Monday, February 05, 2007

Boswell Discharges His Frustrations: Part III of III

January 20, 1763

I then went to Louisa. With excellent address did I carry on this interview, as the following scene, I trust, will make appear.

LOUISA: My dear sir! I hope you are well today.
BOSWELL: Excessively well, I thank you. I hope I find you so.
L: No, really, Sir. I am distressed with a thousand things. (Cunning jade, her circumstances!) I really don't know what to do.
B: Do you know that I have been very unhappy since I saw you?
L: How so, Sir?
B: Why, I am afraid that you don't love me so well, nor have not such a regard for me, as I thought you had.
L: Nay, dear Sir! (Seeming unconcerned.)
B: Pray, Madam, have I no reason?
L: No, indeed, Sir, you have not.
B: Have I no reason, Madam? Pray think.
L: Sir!
B: Pray, Madam, in what state of health have you been in for some time?
L: Sir, you amaze me.
B: I have but too strong, too plain reason to doubt of your regard. I have for some days observed the symptoms of disease, but was unwilling to believe you so very ungenerous. But now, Madam, I am thoroughly convinced.
L: Sir, you have terrified me. I protest I know nothing of the matter.
B: Madam, I have had no connection with any woman but you these two months. I was with my surgeon this morning, who declared I had got a strong infection, and that she from whom I had it could not be ignorant of it. Madam, such a thing in this case is worse than from a woman of the town, as from her you may expect it. You have used me very ill. I did not deserve it...
L: Sir, I will confess to you that about three years ago I was very bad. But for these fifteen months I have been quite well. I appeal to G-D Almighty that I am speaking true; and for these six months I have had to do with no man but yourself.
B: But by G-D, Madam, I have been with none but you, and here I am very bad.
L: Well, Sir, by the same solemn oath I protest that I was ignorant of it.
B: Madam, I wish much to believe you. But I own I cannot upon this occasion believe a miracle.
L: Sir, I cannot say more to you. But you will leave me in the greatest misery. I shall lose your esteem. I shall be hurt in the opinion of everybody, and in my circumstances.
B (to himself): What the devil does the confounded jilt mean by being hurt in her circumstances? This is the grossest cunning. But I won't take notice of that at all. -- Madam, as to the opinion of everybody, you need not be afraid. I was going to joke and say that I never boast of a lady's favours. But I give you my word of honour that you shall not be discovered.
L: Sir, this is being more generous than I could expect.
B: I hope, Madam, you will own that since I have been with you I have always behaved like a man of honour.
L: You have indeed, Sir.
B (rising): Madam, your most obedient servant.

[from Boswell's London Journal.]