despisable shape; and my prince (I must be allowed the vanity to call him so) was taking his view of me as I walked from one end of the room to the other. At last he leads me to the darkest part of the room, and standing behind me, bade me hold up my head, when, putting both his hands round my neck, as if he was spanning my neck to see how small it was, for it was long and small, he held my neck so long and so hard in his hand that I complained he hurt me a little. What he did it for I knew not, nor had I the least suspicion but that he was spanning my neck; but when I said he hurt me, he seemed to let go, and in half a minute more led me to a pier-glass, and behold I saw my neck clasped with a fine necklace of diamonds; whereas I felt no more what he was doing than if he had really done nothing at all, nor did I suspect it in the least If I had an ounce of blood in me that did not fly up into my face, neck, and breasts, it must be from some interruption in the vessels. I was all on fire with the sight, and began to wonder what it was that was coming to me.
However, to let him see that I was not unqualified to receive benefits, I turned about: 'My lord', says I, 'your Highness is resolved to conquer, by your bounty, the very gratitude of your servants; you will leave no room for anything but thanks, and make those thanks useless too, by their bearing no proportion to the occasion.'
'I love, child', says he, 'to see everything suitable. A fine gown and petticoat, a fine laced head, a fine face and neck, and no necklace, would not have made the object perfect. But why that blush, my dear?' says the prince. 'My lord', said I, 'all your gifts call for blushes, but, above all, I blush to receive what I am so ill able to merit, and may become so ill also.'
Thus far I am a standing mark of the weakness of great men in their vice, that value not squandering away immense wealth upon the most worthless creatures; or, to sum it up in a word, they raise the value of the object which they pretend to pitch upon by their fancy; I say, raise the value of it at their own expense; give vast presents for a ruinous favour, which is so far from being equal to the price, that nothing will at last prove more absurd than the cost men are at to purchase their own destruction.
I could not, in the height of all this fine doings—I say, I could not be without some just reflection, though conscience was, as I said, dumb, as to any disturbance it gave me in my wickedness. My vanity was fed up to such a height that I had no room to give way to such reflections. But I could not but sometimes look back with astonishment at the folly of men of quality, who, immense in their bounty as in their wealth, give to a profusion and without bounds to the most scandalous of our sex, for granting them the liberty of abusing themselves and ruining both.
I, that knew what this carcase of mine had been but a few years before; how overwhelmed with grief, drowned in tears, frightened with the prospect of beggary, and surrounded with rags and fatherless children; that was pawning and selling the rags that covered me for a dinner, and sat on the ground despairing of help and expecting to be starved, till my children were snatched from me to be kept by the parish; I, that was after this a whore for bread, and, abandoning conscience and virtue, lived with another woman's husband; I, that was despised by all my relations, and my husband's too; I, that was left so entirely desolate, friendless, and