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October 24, 1677


The day approaches, and both Patrick and the Irishman remain for the most part impervious to both my threats and, in Patrick's case (I would not stoop to cajoling an immigrant), my blandishments. But this evening, I had through no design of my own, something of a breakthrough. That is, I think I did, but the memory of it (I must admit) is a little hazy. Some hours ago, the three of us sat to supper in my dining room, and I confess that during the course of the meal, I drank more wine than I ought. I am quite sure that this does not constitute a breach of my vow to give up drink, as any fair judge would admit that the circumstances – i.e. the fact that my delicate plans rely entirely on the intellectual abilities of an illiterate Irishman and the whimsy of a mush-headed aristocrat – were too much to bear without recourse to a bottle or two of wine to calm my overtaxed nerves. Mark my words, I will not touch liquor again once I have regained my stocks from that idiot William Gray. 

Suffice it to say that I became inebriated, and perhaps more so than I am generally accustomed. I do not recall much of what I said toward the end of our meal, but I do remember (to my great mortification) that, after berating my guests for their refusal to abandon their cowardly objections to my scheme – which will make us all very rich indeed – I invoked the memory of my dead wife (in what context I cannot recall) and, shortly thereafter, began to weep. This was not my intent, and I am heartily ashamed of it. But the truth is that it did more good than any rhetoric I could have mustered. At once, the pair became silent, almost contrite, and begged me to cheer up. I believe that the Irishman even ventured to put an arm upon my shoulder, though I gave him a straight look which caused him to reconsider.

As they carried me up to my chambers, I sensed that they had softened in their resolve. That simple, human pity had won the day where coercion had failed. That my calculated display of strength over the past week – in the form of bribes, threats, and painstaking manipulation – had gone for naught, while a fleeting display of genuine feeling had penetrated all of their defenses. That, in short, they were ready, with just a little coaxing, to do the unselfish thing and play their little parts in my plan this week. I must remember how effective this is. It has not been my habit to play upon the sympathy of others, but with such a powerful example, I would be severely remiss not to tap this resource in the future.

I feel ill.


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