§ 22

Daniel Defoe

THE FIRST satisfaction, however, that I took in the new condition I was in, was in reflecting that at length the life of crime was over, and that I was like a passenger coming back from the Indies, who having, after many years’ fatigues and hurry in business, gotten a good estate with innumerable difficulties and hazards, is arrived safe at London with all his effects, and has the pleasure of saying he shall never venture upon the seas any more.

When we were married we came back immediately to my lodgings ( for the church was but just by), and we were so privately married that none but Amy and my friend the Quaker were acquainted with it. As soon as we came into the house he took me in his arms, and kissing me, “Now you are my own,” says he. “Oh that you had been so good to have done this eleven years ago.” “Then,” said I, “perhaps you would have been tired of me long ago; ’tis much better now, for now all our happy days are to come. Besides,” said I, “I should not have been half so rich”; but that I said to myself, for there was no letting him into the reason of it. “Oh,” says he, “I should not have been tired of you; but besides having the satisfaction of your company, it had saved me that unlucky blow at Paris, which was a dead loss to me of above 8,000 pistoles, and all the fatigues of so many years’ hurry and business.” And then he added, “But I’ll make you pay for it all, now I have you.” I started a little at the words. “Ay,” said I, “do you threaten already? Pray what d’ye mean by that?” and began to look a little grave.

“I’ll tell you,” says he, “very plainly what I mean,” and still he held me fast in his arms. “I intend from this time never to trouble myself with any more business, so I shall never get one shilling for you more than I have already; all that you will lose one way. Next, I intend not to trouble myself with any of the care or trouble of managing what either you have for me or what I have to add to it, but you shall e’en take it all upon yourself as the wives do in Holland; so you will pay for it that way too, for all the drudgery shall be yours. Thirdly, I intend to condemn you to the constant bondage of my impertinent company, for I shall tie you like a pedlar’s pack, at my back, I shall scarce ever be from you; for I am sure I can take delight in nothing else in this world.” “Very well,” says I, “but I am pretty heavy; I hope you’ll set me down sometimes when you are a-weary.” “As for that,” says he, “tire me if you can.”

This was all jest and allegory, but it was all true in the moral of the fable, as you shall hear in its place. We were very merry the rest of the day, but without any noise or clutter, for he brought not one of his acquaintance or friends, either English or foreigner. The honest Quaker provided us a very noble dinner indeed, considering how few we were to eat it, and every day that week she did the like, and would at last have it be all at her own charge, which I was utterly averse to; first, because I knew her circumstances not to be very great, though not very low; and next, because she had been so true a friend and so cheerful a comforter to me, ay, and counsellor too, in all this affair, that I had resolved to make her a present that should be some help to her when all was over.

But to return to the circumstances of our wedding. After being very merry, as I have told you, Amy and the Quaker put us to bed, the honest Quaker little thinking we had been a-bed together eleven years before; nay, that was a secret which, as it happened, Amy herself did not know. Amy grinned and made faces as if she had been pleased, but it came out in so many words, when he was not by, the sum of her mumbling and muttering was that this should have been done ten or a dozen years before, that it would signify little now; that was to say, in short, that her mistress was pretty near fifty, and too old to have any children. I chid her; the Quaker laughed, complimented me upon my not being so old as Amy pretended, that I could not be above forty, and might have a houseful of children yet. But Amy, and I too, knew better than she how it was; for, in short, I was old enough to have done breeding, however I looked; but I made her hold her tongue.

In the morning my Quaker landlady came and visited us before we were up, and made us eat cakes and drink chocolate in bed, and then left us again and bid us take a nap upon it, which I believe we did; in short, she treated us so handsomely, and with such an agreeable cheerfulness as well as plenty, as made it appear to me that Quakers may, and that this Quaker did, understand good manners as well as any other people.

I resisted her offer, however, of treating us for the whole week, and I opposed it so long that I saw evidently that she took it ill, and would have thought herself slighted if we had not accepted it; so I said no more, but let her go on, only told her I would be even with her, and so I was. However, for that week she treated us, as she said she would, and did it so very fine and with such a profusion of all sorts of good things, that the greatest burthen to her was how to dispose of things that were left; for she never let anything, how dainty or however large, be so much as seen twice among us.

I had some servants indeed which helped her off a little, that is to say, two maids, for Amy was now a woman of business, not a servant, and ate always with us. I had also a coachman and a boy. My Quaker had a manservant too, but had but one maid, but she borrowed two more from some of her friends for the occasion, and had a man-cook for dressing the victuals.

She was only at a loss for plate, which she gave me a whisper of, and I made Amy fetch a large strong-box which I had lodged in a safe hand, in which was all the fine plate which I had provided on a worse occasion, as is mentioned before, and I put it into the Quaker’s hand, obliging her not to use it as mine but as her own, for a reason I shall mention presently.

I was now my Lady ——, and I must own I was exceedingly pleased with it; ’twas so big and so great to hear myself called Her Ladyship, and Your Ladyship, and the like, that I was like the Indian king at Virginia, who, having a house built for him by the English and a lock put upon the door, would sit whole days together with the key in his hand, locking and unlocking and double-locking the door, with an unaccountable pleasure at the novelty; so I could have sat a whole day together to hear Amy talk to me and call me Your Ladyship at every word, but after a while the novelty wore off and the pride of it abated, till at last truly I wanted the other title as much as I did that of Ladyship before.

We lived this week in all the innocent mirth imaginable, and our good-humoured Quaker was so pleasant in her way, that it was particularly entertaining to us. We had no music at all or dancing, only I now and then sung a French song to divert my spouse, who desired it, and the privacy of our mirth greatly added to the pleasure of it. I did not make many clothes for my wedding, having always a great many rich clothes by me, which, with a little altering for the fashion, were perfectly new. The next day he pressed me to dress though we had no company. At last, jesting with him, I told him I believed I was able to dress me so, in one kind of dress that I had by me, that he would not know his wife when he saw her, especially if anybody else was by. No, he said, that was impossible; and he longed to see that dress. I told him I would dress me in it if he would promise me never to desire me to appear in it before company. He promised he would not, but wanted to know why too; as husbands, you know, are inquisitive creatures, and love to enquire after anything they think is kept from them; but I had an answer ready for him. “Because,” said I, “it is not a decent dress in this country, and would not look modest.” Neither indeed would it, for it was but one degree off from appearing in one’s shift, but it was the usual wear in the country where they were used. He was satisfied with my answer, and gave me his promise never to ask me to be seen in it before company. I then withdrew, taking only Amy and the Quaker with me; and Amy dressed me in my old Turkish habit which I danced in formerly, etc., as before. The Quaker was charmed with the dress, and merrily said that if such a dress should come to be worn here, she should not know what to do; she should be tempted not to dress in the Quakers’ way any more.

When all the dress was put on I loaded it with jewels, and in particular I placed the large breast jewel which he had given me, of a thousand pistoles, upon the front of the Tyhiaai, or head-dress, where it made a most glorious show indeed; I had my own diamond necklace on, and my hair was tout brillant, all glittering with jewels.

His picture set with diamonds I had placed stitched to my vest, just, as might be supposed, upon my heart (which is the compliment in such cases among the Eastern people), and all being open at the breast, there was no room for anything of a jewel there. In this figure, Amy holding the train of my robe, I came down to him. He was surprised and perfectly astonished; he knew me, to be sure, because I had prepared him and because there was nobody else there but the Quaker and Amy, but he by no means knew Amy, for she had dressed herself in the habit of a Turkish slave, being the garb of my little Turk which I had at Naples, as I have said. She had her neck and arms bare, was bareheaded, and her hair braided in a long tassel hanging down her back; but the jade could neither hold her countenance nor her chattering tongue so as to be concealed long.

Well, he was so charmed with this dress that he would have me sit and dine in it, but it was so thin and so open before, and the weather being also sharp, that I was afraid of taking cold. However, the fire being enlarged and the doors kept shut, I sat to oblige him, and he professed he never saw so fine a dress in his life. I afterwards told him that my husband (so he called the jeweller that was killed) bought it for me at Leghorn, with a young Turkish slave which I parted with at Paris, and that it was by the help of that slave that I learnt how to dress in it and how everything was to be worn, and many of the Turkish customs also, with some of their language. This story agreeing with the fact, only changing the person, was very natural, and so it went off with him. But there was good reason why I should not receive any company in this dress, that is to say, not in England; I need not repeat it, you will hear more of it.

But when I came abroad I frequently put it on, and upon two or three occasions danced in it, but always at his request.

We continued at the Quaker’s lodgings for above a year; for now making as though it was difficult to determine where to settle in England to his satisfaction, unless in London, which was not to mine, I pretended to make him an offer, that to oblige him I began to incline to go and live abroad with him; that I knew nothing could be more agreeable to him, and that as to me, every place was alike; that as I had lived abroad without a husband so many years, it could be no burthen to me to live abroad again, especially with him. Then we fell to straining our courtesies upon one another. He told me he was perfectly easy at living in England, and had squared all his affairs accordingly; for that, as he told me he intended to give over all business in the world, as well the care of managing it as the concern about it, seeing we were both in condition neither to want it nor to have it be worth our while, so I might see it was his intention, by his getting himself naturalised, and getting the patent of Baronet, etc. Well, for all that, I told him I accepted his compliment, but I could not but know that his native country, where his children were breeding up, must be most agreeable to him, and that if I was of such value to him I would be there then to enhance the rate of his satisfaction; that wherever he was would be a home to me, and any place in the world would be England to me if he was with me. And thus, in short, I brought him to give me leave to oblige him with going to live abroad, when in truth I could not have been perfectly easy at living in England unless I had kept constantly within doors, lest some time or other the dissolute life I had lived here should have come to be known, and all those wicked things have been known too which I now began to be very much ashamed of.

When we closed up our wedding week, in which our Quaker had been so very handsome to us, I told him how much I thought we were obliged to her for her generous carriage to us, how she had acted the kindest part through the whole, and how faithful a friend she had been to me upon all occasions; and then letting him know a little of her family unhappinesses, I proposed that I thought I not only ought to be grateful to her, but really to do something extraordinary for her towards making her easy in her affairs; and I added that I had no hangers-on that should trouble him, that there was nobody belonged to me but what was thoroughly provided for, and that if I did something for this honest woman that was considerable, it should be the last gift I would give to anybody in the world but Amy. And as for her, we were not a-going to turn her adrift, but whenever anything offered for her we would do as we saw cause; that in the meantime Amy was not poor, that she had saved together between seven and eight hundred pounds. By the way, I did not tell him how and by what wicked ways she had got it, but that she had it; and that was enough to let him know she would never be in want of us.

My spouse was exceedingly pleased with my discourse about the Quaker, made a kind of a speech to me upon the subject of gratitude, told me it was one of the brightest parts of a gentlewoman; that it was so twisted with honesty, nay, and even with religion too, that he questioned whether either of them could be found where gratitude was not to be found; that in this act there was not only gratitude, but charity, and that to make the charity still more Christian-like, the object too had real merit to attract it. He therefore agreed to the thing with all his heart, only would have had me let him pay it out of his effects.

I told him, as for that, I did not design, whatever I had said formerly, that we should have two pockets, and that though I had talked to him of being a free woman, and an independent woman and the like, and he had offered and promised that I should keep all my own estate in my own hands, yet, that since I had taken him, I would e’en do as other honest wives did, where I thought fit to give myself, I should give what I had too; that if I reserved anything, it should be only in case of mortality, and that I might give it to his children afterwards, as my own gift; and that, in short, if he thought fit to join stocks, we would see to-morrow morning what strength we could both make up in the world, and, bringing it all together, consider before we resolved upon the place of removing, how we should dispose of what we had as well as of ourselves. This discourse was too obliging, and he too much a man of sense not to receive it as it was meant; he only answered, we would do in that as we should both agree, but the thing under our present care was to show not gratitude only, but charity and affection too, to our kind friend the Quaker; and the first word he spoke of was to settle a thousand pounds upon her, for her life, that is to say, sixty pounds a year, but in such a manner as not to be in the power of any person to reach but herself. This was a great thing, and indeed showed the generous principles of my husband, and for that reason I mention it; but I thought that a little too much, too, and particularly because I had another thing in view for her about the plate. So I told him I thought if he gave her a purse with a hundred guineas as a present first, and then made her a compliment of £40 per annum for her life, secured any such way as she should desire, it would be very handsome.

He agreed to that, and the same day, in the evening, when we were just going to bed, he took my Quaker by the hand, and with a kiss told her that we had been very kindly treated by her from the beginning of this affair, and his wife before, as she (meaning me) had informed him, and that he thought himself bound to let her see that she had obliged friends who knew how to be grateful; that for his part of the obligation, he desired she would accept of that for an acknowledgment in part only (putting the gold into her hand), and that his wife would talk with her about what further he had to say to her. And upon that, not giving her time hardly to say “Thank ye,” away he went upstairs into our bedchamber, leaving her confused and not knowing what to say.

When he was gone she began to make very handsome and obliging representations of her goodwill to us both, but that it was without expectation of reward; that I had given her several valuable presents before, and so indeed I had; for besides the piece of linen which I had given her at first, I had given her a suit of damask table-linen, of the linen I bought for my balls, viz. three tablecloths and three dozen of napkins; and at another time I gave her a little necklace of gold beads, and the like, but that is by the way. But she mentioned them, I say, and how she was obliged by me on many other occasions; that she was not in condition to show her gratitude any other way, not being able to make a suitable return, and that now we took from her all opportunity to balance my former friendship, and left her more in debt than she was before. She spoke this in a very good kind of a manner, in her own way, but which was very agreeable indeed, and had as much apparent sincerity, and I verily believe as real, as was possible to be expressed; but I put a stop to it, and bid her say no more, but accept of what my spouse had given her, which was but in part, as she had heard him say. “And put it up,” says I, “and come and sit down here, and give me leave to say something else to you on the same head which my spouse and I have settled between ourselves in your behalf.” “What dost thee mean?” says she, and blushed and looked surprised, but did not stir. She was going to speak again, but I interrupted her and told her she should make no more apologies of any kind whatever, for I had better things than all this to talk to her of; so I went on, and told her that as she had been so friendly and kind to us on every occasion, and that her house was the lucky place where we came together, and that she knew I was from her own mouth acquainted in part with her circumstances, we were resolved she should be the better for us as long as she lived. Then I told her what we had resolved to do for her, and that she had nothing more to do but to consult with me how it should be effectually secured for her, distinct from any of the effects which were her husband’s; and that if her husband did so supply her that she could live comfortably and not want it for bread or other necessaries, she should not make use of it, but lay up the income of it and add it every year to the principal, so to increase the annual payment, which in time, and perhaps before she might come to want it, might double itself; that we were very willing whatever she should so lay up should be to herself, and whoever she thought fit after her, but that the £40 a year must return to our family after her life, which we both wished might be long and happy.

Let no reader wonder at my extraordinary concern for this poor woman, or at my giving my bounty to her a place in this account. It is not, I assure you, to make a pageantry of my charity, or to value myself upon the greatness of my soul, that I should give in so profuse a manner as this, which was above my figure if my wealth had been twice as much as it was; but there was another spring from whence all flowed, and ’tis on that account I speak of it. Was it possible I could think of a poor desolate woman with four children, and her husband gone from her, and perhaps good for little if he had stayed—I say, was I, that had tasted so deep of the sorrows of such a kind of widowhood, able to look on her and think of her circumstances, and not be touched in an uncommon manner? No, no, I never looked on her and her family, though she was not left so helpless and friendless as I had been, without remembering my own condition, when Amy was sent out to pawn or sell my pair of stays to buy a breast of mutton and a bunch of turnips; nor could I look on her poor children, though not poor and perishing like mine, without tears, reflecting on the dreadful condition mine were reduced to when poor Amy sent them all into their aunt’s in Spitalfields and ran away from them. These were the original springs or fountain-head from whence my affectionate thoughts were moved to assist this poor woman.

When a poor debtor, having lain long in the Compter. or Ludgate, or the King’s Bench, for debt, afterwards gets out, rises again in the world, and grows rich, such a one is a certain benefactor to the prisoners there, and perhaps to every prison he passes by, as long as he lives; for he remembers the dark days of his own sorrow; and even those who never had the experience of such sorrows to stir up their minds to acts of charity, would have the same charitable good disposition, did they as sensibly remember what it is that distinguishes them from others by a more favourable and merciful Providence.

This I say was, however, the spring of my concern for this honest, friendly, and grateful Quaker, and as I had so plentiful a fortune in the world, I resolved she should taste the fruit of her kind usage to me, in a manner that she could not expect.

All the while I talked to her I saw the disorder of her mind; the sudden joy was too much for her, and she coloured, trembled, changed, and at last grew pale, and was indeed near fainting, when she hastily rang a little bell for her maid, who coming in immediately, she beckoned to her, for speak she could not, to fill her a glass of wine, but she had no breath to take it in and was almost choked with that which she took in her mouth. I saw she was ill and assisted her what I could, and with spirits and things to smell too, just kept her from fainting, when she beckoned to her maid to withdraw, and immediately burst out in crying, and that relieved her. When she recovered herself a little she flew to me, and throwing her arms about my neck, “Oh!” says she, “thou hast almost killed me.” And there she hung, laying her head in my neck for half a quarter of an hour, not able to speak, but sobbing like a child that had been whipped.

I was very sorry that I did not stop a little in the middle of my discourse and make her drink a glass of wine, before it had put her spirits into such a violent motion; but it was too late, and it was ten to one odds but that it had killed her.

But she came to herself at last, and began to say some very good things in return for my kindness. I would not let her go on, but told her I had more to say to her still than all this, but that I would let it alone till another time. My meaning was about the box of plate, good part of which I gave her, and some I gave to Amy, for I had so much plate, and some so large, that I thought if I let my husband see it, he might be apt to wonder what occasion I could ever have for so much, and for plate of such a kind too; as particularly a great cistern for bottles, which cost a hundred and twenty pounds, and some large candlesticks, too big for any ordinary use. These I caused Amy to sell; in short, Amy sold above three hundred pounds’ worth of plate. What I gave the Quaker was worth above sixty pounds, and I gave Amy above thirty pounds’ worth, and yet I had a great deal left for my husband.

Nor did our kindness to the Quaker end with the forty pounds a year, for we were always, while we stayed with her, which was above ten months, giving her one good thing or another; and, in a word, instead of lodging with her, she boarded with us, for I kept the house, and she and all her family ate and drank with us, and yet we paid her the rent of the house too; in short, I remembered my widowhood, and I made this widow’s heart glad many a day the more upon that account.

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