he dropped them all. Not, perhaps, that he saved much by it, for I was a very chargeable mistress to him, that I must acknowledge, but it was all owing to his particular affection to me, not to my extravagance, for, as I said, he never gave me leave to ask him for anything, but poured in his favours and presents faster than I expected, and so fast as I could not have the assurance to make the least mention of desiring more. Nor do I speak this of my own guess, I mean about his constancy to me and his quitting all other women; but the old harridan, as I may call her, whom he made the guide of our travelling, and who was a strange old creature, told me a thousand stories of his gallantry, as she called it, and how, as he had no less than three mistresses at one time, and, as I found, all of her procuring, he had of a sudden dropped them all, and that he was entirely lost to both her and them; that they did believe he had fallen into some new hands, but she could never hear who, or where, till he sent for her to go this journey; and then the old hag complimented me upon his choice; that she did not wonder I had so engrossed him; so much beauty, etc.; and there she stopped.
Upon the whole, I found by her what was, you may be sure, to my particular satisfaction, viz. that, as above, I had him all my own. But the highest tide has its ebb; and in all things of this kind there is a reflux which sometimes, also, is more impetuously violent than the first aggression. My prince was a man of a vast fortune, though no sovereign, and therefore there was no probability that the expense of keeping a mistress could be injurious to him, as to his estate. He had also several employments, both out of France as well as in it; for, as above, I say he was not a subject of France, though he lived in that court. He had a princess, a wife with whom he had lived several years, and a woman (so the voice of fame reported) the most valuable of her sex, of birth equal to him, if not superior, and of fortune proportionable; but in beauty, wit, and a thousand good qualities superior, not to most women, but even to all her sex; and, as to her virtue, the character which was justly her due was that of, not only the best of princesses, but even the best of women.
They lived in the utmost harmony, as with such a princess it was impossible to be otherwise. But yet the princess was not insensible that her lord had his foibles, that he did make some excursions, and particularly that he had one favourite mistress, which sometimes engrossed him more than she (the princess) could wish, or be easily satisfied with. However, she was so good, so generous, so truly kind a wife, that she never gave him any uneasiness on this account; except so much as must arise from his sense of her bearing the affront of it with such patience, and such a profound respect for him as was in itself enough to have reformed him, and did sometimes shock his generous mind, so as to keep him at home, as I may call it, a great while together. And it was not long before I not only perceived it by his absence, but really got a knowledge of the reason of it, and once or twice he even acknowledged it to me.
It was a point that lay not in me to manage. I made a kind of motion once or twice to him to leave me, and keep himself to her, as he ought by the laws and rites of matrimony to do, and argued the generosity of the princess to him, to persuade him; but I was a hypocrite, for had I prevailed with him really to be honest, I had lost him, which I could not bear the thoughts of; and he might easily see I was not in earnest. One time in particular, when I took upon me to talk at this rate, I found, when