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However, the argument I used, namely, of giving him a general release, and never troubling him any more, prevailed effectually, and he sent me a bill for the money by a person who brought with him a general release for me to sign, and which I frankly signed ; and thus, though full sore against my will, a final end was put to this affair.
And here I cannot but reflect upon the unhappy consequence of too great freedoms between persons stated as we were, upon the pretence of innocent intentions, love of friendship, and the like ; for the flesh has generally so great a share in those friendships, that it is great odds but inclination prevails at last over the most solemn resolutions; and that vice breaks in at the breaches of decency, which really innocent friendship ought to preserve with the greatest strictness, But I leave the readers of these things to their own just reflections, which they will be more able to make effectual than I, who so soon forgot myself, and am therefore but a very indifferent monitor. I was now a single person again, as I
call myself; I was loosed from all the obligations either of wedlock or mistress-ship in the world, except my husband the linen-draper, whom I having not now heard from in almost fifteen years, nobody could blame me for thinking myself entirely freed from ; seeing also he had at his going away told me, that if I did not hear frequently from him, I should conclude he was dead, and I might freely marry again to whom I pleased.
I now began to cast up my accounts. I had by many letters, and much importunity, and with the intercession of my mother too, had a second return of some goods from my brother, as I now call him, in Virginia, to make up the damage of the cargo I brought away with me, and this too was upon the condition of my sealing a general release to him, which, though I thought hard, yet I was obliged to promise. I managed so well in this case, that I got my goods away before the release was signed, and then I always found something or other to say to evade the thing, and to put off the signing it at all; till at length I pretended I must write to my brother before I could do it.
Including this recruit, and before I got the last £50, I found my strength to amount, put all together, to about L400, so that with that I had above £450. I had saved £100 more, but I met with a disaster with that, which was this — that a goldsmith in whose hands I had trusted it broke, so I lost £70 of my money, the man's composition not making above £30 out of his £100. I had a little plate, but not much, and was well enough stocked with clothes and linen. With this stock I had the world to begin again ;
but you are to consider that I was not now the same woman as when I lived at Rotherhithe ; for, first of all, I was near twenty years older, and did not look the better for my age, nor for my rambles to Virginia and back again ; and though I omitted nothing that might set me out to advantage, except painting, for that I never stooped to, yet there would always be some difference seen between five-and-twenty and two-and-forty. I cast about innumerable ways
future state of life, and began to consider very seriously what I should do, but nothing offered. I took care to make the world take me for something more than I was, and had it given out that I was a fortune, and that my estate was in my own hands, the last of which was very true, the first of it was as above. I had no acquaintance, which was one of my worst misfortunes, and the consequence of that was, I had no adviser, and, above all, I had nobody to whom I could in confidence commit the secret of my circumstances ; and I found by experience, that to be friendless is the worst condition, next to being in want, that a woman can be reduced to : I say a woman, because 't is evident men can be their own advisers and their own directors, and know how to work themselves out of difficulties and into business better than women ; but if a woman has no friend to communicate her affairs to, and to advise and assist her,
't is ten to one but she is undone ; nay, and the more money she has, the more danger she is in of being wronged and deceived ; and this was my case in the affair of the £100 which I left in the hands of the goldsmith, as above, whose credit, it seems, was upon the ebb before, but I, that had nobody to consult with, knew nothing of it, and so lost my money.
When a woman is thus left desolate and void of counsel, she is just like a bag of money or a jewel dropt on the highway, which is a prey to the next comer; if a man of virtue and upright principles happens to find it, he will have it cried, and the owner may come to hear of it again; but how
many times shall such a thing fall into hands that will make no scruple of seizing it for their own, to once that it shall come into good hands ?
This was evidently my case, for I was now a loose, unguided creature, and had no help, no assistance, no guide for my conduct; I knew what I aimed at, and what I wanted, but knew nothing how to pursue the end by direct means. I wanted to be placed in a settled state of living, and had I happened to meet with a sober, good husband, I should have been as true a wife to him as virtue itself could have formed. If I had been otherwise, the vice came in always at the door of necessity, not at the door of inclination ; and I understood too well, by the want of it, what the value of a settled life was, to do anything to forfeit the felicity of it; nay, I should have made the better wife for all the difficulties I had passed through, by a great deal ; nor did I in any of the times that I had been a wife give my husbands the least uneasiness on account of my behaviour.
But all this was nothing ; I found no encouraging prospect. I waited ; I lived regularly, and with as much frugality as became my circumstances ; but nothing offered, nothing presented, and the main stock wasted apace. What to do I knew not ; the terror of approaching poverty lay hard upon my spirits. I had some money, but where to place it I knew not, nor would the interest of it maintain me, at least not in London.
At length a new scene opened. There was in the house where I lodged a north-country gentlewoman, and nothing was more frequent in her discourse than her account of the cheapness of provisions, and the easy way of living in her country ; how plentiful and how cheap everything was, what good company they kept, and the like; till at last I told her she almost tempted me to go and live in her country ; for I that was a widow, though I had sufficient to
ve on, yet had no way of increasing it; and that London was an extravagant place ; that I found I could not live here under £100 a year, unless I