The Autobiography of Anne Halkett
[Her reputation now damaged, she's sexually harassed and distrusted, but cannot determine where to go, pp. 36 - 52]
[p. 36] I am sory I cannott relate my owne misfortunes withoutt reflecting upon those who was the occation of them, especially beeing one of the profession that I have ever looked upon with great respect.1
I have allready given a caracter of Mr. N. [Nicholls'] parts and practise, and how much he was valued by all the familly and such as conversed with him. One day hee having preached at Carlile at the meeting for the sise, when hee came home hee came to my chamber and told mee hee had left Sir Charles, and came home with Mr Cullc. [Cullcheth],2 who had entertained him by the way with many variety of discourse, butt amongst the rest (said hee [Nicholls],) hee [Cullcheth] tells mee that my Lady H. [Howard] is jelouse of Sir Ch. [Charles] and you.
I was strangely surprised to heare that, and said sure he was drunk, for, as I am sure I never gave her the least occation, I am confidentt shee knows her owne interest so great in Sir Ch. [Charles] that shee need not feare beeing suplanted by any; and besides, she knows all the concerne I can have for any [p. 37] is already fixed,3 and that may secure her were there nothing els; butt I am very farre from intertaining the least thought that shee can have any such suspittion.
"If I had itt," said hee, "from any other hand, I would thinke so too; butt noe doupt hee hath had itt from his wife [Mrs Cullcheth?], who you know was governese to her [Anne Howard] before shee was maried, and is still intrusted with all her concernes."
Hee insisted much on this discourse, and used many argumentts to confirme hee had reason to beleeve itt true, and withall that hee had observed of late shee was not so kind to mee as formerly, and that hee thought itt a strange thing that shee should use one so ill who had left all relations and friends to come to a remote place outt of kindness to her. I assured him I found nothing of alteration in her, and that I was resolved to tell her what I heard (though nott the author), and expected from the long friendship betwixt us that ingenuity as freely to owne if shee were guilty of the imperfection of jelousy, and that shee might dispose of mee how shee pleased, in order to her owne sattisfaction.
"Can you imagine (said hee,) that shee will owne to you shee is jelouse? Noe; shee hath too much pride for that."
"What will you then advise mee to doe?" I replied.
"The truth is, shee is of so odd a humour, (said hee,) that it is hard in such a case what to advise. I hartily pitty Sir Ch. [Charles], who I look upon as one of the finest gentlemen in the nation; and had hee had the good fortune to have had you to have beene his wife, hee had been the hapiest man alive."
All I concluded att that time was, that hee should bee free in telling mee what ever hee saw in my cariage that looked like giving ground for such a suspittion. With many serious protestations hee freed mee for giving any occation, butt dayly gave mee accountt of the increase of itt.
To bee as short as the circumstances will allow, hee was never with mee butt hee magnified Sir Ch. [Charles] up to the skys; spoke much to his lady's disadvantage; butt what hee said of mee was so greatly allied to flattery that I should have obhored itt from any other that had nott apeared as hee did.4
At last I began [p. 38] to observe my Lady H. [Howard] grow more reserved than usuall, and the whole familly abate much of there respect; only Sir Ch. [Charles] continued as formerly to mee. I used dayly to be till five a' clock with my Lady H. [Howard] working, or any other devertisement that shee imployed her selfe in, and then retired to my chamber for halfe an howe; then Sir Charles and his lady came and staid with mee (till the time wee wentt to the chapell), either playing on the gitarre or with the chilldren that lay neere me, or discoursing, and this was for a long time our constant practice. Butt on a sodaine I found an allteration, for my Lady H. [Howard] would come to the doore with Sir C. [Charles], butt when hee came in shee wentt into the chilldren's chamber, which I observing followed her and left Sir C. [Charles] in my chamber.
One night as I was thus going outt to follow his lady he [[Sir Charles] pulled mee backe and would nott lett mee goe, and the more presing hee was to have me stay the more earnest I was to goe, butt seeing hee was resolute I staid. Hee told mee hee had observed of late that I was growne very strange to him, and that when ever hee came in I wentt outt of my chamber. I said itt was only to waite upon his lady, and therfore hee could nott take itt ill. Hee saw mee in great disorder, and was very urgentt to know what the reason of itt was.5 I confese the teares were in my eyes, which hee seeing vowed hee would nott goe outt of the roome till I resolved him. I told him I would upon the condition hee would promise nott to speake of itt to any person, and that hee would doe what I should desire. Hee said hee would if it were in his power, and bid mee bee free with him.
I said, "Sir C. [Charles] I confese I have receaved much civility from you ever since I came into your familly, and as I know you shewed itt as a testimony of your affection to your lady because I had an interest in her faver, so I valued itt upon that accountt, and nott as I beleeved I deserved itt; but now I must desire you as you respect your selfe, as you love your lady, or have any regard to mee, retrench your civility in to more narrow bounds, els you may prejudice your selfe in the opinion of those who thinke mee unworthy your converse."
Hee grewe angry, and said hee must know who those [p. 39] persons were; I said hee must pardon mee, for that itt was enough I had told him how hee might preventt an inconvenience, and if hee either devulged what I had said, or did nott performe the condittion in doing what I desired, I would goe outt of his howse upon the first discovery.
I left him affter I said this and wentt to his lady [Anne, her [supposed] friend], who sometimes would be free enough, another time so reserved as shee would hardly speake to mee, either at table or any other time, which made mee then give the more creditt to what Mr. N. [Nicholls] had told mee of her; butt againe I was att a stand when being alone with her one day shee told mee she knew nott what to thinke of Mr. N. [Nicholls], but shee bid mee bee upon my guard when I conversed with him, for shee assured mee hee was not my friend so much as I beleeved. I thanked her for her advise, butt knew nott what to conclude, because hee had posesed mee with an opinion that she was lesened in her respect to him because hee was so civill to mee; but this I concealed from her, knowing itt was upon another ground, which may nott bee amisse to insert here.
There was two young ladys in the howse who had beene bred up Papists, and by Sir Ch: [Charles's] example and care was turned Protestants. These two Sir C. [Charles] recomended to Mr. N.'s [Nicholls'] care to instruct them in the principles of our relligion, and they dayly wentt to his chamber, sometimes together, sometimes alone, as there conveniency led them. They beeing very young, and hugely vertuous and inocentt, and having Sir C. [Charles's] order for going frequently to his chamber, thought the offtener they wentt the better, and sometimes affter super would goe and stay there an hower or two. They had a discreet woman attended them, who I had recomended.
Shee came to mee one morning and told mee shee could nott butt aquaint mee with something that shee would seek my advise in; I said I would give itt freely. Says shee, "You know I am intrusted with the care of these young ladys, and that Sir Ch. [Charles] orders them to goe frequently to Mr. N. [Nicholls] chamber; butt I have observed the eldest of them stay much longer then the other, and to goe affter super, and sometimes stay there till 12 a' clocke, and [p. 40] though I have gone severall times to call her, yett she would nott come with me."
I said I was sory to hear that; for, though I did beleeve shee might as inocently converse with him as with her brother, yett itt might give occation of reflection upon them both, which I wished might bee prevented, butt withoutt saying anything to Sir Ch. [Charles] or his lady [Anne Howard].
This fell outt to bee aboutt the beginning of my Lady H. [Howard] growing a litle reserved to mee; butt when ever I had any opertunity of conversing with her I still brought in some discourse of love and friendship and jelousy, and that sometimes itt might bee where there was greatest intimacy; butt if I could have a suspition of any person that I thought worth my friendship, shee would bee the first person her selfe that I would declare itt to, for if shee were vertuous there is nothing I could desire her to doe that shee would omitt for my sattisfaction, and if I beleeved her vicious she were nott worthy my converse.
I uttered this with more than an ordinary sence, which I thought made some impresion of her; and I thought I was fully confirmed, when early one morning shee came into my chamber before I was outt of my bed, and lying downe by me shee said, "I have so much confidence of your friendship and discretion, that I am come to seeke your advise and assistance how to manage what I have of late discovered, that if nott prevented will make great disorder amongst us."
I tooke her in my armes with great joy, and told her shee might as freely comunicate anything to mee as to her owne hart, for I should bee fast in concealing and active in doing what ever shee pleased to intrust mee with; beeing fully perswaded if shee were guilty of that imperfection of jelousy shee was now come to aquaint mee with itt, and to advise aboutt a remedy.
Butt I was in a mistake; for shee told mee shee had of late made some litle observation that Mrs F., who was the eldest of the two sisters, was looked upon more kindly by Mr N. [Nicholls] then was usuall with his gravity; which gave her the curiosity the day before, when she wentt out of the dining-roome affter dinner, all the company being gone, and remembring shee had left them two together, shee turned backe, and looking through the crany of the [p. 41] doore shee saw Mr. N. [Nicholls] pull her [Mistress F] to him, and with much kindnese lay her head in his bosome. I said that might bee very inocently done, though I confesed itt had beene better undone; "for sure hee can have no ill design, being, I beleeve, a very good man, and she is too much a child to think of marying her though there were nothing els to object." Shee said shee was nott so much a child as her stature made her apeare, and therfore had great aprehensions that the respect Sir Charles had for him might incourage him to hope, if hee could gaine her consentt, to obtaine his [Sir Charles's]; "butt if hee [Charles] should have the least ground to suspect what I fear, hee would never suffer him [Nicholls] in his [Charles's] sight; and if wee wanted him [Nicholls], you know (says my Lady,) that in these times we should find itt deficult to gett one in his place who could so well discharge his duty to our sattisfaction, and yett so discreet as not to give offence to those of a contrary judgementt, such as most are hereaboutt."
I acknowledged itt was true that her La. [Ladyship] said, and in my opinion itt would bee best for mee to speake (since her La. [Ladyship] would intrust none els with itt,) to him aboutt itt. And I thought hee was so ingenious a person, and had often profesed to have so great an opinion of mee, that I thought hee would not conceale his intention from mee, and I should freely give her La. [Ladyship] an accountt of his answeare. I made use of this opertunity to insist much upon the sattisfaction I had in her long continued friendship, and that I hoped, what ever my present misfortune was, yett that shee would make noe conclusions to my prejudice without giving mee leave to vindicate my selfe; which shee promised, and left mee, having ingaged mee to lett none know what had pased betwixt us.
The first conveniency I had I told Mr. N. [Nicholls] that I was going to aske him a question, and that I desired and expected hee would bee ingenious in resolving mee, because itt was nott to sattisfy my owne curiosity butt outt of an intent to serve him, which I could nott doe if hee were reserved in his answeare. Hee seemed to bee surprised with this discourse, butt assured mee hee would bee very ingenious [i.e., candid].
I asked him then if hee had any inclination for Mrs. F. or any designe to marry her; he protested with much seriousnese he had nott. I [p. 42] said I was very glad to hear itt, For now with the more confidence I could suprese the suspittion which some had of itt."
"Butt (said hee,) what would you have done if I had confesed I had loved her?"
"Truly (I replied,) I would have representted to you the prejudice you would have brought upon yourselfe; for undouptedly Sir Ch. [Charles], who is now your great freind, would turne your proffesed enemy, and make all others so that hee had influence upon." Therfore, as his intentions was free from such a designe, so I desired his converse might hee suitable, and I would then indeaver to convince them of there error who apprehended what I had told him.
I gave my Lady H. [Howard] an accountt of what discourse Mr. N. [Nicholls] and I had, which shee was sattisfied with; butt this was the ground upon which I knew my Lady H. [Howard] had nott so good an opinion of Mr. N. [Nicholls] as formerly, and therfore I could nott well know what to thinke when my Lady told mee, as I have allready mentioned, that hee was nott my freind so much as I beleaved, nor so good a secretary. I had the same information from her woman to (a discreet person who till that time loved mee well).
I thought I would take a triall of him, and the first time hee came into my chamber, hee falling upon his usuall discourse, regretting to see my Lady H. [Howard] so unkind to mee, I said I confesed I could nott butt look upon itt as my greatest misfortune, and such as swallowed up my former trouble, because to any one that should beleeve mee guilty of such unworthynese as occationed her unkindnese itt could nott butt bee, a confirmation of the crime laid to my charge with C. B. [Colonel Bampfield], and the more unpardonable because ignorance in this could bee noe excuse.6
I said I would comunicate a secrett to him if hee would solemely promise nott to discover itt to any person living; which hee engaged with all the protestations that was fitt for one of his profesion. I told him I was maried, and if hee beleeved I understood what either love or duty tied mee to, that was enough to secure my Lady H. [Howard] from her aprehensions, though I had never had a value for her friendship. (I confese I only told him this outt of designe to try if hee would [p. 43] speake of itt againe, and was indifferent whether itt was beleeved true or falce, since I hoped a litle time would make the discovery.)7 Hee seemed to be highly sencible of the injury shee did mee, and att my request undertooke to tell her that hee had observed her unkindnese, and as much as was fitt for him to prese for the reason of itt, which if shee gave, then to asert my inocence and the wrong shee did bothe to her husband and her selfe; and in this I thought hee would obleige both them as well as mee. This hee promised, butt how hee performed itt shall bee affter manifest.
I saw dayly my Lady H. [Howard] grow now to that height of strangenese that when I spoke to her shee would give mee noe answeare, or if shee did, itt was with that slightnese that I could nott butt bee very sencible of itt. And that which angred mee most was, that when ever Sir Ch. [Charles] came where I was, hee was ten times more free in his converse then hee had beene before I had spoken to him.8
These two extreames with my owne presentt condittion was deplorable, having spentt all the mony I brought with mee, beeing in a strange place where I had neither friendship nor aquaintance with any. To London I durstt not goe, for feare of beeing secured upon the accountt of the Duke's escape; and besides, I knew I need not expect any thing butt unkindnese from my brother [probably Charles Murray] and sister [probably Elizabeth, Lady Newton];9 and how to send to C. B. [Colonel Bampfield] to advise with him I knew nott. To stay where I was I had no manner of sattisfaction. And if I had known whither to goe, to leave that familly with such an odium as was laid upon mee, could nott butt make mee unwellcome any where.
Thus, when I reflected upon my disconsolate condittion, I could find content in nothing butt in resorting to The hearer of prayer, who never leaves or forsakes those who trust in him. To the God of mercy I poured forth my complaint in the bitternese of my soule, and with abundant teares presented my suplication to him that judgeth righteously and did know my inocence, and therefore I interceded for the merits of my Redeemer that hee would deliver mee outt of the trouble that incompased mee round, and direct mee how to dispose of myselfe in the sad exegentt that I was in; and having resigned my selfe wholy [p. 44] to the disposal! of his will, I did with confidence expect a deliverance, because I knew him whom I trusted.
By the way I cannot omitt to mention what was remarkeable the time I was in that familly. One night, beeing fast asleepe, I was sodainely wakened with the shaking of the bed somewhat violentt, butt of short continuance. In the morning I told Sir Ch. [Charles] and my Lady that I had heard of earthquakes, butt I was confidentt I had felt one that night, and related how itt was. They laughed att mee, and said I had only dreamt of itt. I could nott convince them, nor they mee; butt a litle before dinner came in some gentlemen that lived within 3 or 4 mile, and Sir Charles asked them what news: they replied the greatest they knew was that there had beene an earthquake that night, and that severall howses were shaken downe with itt. Then they beleeved what I had told them.
Another day my Lady H. [Howard] and I was sitting together alone in my chamber, aboutt an ell or more distant from on-another, and sodainely the roome did shake, so that both our heads knockt together. Shee looked pale like death, and I beleeve I did the same, and wee were hardly well recovered from our feares when Sir C. [Charles] came in to see how wee were, and told us hee was walking in the gallery with Mr. N. [Nicholls] and that they were so shaken they could skarce hold there feett, and was forced to hold themselves on the sides of the howse. These both hapened in the yeare 1649.
Butt to returne where I left. My Lady H. [Howard's] strangenese did nott make mee neglect anything that I usually did before, and one Sunday morning I wentt to her chamber to waite upon her as formerly when shee wentt to the chapell. I found the doore shutt, butt heard her talke to her weemen; so I knockt. One of them came to the doore, and asked who was there. When they knew itt was I, they said they could nott open the doore for there lady was busy. I thought this was a great allteration; however, I said nothing, butt wentt up to walke in the gallery, which was the usuall passage to the chapell, till shee was ready to goe.
I had nott walked a turne or two butt Sir Ch. [Charles] came to mee. I was in disorder, which hee seeing [p. 45] asked what ailed mee. I told him I found hee had been unjust to mee, and I should bee so just to my selfe in keeping my promise as that I resolved the next day to leave his howse, for I could nott suffer to live in any place where I had nott the faver of the owners.
"I know (says hee,) that you take itt ill to see my wife so strange to you; and shee doth itt a' purpose that you may inquire the reason of itt from her selfe, and then shee will resolve you."
I said that should nott bee long in doing, nor had itt beene so long undone, butt that shee had avoided all occations that might give mee opertunity of speaking to her. (Another reason which I did nott mention was that Mr. N. [Nicholls] had used many argumentts to diswade mee from taking notice of itt to her, some of them nott much to her advantage.)
Wee wentt all to the chapell together, and affter sermon the post came with letters while wee were att dinner, some to them and some to mee. I made use of this when wee rose from the table to tell my Lady H. [Howard] that I had receaved letters from London, and that there was something of concerne I had to say to her Lap [Ladyship], and asked where I might have her alone. Shee told mee shee would come within a litle while to my chamber; where I wentt, and within a litle while shee came there, and I taking her in my armes kist her, and wellcomed her to my chamber as a great stranger. So locking the doore wee sate downe.
"Madam, (said I,) though I made a letter the pretence for seeking this faver to speake with you, yett there is nothing in that worth your La. [Ladyship's] knowledge, and the only thing I have to say is to beg of you by all the friendship and kindnese you ever had for mee to bee free with mee, and lett mee know what I have done to make you of late so unkind."
"Truly (said shee,) I wondred you were so long inquiring, and resolved till you asked the question I would never tell you; butt now you have begun lett mee aske you how you could have the vanity to beleeve Sir Ch. [Charles] was in love with you, and I was jealous of you; and have the confidence to speake of itt to Mr. N. [Nicholls] and speake so unworthily of mee as you have done to him this long time, as if I were the most contemptable [p. 46] creature living, and that you pittied Sir Ch. [Charles] for having such a wife? Was this done like a freind? Oh! (said shee,) if I had nott had itt from Mr. N. [Nicholls] who is so good a man that I cannott butt beleeve him, I should never have given faith to itt from any other person."
I was I confese astonished to heare him given as the athour of that accusation, beeing all his owne words which hee had offten used to mee as his opinion, butt itt seemes hee had represented them as mine. "Madam, (said I,) I cannot wonder att your strangenese if you beleeved this true, butt rather how you could suffer such a one within your familly."
"Had I followed Mr. Nicolls advise (shee replied,) I had sentt you away long since; for hee prest itt offten, and when he could nott prevaile with mee hee writt to my father [Edward, Lord Howard], from whom I receaved a very seveare letter for letting you stay so long with mee. This I now tell you plainely, to confirme what I once told you before, that Mr. Nicolls was nott your freind so much as you beleeved, nor I so unworthy as the caracter you gave of mee."
"Madam, (said I,) I must acknowledge I did beleeve him my freind, and so excellent a man that I thought, as all in your familly did, that itt was a blesing to have him in the howse. Butt now so much the greater is my misfortune to have him for my accuser, who is so much respected by all, and whose very profesion would inforce beleefe. I love nott retaliation, and to returne ill for ill, butt since I have no other way to asert my owne inocency I must freely declare hee was himselfe the only person that tooke paines to perswade mee you were jelouse of mee; and when I resolved to vindicate my selfe from whatever might seeme to give occation for itt, hee diswaded mee, and said you had too much pride to owne itt, and that you would butt laugh att mee, and 'twould expose mee to your scorne; and what hee related as my words were his owne, which when at any time I contradicted, hee would say itt was my partiality made mee defend you, and nott my reason. This, madam, is so great a truth that I will owne itt before him whenever you find itt convenientt. But pray, madam, (said I,) when hee told you all these things to my disadvantage, did itt nott lesen your beleefe of itt comming from a [p. 47] person who proffesed to have so great respect for mee, and yett performing acts so contrary to itt? Did nott this plead for mee in your thoughts, that hee who could disemble might bee unjust, and I inocentt?"
"I confese (said my Lady,) itt did prevaile much on your side, and one day when hee was railing against you I said to him, How comes you are so civill to her, and profese so great a esteeme of her, if you have so ill an opinion of her? I an esteeme of her? (replied hee,) I could nott butt bee civill to her because I saw Sir Ch. [Charles] and your La. [Ladyship] respect her; butt God is my wittnese I never looked upon her butt as one of the ayreiest things that ever I saw, and admired what itt was your La. [Ladyship] and Sir Ch. [Charles] saw in her to bee so kind to her."
I smiled and said, "I wish I could as easily confirme hee was the author of what hee related of mee, as I can, under his owne hand, that hee had better thoughts of mee then so ayry a thing as hee then represented mee."
Shee was desirous to see the letter; which I shewed her, with the copy of my owne to which his was an answeare, and was the first letter that ever I copied of my owne, and fell outt well that I had itt, els his would nott have been well understood (the occation of itt was, att the first notice I had of C. B. [Colonel Bampfield's] wife's beeing alive, before itt came to bee publickly knowne, itt is nott to bee imagined butt itt putt mee in great disorder, and, having none I would communicate itt to, I writt a serious letter to him representing something of [the] disorder I was in, and earnestly desired his prayers, to which his letter answered; and were itt nott too tedious I should insert them both here).
As soon as my Lady H. [Howard] read the letter, shee said, "I am afraid this man hath deceaved us all, and will prove a villaine."
While wee were at this discourse Sir Ch. [Charles] knoct att the doore; wee lett him in, and he smiling said, "I hope you understand one another."
Wee gave him some short accountt of what had beene betwixt us, which hee said did confirme what hee had beene of opinion of a pritty while; "butt (sayed hee,) I will injoyne you both, what ever paseth betwixt you when you are alone, lett noe person know butt that you are still att the same distance you were before, till my returne; for I am [p. 48] imediately informed of some mose-troopers that are plundering in the country, and I and all my men are going to try if wee can take them; therfore you must pray for mee, since I cannot goe with you now to the chapell."
Wee both promised to follow his injunctions, and parted. Though I did what I could to conceale anything of satisfaction, yett the joy I had to see some glimps of light apeere for my vindication putt a visible change upon mee. And my Lady H. [Howard] found itt deficult to restraine her former kindnese from apearing affter shee began to find shee had beene injured as well as I.
When Sir Ch. [Charles] returned hee was a wittnese of many debates betwixt us. When shee considered what a person Mr. N. [Nicholls] was, shee then condemned mee guilty of all hee accused mee of; but when I urged the many yeares experience shee had had of my converse, and whether shee had ever knowne mee doe any unworthy act, then, when shee reflected upon that, shee condemned him. Butt, to bee short, shee concluded that itt was fitt to have her cleared from the aspersion of jelousy and the consequences of itt, which one of us had taxed her with, and none had more reason to prese that then I who suffred most by itt. Att last we resolved as the fairest way, for mee to goe to Mr. N. [Nicholls] and tell him that I was resolved to vindicate my selfe, and therefore to desire him nott to take itt ill if I brought him for a wittnese of my inocency, who was the first and only person that told mee of my lady's beeing jelouse, and who had offten assured mee hee saw nothing in my cariage that could give the least ground for itt. Sir C. [Charles] had left us to our contriveance.
And when wee were determined I left my Lady H. [Howard], and, apointing the garden to bee our meeting place, where I was to bring Mr N. [Nicholls], I wentt to his chamber, butt found him nott there. I imediately wentt alone to the garden, to the walke where my Lady H. [Howard] and I had designed to meett, and in the way to itt I saw Sir C. [Charles] and Mr. N. [Nicholls] very serious together in a close walke. I tooke noe notice I saw them, butt wentt on to the place apointed; and while I was walking there I began to consider that itt fell outt well I had nott mett with Mr. N. [Nicholls] alone, for hee that had already injured mee so [p. 49] much might possibly alleadge that I had prevailed with him to take that upon him hee had never saied only to conceale my guilt, and soe I might still bee thought what hee first represented mee.
Therfore I resolved to propose itt to my Lady H. [Howard] when shee came, to goe together where Sir Ch. [Charles] and hee was walking, and there speake of itt to him before them. Shee aproved of my reason and resolution, and said itt was very likely hee might make such a use of itt. And that this way would bee more sattisfaction to her then the other.
So wee wentt together to the close walke where Sir Ch. [Charles] and hee was walking together. (By the disorder I saw him in, I knew Sir Ch. [Charles] had given him some hint of what was amongst us, and the reason hee gave, his Lady and I afterwards was, because hee had nott a mind to have him too much surprised, and knew yet that meeting would nott bee for his advantage.)
"Mr. N. [Nicholls] (said I,) you could nott butt have observed a great strangenese from my Lady H. [Howard] to mee a good while, and beeing noe longer able to suffer itt I have presed to know the reason; and beeing informed of itt, I know itt is in your power to make the reconciliation, and therefore I expect itt from you."
"Truly, Mrs. M. [Mistress Murray] (replied hee,) I shall bee very glad to bee an instrumentt in so good a worke."
"Then (said I,) Mr. N. [Nicholls] doe you nott remember that day you came from Carlile you told mee of a person that informed you my lady was jealous of mee?"
"Noe indeed, (said hee,) I remember noe such thing."
"Itt is imposible (I replied,) your memory can be so ill; butt to make itt better I will beg leave of Sir Ch. [Charles] and my lady to whispers the person in your eare that you named, because I desire nott to disobleige him with this contest." They both gave leave, and I whispered softly, "Did nott you tell mee Mr. C. [Charles] told you, and you were shure hee had itt from his wife, and so you could nott doupt the truth of itt?"
"I remember indeed (said hee,) that I told you your cariage was such that if you did nott mind itt you would give my lady occation to bee jelouse."
I lifted up my eyes and hands to heaven, and said, Good God! hath this man the confidence to say this?" I turned to Sir Ch. [Charles] and my lady, and then repeated severall things allready [p. 50] mentioned, wherein hee had condemned my Lady and magnified mee to a high degree of flattery. And I said, "I confese itt is a great disadvantage I have to contest with such a person whom there is much more reason should bee beleeved then I; but Sir you are a Justice of Peace, and therfore may lawfully take my oath, and I will most solemely give itt upon the Bible that hee did say these things to mee, and insisted offten on them, and diswaded mee offten when I was resolved to have justified my selfe to your lady."
"And I (replied hee,) will take my oath upon the same Bible that itt is nott true shee says."
My admiration was such to heare him speake att that rate, that I was allmost strucke dumbe, and all I said more was very calmely, "Mr. N. [Nicholls] you have made more use of the Bible than I have done, and therfore perhaps thinke you may bee bolder with itt; butt I would nott sweare your oath to have Sir C's [Charles's] estate." Hee would have insisted; butt Sir Ch. [Charles] and his lady interupted him, and desired there might bee noe more of itt. I said I could say noe more then what I had offred, and I left my part to bee made evidentt by the great and holy God who knew how I was wronged, and to him I did referre myselfe, who I knew would doe mee right. My Lady and I then wentt in, and Sir Ch. [Charles] followed us.
And when wee were together, every one freely gave accountt what caracter hee had given of us. My Lady and I hee had most equally balanced together; for whatever ill he had said of mee to her hee had said as much of her La. [Ladyship] to mee. And as hee indeavored to poses mee with the opinion of her beeing jelouse, so hee perswaded her that shee had reason for itt by my beeing desperately in love with Sir Ch. [Charles].
Sir Ch. [Charles] laughed att this discourse, and said, "Hee hath beene so wise as nott to have much of this to mee; only once hee said that hee was sure you were in love with mee, and I could nott butt perceave itt; and I told him as I was an honest man I had never seene anything like itt."
"Well, (said I,) then itt seemes in this hee had something of justice that hee had a mind I should thinke as well of you in gratitude as hee would have your thoughts beene of mee, for hee gave you high comendations, and one of your excellentt [p. 51] qualitys was that you had a great value for mee, which I did then and shall still acknowledge I have receaved much more civilitys from you then I deserved, yet noe more then I might expect from any civill person in there owne howse who loved there lady, and for her sake would obleige those shee loved. Itt was, Sir, (continued I,) upon this accountt that I both receaved and returned what you gave and I paid. And now, before your lady, I conjure you by all the hopes you have of hapinese here or hereafter, and as you would avoid all the curses threatned to disemblers, freely declare what I have ever done or said since I came within your familly that might confirme you of Mr. N. [Nicholls] opinion of mee."
Hee most solemely declared hee never saw noe ground for itt, and that that was the first thing which made him aprehend Mr. N. [Nicholls] nott beeing what hee should bee by the contrediction hee saw in that. There was nothing more contributed to vindicate mee then the disorder which from that day apeared in Mr. N. [Nicholls]; for itt was visible to the meanest in the howse, though few knew the reason of itt, because Sir Ch. [Charles] had a respect for him, and desired all should respect him, and therfore did as much as could bee to conceale what had beene amongst us.
Some time affter this the Sacrementt was to bee celebrated in the chapell, and I had many debates with my selfe what to doe.
Att last, beeing resolved, I sentt for Mr. N. [Nicholls] to my chamber, and told him itt was not withoutt great disputes in my thoughts of the good and ill of partaking or leaving that holy mistery that had made mee send for him; and though hee had injured mee beyond a posibility of beeing forgiven by any as a woman, yett as a Christian I forgave him; and though hee had wronged mee, yett I would nott wrong my selfe by wanting the benefit which I hoped for and did expect in that blesed participation. "This (said I,) I thought fitt to tell you that you may nott thinke I goe for coustume or formality, butt with a sence of both my duty and advantage, and lett nott my charity make you thinke litle of your fault, for withoutt great repentance great will be your judgement."
Hee aproved much of my charity, and would have said something to vindicate himself; butt I [p. 52] interupted him, and desired him to consider what hee was goeing aboutt, and that itt would agravate his guilt to thinke to justify himselfe, since noe excuse could bee made. I instanced that particular that was an undenyable fault, which was his going imediately from mee to tell my Lady Howard that I had as a secrett told him I was maried.
"How can I butt suspect (said I,) the truth of all you speake outt of the pulpitt, when you devulged that affter such solemne engagementts of secresy which I only said for a triall of your fidelity."
"0! (replyed hee,) if you knew what temptation I had to make that discovery, you would forgive mee."
"Itt was only to tell you that (said I,) that I sentt for you, and againe I repeat itt that I doe forgive you, and pray God to make you penitentt for your sin, that so you may obtaine mercy, and that your taking the holy sacramentt may nott bee for your greater condemnation. And this is all I have to say to you."
So hee left me.
Affter the solemne time of our devotion was over, I began seriously to think what way to dispose of myself; for, though Sir Charles and his lady were returned to there former kindness, yett I thought itt nott fitt to stay where I had beene so injuriously traduced. Therfore to leave that familly I was fully resolved, butt where to goe I could nott determine.
[1 That Paul Delany described this long episode is a "tempest in a teacup" shows a fundamental misunderstanding of Anne Murray Halkett's life and text. For her this is no minor incident: she says the Nicholls is the occasion of her misfortune. As has been seen (just above, p. 36), she told him something of what had happened; his reaction is to treat her disrespectfully and arouse suspicions against her to the point she had to leave Naworth Castle. In other words, his behavior made visible how much social capital she had lost and led to her best friend distrusting her. She then feels she must leave the castle and has no home to go to. Anne's narrative is a history of her displacement upon being found out as a "scandalous" woman when in her lights she was "blameless."
If Anne admits openly that Bampfield's first wife is alive still, she is a fallen woman. Since she has no money, no estate, and her connections are themselves all at sea in the destruction of the Stuart order, she has little to turn to but her sister and then would have no way to climb to a respected position of her own easily. She chose to believe Bampfield because it was the easiest solution, the most palatable to her pride. She may, like him (and apparently his mother too) have hoped that the very ill Catherine Sydenham would die. On poor Catherine Sydenham's mother's possible pretense her daughter was dead to secure some property, see Bampfield's Apology 245-46.
This incident is as important structurally and thematically as the love affairs themselves. Anne Murray can now turn only to men connected to her family, and to Bampfield and through them other women who believe in her. Hence the journey to Scotland where both her father and mother had their familial roots. See Paul Delany, "Female Autobiographers," British Autobiography in the Seventeenth Century (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969): 163 and Caroline Brashears, "Scandalous Categories: Classifying the Memoirs of Unconventional Women," Philological Quarterly, 82 (2003):187-200. EM]
[2 Mr. Cullcheth, Sir Charles Howard's steward at Naworth Castle. (Loftis, Memoirs, 198n) Perhaps he was the husband of or related to Mrs Cullcheth (p. 33) who encouraged her when she first fell very ill. EM]
[3 This suggests that perhaps Anne Howard also knew that Anne had bethrothed herself to Joseph Bampfield. If Anne had gone to the Netherlands with him, many would know. If Mrs Cullcheth is the wife as she was the governess to Anne Howard, Nicholls is a clever and malicious man: he is suggesting the basis for the rumor is a woman Anne Howard trusts so he creates fear in Anne. What is everyone saying about her? EM]
[4 Given Nicholls's aggressive sexual fondling of the young ex-Catholic women in Sir Charles's house (just below), I suggest the word "flattery" is intended to indicate that Nicholls was trying to get Anne to have sex with him in return for his "friendship." In other words, he was harassing her for sex, and when he couldn't make her submit to him, he decided it was better to oust her as a disaffected potential rival in Anne Howard's affections. He thought she would say yes as her reputation is now ruined since she is not the wife of Bampfield but has lost her virginity. He has no respect for her and thinks her sexually "loose" once she has had sex with someone she is not married too. The growing distrust between Anne Howard and Anne Murray is fomented by Nicholls once he fails to get Anne to submit to his sexual advances. EM]
[5 She now fears Sir Charles will make sexual advances similar to those of Mr Nicholls. She is out of the loop of respect and fair game. And it may be that Nicholls has similarly insinuated to Sir Charles she wants to go to bed with him. EM]
[6 She now refers to her continued relationship with Bampfield; however, she knows she no longer has the excuse of ignorance. Once she is told that Bampfield's wife is still alive and has admitted she believes it publicly, she is supposed to separate herself from Bampfield. That she continues to present herself as his bethrothed makes it appear she does this out of love; hence, her brother-in-law's resort to an attempted murder (through duelling). See below. EM]
[7 Loftis, Memoirs, (198n, published 1979) speculates that Anne is lying about having married Bampfield, and excuses her by suggesting she was deceived into an invalid marriage. In Bampfield's Apology (published 1993), Loftis has changed his mind and thinks Bampfield married Anne in good faith originally (249). I suggest he didn't quite: he hoped his wife would soon die, and then kept hoping she would. Here we have a case of her use of subtle language: she does not deny being married; she says she told him she was to reassure her friend Anne. The sense is that's why I told him (not quite I told him a lie). This way of giving an impression of one meaning while literally able to give it another is characteristic of Anne at moments of crisis. She relieves herself of people pressuring her, maintains minimal truth. In this passage she is directing the sentence ("I confesse ...") to an imagined readership, and it enables her to write her autobiography and hope not to offend that portion of her imagined readership which would condemn her while that portion who wouldn't can see through the lie. It's called casuistry. EM]
[8 Sir Charles is in effect treating Anne disrespectfully. He is perhaps making half-advances to her in front of his wife. No wonder Anne Howardf begins to be estranged. EM]
[9 All of Anne's siblings (biological and by law) and Catherine Sydenham's uncle had informed Anne that Bampfield's wife was alive and she has not publicly repudiated her relationship with Bampfield. See pp. 32-35 above.