But as I hinted, so it was. The next morning he laid me down on my toilet a purse with 300 pistoles. I saw him lay it down and understood what he meant, but I took no notice of it till I came to it (as it were) casually, then I gave a great cry out and fell a-scolding in my way, for he gave me all possible freedom of speech on such occasions. I told him he was unkind, that he would never give me an opportunity to ask him for anything, and that he forced me to blush by being too much obliged, and the like; all which I knew was very agreeable to him, for as he was bountiful beyond measure, so he was infinitely obliged by my being so backward to ask any favours; and I was even with him, for I never asked him for a farthing in my life.
Upon this rallying him he told me I had either perfectly studied the art of humour, or else what was the greatest difficulty to others was natural to me, adding that nothing could be more obliging to a man of honour than not to be soliciting and craving.
I told him nothing could be craving upon him, that he left no room for it, that I hoped he did not give merely to avoid the trouble of being importuned; I told him he might depend upon it that I should be reduced very low indeed before I offered to disturb him that way.
He said a man of honour ought always to know what he ought to do, and as he did nothing but what he knew was reasonable, he gave me leave to be free with him if I wanted anything; that he had too much value for me to deny me anything if I asked, but that it was infinitely agreeable to him to hear me say that what he did was to my satisfaction.
We strained compliments thus a great while, and as he had me in his arms most part of the time, so upon all my expressions of his bounty to me he put a stop to me with his kisses, and would admit me to go on no further.
I should in this place mention that this Prince was not a subject of France, though at that time he resided at Paris and was much at Court, where I suppose he had or expected some considerable employment. But I mention it on this account, that a few days after this he came to me and told me he was come to bring me not the most welcome news that ever I heard from him in his life. I looked at him a little surprised, but he returned, ”Do not be uneasy; it is as unpleasant to me as to you, but I came to consult with you about it and see if it cannot be made a little easy to us both.”
I seemed still more concerned and surprised. At last he said it was that he believed he should be obliged to go into Italy, which though otherwise it was very agreeable to him, yet his parting with me made it a very dull thing but to think of.
I sat mute as one thunderstruck for a good while, and it presently occurred to me that I was going to lose him, which indeed I could but ill bear the thoughts of, and as he told me I turned pale. “What’s the matter?” said he hastily; “I have surprised you indeed “; and stepping to the sideboard fills a dram of cordial water (which was of his own bringing) and comes to me. “Be not surprised,” said he, “I’ll go nowhere without you,” adding several other things so kind as nothing could exceed it.
I might indeed turn pale, for I was very much surprised at first, believing that this was, as it often happens in such cases, only a project to drop me and break off an amour which he had now carried on so long; and a thousand thoughts whirled about my head in the few moments while I was kept in suspense (for they were but a few)—I say I was indeed surprised, and might perhaps look pale, but I was not in any danger of fainting that I knew of.
However, it not a little pleased me to see him so concerned and anxious about me; but I stopped a little when he put the cordial to my mouth, and taking the glass in my hand, I said, “My lord, your words are infinitely more of a cordial to me than this citron, for as nothing can be a greater affliction than to lose you, so nothing can be a greater satisfaction than the assurance that I shall not have that misfortune.”
He made me sit down and sat down by me, and after saying a thousand kind things to me he turns upon me with a smile. “Why, will you venture yourself to Italy with me?” says he. I stopped a while and then answered that I wondered he would ask me that question, for I would go anywhere in the world, or all over the world, wherever he should desire me and give me the felicity of his company.
Then he entered into a long account of the occasion of his journey and how the King had engaged him to go, and some other circumstances which are not proper to enter into here, it being by no means proper to say anything that might lead the reader into the least guess at the person.
But to cut short this part of the story and the history of our journey and stay abroad, which would almost fill up a volume of itself, I say we spent all that evening in cheerful consultations about the manner of our travelling, the equipage and figure he should go in, and in what manner I should go. Several ways were proposed but none seemed feasible, till at last I told him I thought it would be so troublesome, so expensive, and so public that it would be many ways inconvenient to him; and though it was a kind of death to me to lose him, yet that rather than so very much perplex his affairs I would submit to anything.
At the next visit I filled his head with the same difficulties, and then at last came over him with a proposal that I would stay in Paris or where else he should direct, and when I heard of his safe arrival would come away by myself and place myself as near him as I could.
This gave him no satisfaction at all, nor would he hear any more of it, but if I durst venture myself, as he called it, such a journey, he would not lose the satisfaction of my company; and as for the expense, that was not to be named, neither indeed was there room to name it, for I found that he travelled at the King’s expense, as well for himself as for all his equipage, being upon a piece of secret service of the last importance.
But after several debates between ourselves he came to this resolution, viz. that he would travel incognito, and so he should avoid all public notice either of himself or of who went with him, and that then he should not only carry me with him, but have a perfect leisure of enjoying my agreeable company (as he was pleased to call it) all the way.
This was so obliging that nothing could be more, so upon this foot he immediately set to work to prepare things for his journey, and by his directions so did I too. But now I had a terrible difficulty upon me, and which way to get over it I knew not; and that was, in what manner to take care of what I had to leave behind me. I was rich, as I have said, very rich, and what to do with it I knew not, nor whom to leave in trust I knew not. I had nobody but Amy in the world, and to travel without Amy was very uncomfortable; or to leave all I had in the world with her, and if she miscarried, be ruined at once, was still a frightful thought, for Amy might die, and whose hands things might fall into I knew not. This gave me great uneasiness and I knew not what to do, for I could not mention it to the Prince lest he should see that I was richer than he thought I was.
But the Prince made all this easy for me, for in concerting measures for our journey he started the thing himself, and asked me merrily one evening whom I would trust with all my wealth in my absence.
“My wealth, my lord,” said I, “except what I owe to your goodness, is but small; but yet that little I have, I confess, causes some thoughtfulness, because I have no acquaintance in Paris that I dare trust with it, nor anybody but my woman to leave in the house, and how to do without her upon the road I do not well know.”
“As to the road, be not concerned,” says the Prince, “I’ll provide you servants to your mind; and as for your woman, if you can trust her, leave her here, and I’ll put you in a way how to secure things as well as if you were at home.” I bowed and told him I could not be put into better hands than his own, and that therefore I would govern all my measures by his directions; so we talked no more of it that night.
The next day he sent me in a great iron chest, so large that it was as much as six lusty fellows could get up the steps into the house, and in this I put indeed all my wealth. And for Amy’s safety he ordered a good, honest ancient man and his wife to be in the house with her to keep her company, and a maidservant and a boy, so that there was a good family, and Amy was madam the mistress of the house.
Things being thus secured, we set out incog. as he called it, but we had two coaches and six horses, two chaises, and about eight menservants on horseback all very well armed.
Never was woman better used in this world that went upon no other account than I did. I had three women servants to wait on me, one whereof was an old Madam ——, who thoroughly understood her business and managed everything as if she had been major-domo, so I had no trouble. They had one coach to themselves and the Prince and I in the other, only that sometimes, where he knew it necessary, I went into their coach, and one particular gentleman of the retinue rode with him.
I shall say no more of the journey than that when we came to those frightful mountains the Alps, there was no travelling in our coaches, so he ordered a horse litter, but carried by mules, to be provided for me, and himself went on horseback. The coaches went some other way back to Lyons; then we had coaches hired at Turin which met us at Susa, so that we were accommodated again, and went by easy journeys afterwards to Rome, where his business whatever it was called him to stay some time, and from thence to Venice.
He was as good as his word, indeed, for I had the pleasure of his company and, in a word, engrossed his conversation almost all the way. He took delight in showing me everything that was to be seen, and particularly in telling me something of the history of everything he showed me.
What valuable pains were here thrown away upon one whom he was sure at last to abandon with regret! How below himself did a man of quality and of a thousand accomplishments behave in all this! ’Tis one of my reasons for entering into this part, which otherwise would not be worth relating. Had I been a daughter or a wife of whom it might be said that he had a just concern in their instruction or improvement, it had been an admirable step, but all this to a whore!—to one whom he carried with him upon no account that could be rationally agreeable, and none but to gratify the meanest of human frailties. This was the wonder of it.
But such is the power of a vicious inclination. Whoring was, in a word, his darling crime, the worst excursion he made, for he was otherwise one of the most excellent persons in the world. No passions, no furious excursions, no ostentatious pride, the most humble, courteous, affable person in the world, not an oath, not an indecent word or the least blemish in behaviour was to be seen in all his conversation except as before excepted. And it has given me occasion for many dark reflections since, to look back and think that I should be the snare of such a person’s life, that I should influence him to so much wickedness, and that I should be the instrument in the hand of the devil to do him so much prejudice.
We were near two years upon this Grand Tour, as it may be called, during most of which I resided at Rome or at Venice, having only been twice at Florence and once at Naples. I made some very diverting and useful observations in all these places, and particularly of the conduct of the ladies, for I had opportunity to converse very much among them by the help of the old witch that travelled with us. She had been at Naples and at Venice, and had lived in the former several years, where, as I found, she had lived but a loose life, as indeed the women of Naples generally do; and, in short, I found she was fully acquainted with all the intriguing arts of that part of the world.
Here my lord bought me a little female Turkish slave, who, being taken at sea by a Maltese man-of-war, was brought in there, and of her I learnt the Turkish language, their way of dressing and dancing, and some Turkish, or rather Moorish, songs, of which I made use to my advantage on an extraordinary occasion some years after, as you shall hear in its place. I need not say I learnt Italian too, for I got pretty well mistress of that before I had been there a year, and as I had leisure enough and loved the language, I read all the Italian books I could come at.
I began to be so in love with Italy, especially with Naples and Venice, that I could have been very well satisfied to have sent for Amy and have taken up my residence there for life.
As to Rome, I did not like it at all. The swarms of ecclesiastics of all kinds on one side, and the scoundrelly rabbles of the common people on the other, make Rome the unpleasantest place in the world to live in. The innumerable number of valets, lackeys, and other servants is such that they used to say that there are very few of the common people in Rome but what have been footmen or porters or grooms to cardinals or foreign ambassadors. In a word, they have an air of sharping and cozening, quarrelling and scolding, upon their general behaviour, and when I was there the footmen made such a broil between two great families in Rome, about which of their coaches (the ladies being in the coaches on either side) should give way to the other, that there was above thirty people wounded on both sides, five or six killed outright, and both the ladies frighted almost to death.
But I have no mind to write the history of my travels on this side of the world, at least not now; it would be too full of variety.
I must not, however, omit that the Prince continued in all this journey the most kind, obliging person to me m the world, and so constant, that though we were in a country where ’tis well known all manner of liberties are taken, I am yet well assured he neither took the liberty he knew he might have, nor so much as desired it.
I have often thought of this noble person on that account. Had he been but half so true, so faithful and constant to the best lady in the world, I mean his Princess, how glorious a virtue had it been in him, and how free had he been from those just reflections which touched him in her behalf when it was too late.
We had some very agreeable conversations upon this subject, and once he told me, with a kind of more than ordinary concern upon his thoughts, that he was greatly beholden to me for taking this hazardous and difficult journey, for that I had kept him honest. I looked up in his face, and coloured as red as fire. “Well, well,” says he, “do not let that surprise you; I do say you have kept me honest.” “My lord,” said I, “’tis not for me to explain your words, but I wish I could turn ’em my own way. I hope,” says I, “and believe we are both as honest as we can be in our circumstances.” “Ay, ay,” says he, “and honester than I doubt I should have been if you had not been with me. I cannot say but if you had not been here I should have wandered among the gay world here in Naples, and in Venice too, for ’tis not such a crime here as ’tis in other places; but I protest,” says he, “I have not touched a woman in Italy but yourself, and more than that, I have not so much as had any desire to it, so that, I say, you have kept me honest.”
I was silent, and was glad that he interrupted me, or kept me from speaking, with kissing me, for really I knew not what to say. I was once going to say that if his lady the Princess had been with him she would doubtless have had the same influence upon his virtue, with infinitely more advantage to him, but I considered this might give him offence; and, besides, such things might have been dangerous to the circumstances I stood in, so it passed off. But I must confess I saw that he was quite another man as to women than I understood he had always been before, and it was a particular satisfaction to me that I was thereby convinced that what he said was true, and that he was, as I may say, all my own.
I was with child again in this journey and lay in at Venice, but was not so happy as before. I brought him another son, and a very fine boy it was, but it lived not above two months; nor, after the first touches of affection (which are usual, I believe, to all mothers) were over, was I sorry the child did not live, the necessary difficulties attending it in our travelling being considered.
After these several perambulations my lord told me his business began to close and we would think of returning to France, which I was very glad of, but principally on account of my treasure I had there, which, as you have heard, was very considerable. It is true I had letters very frequently from my maid Amy, with accounts that everything was very safe, and that was very much to my satisfaction. However, as the Prince’s negotiations were at an end and he was obliged to return, I was very glad to go; so we returned from Venice to Turin, and on the way I saw the famous city of Milan. From Turin we went over the mountains again, as before, and our coaches met us at Pont-à-Voisin, between Chambéry and Lyons; and so by easy journeys we arrived safely at Paris, having been absent about two years, wanting about eleven days, as above.
I found the little family we left just as we left them. and Amy cried for joy when she saw me, and I almost did the same.
The Prince took his leave of me the night before, for as he told me, he knew he should be met upon the road by several persons of quality, and perhaps by the Princess herself. So we lay at two different inns that night lest some should come quite to the place, as indeed it happened.
After this I saw him not for above twenty days, being taken up in his family and also with business, but he sent me his gentleman to tell me the reason of it, and bid me not be uneasy, and that satisfied me effectually.