He remained a Whig, however, and two years later received appointment to the post of Consul-General at Lisbon. Its duties were not arduous, and allowed him to cross the Atlantic half a dozen times with Lady Vyell and revisit Eagles, where Miss Quiney held faithful stewardship. He never completely recovered his health. The pressure under which he had lain during those three terrible hours had left him with some slight curvature of the spine. It increased, and ended in a constriction of the lungs, bringing on a slow decline. In 1767 he again retired to Bath, where next year he died, aged fifty-one years. His epitaph on the wall of the Abbey nave runs as follows:—
“To the memory of Sir Oliver Hastings Pelham Vyell of Carwithiel, Co. Cornwall, Baronet, Consul-General for many years at Lisbon, whence he came in hopes of Recovery from a Bad State of Health to Bath. Here, after a tedious and painful illness, sustained with the Patience and Resignation becoming to a Christian, he died Jan. 11, 1768, in the Fifty-second Year of his Life, without Heir. This Monument is erected by his affectionate Widow, Ruth Lady Vyell.”
Ruth Lady Vyell stood in the empty minster beneath her husband’s epitaph, and conned it, puckering her brow slightly in the effort to keep her thoughts collected.
She had not set eyes on the tablet since the day the stonemasons had fixed it in place; and that was close upon eight years ago. On the morrow, her pious duty fulfilled, she had taken post for Plymouth, there to embark for America; and the intervening years had been lived in widowhood at Eagles until the outbreak of the Revolution had forced her, early in 1775, to take shelter in Boston, and in the late fall of the year to sail back to England. For Eagles, though unravaged, had passed into the hands of the “rebels”; and Ruth, though an ardent loyalist, kept her old clearness of vision, and foresaw that King George could not beat his Colonists; that the stars in their courses fought against this stupid monarch.
This pilgrimage to Bath had been her first devoir on reaching England. She had nursed him tenderly through his last illness, as she had been in all respects an exemplary wife. Yet, standing beneath his monument, she felt herself an impostor. She could find here no true memories of the man whose look had swayed her soul, whose love she had served with rites a woman never forgets. This city of Bath did not hold the true dust of her lord and love. He had perished—though sinning against her, what mattered it?—years ago, under a fallen pillar in a street of Lisbon. Doubtless the site had been built over; it would be hard to find now, so actively had the Marquis de Pombal, Portugal’s First Minister, renovated the ruined city. But whether discoverable or not, there and not here was written the last of Oliver Vyell.