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ing him in pieces, as soon as he should come abroad ; but he shut hiniself up to bewail her death, until their fury was appeased by a magnificent funeral, at which he distributed four times more burnt wine than had ever been drunk at any burial in England.
While the town was in fear of some great disaster, as an expiation for these fatal effects of jealousy, Hamilton was not altogether so easy as he flattered himself he should be after the departure of Lady Chesterfield : he had only consulted the dictates of revenge in what he had done: his vengeance was satisfied; but such was far from being the case with his love; and having, since the absence of her he still admired, notwithstanding his resentments, leisure to make those reflections which a recent injury will not permit a man to attend to :-“ and wherefore," said he to himself, I so eager to make her miserable, who alone, however culpable she may
be, has it in her power to make me happy ? Cursed jealousy !" continued he, “yet more cruel to those who torment, than to those who are tormented! What have I gained, by having blasted the hopes of a more happy rival, since I was not able to perform this without depriving myself, at the same time, of her, upon whom the whole happiness and comfort of my life was centred.”
Thus, clearly proving to himself, by a great many reasonings of the same kind, and all out of season, that in such an engagement it was much better to partake with another than to have nothing at all, he filled his mind with a number of vain regrets and unprofitable remorse, when he received a letter from her who occasioned them, but a letter so exactly adapted to increase them, that, after he had read it, he looked upon himself as the greatest scoundrel in the world. Here it follows:
“You will, no doubt, be as much surprised at this letter,
as I was at the unconcerned air with which
beheld my departure. I am led to believe, that you had imagined reasons, which, in your own mind, justified such unseasonable conduct. If you are still under the impression of such barbarous sentiments, it will afford you pleasure to be made acquainted with what I suffer in the most horrible of prisons. Whatever the country affords most melancholy, in this season, presents itself to my view on all sides : surrounded by impassable roads, out of one window I see nothing but rocks, out of another nothing but precipices; but wherever I turn my eyes within doors, I meet those of a jealous husband, still more insupportable than the sad objects that encompass
I should add, to the misfortunes of my life, that of seeming criminal in the eyes of a man who ought to have justified me, even against convincing appearances, if by my avowed innocence I had a right to complain or to expostulate : but how is it possible for me to justify myself at such a distance ; and how can I flatter myself, that the description of a most dreadful prison will not prevent you from believing But do you deserve that I should wish
did ? Heavens ! how I must hate you, if I did not love you to distraction. Come, therefore, and let me once again see you,
you may hear my justification ; and I am convinced, that if after this visit you find me guilty, it will not be with respect to yourself. Our Argus sets out to-morrow for Chester, where a lawsuit will detain him a week : I know not whether he will gain it; but I am sure it will be entirely your fault, if he does not lose one, for which he is at least as anxious as that he is now going after.”
This letter was sufficient to make a man run blindfold into an adventure still more rash than that which was proposed to him, and that was rash enough in all respects : he could not perceive by what means she could justify herself ; but as
she assured him he should be satisfied with his journey, this was all he desired at present.
There was one of his relations with Lady Chesterfield, who, having accompanied her in her exile, had gained some share in their mutual confidence; and it was through her means he received this letter, with all the necessary
instructions about his journey and his arrival. Secrecy being the soul of such expeditions, especially before an amour is accomplished, he took post, and set out in the night, animated by the most tender and flattering wishes, so that, in less than no time, almost, in comparison with the distance and the badness of the roads, he had travelled a hundred and fifty tedious miles : at the last stage he prudently dismissed the post-boy. It was not yet daylight, and therefore, for fear of the rocks and precipices mentioned in her letter, he proceeded with tolerable discretion, considering he was in love.
By this means, he fortunately escaped all the dangerous places, and, according to his instructions, alighted at a little hut adjoining to the park-wall. The place was not magnificent : but, as he only wanted rest, it did well enough for that : he did not wish for daylight, and was even still less desirous of being seen; wherefore, having shut himself up in this obscure retreat, he fell into a profound sleep, and did not wake until noon. As he was particularly hungry when he awoke, he ate and drank heartily ; and, as he was the neatest man at court, and was expected by the neatest lady in England, he spent the remainder of the day in dressing himself, and in making all those preparations which the time and place permitted, without deigning once to look around him, or to ask his landlord a single question. At last, the orders he expected with great impatience were brought him, in the beginning of the evening, by a servant, who, attending him as a guide, after having led him for about half an hour
in the dirt, through a park of vast extent, brought him at last into a garden, into which a little door opened : he was posted, exactly opposite to this door, by which, in a short time, he was to be introduced to a more agreeable situation; and here his conductor left him. The night advanced, but the door never opened.
Though the winter was almost over, the cold weather seemed only to be beginning : he was dirtied up to his knees in mud, and soon perceived, that if he continued much longer in this garden, it would all be frozen. This beginning of a very dark and bitter night would have been unbearable to any other; but it was nothing to a man who flattered himself to pass the remainder of it in the height of bliss : however, he began to wonder at so many precautions in the absence of a husband : his imagination, by a thousand delicious and tender ideas, supported him some time against the torments of impatience and the inclemency of the weather; but he felt his imagination, notwithstanding, cooling by degrees; and two hours, which seemed to him as tedious as two whole ages, having passed, and not the least notice being taken of him, either from the door or from the window, he began to reason with himself
the posture of his affairs, and what was the fittest conduct for him to pursue in this emergency : “What if I should rap at this cursed door,” said he; “for if my fate requires that I should perish, it is at least more honourable to die in the house, than to be starved to death in the garden ; but, then," continued he, “I may thereby, perhaps, expose a person whom some unforeseen accident may, at this very instant, have reduced to greater perplexity than even I myself am in." This thought supplied him with a necessary degree of patience and fortitude against the enemies he had to contend with; he therefore began to walk quickly to and fro, with the resolution to wait, as long as he
could keep alive, the end of an adventure, which had such an uncomfortable beginning. All this was to no purpose ; for though he used every effort to keep himself warm, and though muffled up in a thick cloak, yet he began to be benumbed in all his limbs, and the cold gained the ascendancy over all his amorous vivacity and eagerness. Daybreak was not far off, and judging now, that though the accursed door should even be opened, it would be to no purpose, he returned, as well he could, to the place from whence he had set out upon this wonderful expedition.
All the faggots that were in the cottage were hardly able to unfreeze him : the more he reflected on his adventure, the circumstances attending it appeared still the more strange and unaccountable; but so far from accusing the charming countess, he suffered a thousand different anxieties on her account: sometimes he imagined that her husband might have returned unexpectedly; sometimes, that she might suddenly have been taken ill; in short, that some insuperable obstacle had unluckily interposed, and prevented his happiness, notwithstanding his mistress's kind intentions towards him. wherefore," said he, "did she forget me in that cursed garden? Is it possible that she could not find a single moment to make me at least some sign or other, if she could neither speak to me, nor give me admittance ?” He knew not which of these conjectures to rely upon, or how to answer his own questions ; but as he flattered himself that every thing would succeed better the next night, after having vowed not to set a foot again into that unfortunate garden, he gave orders to be waked as soon as any person should inquire for him : then he laid himself down in one of the worst beds in the world, and slept as sound as if he had been in the best: he supposed that he should not be awakened, but either by a letter or a message from Lady Chesterfield ; but he had scarce slept two hours,