the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.
Her statement of some of her trials continues:
The place, which was assigned for my residence in my husband's house, was the room which properly belonged to my step-mother. I had no place into which I could retire as my own; and if it had been otherwise, I could not have remained alone in it for any length of time without offense. Kept thus continually in her presence, she took the opportunity to cast unkind reflections upon me before many persons who came to see us. And to complete my affliction, the person who was chosen to act as nurse to my husband in his sicknesses, and who at other times was expected to perform the offices of waiting-maid to myself, entered into all the plans of those who persecuted me. She kept me in sight like a governess, and treated me in a very singular manner, considering the relations actually existing between us. For the most part I bore with patience these evils, which I had no way to avoid; but sometimes I let some hasty answer escape me, which was to me a source of grievous crosses and violent reproaches for a long time together. And when I was permitted to go out of doors, my absence added but little to my liberty. The footman had orders to give an account of everything I did. And what contributed to aggravate my afflictions, was the remembrance of my former situation, and of what I might have enjoyed under other circumstances. I could not easily forget the persons who had sought my affections, dwelling, by a contrasted operation of mind, on their agreeable manners, on the love they had for me, and on the dispositions they manifested,— so different from what I now had before me. All this made my present situation very gloomy, and my burthen intolerable."
It was then I began to eat the bread of sorrow, and mingle my drink with tears. But my tears, which I could not forbear shedding, only furnished new occasion for attack and reproach. In regard to my husband, I ought perhaps to say, that it was not from any natural cruelty that he treated me as he did. He seems to have had a real affection for me, but being naturally hasty in his temper, his mother found the art of continually irritating him against me. Certain it is, that when I was sick, he was very much afflicted. Had it not been for the influence of his mother and of the waiting maid whom I have mentioned, we might have lived happily together.
As it was, my condition was every way deplorable. My step-mother secured her object. My proud spirit broke under her system of coercion. Married to a person of rank and wealth, I found myself a slave in my own dwelling, rather than a free person. The treatment which I received so impaired the vivacity of my nature, that I became dumb, like 'the lamb that is shearing.' The expression of thought and feeling which was natural to me, faded from my countenance. Terror took possession of my mind. I lost all power of resistance. Under the rod of my despotic mistress, I sat dumb and almost idiotic. Those who had heard of me, but had never seen me before, said one to another, ‘Is this the person who sits thus silent like a piece of statuary, that was famed for such an abundance of wit?’ In this situation, I looked in various directions for help; but I found no one with whom I could communicate my unhappiness; no one who might share my grief, and help me to bear it. To have made known my feelings and trials to my parents, would only have occasioned new crosses. I was alone and helpless in my grief.
— from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.