But I am too tedious upon this melancholy subject, which however, I hope, you will forgive, since the happiness of my whole life dependeth upon it. I desire you will think a while, and give your best advice what measures I shall take with prudence, justice, courage, and honour, to protect my liberty and fortune against the hardships and severities I lie under from that unkind, inconstant man.
THE ANSWER TO THE INJURED LADY.
I have received your Ladyship’s letter, and carefully considered every part of it, and shall give you my opinion how you ought to proceed for your own security. But first, I must beg leave to tell your Ladyship, that you were guilty of an unpardonable weakness t’other day in making that offer to your lover, of standing by him in any quarrel he might have with your rival. You know very well, that she began to apprehend he had designs of using her as he had done you; and common prudence might have directed you rather to have entered into some measures with her for joining against him, until he might at least be brought to some reasonable terms: But your invincible hatred to that lady hath carried your resentments so high, as to be the cause of your ruin; yet, if you please to consider, this aversion of yours began a good while before she became your rival, and was taken up by you and your family in a sort of compliment to your lover, who formerly had a great abhorrence for her. It is true, since that time you have suffered very much by her encroachments upon your estate, but she never pretended to govern or direct you: And now you have drawn a new enemy upon yourself; for I think you may count upon all the ill offices she can possibly do you by her credit with her husband; whereas, if, instead of openly declaring against her without any provocation, you had but sat still awhile, and said nothing, that gentleman would have lessened his severity to you out of perfect fear. This weakness of yours, you call generosity; but I doubt there was more in the matter. In short, Madam, I have good reasons to think you were betrayed to it by the pernicious counsels of some about you: For to my certain knowledge, several of your tenants and servants, to whom you have been very kind, are as arrant rascals as any in the Country. I cannot but observe what a mighty difference there is in one particular between your Ladyship and your rival. Having yielded up your person, you thought nothing else worth defending, and therefore you will not now insist upon those very conditions for which you yielded at first. But your Ladyship cannot be ignorant, that some years since your rival did the same thing, and upon no conditions at all; nay, this gentleman kept her as a miss, and yet made her pay for her diet and lodging. But, it being at a time when he had no steward, and his family out of order, she stole away, and hath now got the trick very well known among