The Autobiography of Anne Halkett

[She gradually recovers; wooed by James Halkett, she agrees to become his two daughters' governess, pp. 88 - 90]

[p. 88] I had sentt for my woman, who came the next day after I fell sicke and prest much my sending for a phisitian; butt I knew none butt Dr Cuningham [Robert Cunningham], and I could nott send for him because I knew hee was with my Ld Bel. [Alexander Lindsay, 1st Earl of Balcarres], and those phisitians who lived neere Balcarese [Balcarres House] was nott att home, so I concluded that the Lord had determined now to putt an end to all my troubles, and death was very welcome to mee. Only I beged some releefe from the violentt paine I had, which was in that extreamitty that I never felt any thing exceed itt. Butt itt seemes itt was only sentt for a triall, and to lett mee find the experience of the renued testimony of God's faver in raising mee from the gates of death.

During my sicknese I was much obleiged to the frequentt visitts of most of the ladys thereaboutts, butt particularly the Lady Ardrose; and Mr. D. Forctt and Mr. H. Eimer seldome missed a day of beeing with mee. They were both pious good men, and there conversation was very agreeable to mee.1

As soone as I was able to goe outt and had beene att the church, the Lady Ardrose's impertunity prevailed with mee to stay with her a weeke before I wentt to Edinburgh; which I did, and then, having taken my leave of all those whose civility to mee made itt nesesary, I returned to Edinb [Edinburgh].2

Where I had nott beene long before Sir J. [James] Halkett came to see mee, who had sentt often to inquire affter mee when I was at Belcarese [Balcarres House], and excused nott comming himselfe, which hee did refraine lest itt should occation discourse of that which hee knew would displease mee. I seemed nott to understand what hee mentt, neither was I curious to bee resolved; only thanked him for what hee had done and what hee left undone, for itt was nott reasonable for mee to expect a visitt from him att that distance. From the first day of my aquaintance with him I discovered a particular respect hee had for mee, and have allready related what way I tooke to preventt the increase of that which could have noe hope of a suitable returne, and yett how obleiging hee was to that person who cheefely interupted itt.

Now that beeing, as hee thought, removed, I found by many [p. 89] circumstances and inderect words that hee pleased liimselfe with what I never had a thought of; though I had beene highly ingrate if I had nott had more than an ordinary value for him. Butt lest hee should speake derectly to mee of what I knew too well and did regrett, hee seldome was with mee that I did nott mention my resolution never to marry, and that nothing kept mee from vowing itt butt that I questioned if such vows were lawfull. The more hee used argumentts to diswade mee from that resolution, I urged the greatest reasons I had to confirme mee in itt; and att this rate wee conversed severall months, hee seeking and I avoiding all occations of his discovering his affection to mee.

Att last, one day when hee had beene some time with mee speaking of many variety of subjects, when I least expected itt, hee told mee hee could noe longer conceale the affection hee had for mee since the first visitt hee ever had made mee, and had resolved never to mention itt had my condittion beene the same itt was; butt now looking upon mee as free from all obligation to another, hee hoped hee might now pretend to the more faver, having formerly preferred my sattisfaction above his owne.

I was much troubled att this discourse, which hee could nott butt observe; for the teares came in my eyes. I told him I was sencible that the civillity I had receaved from him were nott of an ordinary way of friendship, and that there was nothing in my power that I would nott doe to exprese my gratitude; butt if hee knew what disturbance any discourse like that gave mee hee would never mention itt againe, "for as I never propose any thing of hapinese to my selfe in this world, so I will never make another unhapy, and in this denyall I intend to evidence my respect to you much more then if I intertained your proposall, and therfore I intreatt you, if you love either your selfe or mee, lett mee never heare more of itt."

"Butt (said hee,) I hope you will nott debarre my conversing with you."

"Noe, (replied I,) I will nott bee so much my owne enemy, and upon the condittion you will forbeare ever to speake againe of what you now mentioned noe person shall bee wellcomer to mee, nor any will I bee willinger to serve when ever I have opertunity."

Hee [p. 90] said itt should bee against his will to doe anything to displease mee, butt hee would make noe promises.

A litle affter hee desired mee to lett his two daughters stay with mee, for hee designed to bring them to Edb [Edinburgh] to learne what was to bee taught there, and if I would lett them stay with mee hee would thinke himself obleiged to mee.

I told him I had formerly promised him any service that lay in my power, and hee need nott doupt my performance; and if hee or they could dispence with what intertainementt I could give them hee needed nott doupt of there beeing wellcome, and itt would bee an advantage to mee to have so good company.3 His youngest daughter was butt a child, butt his eldest was neere a woman,4 and even then by more then ordinary discretion gave expectation of what since shee hath made good.

[1 These people are Robert Cunningham, "an eminent doctor of medicine," who "fought in the King's army at the Battle of Worcester. After the Restoration, he became Charles II's physician in Scotland." Lady Ardrose is probably Helen, oldest daughter of Sir Robert Lindsay; she married Sir William Scott of Ardrose in 1634. Mr. D. Forett and Mr H. Rimer were clergymen of Fifeshire. (Loftis, Memoirs, 205n.). That the religious talk was so important suggsts despite a physical origin the cause of these collapses is her deep guilt and shame over her marriage to Bampfield. We are now in mid- to late May/June 1653. EM]

[2 I have again divided a sentence and made a new paragraph. EM]

[3 By offering Anne Murray the position of governess to his daughters, Halkett makes visible and confirms his confidence in Anne's chastity and respectability and in effect denies there is any shame attached to her companionship. Beyond teaching the young, the function of a governess at this time was to ensure an appearance of respectability and control over an unmarried young woman. This is the "advantage" Anne alludes to. he would probably pay towards their upkeep and the rent too. EM]

[4 Their names were Mary, married later to Sir William Brue of Kinross, and Anna, to Sir Andrew Ker of Kavers (from Couper's 1701 Life, 29-30). The mother was (as I wrote above) Margaret, daughter of Sir Robert Montgomery of Skelmorlie. Here is the passage from Couper 1701 Life, 29: "Sir James had formerly been Married to an Excellent Lady, Daughter of Skermorly, and Niece to the Earle of Argile, of whom he kept a kind Remembrance, and spoke frequently of her, with great affection: He had by her, two sons, Charles, who suceeded to his fathers Honour, Inheritance and Vertue; and James, who, also for his worth and Valour was Knighted by K. Ch. II. And two Daughters, who proved very worthy Ladies; Mary, Married to Sir William Bruce of Kinross; and Anna, to Sir Andrew Ker of Kavers." EM]

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 10 October 2006