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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

his servants that he was gone to ——, where he often went a-hunting, and that he should not return under a fortnight; and that fortnight he stayed wholly with me, and never went out of my doors.

Never woman in such a station lived a fortnight in so complete a fulness of human delight; for, to have the entire possession of one of the most accomplished princes in the world, and of the politest, best-bred man; to converse with him all day, and, as he professed, charm him all night, what could be more inexpressibly pleasing, and especially to a woman of a vast deal of pride, as I was?

To finish the felicity of this part, I must not forget that the devil had played a new game with me, and prevailed with me to satisfy myself with this amour, as a lawful thing; that a prince of such grandeur and majesty, so infinitely superior to me, and one who had made such an introduction by an unparalleled bounty, I could not resist; and, therefore, that it was very lawful for me to do it, being at that time perfectly single, and unengaged to any other man, as I was, most certainly, by the unaccountable absence of my first husband, and the murder of my gentleman who went for my second.

It cannot be doubted but that I was the easier to persuade myself of the truth of such a doctrine as this, when it was so much for my ease and for the repose of my mind to have it be so:

In things we wish, 'tis easy to deceive;
What we would have, we willingly believe.

Besides, I had no casuists to resolve this doubt; the same devil that put this into my head bade me go to any of the Romish clergy, and, under the pretence of confession, state the case exactly, and I should see they would either resolve it to be no sin at all, or absolve me upon the easiest penance. This I had a strong inclination to try, but I know not what scruple put me off of it, for I could never bring myself to like having to do with those priests. And, though it was strange that I, who had thus prostituted my chastity and given up all sense of virtue in two such particular cases, living a life of open adultery, should scruple anything, yet so it was. I argued with myself, that I could not be a cheat in anything that was esteemed sacred; that I could not be of one opinion, and then pretend myself to be of another; nor could I go to confession, who knew nothing of the manner of it, and should betray myself to the priest to be a Huguenot, and then might come into trouble; but, in short, though I was a whore, yet I was a Protestant whore, and could not act as if I was Popish, upon any account whatsoever.

But, I say, I satisfied myself with the surprising occasion, that as it was all irresistible, so it was all lawful; for that Heaven would not suffer us to be punished for that which it was not possible for us to avoid; and with these absurdities I kept conscience from giving me any considerable disturbance in all this matter; and I was as perfectly easy as to the lawfulness of it as if I had been married to the prince, and had had no other husband; so possible is it for us to roll ourselves up in wickedness, till we grow invulnerable by conscience; and that sentinel, once dozed, sleeps fast, not to be awakened while the tide of pleasure continues to flow, or till something dark and dreadful brings us to ourselves again.

I have, I confess, wondered at the stupidity that my intellectual part