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affections were wholly alienated from him; and he had yet to learn that during his absence, his wife had become enamoured of both Prince Henry, and the more seducing favourite, Viscount Rochester.
Of the encomiums passed upon the latter she had too often heard ; his worth was extolled, and his virtues were magnified by the vulgar; but she had not the skill to discover, that those who praised her“ dear Rochester" were creatures hired to worship the Favourite, or else they were suitors, who hoped to enjoy the King's smile, by extolling as virtues in his Favourite what bore another name. All that she saw was seen at Court, where every suit that Rochester preferred, was allowed, whether it were crown lands or lands forfeited and confiscated, or honours and titles to dignify their possessors. The Countess of Essex saw only that the revenues of Rochester
increased daily, that his glory became yearly so resplendent as to dazzle the courtiers who were around him, and to cast into shade the dignity of the best and the oldest of the nobility, and the eminence of such as were once the most excellent in the land. The Countess of Suffolk, mother to this bewitched lady, and who knew more of human nature than her daughter might be supposed acquainted with, and of the ideas which marriage creates in the female mind, ought never to have suffered this premature match, or having permitted it, she should have recollected, that the fears and hopes and expectations of a young bride, are best composed in the arms of her husband.But in place of this, she even favoured the disgraceful intimacy between her daughter and Rochester; and the vulgar report even went so far as to alledge, that she was privy to the Queen's locking up Prince Henry with her daughter, without remonstrance, complaint or appeal.
With the prodigality of the courtiers, who squandered the nation's wealth without shame or remorse, the young Countess of Essex strove to keep pace; of the applause which she heard heaped on Ro. chester she coveted a share, and of the honours which were lavished on him she was ambitious to partake. But how was she to do this and remain the wife of Essex? She had been forced by her parents to wed him, and though she admired she had never loved him, and now he had lost all possession of her affections. Her admiration of him was founded on one solitary action of his life, but it was a brilliant touch of a noble bearing, and it won her heart, at that period susceptible of the purest sentiments being bestowed on the worthiest object. Since her lord had struck Prince
Henry with his racket, she had had many opportunities of judging of his Highness's parts, and altogether, she could love him in preference to Essex; but the Prince had offended her on more occasions than one, and she now heartily hated him.
Rochester, on the other hand, had opened her heart to the allurements of love during the absence of her lawful lord. Rochester's worth she had openly commended, his manly spirit had enchanted her soul, his handsome person could alone captivate her senses; and on him, therefore, could she vouchsafe to glance with the smile of approval, and the languishing look of love and desire. At her Earl's castle of Chartley in Staffordshire, the Countess could enjoy none of those gay delights she participated in at Whitehall, at Theobalds, and at Royston, when she attended on the Court, and enjoyed the society of her - dear Rochester.”
Among the domestics at Chartley, her manner towards the Earl was observed and censured; but at her father's in London, where the servants partook of the dissipation of the court and the vices of the city, the palpable acts of misconduct discoverable between her and Rochester, obtained the softened name of gallantries, a name which had been recently borrowed from the French, and which is now perfectly well understood by critics, whose remarks are founded on observation and not on theory.
At Chartley, the young Earl wished to live in retirement with his Countess, but shehurried him to the metropolis, and her page, William Weston, was immediately despatched to Rochester witha billet, appointing an assignation at Mistress Turner's in Paternoster Row. This billet was attended with the desired effect, and while the Countess of Essex forsook her lord to enjoy the company of her“ fripon,” Rochester, at Mistress Turner's