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THE LIFE OF ROXANA

that they served for a spur to the spirits of brave men, inspired them with the principles of gallantry, and prompted them to brave actions; that though it might be true that the mention of illegitimacy might attend the name, yet that personal virtue placed a man of honour above the reproach of his birth; that, as he had no share in the offence, he would have no concern at the blot; when, having by his own merit placed himself out of the reach of scandal, his fame should drown the memory of his beginning; that, as it was usual for men of quality to make such little escapes, so the number of their natural children were so great, and they generally took such good care of their education, that some of the greatest men in the world had a bend in their coats-of-arms, and that it was of no consequence to them, especially when their fame began to rise upon the basis of their acquired merit; and upon this he began to reckon up to me some of the greatest families in France and in England also.

This carried off our discourse for a time; but I went farther with him once, removing the discourse from the part attending our children to the reproach which those children would be apt to throw upon us, their originals; and, when speaking a little too feelingly on the subject, he began to receive the impression a little deeper than I wished he had done. At last he told me I had almost acted the confessor to him; that I might, perhaps, preach a more dangerous doctrine to him than we should either of us like, or than I was aware of. 'For, my dear', says he, 'if once we come to talk of repentance we must talk of parting.'

If tears were in my eyes before, they flowed too fast now to be restrained, and I gave him but too much satisfaction by my looks that I had yet no reflections upon my mind strong enough to go that length, and that I could no more think of parting than he could.

He said a great many kind things, which were great, like himself, and, extenuating our crime, intimated to me that he could no more part with me than I could with him; so we both, as I may say, even against our light and against our conviction, concluded to sin on; indeed, his affection to the child was one great tie to him, for he was extremely fond of it.

The child lived to be a considerable man. He was first an officer of the Garde du Corps of France, and afterwards colonel of a regiment of dragoons in Italy, and on many extraordinary occasions showed that he was not unworthy such a father, but many ways deserving a legitimate birth and a better mother; of which hereafter.

I think I may say now that I lived indeed like a queen; or, if you will have me confess that my condition had still the reproach of a whore, I may say I was, sure, the queen of whores; for no woman was ever more valued or more caressed by a person of such quality only in the station of a mistress. I had, indeed, one deficiency which women in such circumstances seldom are chargeable with, namely, I craved nothing of him, I never asked him for anything in my life, nor suffered myself to be made use of, as is too much the custom of mistresses, to ask favours for others. His bounty always prevented me in the first, and my strict concealing myself in the last, which was no less to my convenience than his.

The only favour I ever asked of him was for his gentleman, who he had all along entrusted with the secret of our affair, and who had once so much offended him by some omissions in his duty that he found it very hard to make his peace. He came and laid his case before my woman Amy, and begged her to speak to me to intercede for him, which I did,