'
'I understand you, madam' says she; 'you have no security to bring to prevent the parish impertinences usual in such cases, and perhaps,' says she, 'do not know very well how to dispose of the child when it comes.' 'The last,' says I, 'is not so much my concern as the first.' 'Well, madam,' answered the midwife,
'dare you put yourself into my hands? I live in such a place; though I do not inquire after you, you may inquire after me. My name is B----; I live in such a street'--naming the street--
'at the sign of the Cradle. My profession is a midwife, and I have many ladies that come to my house to lie in. I have given security to the parish in general terms to secure them from any charge from whatsoever shall come into the world under my roof. I have but one question to ask in the whole affair, madam,' says she, 'and if that be answered you shall be entirely easy for all the rest.'
I presently understood what she meant, and told her, 'Madam, I believe I understand you. I thank God, though I want friends in this part of the world, I do not want money, so far as may be necessary, though I do not abound in that neither': this I added because I would not make her expect great things.
'Well, madam,' says she, 'that is the thing indeed, without which nothing can be done in these cases; and yet,' says she,
'you shall see that I will not impose upon you, or offer anything that is unkind to you, and if you desire it, you shall know everything beforehand, that you may suit yourself to the occasion, and be neither costly or sparing as you see fit.'
I told her she seemed to be so perfectly sensible of my condition, that I had nothing to ask of her but this, that as I had told her that I had money sufficient, but not a great quantity, she would order it so that I might be at as little superfluous charge as possible.
She replied that she would bring in an account of the expenses of it in two or three shapes, and like a bill of fare, I should choose as I pleased; and I desired her to do so.
The next day she brought it, and the copy of her three bills was a follows:--
1. For three months' lodging in her house, including my diet, at 10s. a week . . . . . . . . . . . 6#, 0s., 0d. 2. For a nurse for the month, and use of childbed linen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1#, 10s., 0d. 3. For a minister to christen the child, and to the godfathers and clerk . . . . . . . . . . . . 1#, 10s., 0d. 4. For a supper at the christening if I had five friends at it . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1#, 0s., 0d. For her fees as a midwife, and the taking off the trouble of the parish . . . . . . . . . . . . 3#, 3s., 0d. To her maid servant attending . . . . . . . . 0#, 10s., 0d. ________________ 13#, 13s., 0d. This was the first bill; the second was the same terms:-- 1. For three months' lodging and diet, etc., at 20s. per week . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13#, 0s., 0d. 2. For a nurse for the month, and the use of linen and lace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2#, 10s., 0d. 3. For the minister to christen the child, etc., as above . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2#, 0s., 0d. 4. For supper and for sweetmeats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3#, 3s., 0d. For her fees as above . . . . . . . . . . . . 5#, 5s., 0d. For a servant-maid . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1#, 0s., 0d. _______________ 26#, 18s., 0d. This was the second-rate bill; the third, she said, was for a degree higher, and when the father or friends appeared:-- 1. For three months' lodging and diet, having two rooms and a garret for a servant . . . . . . 30#, 0s., 0d., 2. For a nurse for the month, and the finest suit of childbed linen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4#, 4s., 0d. 3. For the minister to christen the child, etc. 2#, 10s., 0d. 4. For a supper, the gentlemen to send in the wine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6#, 0s., 0d. For my fees, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10#, 10s., 0d. The maid, besides their own maid, only . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0#, 10s., 0d. _________________ 53#, 14s., 0d.
I looked upon all three bills, and smiled, and told her I did not see but that she was very reasonable in her demands, all things considered, and for that I did not doubt but her accommodations were good.
She told me I should be judge of that when I saw them. I told her I was sorry to tell her that I feared I must be her lowest- rated customer. 'And perhaps, madam,' said I, 'you will make me the less welcome upon that account.' 'No, not at all,' said she; 'for where I have one of the third sort I have two of the second, and four to one of the first, and I get as much by them in proportion as by any; but if you doubt my care of you, I will allow any friend you have to overlook and see if you are well waited on or no.'
Then she explained the particulars of her bill. 'In the first place, madam,' said she, 'I would have you observe that here is three months' keeping; you are but ten shillings a week; I undertake to say you will not complain of my table. I suppose,' says she,
'you do not live cheaper where you are now?' 'No, indeed,' said I, 'not so cheap, for I give six shillings per week for my chamber, and find my own diet as well as I can, which costs me a great deal more.'Next