Part 10 out of 10
on an offer of mutual sacrifice and mutual compliance, might be
obtained. That Mr. Bolingbroke might promise to give up some of his
time to the man he disliked, upon condition that Griselda should
submit to the society of a woman to whom she had an aversion.
"If she consented to this," said Emma, "I would do my best to make her
like me; or at least to make her time pass agreeably at our house: her
liking me is a matter of no manner of consequence."
Emma was capable of putting herself entirely out of the question,
when the interest of others was at stake; her whole desire was to
conciliate, and all her thoughts were intent upon making her friends
happy. She seemed to live in them more than in herself, and from
sympathy arose the greatest pleasure and pain of her existence. Her
sympathy was not of that useless kind which is called forth only by
the elegant fictitious sorrows of a heroine of romance; hers was ready
for all the occasions of real life; nor was it to be easily checked
by the imperfections of those to whom she could be of service. At
this moment, when she perceived that her husband was disgusted by
Griselda's caprice, she said all she could think of in her favour: she
recollected every anecdote of Griselda's childhood, which showed an
amiable disposition; and argued, that it was not probable her temper
should have entirely changed in a few years. Emma's quick-sighted
good-nature could discern the least portion of merit, where others
could find only faults; as certain experienced eyes can discover
grains of gold in the sands, which the ignorant have searched, and
abandoned as useless. In consequence of Emma's advice--for who would
reject good advice, offered with so much gentleness?--Mr. Granby wrote
a note to Mr. Bolingbroke, to recommend the compromise which she had
suggested. Upon his return home, Mr. Bolingbroke was informed that
his lady had gone to bed much indisposed; he spent a restless night,
notwithstanding all his newly-acquired magnanimity. He was much
relieved in the morning by his friend's note, and blessed Emma for
proposing the compromise.
"Each widow to her secret friend alone
Whisper'd;--thus treated, he had had his own."
Mr. Bolingbroke waited with impatience for Griselda's appearance the
next morning; but he waited in vain: the lady breakfasted in her own
apartment, and for two hours afterwards remained in close consultation
with Mrs. Nettleby, whom she had summoned the preceding night by the
"I have been prevented from spending this evening with you, my
dearest Mrs. Nettleby, by the strangest conduct imaginable: am
sure you will not believe it when I tell it to you. Come to me, I
conjure you, as early to-morrow as you possibly can, that I may
explain to you all that has passed, and consult as to the future.
My dearest friend, I never was so much in want of an adviser. Ever
At this consultation, Mrs. Nettleby expressed the utmost astonishment
at Mr. Bolingbroke's strange conduct, and assured Griselda, that if
she did not exert herself, all was lost, and she must give up the hope
of ever having her own way again as long as she lived.
"My dear," said she, "I have had some experience in these things; a
wife must be either a tyrant or a slave: make your choice; now is your
"But I never knew him say or do any thing unkind before," said
"Then the first offence should be properly resented. If he finds you
forgiving, he will become encroaching; 'tis the nature of man, depend
"He always yielded to me till now," said Griselda; "but even when I
was ready to go into fits, he left me, and what could I do then?"
"You astonish me beyond expression! you who have every
advantage--youth, wit, accomplishments, beauty! My dear, if _you_
cannot keep a husband's heart, who can ever hope to succeed?"
"Oh! as to his heart, I have no doubts of his heart, to do him
justice," said Griselda; "I know he loves me--passionately loves me."
"And yet you cannot manage him! And you expect me to pity you? Bless
me, if I had half your advantages, what I would make of them! But if
you like to be a tame wife, my dear--if you are resolved upon it, tell
me so at once, and I will hold my tongue."
"I do not know well what I am resolved upon," said Griselda, leaning
her head in a melancholy posture upon her hand: "I am vexed, out of
spirits, and out of sorts."
"Out of sorts! I am not surprised at that: but out of spirits! My dear
creature, you who have every thing to put you in spirits. I am never
so much _myself_ as when I have a quarrel to fight out."
"I cannot say that is the case with me, unless where I am sure of the
"And it is your own fault if you are not always sure of it."
"I thought so till last night; but I assure you last night he showed
such a spirit!"
"Break that spirit, my dear, break it, or else it will break your
"The alternative is terrible," said Griselda, "and more terrible
perhaps than you could imagine, or I either till now: for would you
believe it, I never loved him in my life half so well as I did last
night in the midst of my anger, and when he was doing every thing to
"Very natural, my dear; because you saw him behave with spirit, and
you love spirit; so does every woman; so does every body; show him
that you have spirit too, and he will be as angry as you were, and
love you as well in the midst of his anger, whilst you are doing every
thing to provoke him."
Griselda appeared determined to take this good advice one moment, and
the next hesitated.
"But, my dear Mrs. Nettleby, did you always find this succeed
This lady had the reputation indeed of having broken the heart of her
first husband; how she would manage her second was yet to be seen,
as her honeymoon was but just over. The pure love of mischief was
not her only motive in the advice which she gave to our heroine; she
had, like most people, mixed motives for her conduct. She disliked
Mr. Bolingbroke, because he disliked her; yet she wished that an
acquaintance should be kept up between him and her husband, because
Mr. Bolingbroke was a man of fortune and fashion.
Griselda promised that she would behave with that proper spirit,
which was to make her at once amiable and victorious; and the friends
"With patient, meek, submissive mind,
To her hard fate resign'd."
Left to her own good genius, Griselda reflected that novelty has the
most powerful effect upon the heart of man. In all the variations of
her humour, her husband had never yet seen her in the sullen mood; and
in this she now sat prepared to receive him. He came with an earnest
desire to speak to her in the kindest and most reasonable manner. He
began by saying how much it had cost him to give her one moment's
uneasiness:--his voice, his look, were those of truth and love.
Unmoved, Griselda, without raising her leaden eyes, answered in a cold
voice, "I am very sorry that you should have felt _any_ concern upon
"_Any_! my love; you do not know how _much_ I have felt this night."
She looked upon him with civil disbelief; and replied, "that she was
sure she ought to be much obliged to him."
This frigid politeness repressed his affection: he was silent for some
"My dear Griselda," said he, "this is not the way in which we should
live together; we who have every thing that can make us contented: do
not let us throw away our happiness for trifles not worth thinking
"If we are not happy, it is not my fault," said Griselda.
"We will not inquire whose fault it is, my dear; let the blame rest
upon me: let the past be forgotten; let us look towards the future. In
future, let us avoid childish altercations, and live like reasonable
creatures. I have the highest opinion of your sex in general, and of
you in particular; I wish to live with my wife as my equal, my friend;
I do not desire that my will should govern: where our inclinations
differ, let reason decide between us; or where it is a matter not
worth reasoning about, let us alternately yield to one another." He
"I do not desire or expect that you should ever henceforward yield to
my wishes either in trifles or in matters of consequence," replied
Griselda, with provoking meekness; "you have taught me my duty: the
duty of a wife is to submit; and submit I hope I shall in future,
without reply or reasoning, to your sovereign will and pleasure."
"Nay, my dear," said he, "do not treat me as a brutal tyrant, when I
wish to do every thing in my power to make you happy. Use your own
excellent understanding, and I shall always, I hope, be inclined to
yield to your reasons."
"I shall never trouble you with my reasons; I shall never use my own
understanding in the least: I know that men cannot bear understanding
in women; I shall always, as it is my duty, submit to your better
"But, my love, I do not require duty from you; this sort of blind
submission would be mortifying, instead of gratifying to me, from a
"I do not know what a wife can do to satisfy a husband, if submitting
in every thing be not sufficient."
"I say it would be too much for me, my dearest love!"
"I can do nothing but submit," repeated the perverse Griselda, with a
most provoking immoveable aspect of humility.
"Why _will_ you not understand me, my dear?" cried her husband.
"It is not my fault if I cannot understand you, my dear: I do not
pretend to have your understanding," said the fair politician,
affecting weakness to gain her point; like those artful candidates for
papal dominion, who used to affect decrepitude and imbecility, till
they secured at once absolute power and infallibility.
"I know my abilities are quite inferior to yours, my dear," said
Griselda; "but I thought it was sufficient for a woman to know how to
obey; I can do no more."
Fretted beyond his patience, her husband walked up and down the room
greatly agitated, whilst she sat content and secure in tranquil
"You are enough to provoke the patience of Job, my dear," cried her
husband; "you'll break my heart."
"I am sorry for it, my dear; but if you will only tell me what I can
do more to please you, I will do it."
"Then, my love," cried he, taking hold of her white hand, which hung
in a lifeless attitude over the arm of the couch, "be happy, I conjure
you! all I ask of you is to be happy."
"That is out of my power," said she, mildly, suffering her husband to
keep her hand, as if it was an act of duty to submit to his caresses.
He resigned her hand; her countenance never varied; if she had been
slave to the most despotic sultan of the East, she could not have
shown more utter submission than she displayed to this most indulgent
European "husband lover."
Unable to command his temper, or to conceal how much he was hurt, he
rose and said, "I will leave you for the present, my dear; some time
when you are better disposed to converse with me, I will return."
"Whenever you please, sir; all times are alike to me: whenever you are
at leisure, I can have no choice."
"And acting duty all the merit lose."
Some hours afterwards, hoping to find his sultana in a better humour,
Mr. Bolingbroke returned; but no sooner did he approach the sofa on
which she was still seated, than she again seemed to turn into stone,
like the Princess Rhezzia, in the Persian Tales; who was blooming and
charming, except when her husband entered the room. The unfortunate
Princess Rhezzia loved her husband tenderly, but was doomed to this
fate by a vile enchanter. If she was more to be pitied for being
subject to involuntary metamorphosis, our heroine is surely more to
be admired, for the constancy with which she endured a self-inflicted
penance; a penance calculated to render her odious in the eyes of her
"My dear," said this most patient of men, "I am sorry to renew any
ideas that will be disagreeable to you; I will mention the subject but
once more, and then let it be forgotten for ever--our foolish dispute
about Mr. Nettleby. Let us compromise the matter. I will bear Mr. John
Nettleby for your sake, if you will bear Mrs. Granby for mine. I will
go to see Mr. Nettleby to-morrow, if you will come the day afterwards
with me to Mr. Granby's. Where husband and wife do not agree in their
wishes, it is reasonable that each should yield a little of their will
to the other. I hope this compromise will satisfy you, my dear."
"It does not become a wife to enter into any compromise with her
husband; she has nothing to do but to obey, as soon as he signifies
his pleasure. I shall go to Mr. Granby's on Tuesday, as you command."
"Command! my love."
"As you--whatever you please to call it."
"But are you satisfied with this arrangement, my dear?"
"It is no manner of consequence whether I am or not."
"To me, you know, it is of the greatest: you must be sensible that
my sincere wish is to make you happy: I give you some proof of it
by consenting to keep up an acquaintance with a man whose company I
"I am much obliged to you, my dear; but as to your going to see Mr.
John Nettleby, it is a matter of perfect indifference to me; I only
just mentioned it as a thing of course; I beg you will not do it on my
account: I hope you will do whatever you think best and what pleases
yourself, upon this and every other occasion. I shall never more
presume to offer my advice."
Nothing more could be obtained from the submissive wife; she went to
Mr. Granby's; she was all duty, for she knew the show of it was the
most provoking thing upon earth to a husband, at least to such a
husband as hers. She therefore persisted in this line of conduct, till
she made her victim at last exclaim--
"I love thee and hate thee, but if I can tell
The cause of my love and my hate, may I die.
I can feel it, alas! I can feel it too well,
That I love thee and hate thee, but cannot tell why."
His fair one was much flattered by this confession; she triumphed in
having excited "this contrariety of feelings;" nor did she foresee
the possibility of her husband's recollecting that stanza which the
school-boy, more philosophical than the poet, applies to his tyrant.
Whilst our heroine was thus acting to perfection the part of a dutiful
wife, Mrs. Nettleby was seconding her to the best of her abilities,
and announcing her amongst all their acquaintance, in the interesting
character of--"a woman that is very much to be pitied."
"Poor Mrs. Bolingbroke!--Don't you think, ma'am, she is very much
changed since her marriage?--Quite fallen away!--and all her fine
spirits, what are become of them?--It really grieves my heart to see
her.--Oh, she is a very unhappy woman!! really to be pitied, if you
knew but all."
Then a significant nod, or a melancholy mysterious look, set the
imagination of the company at work; or, if this did not succeed, a
whisper in plain terms pronounced Mr. Bolingbroke "a sad sort of
husband, a very odd-tempered man, and, in short, a terrible tyrant;
though nobody would guess it, who only saw him in company: but men are
Mr. Bolingbroke soon found that all his wishes were thwarted, and all
his hopes of happiness crossed, by the straws which this evil-minded
dame contrived to throw in his way. Her influence over his wife he saw
increased every hour: though they visited each other every day, these
ladies could never meet without having some important secrets to
impart, and conspiracies were to be performed in private, at which a
husband could not be permitted to assist. Then notes without number
were to pass continually, and these were to be thrown hastily into
the fire at the approach of the enemy. Mr. Bolingbroke determined to
break this league, which seemed to be more a league of hatred than
of amity.--The London winter was now over, and, taking advantage of
the continuance of his wife's perverse fit of duty and unqualified
submission, he one day requested her to accompany him into the
country, to spend a few weeks with his friend Mr. Granby, at his
charming place in Devonshire. The part of a wife was to obey, and
Griselda was bound to support her character. She resolved, however, to
make her obedience cost her lord as dear as possible, and she promised
herself that this party of pleasure should become a party of pain. She
and her lord were to travel in the same carriage with Mr. and Mrs.
Granby. Griselda had only time, before she set off, to write a hasty
billet to Mrs. Nettleby, to inform her of these intentions, and to bid
her adieu till better times. Mrs. Nettleby sincerely regretted this
interruption of their hourly correspondence; for she was deprived not
only of the pleasure of hearing, but of making matrimonial complaints.
She had now been married two months; and her fool began to grow
restive; no animal on earth is more restive than a fool: but,
confident that Mrs. Nettleby will hold the bridle with a strong hand,
we leave her to pull against his hard mouth.
"Playzir ne l'est qu'autant qu'on le partage."
We pass over the infinite variety of petty torments, which our heroine
contrived to inflict upon her fellow-travellers during her journey
down to Devonshire. Inns, food, beds, carriage, horses, baggage,
roads, prospect, hill, dale, sun, wind, dust, rain, earth, air, fire,
and water, all afforded her matter of complaint. It was astonishing
that Emma discovered none of these inconveniences; but, as fast as
they were complained of, she amused herself in trying to obviate them.
Lord Kames has observed, that a power to recall at will pleasing
objects would be a more valuable gift to any mortal than ever was
bestowed in a fairy tale. With this power Emma was endowed in the
highest perfection; and as fast as our heroine recollected some evil
that had happened, or was likely to happen, Emma raised the opposite
idea of some good, past, present, or future; so that it was scarcely
possible even for the spirit of contradiction personified to resist
the magic of her good-humour.
No sooner did she arrive at her own house, than she contrived a
variety of ways of showing attention and kindness to her guest; and
when all this was received with sullen indifference, or merely
as tributes due to superiority, Emma was not discouraged in her
benevolence, but, instead of being offended, seemed to pity her friend
for "having had her temper so unhappily spoiled."
"Griselda is so handsome," said Mrs. Granby one day, in her defence,
"she has such talents--she has been so much admired, worshipped, and
indulged--that it would be wonderful if she were not a little spoiled.
I dare say that, if I had been in her place, my brain would never
have stood the intoxication. Who can measure their strength, or their
weakness, till they are tried? Another thing should be considered;
Griselda excites envy, and though she may not have more faults than
her neighbours, they are more noticed, because they are in the full
light of prosperity. What a number of motes swarm in a single ray of
light, coming through the shutter of a darkened room! There are not
more motes in that spot than in any other part of the room, but the
sun-beams show them more distinctly. The dust that lives in snug
obscurity should consider this, and have mercy upon its fellow dust."
In Emma's kindness there was none of the parade of goodness; she
seemed to follow her natural disposition; and, as Griselda once said
of her, to be good because she could not help it. She required neither
praise nor thanks for any thing that she did; and, provided her
friends were happy, she was satisfied, without ever wishing to be
admired as the cause of that happiness. Her powers of pleasing were
chiefly remarkable for lasting longer than others, and the secret of
their permanence was not easily guessed, because it was so simple.
It depended merely on the equability of her humour. It is said, that
there is nothing marvellous in the colours of those Egyptian monuments
which have been the admiration of ages; the secret of their duration
is supposed to depend simply on the fineness of the climate and
invariability of the temperature.--But
"Griselda will admit no wandering muse."
Mrs. Bolingbroke was by this time tired of continuing in one mood,
even though it was the sullen; and her genius was cramped by the
constraint of affected submission. She recovered her charming spirits
soon after she came into the country, and for a short time no mortal
mixture of earth's mould could be more agreeable. She called forth
every charm; she was all gaiety, wit, and smiles; she poured light and
life upon conversation.
As the Marquis de Chastellux said of some fascinating fair one--"She
had no expression without grace, and no grace without expression."
It was delightful to our heroine to hear it said, "How charming Mrs.
Bolingbroke can be when she pleases; when she wishes to captivate, how
irresistible!--Who can equal Mrs. Bolingbroke when she is in one of
her _good days_?"
The triumph of eclipsing Mrs. Granby would have been delightful, but
that Emma seemed to feel no mortification from being thrown into the
shade; she seemed to enjoy her friend's success so sincerely, that
it was impossible to consider her as a rival. She had so carefully
avoided noticing any little disagreement or coolness between Mr. and
Mrs. Bolingbroke, that it might have been doubted whether she attended
to their mutual conduct; but the obvious delight she took in seeing
them again on good terms with each other proved that she was not
deficient in penetration. She appeared to see only what others desired
that she should see, upon these delicate occasions, where voluntary
blindness is not artifice, but prudence. Mr. Bolingbroke was now
enchanted with Griselda, and ready to exclaim every instant, "Be ever
Her husband thought he had found a mine of happiness; he began
to breathe, and to bless his kind stars. He had indeed lighted
unexpectedly upon a rich vein, but it was soon exhausted, and all
his farther progress was impeded by certain vapours, dangerous to
approach. Fatal sweets! which lure the ignorant to destruction, but
from which the more experienced fly with precipitation.--Our heroine
was now fully prepared to kill her husband with kindness; she was
afraid, if he rode, that his horse would throw him; if he walked, that
he would tire himself; if he sat still, that he must want exercise; if
he went out, that he would catch cold; if he stayed at home, that he
was kept a prisoner; if he did not eat, that he was sick; if he did
eat, that he would be sick;--&c. &c. &c. &c. There was no end to these
fond fears: he felt that there was something ridiculous in submitting
to them; and yet to resist in the least was deemed the height
of unkindness and ingratitude. One night she fell into a fit of
melancholy, upon his laughing at her fears, that he should kill
himself, by standing for an instant at an open window, on a fine
night, to look at a beautiful rising moon. When he endeavoured to
recover her from her melancholy, it was suddenly converted into
anger, and, after tears, came a storm of reproaches. Her husband,
in consideration of the kindness of her original intention, passed
over her anger, and even for some days refrained from objecting to
any regimen she prescribed for his health and happiness. But his
forbearance failed him at length, and he presumed to eat some salad,
which his wife "knew would disagree with him." She was provoked
afterwards, because she could not make him allow that it had made him
ill. She termed this extreme obstinacy; he pleaded that it was simple
truth. Truth upon some occasions is the most offensive thing that
can be spoken: the lady was enraged, and, after saying every thing
provoking that matrimonial spleen could suggest, when he in his turn
grew warm, she cooled, and said, "You must be sensible, my dear, that
all I say and do arises from affection."
"Oh! my love," said he, recovering his good-humour, "this
never-failing opiate soothes my vanity, and lulls my anger; then you
may govern me as you please. Torment me to death,--I cannot oppose
"I suppose," said she, "you think me like the vampire-bat, who fans
his victim to sleep with its wings, whilst she sucks its life-blood."
"Yes, exactly," said he, smiling: "thank you for the apt allusion."
"Very apt, indeed," said she; and a thick gloom overspread her
countenance. She persisted in taking his assent in sober earnest.
"Yes," said she, "I find you think all my kindness is treacherous. I
will show you no more, and then you cannot accuse me of treachery."
It was in vain that he protested he had been only in jest; she was
convinced that he was in earnest; she was suddenly afflicted with an
absolute incapacity of distinguishing jest from earnest. She recurred
to the idea of the vampire-bat, whenever it was convenient to her to
suppose that her husband thought strange things of her, which never
entered his brain. This bat proved to him a bird of ill omen, which
preceded a train of misfortunes, that no mortal foresight could reach,
and no human prudence avert. His goddess was not to be appeased by any
propitiatory or expiatory sacrifice.
"Short is the period of insulting power,
Offended Cupid finds his vengeful hour."
Finding it impossible to regain his fair one's favour, Mr. Bolingbroke
absented himself from her presence. He amused himself for some days
with his friend Mr. Granby, in attending to a plantation which he was
laying out in his grounds. Griselda was vexed to perceive that her
husband could find any amusement independent of her; and she never
failed, upon his return, to mark her displeasure.
One morning the gentlemen had been so much occupied with their
plantation, that they did not attend the breakfast-table precisely
in due time: the contrast in the looks of the two ladies when their
husbands entered the room was striking. Griselda was provoked with
Mrs. Granby for being so good-humoured.
"Lord bless me! Mrs. Granby, how you spoil these men," cried she.
All the time the gentlemen were at breakfast, Mrs. Bolingbroke played
with her tea-spoon, and did not deign to utter a syllable; and
when the gentlemen left the breakfast-table, and returned to their
business, Griselda, who was, as our readers may have observed, one
of the fashionable lollers by profession, established herself upon a
couch, and began an attack upon Emma, for spoiling her husband in such
a sad manner. Emma defended herself in a playful way, by answering
that she could not venture to give unnecessary pain, because she was
not so sure as some of her friends might be of their power of giving
pleasure. Mrs. Bolingbroke proceeded to descant upon the difference
between friendship and love: with some vanity, and some malice, she
touched upon the difference between the _sorts of sentiments_ which
different women excited. Passion, she argued, could be kept alive
only by a certain happy mixture of caprice and grace, coldness and
ill-humour. She confessed that, for her part, she never could be
content with the friendship of a husband. Emma, without claiming or
disclaiming her pretensions to love, quoted the saying of a French
"L'Amitié est l'Amour sans ailes."
"Friendship is Love deprived of his wings."
Griselda had no apprehension that love could ever fly from her, and
she declared she could not endure him without his wings.
Our heroine did not imagine that any of the little vexations which
she habitually inflicted upon her husband could really diminish his
regard. She, never had calculated the prodigious effects which can
be produced by petty causes constantly acting. Indeed this is a
consideration, to which the pride or short-sightedness of human nature
is not prone.
Who in contemplating one of Raphael's finest pictures, fresh from
the master's hand, ever bestowed a thought upon the wretched little
worm which works its destruction? Who that beholds the gilded vessel
gliding in gallant trim--"youth at the prow, and pleasure at the
helm;" ever at that instant thought of--barnacles? The imagination is
disgusted by the anti-climax; and of all species of the bathos, the
sinking from visionary happiness to sober reality is that from which
human nature is most averse. The wings of the imagination, accustomed
to ascend, resist the downward flight.
Confident of her charms, heedless of danger, accustomed to think her
empire absolute and eternal; our heroine, to amuse herself, and to
display her power to Emma, persisted in her practice of tormenting.
The ingenuity with which she varied her tortures was certainly
admirable. After exhausting old ones, she invented new; and when
the new lost their efficacy, she recurred to the old. She had often
observed, that the blunt method of contradicting, which some bosom
friends practise in conversation, is of sovereign power to provoke;
and this consequently, though unpolite, she disdained not to imitate.
It had the greater effect, as it was in diametrical opposition to the
style of Mrs. Granby's conversation; who, in discussions with her
husband, or her intimate friends, was peculiarly and habitually
attentive to politeness.
"Ella biasmandol sempre, e dispregiando
Se gli venia piu sempre inimicando."
By her judicious and kind interposition, Emma often prevented the
disagreeable consequences that threatened to ensue from Griselda's
disputatious habits; but one night it was past her utmost skill to
avert a violent storm, which arose about the pronunciation of a word.
It began about eleven o'clock. Just as the family were sitting down
to supper, seemingly in perfect harmony of spirits, Mr. Bolingbroke
chanced to say, "I think the wind is rising." (He pronounced the word
[Transcriber's note: What is printed in the original text as an "i"
with a breve is rendered here as "i*".]
"_Wi*nd_! my dear," cried his wife, echoing his pronunciation; "do,
for heaven's sake, call it wi*nd."
The lady sounded this word long.
"Wind! my love," repeated he after her: "I doubt whether that be the
"I am surprised you can doubt it," said she, "for I never heard any
body call it _wi*nd_ but yourself."
"Did not you, my love? that is very extraordinary: many people, I
believe, call it _wi*nd_."
"Vulgarians! No, indeed, my dear; very polite, well-informed people."
Griselda, with a look of unutterable contempt, reiterated the word
"Yes, my dear, _polite_," persisted Mr. Bolingbroke, who was now come
to such a pass, that he would defend his opinion in opposition to
hers, stoutly and warmly. "Yes, _polite_, my dear, I maintain it; the
most _polite_ people pronounce it as I do."
"You may maintain what you please, my dear," said the lady, coolly;
"but I maintain the contrary."
"Assertion is no proof on either side, I acknowledge," said Mr.
Bolingbroke, recollecting himself.
"No, in truth," said Mrs. Bolingbroke, "especially such an absurd
assertion as yours, my dear. Now I will go no farther than Mrs.
Granby:--Mrs. Granby, did you ever hear any person, who knew how to
speak, pronounce wi*nd--_wi*nd_?"
"Mrs. Granby, have not you heard it called _wi*nd_ in good company?"
The disputants eagerly approached her at the same instant, and looked
as if their fortunes or lives depended upon the decision.
"I think I have heard the word pronounced both ways, by well-bred and
well-informed people," said Mrs. Granby.
"That is saying nothing, my dear," said Mrs. Bolingbroke, pettishly.
"This is saying all I want," said Mr. Bolingbroke, satisfied.
"I would lay any wager, however, that Mr. ----, if he were here,
would give it in my favour; and I suppose you will not dispute his
"I will not dispute the authority of Sheridan's Dictionary," cried Mr.
Bolingbroke, taking it down from the book-case, and turning over the
leaves hastily.--"Sheridan gives it for me, my dear," said he, with
"You need not speak with such triumph, my dear, for I do not submit to
"No! Will you submit to Kenrick, then?"
"Let us see what he says, and I will then tell you," said the lady.
"No--Kenrick was not of her opinion, and he was no authority." Walker
was produced; and this battle of the pronouncing dictionaries seemed
likely to have no end. Mrs. Granby, when she could be heard, remarked
that it was difficult to settle any dispute about pronunciation,
because in fact no reasons could be produced, and no standard appealed
to but custom, which is perpetually changing; and, as Johnson says,
"whilst our language is variable with the caprice of all who use it,
words can no more be ascertained in a dictionary, than a grove in the
agitation of a storm can be accurately delineated from its picture in
The combatants would scarcely allow Emma time to finish this allusion,
and certainly did not give themselves time to understand it; but
continued to fight about the word custom, the only word that they had
"Yes, custom! custom!" cried they at once, "custom must decide, to
be sure." Then came _my_ custom and _your_ custom; the custom of the
stage, the custom of the best company, the custom of the best poets;
and all these were opposed to one another with increasing rapidity.
"Good heavens, my dear! did you ever hear Kemble say, 'Rage on, ye
"I grant you on the stage it may be winds; but in common conversation
it is allowable to pronounce it as I do, my dear."
"I appeal to the best poets, Mr. Bolingbroke: nothing can be more
absurd than your way of--"
"Listen, lively lordlings all!" interrupted Emma, pressing with
playful vehemence between the disputants; "I must be heard, for I have
not spoken this half hour, and thus I pronounce--You both are right,
and both are wrong.
"And now, my good friends, had not we better go to rest?" said she;
"for it is past midnight."
As they took their candles, and went up stairs, the parties continued
the battle: Mrs. Bolingbroke brought quotations innumerable to her
aid, and in a shrill tone repeated,
"'He might not let even the winds of heaven
Visit her face too roughly.'
----"'pass by me as the idle wind,
Which I respect not.'
"'And let her down the wind to prey at fortune.'
"'Blow, thou winter's wind,
Thou art not so unkind.'
"'Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks; rage, blow.'"
Her voice was raised to the highest pitch: it was in vain that her
husband repeated that he acknowledged the word should be called as
she pronounced it in poetry; she reiterated her quotations and her
assertions till at last she knew not what she said; her sense failed
the more her anger increased. At length Mr. Bolingbroke yielded. Noise
conquers sometimes where art fails.
"Thus," said he, "the hawk that could not be hoodwinked, was at last
tamed, by being exposed to the din of a blacksmith's hammer."
Griselda was incensed by this remark, and still more by the allusion,
which she called the second edition of the vampire-bat. Both husband
and wife went to sleep mutually displeased, and more disgusted with
each other than they had ever been since their marriage: and all this
for the pronunciation of a word!
Early in the morning they were wakened by a messenger, who brought an
express, informing Mr. Bolingbroke that his uncle was not expected to
live, and that he wished to see him immediately. Mr. Bolingbroke rose
instantly; all the time that he was dressing, and preparing in the
greatest hurry for his journey, Griselda tormented him by disputing
about the propriety of his going, and ended with, "Promise me to write
every post, my dear; positively you must."
"He sighs for freedom, she for power."
Mr. Bolingbroke did not comply with his wife's request, or rather with
her injunction, to write _every post_: and when he did write, Griselda
always found some fault with his letters. They were too short, too
stiff, or too cold, and "very different indeed," she said, "from what
he used to write before he was married." This was certainly true; and
absence was not at the present crisis the most advantageous thing
possible to our heroine. Absence is said to extinguish a weak flame,
and to increase a strong one. Mr. Bolingbroke's passion for his
Griselda had, by some means, been of late diminished. He parted from
her with the disagreeable impression of a dispute upon his mind. As
he went farther from her he perceived that instead of dragging a
lengthened chain, his chain grew lighter. His uncle recovered: he
found agreeable society in the neighbourhood; he was persuaded to
prolong his stay: his mind, which had been continually harassed, now
enjoyed some tranquillity. On an unlucky evening, he recollected
Martial's famous epigram and his wife, in one and the same instant:
"My mind still hovering round about you,
I thought I could not live without you;
But now we have lived three weeks asunder,
How I lived with you is the wonder."
In the mean time, our heroine's chief amusement, in her husband's
absence, was writing to complain of him to Mrs. Nettleby. This lady's
answers were now filled with a reciprocity of conjugal abuse; she had
found, to her cost, that it is the most desperate imprudence to marry
a fool, in the hopes of governing him. All her powers of tormenting
were lost upon her blessed helpmate. He was not to be moved by wit or
sarcasm, eloquence or noise, tears or caresses, reason, jealousy, or
the opinion of the world.
What did he care what the world thought, he would do as he pleased
himself; he would be master in his own house: it did not signify
talking or crying, or being in the right; right or wrong, he would be
obeyed; a wife should never govern him; he had no notion of letting a
woman rule, for his part; women were born to obey, and promised it
in church. As to jealousy, let his wife look to that; if she did not
choose to behave properly, he knew his remedy, and would as soon be
divorced as not: "Rule a wife and have a wife," was the burden of his
It was in vain to goad his insensible nature, in hopes of obtaining
any good: vain as the art said to be possessed by Linnæus, of
producing pearls by pricking oysters. Mrs. Nettleby, the witty, the
spirited Widow Nettleby, was now in the most hopeless and abject
condition; tyrannized over by a dunce,--and who could pity her? not
even her dear Griselda.
One day Mrs. Bolingbroke received an epistle of seven pages from
_poor_ Mrs. Nettleby, giving a full and true account of Mr. Nettleby's
extraordinary obstinacy about "the awning of a pleasure-boat, which
he would not suffer to be made according to her directions, and which
consequently caused the oversetting of the boat, and _very nearly_
the deaths of all the party." Tired with the long history, and with
the notes upon the history of this adventure, in Mrs. Nettleby's
declamatory style, our heroine walked out to refresh herself. She
followed a pleasant path in a field near the house, and came to a
shady lane, where she heard Mr. and Mrs. Granby's voices. She went
towards the place. There was a turn in the lane, and a thick hedge
of hawthorn prevented them from being immediately seen. As she
approached, she heard Mr. Granby saying to Emma, in the fondest tone
of affection, "My dear Emma, pray let it be done the way that you like
They were looking at a cottage which they were building. The masons
had, by mistake, followed the plan which Mr. Granby proposed, instead
of that which Emma had suggested. The wall was half built; but Mr.
Granby desired that it might be pulled down and altered to suit Emma's
"Bless me!" cried Griselda, with great surprise, "are you really going
to have it pulled down, Mr. Granby?"
"Certainly," replied he; "and what is more, I am going to help to pull
He ran to assist the masons, and worked with a degree of zeal, which
increased Mrs. Bolingbroke's astonishment.
"Good Heavens!--He could not do more for you if you were his
"He never did so much for me, till I was his wife," said Emma.
"That's strange!--Very unlike other men. But, my dear," said Mrs.
Bolingbroke, taking Mrs. Granby's arm, and drawing her aside, "how did
you acquire such surprising power over your husband?"
"By not desiring it, I believe," replied Emma, smiling; "I have never
used any other art."
"Et cependant avec toute sa diablerie,
Il faut que je l'appelle et mon coeur et ma mie."
Our heroine was still meditating upon the extraordinary method by
which Emma had acquired power over her husband, when a carriage drove
down the lane, and Mr. Bolingbroke's head appeared looking out of the
chaise window. His face did not express so much joy as she thought it
ought to display at the sight of her, after three weeks' absence. She
was vexed, and received him coldly. He turned to Mr. and Mrs. Granby,
and was not miserable. Griselda did not speak one word during their
walk home; still her husband continued in good spirits: she was more
and more out of humour, and took no pains to conceal her displeasure.
He bore it well, but then he seemed to feel it so little, that she
was exasperated beyond measure; she seized the first convenient
opportunity, when she found him alone, of beginning a direct attack.
"This is not the way in which you _used_ to meet me, after an absence
ever so short." He replied, that he was really very glad to see her,
but that she, on the contrary, seemed sorry to see him.
"Because you are quite altered now," continued she, in a querulous
tone. "I always prophesied, that you would cease to love me."
"Take care, my dear," said he, smiling; "some prophecies are the cause
of their own accomplishment,--the sole cause. Come, my Griselda,"
continued he, in a serious tone, "do not let us begin to quarrel
the moment we meet." He offered to embrace her, but she drew back
haughtily. "What! do you confess that you no longer love me?" cried
"Far from it: but it is in your own power," said he, hesitating, "to
diminish or increase my love."
"Then it is no love, if it can be either increased or diminished,"
cried she; "it is no love worth having. I remember the day when
you swore to me, that your affection could not be increased or
"I was _in_ love in those days, my dear, and did not know what I
swore," said Mr. Bolingbroke, endeavouring to turn the conversation:
"never reproach a man, when he is sober, with what he said when he was
"Then you are sober now, are you?" cried she angrily.
"It is to be hoped I am," said he, laughing.
"Cruel, barbarous man!" cried she.
"For being sober?" said he: "have not you been doing all you could to
sober me these eighteen months, my dear? and now do not be angry if
you have in some degree succeeded."
"Succeeded!--Oh, wretched woman! this is thy lot!" exclaimed Griselda,
clasping her hands in an agony of passion. "Oh, that my whole
unfortunate sex could _see_ me,--could _hear_ you at this instant!
Never, never did the love of man endure one twelvemonth after
marriage. False, treacherous, callous, perjured tyrant! leave me!
He obeyed; she called him back, with a voice half suffocated with
rage, but he returned not.
Never was departing love recalled by the voice of reproach. It is
not, as the poet fables, at the sight of human ties, that Cupid
is frightened, for he is blind; but he has the most delicate ears
imaginable: scared at the sound of female objurgation, Love claps his
wings and urges his irrevocable flight.
Griselda remained for some time in her apartment to indulge her
ill-humour; she had leisure for this indulgence; she was not now, as
formerly, disturbed by the fond interruptions of a husband. Longer had
her angry fit lasted, but for a circumstance, which may to many of our
readers appear unnatural: our heroine became hungry. The passions are
more under the control of the hours of meals than any one, who has
not observed human life out of novels, can easily believe. Dinner-time
came, and Mrs. Bolingbroke appeared at dinner as usual. In the
presence of Mr. and Mrs. Granby pride compelled Griselda to command
herself, and no one could guess what had passed between her and her
husband: but no sooner was she again tête-à-tête with him, than her
reproaches recommenced with fresh violence.--"Will you only do me the
justice to tell me, Mr. Bolingbroke," cried she, "what reason you have
to love me less?"
[Footnote 1: De Retz' Memoirs.]
"Reason, my dear," said he; "you know love is independent of reason,
according to your own definition: love is involuntary, you cannot
therefore blame me for its caprices."
"Insulting casuistry!" said she, weeping; "sophistical nonsense! Have
you any rational complaint to make against me, Bolingbroke?"
"I make no complaints, rational or irrational, my dear; they are all
on your side."
"And well they may be," cried Griselda, "when you treat me in such a
barbarous manner: but I do not complain; the world shall be my judge;
the world will do me justice, if you will not. I appeal to every body
who knows me, have I ever given you the slightest cause for ill-usage?
Can you accuse me of any extravagance, of any imprudence, sir?"
"I accuse you of neither, Mrs. Bolingbroke."
"No, because you cannot, sir; my character, my fidelity is
unimpeached, unimpeachable: the world will do me justice."
Griselda contrived to make even her virtues causes of torment. Upon
the strength of this unimpeachable fidelity, she thought she might be
as ill-humoured as she pleased; she seemed now to think that she had
acquired an indefeasible right to reproach her husband, since she had
extorted from him the confession that he loved her less, and that he
had no crime to lay to her charge. Ten days passed on in this manner;
the lady becoming every hour more irritable, the gentleman every hour
To have revived or killed affection _secundem artem_, the fair
practitioner should now have thrown in a little jealousy: but,
unluckily, she was so situated that this was impossible. No object any
way fit for the purpose was at hand; nothing was to be found within
ten miles of her but honest country squires; and,
"With all the powers of nature and of art,
She could not break one stubborn country heart."
"To whom the virgin majesty of Eve,
As one who loves and some unkindness meets,
With sweet austere composure thus replies."
Many privileges are, and ought to be, allowed to the virgin majesty
of the sex; and even when the modern fair one does not reply with all
the sweet austere composure of Eve, her anger may have charms for a
lover. There is a certain susceptibility of temper, that sometimes
accompanies the pride of virtue, which indicates a quick sense of
shame, and warm feelings of affection; in whatsoever manner this may
be shown, it appears amiable and graceful. And if this sensibility
degenerate into irritability, a lover pardons it in his mistress; it
is her prerogative to be haughty; and if he be dexterous to seize
"the moment of returning love," it is often his interest to promote
quarrels, for the sake of the pleasures of reconciliation. The jealous
doubts, the alternate hopes and fears, attendant on the passion of
love, are dear to the lover whilst his passion lasts; but when that
subsides--as subside it must--his taste for altercation ceases. The
proverb which favours the quarrels of lovers may prove fatal to the
happiness of husbands; and woe be to the wife who puts her faith in
it! There are, however, people who would extend that dangerous maxim
even to the commerce of friendship; and it must be allowed (for
morality, neither in small matters nor great, can gain any thing by
suppressing the truth), it must be allowed that in the commencement
of an intimacy the quarrels of friends may tend to increase their
mutual regard, by affording to one or both of them opportunities of
displaying qualities superior even to good humour; such as truth,
fidelity, honour, or generosity. But whatever may be the sum total
of their merit, when upon long acquaintance it comes to be fully
known and justly appreciated, the most splendid virtues or talents
can seldom compensate in domestic life for the want of temper. The
fallacy of a maxim, like the absurdity of an argument, is sometimes
best proved by pushing it as far as it can go, by observing all its
consequences. Our heroine, in the present instance, illustrates this
truth to admiration: her life and her husband's had now become a
perpetual scene of disputes and reproaches; every day the quarrels
grew more bitter, and the reconciliations less sweet.
One morning, Griselda and her husband were present whilst Emma was
busy showing some poor children how to plait straw for hats.
"Next summer, my dear, when we are settled at home, I hope you will
encourage some manufacture of this kind amongst the children of our
tenants," said Mr. Bolingbroke to his lady.
"I have no genius for teaching manufactures of this sort," replied
Mrs. Bolingbroke, scornfully.
Her husband urged the matter no farther. A few minutes afterwards, he
drew out a straw from a bundle, which one of the children held.
"This is a fine straw!" said he, carelessly.
"Fine straw!" cried Mrs. Bolingbroke: "no--that is very coarse. This,"
continued she, pulling one from another bundle; "this is a fine straw,
if you please."
"I think mine is the finest," said Mr. Bolingbroke.
"Then you must be blind, Mr. Bolingbroke," cried the lady, eagerly
"Well, my dear," said he, laughing, "we will not dispute about
"No, indeed," said she; "but I observe whenever you know you are in
the wrong, Mr. Bolingbroke, you say, _we will not dispute, my dear_:
now pray look at these straws, Mrs. Granby, you that have eyes--which
is the finest?"
"I will draw lots," said Emma, taking one playfully from Mrs.
Bolingbroke; "for it seems to me, that there is little or no
difference between them."
"No difference? Oh, my dear Emma!" said Mrs. Bolingbroke.
"My dear Griselda," cried her husband, taking the other straw from her
and blowing it away; "indeed it is not worth disputing about: this is
"Childish!" repeated she, looking after the straw, as it floated down
the wind; "I see nothing childish in being in the right: your raising
your voice in that manner never convinces me. Jupiter is always in the
wrong, you know, when he has recourse to his thunder."
"Thunder, my dear Griselda, about a straw! Well, when women are
determined to dispute, it is wonderful how ingenious they are in
finding subjects. I give you joy, my dear, of having attained the
perfection of the art: you can now literally dispute about straws."
Emma insisted at this instant upon having an opinion about the shape
of a hat, which she had just tied under the chin of a rosy little
girl of six years old; upon whose smiling countenance she fixed the
attention of the angry lady.
All might now have been well; but Griselda had a pernicious habit of
recurring to any slight words of blame which had been used by her
friends. Her husband had congratulated her upon having attained the
perfection of the art of disputing, since she could cavil about
straws. This reproach rankled in her mind. There are certain diseased
states of the body, in which the slightest wound festers, and becomes
incurable. It is the same with the mind; and our heroine's was in this
"Que suis je?--qu'ai je fait? Que dois-je faire encore?
Quel transport me saisit? Quel chagrin me dévore?"
Some hours after the quarrel about the straws, when her husband
had entirely forgotten it, and was sitting very quietly in his
own apartment writing a letter, Griselda entered the room with a
countenance prepared for great exploits.
"Mr. Bolingbroke," she began in an awful tone of voice, "if you are at
leisure to attend to me, I wish to speak to you upon a subject of some
"I am quite at leisure, my dear; pray sit down: what is the matter?
you really alarm me!"
"It is not my intention to alarm you, Mr. Bolingbroke," continued she
in a still more solemn tone; "the time is past when what I have to say
could have alarmed: I am persuaded that you will now hear it without
emotion, or with an emotion of pleasure."
She paused; he laid down his pen, and looked all expectation.
"I am come to announce to you a fixed, unalterable resolution--To part
from you, Mr. Bolingbroke."
"Are you serious, my dear?"
"Perfectly serious, sir."
These words did not produce the revolution in her husband's
countenance which Griselda had expected. She trembled with a mixed
indescribable emotion of grief and rage when she heard him calmly
reply, "Let us part, then, Griselda, if that be your wish; but let me
be sure that it is your wish: I must have it repeated from your lips
when you are perfectly calm."
With a voice inarticulate from passion, Griselda began to assure him
that she was perfectly calm; but he stopped her, and mildly said,
"Take four-and-twenty hours to consider of what you are about,
Griselda; I will be here at this time to-morrow to learn your final
Mr. Bolingbroke left the room.
Mrs. Bolingbroke was incapable of thinking: she could only feel.
Conflicting passions assailed her heart. All the woman rushed upon
her soul; she loved her husband more at this instant than she had
ever loved him before. His firmness excited at once her anger and
her admiration. She could not believe that she had heard his _words
rightly_. She sat down to recall minutely every circumstance of what
had just passed, every word, every look; she finished by persuading
herself, that his calmness was affected, that the best method she
could possibly take was by a show of resistance to bully him out of
his indifference. She little knew what she hazarded; when the danger
of losing her husband's love was imaginary, and solely of her own
creating, it affected her in the most violent manner; but now that the
peril was real and imminent, she was insensible to its existence.
A celebrated traveller in the Alps advises people to imagine
themselves walking amidst precipices, when they are safe upon smooth
ground; and he assures them that by this practice they may inure
themselves so to the idea of danger, as to prevent all sense of it in
the most perilous situations.
The four-and-twenty hours passed; and at the appointed moment our
heroine and her husband met. As she entered the room, she observed
that he held a book in his hand, but was not reading: he put it down,
rose deliberately, and placed a chair for her, in silence.
"I thank you, I would rather stand," said she: he put aside the chair,
and walked to a door at the other end of the room, to examine whether
there was any one in the adjoining apartment.
"It is not necessary that what we have to say should be overheard by
servants," said he.
"I have no objection to being overheard," said Griselda: "I have
nothing to say of which I am ashamed; and all the world must know it
As Mr. Bolingbroke returned towards her, she examined his countenance
with an inquisitive eye. It was expressive of concern; grave, but
Whoever has seen a balloon--the reader, however impatient, must listen
to this allusion--whoever has seen a balloon, may have observed that
in its flaccid state it can be folded and unfolded with the greatest
ease, and it is manageable even by a child; but when once filled, the
force of multitudes cannot restrain, nor the art of man direct its
course. Such is the human mind--so tractable before, so ungovernable
after it fills with passion. By slow degrees, unnoticed by our
heroine, the balloon had been filling. It was full; but yet it was
held down by strong cords: it remained with her to cut or not to cut
"Reflect before you speak, my dear Griselda," said her husband;
"consider that on the words which you are going to pronounce depend
your fate and mine."
"I have reflected sufficiently," said she, "and decide, Mr.
"Be it so!" cried he; fire flashed from his eyes; he grew red and pale
in an instant. "Be it so," repeated he, in an irrevocable voice--"We
part for ever!"
He vanished before Griselda could speak or think. She was breathless;
her limbs trembled; she could not support herself; she sunk she knew
not where. She certainly loved her husband better than any thing upon
earth, except power. When she came to her senses, and perceived that
she was alone, she felt as if she was abandoned by all the world. The
dreadful words "for ever," still sounded in her ears. She was tempted
to yield her humour to her affection. It was but a momentary struggle;
the love of sway prevailed. When she came more fully to herself, she
recurred to the belief that her husband could not be in earnest, or at
least that he would never persist, if she had but the courage to dare
him to the utmost.
"L'ai-je vu se troubler, et me plaindre un moment?
En ai-je pu tirer un seul gémissement?"
Ashamed of her late weakness, our heroine rallied all her spirits, and
resolved to meet her husband at supper with an undaunted countenance.
Her provoking composure was admirably prepared: but it was thrown
away, for Mr. Bolingbroke did not appear at supper. When Griselda
retired to rest, she found a note from him on her dressing-table; she
tore it open with a triumphant hand, certain that it came to offer
terms of reconciliation.
"You will appoint whatever friend you think proper to settle
the terms of our separation. The time I desire to be as soon as
possible. I have not mentioned what has passed to Mr. or Mrs.
Granby; you will mention it to them or not, as you think fit. On
this point, as on all others, you will henceforward follow your
"Saturday, Aug. 10th."
Mrs. Bolingbroke read and re-read this note, weighed every word,
examined every letter, and at last exclaimed aloud, "He will not,
cannot, part from me."
"He cannot be in earnest," thought she. "Either he is acting a part or
he is in a passion. Perhaps he is instigated by Mr. Granby: no, that
cannot be, because he says he has not mentioned it to Mr. or Mrs.
Granby, and he always speaks the truth. If Emma had known it, she
would have prevented him from writing such a harsh note, for she is
such a good creature. I have a great mind to consult her; she is so
indulgent, so soothing. But what does Mr. Bolingbroke say about her?
He leaves me to my own discretion, to mention what has passed or not.
That means, mention it, speak to Mrs. Granby, that she may advise you
to submit. I will not say a word to her; I will out-general him yet.
He cannot leave me when it comes to the trial."
She sat down, and wrote instantly this answer to her husband's note:
"I agree with you entirely, that the sooner we part the better.
I shall write to-morrow to my friend Mrs. Nettleby, with whom I
choose to reside. Mr. John Nettleby is the person I fix upon to
settle the terms of our separation. In three days I shall have
Mrs. Nettleby's answer. This is Saturday: on Tuesday, then, we
Mrs. Bolingbroke summoned her maid. "Deliver this note," said she,
"with your own hand; do not send Le Grand with it to his master."
Griselda waited impatiently for her maid's return.
"No answer, madam."
"No answer! are you certain?"
"Certain, ma'am: my master only said, 'Very well.'"
"And why did not you ask him if there was any answer?"
"I did, ma'am. I said, 'Is there no answer for my lady?' 'No answer,'
"Was he up?"
"No, ma'am: he was in bed."
"Was he asleep when you went in?"
"I cannot say positively, ma'am: he undrew the curtain as I went in,
and asked, 'Who's there?'"
"Did you go in on tiptoe?"
"I forget, really, ma'am."
"You forget really! Idiot!"
"But, ma'am, I recollect he turned his head to go to sleep as I closed
"You need not wait," said Mrs. Bolingbroke.
Provoked beyond the power of sleep, Mrs. Bolingbroke gave free
expression to her feelings, in an eloquent letter to Mrs. Nettleby;
but even after this relief, Griselda could not rest; so much was she
disturbed by the repose that her husband enjoyed, or was reputed to
enjoy. In the morning she placed her letter in full view upon the
mantel-piece in the drawing-room, in hopes that it would strike terror
into the heart of her husband. To her great mortification, she saw Mr.
Bolingbroke, with an unchanged countenance, give it to the servant,
who came to ask for "letters for the post." She had now three days of
grace, before Mrs. Nettleby's answer could arrive; but of these she
disdained to take advantage: she never mentioned what had passed to
Mrs. Granby, but persisted in the same haughty conduct towards her
husband, persuaded that she should conquer at last.
The third day came, and brought an answer from Mrs. Nettleby. After
a prodigious parade of professions, a decent display of astonishment
at Mr. Bolingbroke's strange conduct, and pity for her dear Griselda,
Mrs. Nettleby came to the point, and was sorry to say, that Mr.
Nettleby was in one of his obstinate fits, and could not be brought
to listen to the scheme so near her heart: "He would have nothing to
do, he said, with settling the terms of Mr. and Mrs. Bolingbroke's
separation, not he!--He absolutely refuses to meddle between man and
wife; and calls it meddling," continued Mrs. Nettleby, "to receive
you as an inmate, after you have parted from your husband. Mr.
Bolingbroke, he says, has always been very civil to him, and came to
see him in town; therefore he will not encourage Mrs. Bolingbroke in
her tantarums. I represented to him, that Mr. B. desires the thing,
and leaves the choice of a residence to yourself: but Mr. Nettleby
replied, in his brutal way, that you might choose a residence where
you would, except in his house; that his house was his castle, and
should never be turned into an asylum for runagate wives; that he
would not set such an example to his own wife, &c. But," continued
Mrs. Nettleby, "you can imagine all the foolish things he said, and I
need not repeat them, to vex you and myself. I know that he refuses to
receive you, my dear Mrs. Bolingbroke, on purpose to provoke me. But
what can one do or say to such a man?--Adieu, my dear. Pray write when
you are at leisure, and tell me how things are settled, or rather what
is settled upon you; which, to be sure, is now the only thing that you
have to consider.
"Ever yours, affectionately,
"R. H. NETTLEBY.
"P.S. Before you leave Devonshire, do, my dear, get me some of the
fine Devonshire lace; three or four dozen yards will do. I trust
implicitly to your taste. You know I do not mind the price; only let
it be broad, for narrow lace is my aversion."
"Lost is the dear delight of giving pain!"
Mortified by her dear friend's affectionate letter and postscript,
Griselda was the more determined to persist in her resolution to defy
her husband to the utmost. The catastrophe, she thought, would always
be in her own power; she recollected various separation scenes in
novels and plays where the lady, after having tormented her husband or
lover by every species of ill conduct, reforms in an instant, and a
reconciliation is effected by some miraculous means. Our heroine had
seen Lady Townley admirably well acted, and doubted not that she could
now perform her part victoriously. With this hope, or rather in this
confidence, she went in search of Mr. Bolingbroke. He was not in the
house; he had gone out to take a solitary walk. Griselda hoped that
she was the object of his reflections, during his lonely ramble.
"Yes," said she to herself, "my power is not exhausted: I shall make
his heart ache yet; and when he yields, how I will revenge myself!"
She rang for her woman, and gave orders to have every thing
immediately prepared for her departure. "As soon as the trunks are
packed, let them be corded, and placed in the great hall," said she.
Our heroine, who had a happy memory, full well recollected the effect
which the sight of the corded trunks produced in the "Simple Story,"
and she thought the stroke so good that it would bear repetition. With
malice prepense, she therefore prepared the blow, which she flattered
herself could not fail to astound her victim. Her pride still revolted
from the idea of consulting Mrs. Granby; but some apology was
requisite for thus abruptly quitting her house. Mrs. Bolingbroke began
in a tone that seemed intended to preclude all discussion.
"Mrs. Granby, do you know that Mr. Bolingbroke and I have come to a
resolution to be happy the rest of our lives; and, for this purpose,
we find it expedient to separate. Do not start or look so shocked,
my dear. This word separation may sound terrible to some people,
but I have, thank Heaven! sufficient strength of mind to hear it
with perfect composure. When a couple who are chained together pull
different ways, the sooner they break their chain the better. I shall
set out immediately for Weymouth. You will excuse me, my dear Mrs.
Granby; you see the necessity of the case."
Mrs. Granby, with the most delicate kindness, began to expostulate;
but Griselda declared that she was incapable of using a friend so
ill as to pretend to listen to advice, when her mind was determined
irrevocably. Emma had no intention, she said, of obtruding her advice,
but she wished that Mrs. Bolingbroke would give her own excellent
understanding time to act, and that she would not throw away the
happiness of her life in a fit of passion. Mrs. Bolingbroke protested
that she never was freer from passion of every sort than she was at
this moment. With an unusually placid countenance, she turned from
Mrs. Granby and sat down to the piano-forte. "We shall not agree if
I talk any more upon this subject," continued she, "therefore I had
better sing. I believe my music is better than my logic: at all events
I prefer music."
In a fine _bravura_ style Griselda then began to sing--
"What have I to do with thee,
Dull, unjoyous constancy?" &c.
And afterwards she played all her gayest airs to convince Mrs. Granby
that her heart was quite at ease. She continued playing for an
unconscionable time, with the most provoking perseverance.
Emma stood at the window, watching for Mr. Bolingbroke's return.
"Here comes Mr. Bolingbroke!--How melancholy he looks!--Oh, my dear
Griselda," cried she, stopping Mrs. Bolingbroke's hand as it ran gaily
over the keys, "this is no time for mirth or bravado: let me conjure
"I hate to be conjured," interrupted Griselda, breaking from her; "I
am not a child, to be coaxed and kissed and sugar-plummed into being
good, and behaving prettily. Do me the favour to let Mr. Bolingbroke
know that I am in the study, and desire to speak to him for one
No power could detain the peremptory lady: she took her way to the
study, and rejoiced as she crossed the hall, to see the trunks placed
as she had ordered. It was impossible that her husband could
avoid seeing them the moment he should enter the house.--What a
satisfaction!--Griselda seated herself at ease in an arm-chair in
the study, and took up a book which lay open on the table. Mr.
Bolingbroke's pencil-case was in it, and the following passage was
"Il y a un lieu sur la terre où les joies pures sont inconnues; d'où
la politesse est exilée et fait place à l'ègoîsme, à la contradiction,
aux injures à demivoilées; le remords et l'inquiétude, furies
infatigables, y tourmentent les habitans. Ce lieu est la maison de
deux époux qui ne peuvent ni s'estimer, ni s'aimer.
"Il y a un lieu sur la terre où le vice ne s'introduit pas, où les
passions tristes n'ont jamais d'empire, où le plaisir et l'innocence
habitent toujours ensemble, où les soins sont chers, où les travaux
sont doux, où les peines s'oublient dans les entretiens, où l'on jouit
du passé, du présent, de l'avenir; et c'est la maison de deux époux
[Footnote 1: M. de Saint Lambert, Oeuvres Philosophiques, tome ii.]
A pang of remorse seized Griselda, as she read these words; they
seemed to have been written on purpose for her. Struck with the sense
of her own folly, she paused--she doubted;--but then she thought that
she had gone too far to recede. Her pride could not bear the idea of
acknowledging that she had been wrong, or of seeking reconcilement.
"I could live very happily with this man; but then to yield the
victory to him!--and to reform!--No, no--all reformed heroines are
stupid and odious."
"And, vanquish'd, quit victoriously the field."
Griselda flung the book from her as her husband entered the room.
"You have had an answer, madam, from your friend, Mrs. Nettleby, I
perceive," said he, calmly.
"I have, sir. Family reasons prevent her from receiving me at present;
therefore I have determined upon going to Weymouth; where, indeed, I
always wished to spend this summer."
Mr. Bolingbroke evinced no surprise, and made not the slightest
opposition. Mrs. Bolingbroke was so much vexed, that she could
scarcely command her countenance: she bit her lip violently.
"With respect to any arrangements that are to be made, I am to
understand that you wish me to address myself to Mr. J. Nettleby,"
said her husband.
"No, to myself, if you please; I am prepared to listen, sir, to
whatever you may have to propose."
"These things are always settled best in writing," replied Mr.
Bolingbroke. "Be so obliging as to leave me your direction, and you
shall hear from me, or from Mrs. Granby, in a few days."
Mrs. Bolingbroke hastily wrote a direction upon a card, and put it
into her husband's hand, with as much unconcern as she could maintain.
Mr. Bolingbroke continued, precisely in the same tone: "If you have
any thing to suggest, that may contribute to your future convenience,
madam, you will be so good as to leave a memorandum with me, to which
I shall attend."
He placed a sheet of paper before Mrs. Bolingbroke, and put a pen into
her hand. She made an effort to write, but her hand trembled so that
she could not form a letter. Her husband took up Saint Lambert, and
read, or seemed to read.--"Open the window, Mr. Bolingbroke," said
she. He obeyed, but did not, as formerly, "hang over her enamoured."
He had been so often duped by her fainting-fits and hysterics, that
now, when she suffered in earnest, he suspected her of artifice. He
took up his book again, and marked a page with his pencil. She wrote
a line with a hurried hand, then starting up, flung her pen from her,
and exclaimed--"I need not, will not write; I have no request to make
to you, Mr. Bolingbroke; do what you will; I have no wishes, no wish
upon earth--but to leave you."
"That wish will be soon accomplished, madam," replied he, unmoved.
She pulled the bell till it broke.--A servant appeared.
"My carriage to the door directly, if you please, sir," cried she.
A pause ensued. Griselda sat swelling with unutterable
rage.--"Heavens! have you no feeling left?" exclaimed she, snatching
the book from his hand; "have you no feeling left, Mr. Bolingbroke,
for any thing?"
"You have left me none for some things, Mrs. Bolingbroke, and I thank
you. All this would have broken my heart six months ago."
"You have no heart to break," cried she.--The carriage drove to the
"One word more, before I leave you for ever, Mr. Bolingbroke,"
continued she.--"Blame yourself, not me, for all this.--When we were
first married, you humoured, you spoiled me; no temper could bear
it.--Take the consequences of your own weak indulgence.--Farewell."
He made no effort to retain her, and she left the room.
----"Thus it shall befall
Him who to worth in woman overtrusting
Lets tier will rule: restraint she will not brook;
And left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his _weak indulgence_ will accuse."
A confused recollection of this warning of Adam's was in Mr.
Bolingbroke's head at this moment.
Mrs. Bolingbroke's carriage drove by the window, and she kissed her
hand to him as she passed. He had not sufficient presence of mind
to return the compliment. Our heroine enjoyed this last triumph of
Whether the victory was worth the winning, whether the modern Griselda
persisted in her spirited sacrifice of happiness, whether she was
ever reconciled to her husband, or whether the fear of "reforming
and growing stupid" prevailed, are questions which we leave to the
sagacity or the curiosity of her fair contemporaries.
"He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
Let him now speak, 'tis charity to shew."
END OF VOLUME VI