Imágenes de página

convinced that he was, he began to enumerate the dangers and inconveniences attending so rash an enterprise. He told him, that a girl educated at court was a terrible piece of furniture for the country; that to carry her thither against her inclination, would as effectually rob him of his happiness and repose, as if he was transported to hell; that if he consented to let her stay, he needed only compute what it would cost him in equipage, table, clothes, and gaming-money, to maintain her in London according to her caprices; and then to cast up how long his fifteen thousand a year would last.

His cousin had already formed this computation ; but, finding his reason less potent than his love, he remained fixed in his resolution ; and Killegrew, yielding at length to his importunities, went and offered his cousin, bound hand and foot, to the victorious fair. As he dreaded nothing more than a compliance on her part, so nothing could astonish him more than the contempt with which she received his proposal. The scorn with which she refused him made him believe that she was sure of Lord Taaffe, and wonder how a girl like her could find out two men who would venture to marry her. He hastened to relate this refusal, with all the most aggràvating circumstances, as the best news he could carry to his cousin ; but his cousin would not believe him : he supposed that Killegrew disguised the truth, for the same reasons he had already alleged ; and not daring to mention the matter any more to him, he resolved to wait upon her himself. He summoned all his courage for the enterprise, and got his compliment by heart; but as soon as he had opened his mouth for the purpose, she told him he might have saved himself the trouble of calling on her about such a ridiculous affair; that she had already given her answer to Killegrew; and that she neither had, nor ever should have, any other to give; which

words she accompanied with all the severity with which importunate demands are usually refused.

He was more affected than confounded at this repulse : every thing became odious to him in London, and he himself more so than all the rest : he therefore left town, without taking leave of his cousin, went back to his country seat, and thinking it would be impossible for him to live without the inhuman fair, he resolved to neglect no opportunity in his power to hasten his death.

But whilst, in order to indulge his sorrow, he had forsaken all intercourse with dogs and horses; that is to say, renounced all the delights and endearments of a country squire, the scornful nymph, who was certainly mistaken in her reckoning, took the liberty of being brought to bed in the face of the whole court.

An adventure so public made no small noise, as we may very well imagine ; all the prudes at court at once broke loose upon it; and those principally, whose age or persons secured them from any such scandal, were the most inveterate, and cried most loudly for justice. But the governess of the maids of honour, who might have been called to an account for it, affirmed, that it was nothing at all, and that she was possessed of circumstances which would at once silence all censorious tongues. She had an audience of the queen, in order to unfold the mystery; and related to her majesty how every thing had passed with her consent, that is to say, upon honourable terms.

The queen sent to inquire of Lord Taaffe, whether he acknowledged Miss Warmestre for his wife: to which he most respectfully returned for answer, that he neither acknowledged Miss Warmestré nor her child, and that he wondered why she should rather father it upon him than any other. The unfortu

nate Warmestré, more enraged at this answer than at the loss of such a lover, quitted the court as soon as ever she was able, with a resolution of quitting the world the first opportunity.

Killegrew, being upon the point of setting out upon a journey when this adventure happened, thought he might as well call

upon his afflicted cousin in his way, to acquaint him with the circumstance; and as soon as he saw him, without paying any attention to the delicacy of his love, or to his feelings, he bluntly told him the whole story: nor did he omit any colouring that could heighten his indignation, in order to make him burst with shame and resentment.

We read that the gentle Tiridates quietly expired upon the recital of the death of Mariamne; but Killegrew's fond cousin, falling devoutly upon his knees, and lifting up his eyes to heaven, poured forth this exclamation :

“ Praised be the Lord for a small misfortune, which perhaps may prove the comfort of my life! Who knows but the beauteous Warmestré will now accept of me for a husband ; and that I may have the happiness of passing the remainder of my days with a woman I adore, and by whom I may expect to have heirs ?“Certainly," said Killegrew, more confounded than his cousin ought to have been on such an occasion, “you may depend upon having both : I make no manner of doubt but she will marry you, as soon as ever she is recovered from her lying-in; and it would be great illnature in her, who already kuows the way, to let you want children: however, in the mean time, I advise you to take that she has already, till you get more.”

Notwithstanding this raillery, all that was said did take place. This faithful lover courted her, as if she had been the chaste Lucretia, or the beauteous Helen: his passion even increased after marriage, and the generous fair, first out of gratitude, and afterwards through inclination, never brought him a child of which he was not the father; and though there have been many a happy couple in England, this certainly was the happiest.

Some time after, Miss Bellenden, not being terrified by this example, had the prudence to quit the court before she was obliged so to do: the disagreeable Bardou followed her soon after; but for different reasons. Every person was at last completely tired of her saraband, as well as of her face, and. the king, that he might see neither of them any more, gave each a small pension for her subsistence. There now only remained little Mademoiselle de la Garde to be provided for: neither her virtues nor her vices were sufficiently conspicuous to occasion her being either dismissed from cou or pressed to remain there: God knows what would have become of her, if a Mr. Silvius, 129 a man who had nothing of a Roman in him except the name, had not taken the poor girl to be his wife. :

We have now shewn how all these damsels deserved to be expelled, either for their irregularities, or for their ugliness ; and yet, those who replaced them found means to make them regretted, Miss Wells only excepted.

She was a tall girl, exquisitely shaped: she dressed very genteel, walked like a goddess; and yet her face, though made like those that generally please the most, was unfortunately one of those that pleased the least : nature had spread over it a certain careless indolence that made her look sheepish. This gave but a bad opinion of her wit; and her wit had the ill-luck to make good that opinion : however, as she was freshcoloured, and appeared inexperienced, the king, whom the fair Stewart did not render over nice as to the perfections of the mind, resolved to try whether the senses would not fare better with Miss Wells's person than fine sentiments with her

understanding : nor was this experiment attended with much difficulty: she was of a loyal family; and her father having faithfully served Charles the First, she thought it her duty not to revolt against Charles the Second. But this connection was not attended with very advantageous circumstances for herself; some pretended that she did not hold out long enough, and that she surrendered at discretion before she was vigorously attacked ; and others said, that his majesty complained of certain other facilities still less pleasing. The Duke of Buckingham made a couplet upon this occasion, wherein the king, speaking to Progers, 130 the confidant of his intrigues, puns upon the name of the fair one.

Miss Wells, notwithstanding this species of anagram upon her name, and these remarks upon her person, shone the brightest among her new companions. These were Miss Levingston, Miss Fielding, and Miss Boynton, who little deserve to be mentioned in these memoirs; therefore we shall leave them in obscurity until it please fortune to draw them out of it.

This was the new establishment of maids of honour to the queen. The Duchess of York, nearly about the same time likewise recruited hers; but shewed, by a happier and more brilliant choice, that England possessed an inexhaustible stock of beauties. But before we begin to speak of them, let us see who were the first maids of honour to her royal highness, and on what account they were removed.

Besides Miss Blague and Miss Price, whom we have before mentioned, the establishment was composed of Miss Bagot and Miss Hobart, the president of the community.

Miss Blague, who never knew the true reason of her quarrel with the Marquis de Brisacier, took it up upon that fatal letter she had received from him, wherein, without

« AnteriorContinuar »