A dispute very learnedly handled by two ladies, in which the reader may take what part he pleases.
Mr. Glanville, who was too much in love to pass the night with any great degree of tranquillity, under the apprehensions he felt; it being the nature of that passion to magnify the most inconsiderable trifles into things of the greatest importance, when they concern the beloved object; did not fail to torment himself with a thousand different fears, which the mysterious behaviour of his father, and the more mysterious words of his mistress, gave rise to.—Among many various conjectures, all equally unreasonable, he fixed upon one no way advantageous to Sir Charles; for, supposing that the folly of Arabella had really disgusted him, and made him desirous of breaking off the designed match between them, he was, as he thought, taking measures to bring this about, knowing, that if Lady Bella refused to fulfil II.2 her father’s desire in this particular, a very considerable estate would descend to him.
Upon any other occasion, Mr. Glanville would not have suspected his father of so ungenerous an action; but lovers think every thing possible which they fear; and being prepossessed with this opinion, he resolved the next morning to sound his father’s inclinations by entreating him to endeavour to prevail upon Lady Bella to marry him before her year of mourning for the marquis was expired.
Attending him, therefore, at breakfast, in his own chamber, he made his designed request, not without needfully observing his countenance at the same time, and trembling lest he should make him an answer that might confirm his uneasy suspicion.
Sir Charles, however, agreeably surprised him, by promising to comply with his desire that day; For, added he, though my niece has some odd ways, yet, upon the whole, she is a very accomplished woman; and when you are her husband, you may probably find the means of curing her of those little follies which at present are conspicuous enough; but being occasioned by a country education, and a perfect ignorance of the world, the instruction which then, you will not scruple to give her, and which from a husband, without any offence to her delicacy she may receive, may reform her conduct, and make her behaviour as complete as, it must be confessed, both her person and mind now are.
Mr. Glanville having acquiesced in the justice of this remark, as soon as breakfast was over, went to visit the two ladies, who generally drank their chocolate together.
Miss Glanville being then in Lady Bella’s apartment, he was immediately admitted, where he found them engaged in a high dispute; and, much against his will, was obliged to be arbitrator in the affair, II.3 they having, upon his entrance, both appealed to him.
But, in order to place this momentous affair, in a true light, it is necessary to go back a little, and acquaint the reader with what had passed in the apartment; and also, following the custom of the romance and novel-writers, in the heart of our heroine.
No sooner were her fair eyes open in the morning, than the unfortunate Sir George presenting himself to her imagination, her thoughts, to use Scudery’s phrase, were at a cruel war with each other: she wished to prevent the death of this obsequious lover; but she could not resolve to preserve his life, by giving him that hope he required; and without which, she feared, it would be impossible for him to live.
After pondering a few hours upon the necessity of his case, and what a just regard to her own honour required of her, decorum prevailed so much over compassion, that she resolved to abandon the miserable Sir George to all the rigour of his destiny; when, happily for the disconsolate lover, the history of the fair Amalazontha coming into her mind, she remembered, that this haughty princess, having refused to marry the person her father recommended to her, because he had not a crown upon his head; nevertheless, when he was dying for love of her, condescended to visit him, and even to give him a little hope, in order to preserve his life: she conceived it could be no blemish to her character, if she followed the example of this most glorious princess, and suffered herself to relax a little in her severity, to prevent the effect of her lover’s despair.
Fear not, Arabella, said she to herself; fear not to obey the dictates of thy compassion, since the glorious Amalazontha justifies, by her example, the II.4 means thou wilt use to preserve a noble life, which depends upon a few words thou shalt utter.
When she had taken this resolution, she rung her bell for her women; and as soon as she was dressed, she dismissed them all but Lucy, whom she ordered to bring her paper and pens, telling her, she would write an answer to Sir George’s letter.
Lucy obeyed with great joy; but by that time she had brought her lady all the materials for writing, her mind was changed; she having reflected, that Amalazontha, whose example, in order to avoid the censure of future ages, she was resolved exactly to follow, did not write to Ambiomer, but paid him a visit, she resolved to do the like; and therefore bad Lucy take them away again, telling her she had thought better of it; and would not write to him.
Lucy, extremely concerned at this resolution, obeyed her very slowly, and with great seeming regret.
I perceive, said Arabella, you are afraid I shall abandon the unfortunate man you solicit for, to the violence of his despair: but though I do not intend to write to him, yet I will make use of a method, perhaps as effectual; for, to speak truly, I mean to make him a visit; his fever I suppose, being violent enough by this time to make him keep his bed.
And will you be so good, madam, said Lucy, to go and see the poor gentleman? warrant you, he will be ready to die for joy when he sees you.
It is probable what you say may happen, replied Arabella, but there must be proper precautions used to prevent those consequences which the sudden and unexpected sight of me may produce. Those about him I suppose will have discretion enough for that; therefore give orders for the coach to be made ready, and tell my women they must attend me; II.5 and be sure you give them directions, when I enter Sir George’s chamber, to stay at a convenient distance, in order to leave me an opportunity of speaking to him, without being heard; as for you, you may approach the bed side with me; since, being my confidante, you may hear all we have to say.
Arabella having thus settled the ceremonial of her visit, according to the rules prescribed by romances, sat down to her tea-table, having sent to know if Miss Glanville was up, and received for answer, that she would attend her at breakfast.
Arabella, who had at first determined to say nothing of this affair to her cousin, could not resist the desire she had of talking upon a subject so interesting; and, telling her with a smile, that she was about to make a very charitable visit that morning, asked her, if she was disposed to bear her company in it.
I know you country ladies, said Miss Glanville, are very fond of visiting your sick neighbours: for my part, I do not love such a grave kind of amusement; yet, for the sake of the airing, I shall be very willing to attend you.
I think, said Arabella, with a more serious air than before, it behoves every generous person to compassionate the misfortunes of their acquaintance and friends, and to relieve them as far as lies in their power; but those miseries we ourselves occasion to others, demand, in a more particular manner, our pity: and, if consistent with honour, our relief.
And pray, returned Miss Glanville, who is it you have done any mischief to, which you are to repair by this charitable visit, as you call it?
The mischief I have done, replied Arabella, blushing, and casting down her eyes, was not voluntary, I assure you: yet I will not scruple to repair it, II.6 if I can; though, since my power is confined by certain unavoidable laws, my endeavours may not haply have all the success I could wish.
Well, but dear cousin, interrupted Miss Glanville, tell me in plain English, what this mischief is, which you have done; and to what purpose you are going out this morning?
I am going to pay a visit to Sir George Bellmour, replied Arabella, and I entreat you, fair cousin, to pardon me for robbing you of so accomplished a lover. I really always thought he was in love with you, till I was undeceived by some words he spoke yesterday, and a letter I received from him last night, in which he has been bold enough to declare his passion to me, and through the apprehensions of my anger, is this moment dying with grief: and it is to reconcile him to life, that I have prevailed upon myself to make him a visit; in which charitable design, as I said before, I should be glad of your company.
Miss Glanville, who believed not a word Lady Bella had said, burst out a laughing at a speech that appeared to her so extremely false and ridiculous.
I see, said Arabella, you are of a humour to divert yourself with the miseries of a despairing lover; and in this particular you greatly resemble the fair and witty Doralisa, who always jested at such maladies as are occasioned by love: however, this insensibility does not become you so well as her, since all her conduct was conformable to it, no man in the world being bold enough to talk to her of love; but you, cousin, are ready, even by your own confession, to listen to such discourses from any body; and therefore this behaviour in you may be with more justice termed levity, than indifference.
I perceive, cousin, said Miss Glanville, I have always the worst of those comparisons you are pleased II.7 to make between me and other people; but, I assure you, as free and indiscreet as you think me, I should very much scruple to visit a man, upon any occasion whatever.
I am quite astonished, Miss Glanville, resumed Arabella, to hear you assume a character, of so much severity; you who have granted favours of a kind in a very great degree criminal.
Favours! interrupted Miss Glanville, criminal favours! pray explain yourself madam.
Yes, cousin, said Arabella, I repeat it again; criminal favours, such as allowing persons to talk to you of love; not forbidding them to write to you: giving them opportunities of being alone with you for several moments together; and several other civilities of the like nature, which no man can possibly merit, under many years services, fidelity, and pains: all these are criminal favours, and highly blameable in a lady who has any regard for her reputation.
All these, replied Miss Glanville, are nothing in comparison of making them visits; and no woman, who has any reputation at all, will be guilty of taking such liberties.
What! miss, replied Arabella, will you dare by this insinuation, to cast any censures upon the virtue of the divine Mandane, the haughty Amalazontha, the fair Statira, the cold and rigid Parisatis, and many other illustrious ladies, who did not scruple to visit their lovers, when confined to their beds, either by the wounds they received in battle, or the more cruel and dangerous ones they suffered from their eyes? These chaste ladies, who never granted a kiss of their hand to a lover, till he was upon the point of being their husband, would nevertheless most charitably condescend to approach their bed-side, and speak some compassionate words to them, II.8 in order to promote their cure, and make them submit to live; nay, these divine beauties would not refuse to grant the same favour to persons whom they did not love, to prevent the fatal consequences of their despair.
Lord, madam! interrupted Miss Glanville, I wonder you can talk so blasphemously, to call a parcel of confident creatures divine, and such terrible words.
Do you know, miss, said Arabella, with a stern look, that it is of the greatest princesses that ever were, whom you speak in this irreverent manner! Is it possible that you can be ignorant of the sublime quality of Mandane, who was the heiress of two powerful kingdoms? Are you not sensible, that Amalazontha was queen of Turringia? and will you pretend to deny the glorious extraction of Statira and Parisatis, princesses of Persia?
I shall not trouble myself to deny any thing about them, madam, said Miss Glanville; for I never heard of them before; and really I do not choose to be always talking of queens and princesses, as if I thought none but such great people were worthy my notice: it looks so affected, I should imagine every one laughed at me that heard me.
Since you are so very scrupulous, returned Arabella, that you dare not imitate the sublimest among mortals, I can furnish you with many examples, from the conduct of persons whose quality was not much superior to yours, which may reconcile you to an action, you at present, with so little reason, condemn: and to name but one among some thousands, the fair Cleonice, the most rigid and austere beauty in all Sardis, paid several visits to the passionate Ligdamis, when his melancholy, at the ill success of his passion, threw him into a fever, that confined him to his bed.II.9
And pray, madam, who was that Cleonice? said Miss Glanville; and where did she live?
In Sardis I tell you, said Arabella, in the kingdom of Lydia.
Oh! then it is not in our kingdom, said Miss Glanville: what signifies what foreigners do? I shall never form my conduct upon the example of outlandish people; what is common enough in their countries, would be very particular here; and you can never persuade me, that it is seemly for ladies to pay visits to men in their beds.
A lady, said Arabella, extremely angry at her cousin’s obstinacy, who will suffer men to press her hand, write to her, and talk to her of love, ought to be ashamed of such an affected niceness as that you pretend to.
I insist upon it, madam, said Miss Glanville, that all those innocent liberties you rail at, may be taken by any woman without giving the world room to censure her: but, without being very bold and impudent, she cannot go to see men in their beds: a freedom that only becomes a sister or near relation.
So, then, replied Arabella, reddening with vexation, you will persist in affirming the divine Mandane was impudent.
If she made such indiscreet visits as those, she was, said Miss Glanville.
Oh, heavens! cried Arabella, have I lived to hear the most illustrious princess that ever was in the world, so shamefully reflected on?
Bless me, madam! said Miss Glanville, what reason have you to defend the character of this princess so much? She will hardly thank you for your pains, I fancy!
Were you acquainted with the character of that most generous princess, said Arabella, you would II.10 be convinced that she was sensible of the smallest benefits; but it is not with a view of acquiring her favour, that I defend her, against your inhuman aspersions, since it is more than two thousand years since she died; yet common justice obliges me to vindicate a person so illustrious for her birth and virtue; and were you not my cousin, I should express my resentment in another manner, for the injury you do her.
Truly, said Miss Glanville, I am not much obliged to you madam, for not downright quarrelling with me for one that has been in her grave two thousand years; however, nothing shall make me change my opinion, and I am sure most people will be of my side of the argument.
That moment Mr. Glanville sending for permission to wait upon Arabella, she ordered him to be admitted, telling Miss Glanville she would acquaint her brother with the dispute; to which she consented.
Which inculcates, by a very good example, that a person ought not to be too hasty in deciding a question he does not perfectly understand.
You are come very opportunely, sir, said Arabella, when he entered the room, to be judge of a great controversy, between Miss Glanville and myself. I beseech you therefore, let us have your opinion upon the matter.
Miss Glanville maintains, that it is less criminal in a lady to hear persons talk to her of love, allow them to kiss her hand, and permit them to write to her, II.11 than to make a charitable visit to a man who is confined to his bed through the violence of his passion and despair; the intent of this visit being only to prevent the death of an unfortunate lover, and, if necessary, to lay her commands upon him to live.
And this latter is your opinion, is it not, madam, said Mr. Glanville.
Certainly, sir, replied Arabella, and in this I am justified by all the heroines of antiquity.
Then you must be in the right, madam, returned Mr. Glanville, both because your own judgment tells you so, and also the example of these heroines you mention.
Well, madam, interrupted Miss Glanville, hastily, since my brother has given sentence on your side, I hope you will not delay your visit to Sir George any longer.
How! said Mr. Glanville, surprised, is Lady Bella going to visit Sir George?—Pray, madam, may I presume to inquire the reason for your doing him this extraordinary favour?
You are not very wise, said Arabella, looking gravely upon Miss Glanville, to discover a thing which may haply create a quarrel between your brother and the unfortunate person you speak of: yet since this indiscretion cannot be recalled, we must endeavour to prevent the consequences of it.
I assure you, madam, interrupted Mr. Glanville, extremely impatient to know the meaning of these hints, you have nothing to fear from me; therefore you need not think yourself under the necessity of concealing this affair from me.
You are not haply, so moderate as you pretend, said Arabella, (who would not have been displeased to have seen him in all the jealous transports of an enraged Orontes;) but whatever ensues, I can no longer keep from your knowledge a truth your sister II.12 has begun to discover; but in telling you what you desire to know, I expect you will suppress all inclinations to revenge, and trust the care of your interest to my generosity.
You are to know, then, that in the person of your friend Sir George, you have a rival, haply the more to be feared, as his passion is no less respectful than violent; I possibly tell you more than I ought, pursued she, blushing, and casting down her eyes, when I confess, that for certain considerations, wherein perhaps you are concerned, I have received the first insinuation of this passion with disdain enough; and I assure myself that you are too generous to desire any revenge upon a miserable rival, of whom death is going to free you.
Then, taking Sir George’s letter out of her cabinet, she presented it to Mr. Glanville.
Read this, added she; but read it without suffering yourself to be transported with any violent motions of anger; and as in fight I am persuaded you would not oppress a fallen and vanquished foe, so in love I may hope an unfortunate rival will merit your compassion.
Never doubt it, madam, replied Mr. Glanville, receiving the letter which Miss Glanville, with a beating heart, earnestly desired to hear read. Her brother, after asking permission of Arabella, prepared to gratify her curiosity; but he no sooner read the first sentence, than, notwithstanding all his endeavours, a smile appeared in his face; and Miss Glanville, less able, and indeed less concerned to restrain her mirth at the uncommon style, burst out a laughing, with so much violence, as obliged her brother to stop, and counterfeit a terrible fit of coughing, in order to avoid giving Arabella the like offence.
The astonishment of this lady, at the surprising II.13 and unexpected effect her lover’s letter produced on Miss Glanville, kept her in a profound silence, her eyes wandering from the sister to the brother; who, continuing his cough, was not able for some moments to go on with his reading.
Arabella, during this interval, having recovered herself a little, asked Miss Glanville if she found any thing in a lover’s despair capable of diverting her so much as she seemed to be with that of the unfortunate Sir George.
My sister, madam, said Mr. Glanville, preventing her reply, knows so many of Sir George’s infidelities, that she cannot persuade herself he is really in such a dangerous way as he insinuates: therefore you ought not to be surprised, if she is rather disposed to laugh at this epistle, than to be moved with any concern for the writer, who, though he is my rival, I must say, appears to be in a deplorable condition.
Pray, sir, resumed Arabella, a little composed by those words, finish the letter: your sister may possibly find more cause for pity than contempt, in the latter part of it.
Mr. Glanville, giving a look to his sister, sufficient to make her comprehend that he would have her restrain her mirth for the future, proceeded in his reading; but every line increasing his strong inclination to laugh, when he came to the pathetic wish, that her fair eyes might shed some tears upon his tomb, no longer able to keep his assumed gravity, he threw down the letter in a counterfeited rage.
Curse the stupid fellow! cried he, is he mad, to call the finest black eyes in the universe fair.—Ah! cousin, said he to Arabella, he must be little acquainted with the influence of your eyes, since he can so egregiously mistake their colour.II.14
And it is very plain, replied Arabella, that you are little acquainted with the sublime language in which he writes, since you find fault with an epithet which marks the beauty, not the colour, of those eyes he praises; for, in fine, fair is indifferently applied, as well to black and brown eyes, as to light and blue ones, when they are either really lovely in themselves, or by the lover’s imagination created so; and therefore, since Sir George’s prepossession has made him see charms in my eyes, which, questionless, are not there, by calling them fair he has very happily expressed himself, since therein he has the sanction of those great historians who wrote the histories of lovers he seems to imitate, as well in his actions as style.
I find my rival is very happy in your opinion, madam, said Mr. Glanville; and I am apt to believe, I shall have more reason to envy than pity his situation.
If you keep within the bounds I prescribe you, replied Arabella, you shall have no reason to envy his situation; but, considering the condition to which his despair has by this time certainly reduced him, humanity requires we should take some care of him; and to shew how great my opinion of your generosity is, I will even entreat you to accompany me in the visit I am going to make him.
Mr. Glanville being determined, if possible, to prevent her exposing herself, affected to be extremely moved at this request; and rising from his chair in great seeming agitation, traversed the room for some moments, without speaking a word: then suddenly stopping—
And can you, madam, said he, looking upon Arabella, suppose that I will consent to your visiting my rival; and that I will be mean enough to attend you myself to his house? Do you think that Orontes, II.15 you have often reproached me with, would act in such a manner?
I don’t know how Orontes would have acted in this case, said Arabella, because it never happened that such a proof of his submission was ever desired of him; but considering that he was of a very fiery and jealous disposition, it is probable he might act as you do.
I always understood, madam, said Glanville, that Orontes was a favourite of yours, but it seems I was mistaken.
You will be very unjust, said Arabella, to draw any unfavourable conclusion from what I have said, to the prejudice of that valiant prince, for whom I confess I have a great esteem; and, truly, whoever reflects upon the great actions he did in the wars between the Amazons and the fierce Naobarzanes king of the Cilicians, must needs conceive a very high idea of his virtue: but if I cannot bring the example of Orontes to influence you in the present case, I can mention those of other persons, no less illustrious for their birth and courage than him. Did not the brave Memnon, when his rival Oxyatres was sick, entreat the beautiful Barsina to favour him with a And the complaisant husband of the divine Parisatis was not contented with barely desiring her to visit Lysimachus, who was dying with despair at their marriage, but would many times bring her himself to the bed-side of this unfortunate lover, and, leaving her there, give him an opportunity of telling her what he suffered for her sake.
I am afraid, madam, said Mr. Glanville, I shall never be capable of imitating either the brave Memnon, or the complaisant Lysimachus, in this case; and the humour of Orontes seems to me the most commendable.II.16
Nevertheless, said Arabella, the humour of Orontes cost him an infinite number of pains; and it may happen, you will as near resemble him in his fortune as you do in his disposition: but pray let us end this dispute at present. If you are not generous enough to visit an unfortunate rival, you shall not put a stop to the charity of my intentions; and since Miss Glanville is all of a sudden become so severe, that she will not accompany me in this visit, I shall be contented with the attendance of my women.
Saying this, she rose from her seat, calling Lucy, and ordered her to bid her companions attend.
Mr. Glanville seeing her thus determined, was almost mad with vexation.
Upon my soul, madam, said he, seizing her hand, you must not go.
How, sir! said Arabella, sternly.
Not without seeing me die first, resumed he, in a languishing tone.
You must not die, replied Arabella, gravely; not must you pretend to hinder me from going.
Nay, madam, said Glanville, one of these two things will certainly happen: either you must resolve not to visit Sir George, or else be contented to see me die at your feet.
Was ever any lady in so cruel a dilemma? said Arabella, throwing herself into the chair in a languishing posture: what can I do to prevent the fate of two persons, one of whom I infinitely pity, and the other, obstinate as he is, I cannot hate? Shall I resolve to let the miserable Bellmour die, rather than grant him a favour the most rigid virtue would not refuse him? or shall I, by opposing the impetuous humour of a lover, to whom I am somewhat obliged, make myself the author of his death? Fatal necessity! which obliges me either to be cruel II.17 or unjust; and, with a disposition to neither, makes me, in some degree guilty of both.
In which our heroine is in some little confusion.
While Arabella was uttering this pathetic complaint, Mr. Glanville, with great difficulty, kept himself from smiling; and, by some supplicating looks to his sister, prevented her laughing out; yet she giggled in secret behind her fan; but Arabella was so lost in her melancholy reflections, that she kept her eyes immoveably fixed on the ground for some moments: at last, casting an upbraiding glance at Glanville—
Is it possible, cruel person that you are! said she to him, that you can, without pity, see me suffer so much uneasiness; and knowing the sensibility of my temper, can expose me to the grief of being accessary to the death of an unfortunate man, guilty indeed of a too violent passion, which merits a gentler punishment than that you doom him to?
Do not be uneasy, dear cousin, interrupted Miss Glanville; I dare assure you Sir George won’t die.
It is impossible to think that, said Arabella, since he has not so much as received a command from me to live; but tell me truly, pursued she, do you believe it probable, that he will obey me, and live.
Indeed, madam, said Miss Glanville, I could swear for him that he will.
Well, replied Arabella, I will content myself with sending him my commands in writing; but it is to be feared they will not have so much efficacy upon his spirit.II.18
Mr. extremely pleased that she had laid aside her design of visiting Sir George, did not oppose her writing to him, though he was plotting how to prevent the letter reaching his hands; and while she went into her closet to write, he conferred with his sister upon the means he should use; expressing, at the same time, great resentment against Sir George, for endeavouring to supplant him in his cousin’s affection.
What then, said Miss Glanville, do you really imagine that Sir George is in love with Lady Bella?
He is either in love with her person or estate, replied Mr. Glanville, or perhaps with both; for she is handsome enough to gain a lover of his merit, though she had no fortune; and she has fortune enough to do it, though she had no beauty.
My cousin is well enough, to be sure, said Miss Glanville; but I never could think her a beauty.
If, replied Mr. Glanville, a most lovely complexion, regular features, a fine stature, an elegant shape, and an inexpressible grace in all her motions, can form a beauty, Lady Bella may pretend to that character without any dispute.
Though she was all that you say, returned Miss Glanville, I am certain Sir George is not in love with her.
I wish I was certain of that, replied Mr. Glanville; for it is very probable you are mistaken.
You may see by this letter, interrupted Miss Glanville, what a jest he makes of her; and if you had heard how he talked to her the other day in the garden, you would have died with laughing; yet my poor cousin thought he was very serious, and was so foolishly pleased.
I assure you, Charlotte, said Mr. Glanville, gravely, I shall take it very ill, if you make so free with your cousin’s little foibles; and if Sir George presumes II.19 to make a jest of her, as you say, I shall teach him better manners.
You are the strangest creature in the world! said Miss Glanville: a minute or two ago, you was wishing to be sure he was not in love with her; and now you are angry, when I assure you he is only in jest.
Arabella, that moment coming out of her closet, broke off their discourse. I have written to Sir George, said she, addressing herself to Mr. Glanville; and you are at liberty, if you please, to read my letter, which I propose to send away immediately.
Mr. Glanville, taking the letter out of her hand, with a low bow, began to read it to himself; but Arabella, willing his sister should also be acquainted with the contents, obliged him, much against his will, to read it aloud. It was as follows—
“ARABELLA, TO .
“Whatever offence your presumptuous declaration may have given me, yet my resentment will be appeased with a less punishment than death: and that grief and submission you have testified in your letter, may haply have already procured you pardon for your fault, provided you do not forfeit it by disobedience.
“I therefore command you to live, and command you by all that power you have given me over you.
“Remember I require no more of you, than Parisatis did of Lysimachus, in a more cruel and insupportable misfortune: imitate, then, the obedience and submission of that illustrious prince; and though you should be as unfortunate as he, let your courage also be equal to his; and, like him, II.20 be contented with the esteem that is offered you, since it is all that can be bestowed, by “Arabella.”
Mr. Glanville, finding by this epistle that Arabella did not design to encourage the addresses of Sir George, would not have been against his receiving it, had he not feared the consequence of his having such a convincing proof of the peculiarity of her temper in his possession; and while he kept the letter in his hand, as if he wanted to consider it a little better, he meditated on the means to prevent its ever being delivered; and had possibly fixed upon some successful contrivance, when a servant coming in, to inform the ladies that Sir George was come to wait on them, put an end to his schemes; and he immediately ran down to receive him, not being willing to increase, by his stay, the astonishment and confusion which appeared in the countenance of Arabella, at hearing a man, whom she had believed and represented to be dying, was come to pay her a visit.
Where the lady extricates herself out of her former confusion, to the great astonishment, we will suppose, of the reader.
Miss Glanville, not having so much delicacy as her brother, could not help exulting a little upon this occasion.
After the terrible fright you have been in, madam, said she, upon Sir George’s account, I wonder II.21 you do not rather think it is his ghost than himself that is come to see us.
There is no question but it is himself that is come, said Arabella, (who had already reconciled this visit to her first thoughts of him;) and it is, haply, to execute his fatal design in my presence, that has brought him here; and, like the unfortunate Agilmond, he means to convince me of his fidelity and love, by falling upon his sword before my eyes.
Bless me, madam, said Miss Glanville, what horrid things come into your head! I vow you terrify me out of my wits, to hear you.
There is no occasion for your fears, interrupted Arabella; since we already suspect his designs, it will be very easy to prevent them: had the princess of the Sarmatians known the fatal intentions of her despairing lover, doubtless, she would have used some precautions to hinder him from executing them; for want of which she saw the miserable Agilmond weltering in his blood at her feet; and with reason accused herself of being the cause of so deplorable a spectacle.
The astonishment Miss Glanville was in, to hear her cousin talk in this manner, kept her from giving her any interruption, while she related several other terrible instances of despair.
In the mean time, Sir George, who was impatient to go up to Lady Bella’s apartment, having flattered himself into a belief, that his letter was favourably received, and that he should be permitted to hope at least, made a short visit to Sir Charles in his own room, and, accompanied by Mr. Glanville, who was resolved to see in what manner Arabella received him, went to her apartment.
As he had taken care, at his entrance, to accommodate his looks to the character he had assumed of II.22 an humble despairing lover, Arabella no sooner saw him, than her countenance changed; and, making a sign to Mr. Glanville, who could not comprehend what she meant, to seize upon the guard of his sword, she hastily stept forward to meet him.
I am too well convinced, said she to Sir George, that the intent of your coming hither to-day is to commit some violence against yourself before my eyes: but listen not, I beseech you, to the dictates of your despair. Live; I command you, live; and, since you say I have the absolute disposal of your life, do not deprive yourself of it, without the consent of her on whom you profess to have bestowed it.
Sir George, who did not imagine Arabella would communicate his letter to her cousins, and only expected some distant hints from her concerning it, was so confounded at this reception before them, that he was not able to reply: he blushed, and turned pale alternately; and, not daring to look either upon Miss Glanville or her brother, or to meet the eyes of the fair visionary, who with great impatience expected his answer, he hung down his head in a very silly posture; and, by his silence, confirmed Arabella in her opinion.
As he did not want for wit and assurance, during that interval of silence and expectation from all parties, his imagination suggested to him the means of extricating himself out of the ridiculous perplexity he was in; and as it concerned him greatly to avoid any quarrel with the brother and sister, he determined to turn the whole matter into a jest; but, if possible, to manage it so that Arabella should not enter into his meaning.
Raising therefore his eyes, and looking upon Arabella with a melancholy air—
You are not deceived, madam, said he: this criminal II.23 with whom you are so justly offended, comes with an intention to die at your feet, and breathe out his miserable life, to expiate those crimes of which you accuse him: but since your severe compassion will oblige me to live, I obey, O most divine, but cruel Arabella! I obey your harsh commands; and, by endeavouring to live, give you a more convincing proof of that respect and submission I shall always have for your will.
I expected no less from your courage and generosity, said Arabella, with a look of great complacency; and, since you so well know how to imitate the great Lysimachus in your obedience, I shall be no less acknowledging than the fair Parisatis; but will have for you an esteem equal to that virtue I have observed in you.
Sir George having received this gracious promise with a most profound bow, turned to Mr. Glanville with a kind of chastened smile upon his countenance.
And you, fortunate and deserving knight, said he, happy in the affections of the fairest person in the world! grudge me not this small alleviation of my misfortunes; and envy me not that esteem which alone is able to make me suffer life, while you possess, in the heart of the divine Arabella, a felicity that might be envied by the greatest monarchs in the world.
As diverting as this scene was, Mr. Glanville was extremely uneasy; for though Sir George’s stratagem took, and he believed he was only indulging the gaiety of his humour by carrying on this farce, yet he could not endure he should divert himself at Arabella’s expence. The solemn speech he had made him, did indeed force him to smile; but he soon assumed a graver look, and told Sir George, in a low voice, that when he had finished his visit he II.24 should be glad to take a turn with him in the garden.
Sir George promised to follow him, and Mr. Glanville left the room, and went into the gardens; where the baronet, having taken a respectful leave of Arabella, and by a sly glance convinced Miss Glanville he had sacrificed her cousin to her mirth, went to join her brother.
Mr. Glanville, as soon as he saw him, walked to meet him with a very reserved air; which Sir George observing, and being resolved to keep up his humour—
What, inhuman but too-happy lover, said he, what am I to understand by that cloud upon your brow? Is it possible that thou canst envy me the small comfort I have received? And, not satisfied with the glorious advantages thou possessest, wilt thou still deny me that esteem which the divine Arabella has been pleased to bestow upon me?
Pray, Sir George, said Mr. Glanville, lay aside this pompous style: I am not disposed to be merry at present, and have not all the relish for this kind of wit that you seem to expect. I desired to see you here, that I might tell you, without witnesses, I take it extremely ill you should presume to make my cousin the object of your mirth. Lady Bella, sir, is not the person with whom such liberties ought to be taken; nor will I, in the double character of her lover and relation, suffer it from any one whatever.
Cruel fortune! said Sir George, stepping back a little, and lifting up his eyes, shall I always be exposed to thy persecutions? And must I, without any apparent cause, behold an enemy in the person of my friend; who, though without murmuring, I resign to him the adorable Arabella, is yet resolved to dispute with me a satisfaction which II.25 does not deprive him of any part of that glorious fortune to which he is destined? Since it is so, unjust and cruel friend, pursued he, strike this breast which carries the image of the divine Arabella; but think not that I will offer to defend myself, or lift my sword against a man beloved by her.
This is all very fine, returned Mr. Glanville, hardly able to forbear laughing; but it is impossible, with all your gaiety, to hinder me from being serious upon this business.
Then be as serious as thou wilt, dear Charles, interrupted Sir George, provided you will allow me to be gay; and not pretend to infect me with thy unbecoming gravity.
I have but a few words to say to you, then, sir, replied Mr. Glanville: either behave with more respect to my cousin, or prepare to give me satisfaction for the insults you offer her.
Oh! I understand you, sir, said Sir George; and because you have taken it into your head to be offended at a trifle of no consequence in the world, I must give you a fair chance to run me through the body! There is something very foolish, faith, in such an extravagant expectation: but since custom has made it necessary that a man must venture his soul and body upon these important occasions, because I will not be out of the fashion, you shall command me whenever you think fit; though I shall fight with my school-fellow with a very ill will, I assure you.
There is no necessity for fighting, said Mr. Glanville, blushing at the ludicrous light in which the gay baronet had placed his challenge; the concession I have required is very small, and not worth the contesting for on your side. Lady Bella’s peculiarity, to which you contribute so much, can afford you at best but an ill-natured diversion, while II.26 it gives me a real pain; and sure you must acknowledge you are doing me a very great injury, when you endeavour to confirm a lady, who is to be my wife, in a behaviour that excites your mirth, and makes her a fit object of your ridicule and contempt.
You do Lady Bella a much greater injury than I do, replied Sir George, by supposing she can ever be an object of ridicule and contempt; I think very highly of her understanding; and though the bent of her studies has given her mind a romantic turn, yet the singularity of her manners is far less disagreeable than the lighter follies of most of her sex.
But to be absolutely perfect, interrupted Mr. Glanville, I must cure her of that singularity; and therefore I beg you will not persist in assuming a behaviour conformable to her romantic ideas; but rather help me to banish them from her imagination.
Well, replied Sir George, since you no longer threaten, I’ll do what I can to content you; but I must quit my heroics by degrees, and sink with decency into my own character, otherwise she will never endure me in her presence.
Arabella and Miss Glanville appearing in the walk, broke off the conversation. The baronet and Mr. Glanville walked forward to meet them; but Arabella, who did not desire company, struck into another walk, whither Mr. Glanville following, proposed to join her, when he saw his father, who had been taking a turn there alone, made up to Arabella; and supposing he would take that opportunity to talk to her concerning him, he went back to his sister and Sir George, whose conversation he interrupted, to the great regret of Miss Glanville.II.27
In which will be found one of the former mistakes pursued, another cleared up, to the great satisfaction of two persons, among whom the reader, we expect, will make a third.
Arabella no sooner saw Sir Charles advancing towards her, than, sensible of the consequence of being alone with a person whom she did not doubt would make use of that advantage to talk to her of love, she endeavoured to avoid him, but in vain; for Sir Charles, guessing her intentions, walked hastily up to her; and, taking hold of her hand—
You must not go away, Lady Bella, said he; I have something to say to you.
Arabella, extremely discomposed at this behaviour, struggled to free her hand from her uncle; and giving him a look, on which disdain and fear were visibly painted—
Unhand me, sir, said she, and force me not to forget the respect I owe you as my uncle, by treating you with a severity such uncommon insolence demands.
Sir Charles, letting go her hand in a great surprise at the word insolent, which she had used, asked her if she knew to whom she was speaking.
Questionless, I am speaking to my uncle, replied she, and it is with great regret I see myself obliged to make use of expressions no way conformable to the respect I bear that sacred character.
And pray, madam, said Sir Charles, somewhat softened by this speech, who is it that obliges you to lay aside that respect you seem to acknowledge is due to your uncle.
You do, sir, replied she, and it is with infinite II.28 sorrow that I behold you assuming a character unbecoming the brother of my father.
This is pretty plain, indeed, interrupted Sir Charles; but pray, madam, inform me what it is you complain of.
You questionless know much better than I can tell you replied Arabella, blushing, the offence I accuse you of; nor is it proper for me to mention what it would not become me to suffer.
Zounds! cried Sir Charles, no longer able to suppress his growing anger, this is enough to make a man mad.
Ah! I beseech you, sir, resumed Arabella, suffer not an unfortunate and ill-judged passion to be the bane of all your happiness and virtue: recal your wandering thoughts; reflect upon the dishonour you will bring upon yourself by persisting in such unjustifiable sentiments.
I do not know how it is possible to avoid it, said Sir Charles; and, notwithstanding all this fine reasoning, there are few people but would fly into greater extremities; but my affection for you makes me—
Hold! hold! I conjure you, sir; interrupted Arabella; force me not to listen to such injurious language; carry that odious affection somewhere else, and do not persecute an unfortunate maid, who has contributed nothing to thy fault, and is only guilty of too much compassion for thy weakness.
Good God! cried Sir Charles, starting back, and looking upon Arabella with astonishment; how I pity my son! What would I not give if he did not love this girl.
Think not, replied Arabella, that the passion your son has for me makes your condition a bit the worse: for I would be such as I am with II.29 respect to you, were there no Mr. Glanville in the world.
I never thought, niece, said Sir Charles, after a little pause, that any part of my behaviour could give you the offence you complain of, or authorize that hatred and contempt you take the liberty to express for me; but since it is so, I promise you I will quit your house, and leave you to yourself: I have always been solicitous for your welfare; and ungrateful as you are—
Call me not ungrateful, interrupted Arabella again; heaven is my witness, that had you not forgot I was your niece, I would have always remembered you was my uncle; and, not only have regarded you as such, but have looked upon you as another father, under whose direction providence had placed me, since it had deprived me of my real father; and whose tenderness and care might have in some measure supplied the loss I had of him: but heaven has decreed it otherwise; and since it is its will that I should be deprived of the comfort and assistance my orphan state requires, I must submit, without murmuring, to my destiny. Go, then, unfortunate and lamented uncle, pursued she, wiping some tears from her fine eyes; go, and endeavour by reason and absence to recover thy repose; and be assured, whenever you can convince me you have triumphed over these sentiments which now cause both our unhappiness, you shall have no cause to complain of my conduct towards you.
Finishing these words, she left him with so much speed, that it would have been impossible for him to have stopped her, though he had intended it: but indeed he was so lost in wonder and confusion, at a behaviour for which he was not able to assign any other cause than madness, that he remained fixed II.30 in the same posture of surprise, in which she had left him; and from which he was first interrupted by the voice of his son, who, seeing Arabella flying towards the house in great seeming emotion, came to know the result of their conversation.
Sir, said Mr. Glanville, who had spoken to his father before, but had no answer, will you not inform me what success you have had with my cousin? How did she receive your proposal?
Speak of her no more, said Sir Charles; she is a proud ungrateful girl, and unworthy the affection you have for her.
Mr. Glanville, who trembled to hear so unfavourable an answer to his inquiries, was struck dumb with his surprise and grief; when Sir Charles taking notice of the alteration in his countenance—
I am sorry, said he, to find you have set your heart upon this fantastic girl; if ever she be your wife, which I very much doubt, she will make you very unhappy: but, Charles, pursued he, I would advise you to think no more of her; content yourself with the estate you gain by her refusal of you; with that addition to your own fortune, you may pretend to any lady whatever; and you will find many that are fully as agreeable as your cousin, who will be proud of your addresses.
Indeed, sir, said Mr. Glanville, with a sigh, there is no woman upon earth whom I would choose to marry, but Lady Bella; I flattered myself I had been happy enough to have made some progress in her affection; but it seems I was mistaken; however, I should be glad to know, if she gave you any reasons for refusing me.
Reasons, said Sir Charles; there is no making her hear reason, or expecting reason from her; I never knew so strange a woman in my life; she would not II.31 allow me to speak what I intended concerning you; but interrupted me every moment, with some high-flown stuff or other.
Then I have not lost all hopes of her, cried Mr. Glanville, eagerly; for since she did not hear what you had to say, she could not possibly deny you.
But she behaved in a very impertinent manner to me, interrupted Sir Charles; complained of my harsh treatment to her; and said several other things, which, because of her uncommon style, I could not perfectly understand; yet they seemed shocking; and, upon the whole, treated me so rudely, that I am determined to leave her to herself, and trouble my head no more about her.
For God’s sake, dear sir, said Mr. Glanville, alarmed at this resolution, suspend your anger till I have seen my cousin: there is some mistake, I am persuaded, in all this. I know she has some very odd humours, which you are not so well acquainted with, as I am. I’ll go to her, and prevail upon her to explain herself.
You may do so if you please, replied Sir Charles; but I fear it will be to very little purpose; for I really suspect her head is a little turned: I do not know what to do with her; it is not fit she should have the management of herself; and yet it is impossible to live upon easy terms with her.
Mr. Glanville, who did not doubt but Arabella had been guilty of some very ridiculous folly, offered nothing more in her justification; but, having attended his father to his own chamber, went to Arabella’s apartment.
He found the pensive fair-one in a melancholy posture, her head reclined upon one of her fair hands; and though her eyes were fixed upon a book she held in the other, yet she did not seem to read, but rather to be wholly buried in contemplation.II.32
Mr. Glanville having so happily found her alone, (for her women were not then in her chamber) seated himself near her; having first asked pardon for the interruption he had given her studies; and Arabella, throwing aside her book, prepared to listen to his discourse; which by the agitation which appeared in his looks, she imagined would be upon some extraordinary subject.
I left my father just now, said he, in a great deal of uneasiness, on account of something you said to him, Lady Bella; he apprehends you are disobliged, and he would willingly know how.
Has your father then acquainted you with the subject of our conversation? interrupted Arabella.
I know what would have been the subject of your conversation, replied Mr. Glanville, if you had been pleased to listen to what Sir Charles intended to say to you on my behalf.
On your behalf? interrupted Arabella: Ah, poor deceived Glanville! how I pity thy blind sincerity! But it is not for me to undeceive thee: only thus much I may say to you, beware of committing your interests to a person who will be a much better advocate for another than for you.
Mr. Glanville, rejoiced to find, by these words, that her resentment against his father was occasioned by a suspicion so favourable for him, assured her, that Sir Charles wished for nothing more earnestly than that he might be able to merit her esteem; and that it was to dispose her to listen to his addresses, that he wanted to discourse with her this morning.
Mr. Glanville being obliged, through his knowledge of his cousin’s temper, to speak to her in this distant manner, went on with his assurances of his father’s candour in this respect; and Arabella, who would not declare her reasons for doubting it, only II.33 replied, that she wished Sir Charles meant all that he had said to him; but that she could not persuade herself to believe him sincere, till his future actions had convinced her he was so.
Mr. Glanville, impatient to let his father know how greatly he had been mistaken in the cause of Arabella’s behaviour, made his visit shorter than he would otherwise have done, in order to undeceive him.
Is it possible, said Sir Charles, when his son had repeated the conversation he had just had with Arabella, that she should be so foolish as to imagine I had a design to propose any one else to her but you? What reason have I ever given her, to think I would not be glad to have her for my daughter-in-law? Indeed, she has some odd ways that are very disagreeable; but she is one of the best matches in England for all that: poor girl! pursued he, she had reason to be angry, if that was the case; and now I remember, she cried, when I told her I would leave the house; yet her spirit was so great, that she told me I might go. Well, I’ll go and make it up with her; but who could have imagined she would have been so foolish? Sir Charles, at the repetition of these words, hurried away to Arabella’s apartment.
Niece, said he, at his entrance, I am come to ask your pardon, for having led you into a belief, that I meant—
It is enough, sir, interrupted Arabella, I grant you my pardon for what is past; and it does not become me to receive submissions from my uncle, while he remembers he is so. I will dispense with your acknowledgements at present; only to convince me, that this sudden alteration is sincere, avoid, I beseech you, for the future, all occasions of displeasing me.II.34
I protest, cried Sir Charles, that I never intended—
I will not hear you say a word more of your past intentions, interrupted Arabella again; I have forgot them all; and, while you continue to regard me as your niece, I will never remember them to your disadvantage.
Then I may hope——; said Sir Charles.
Oh, heavens! cried Arabella, not suffering him to proceed; do you come to insult me thus, with a mock repentance? And has my easiness in being so ready to forget the injury you would have done me, made you presumptuous to cherish an insolent hope that I will ever change my resolution?
How vexatious is this! replied Sir Charles, fretting to see her continually mistaking him. I swear to you, by all that is sacred, that it is my son, for whom I would solicit your consent!
How! said Arabella, astonished, will you then be just at last? And can you resolve to plead for that son, whose interest, but a moment ago, you would have destroyed?
I see, said Sir Charles, it is impossible to convince you.
No, no! interrupted Arabella, hastily; it is not impossible but my own ardent wishes that it may be so, will help to convince me of the truth of what you say: for, in fine, do you think, I shall not be as glad as yourself, to find you capable of acting honourably by your son; and to see myself no longer the cause of the most unjustifiable conduct imaginable?
Sir Charles was opening his mouth, to press her in favour of Mr. Glanville; whom, notwithstanding her strange behaviour, he was glad to find she loved; when Arabella preventing him—
Seek not, I beseech you, said she, to destroy that II.35 belief I am willing to give your words, by any more attempts at this time to persuade me; for truly, I shall interpret your solicitude no way in your favour; therefore, if you desire I should be convinced you are sincere, let the silence I require of you be one proof of it.
Sir Charles, who looked excessively out of countenance at such a peremptory command from his niece, was going out of her chamber, in a very ill humour, when the dinner-bell ringing, she gave him her hand with a very gracious air; and permitted him to lead her into the dining-room, where they found Mr. Glanville, his sister, and Sir George, who had been detained to dinner by Miss Glanville, expecting their coming.
Containing some account of Thalestris, Queen of the Amazons, with other curious anecdotes.
Lady Bella having recovered her usual cheerfulness through the satisfaction she felt at her uncle’s returning to reason, and the abatement she perceived in Sir George’s extreme melancholy, mixed in the conversation with that wit and vivacity which was natural to her, and which so absolutely charmed the whole company, that not one of them remembered any of her former extravagancies.
Mr. Glanville gazed on her with a passionate tenderness, Sir George with admiration, and the old baronet with wonder and delight.
But Miss Glanville, who was inwardly vexed at the superiority her cousin’s wit gave her over herself, wished for nothing more than an opportunity of II.36 interrupting a conversation in which she could have no share; and willing to put them in mind of some of Arabella’s strange notions, when she observed them disputing concerning some of the actions of the ancient Romans, she very innocently asked Sir George, whether in former times women went to the wars, and fought like men? For my cousin, added she, talks of one Thaltris, a woman, that was as courageous as any soldier whatever.
Mr. Glanville, horridly vexed at a question that was likely to engage Arabella in a discourse very different from that she had been so capable of pleasing in, frowned very intelligibly at his sister; and to prevent any answer being given to her absurd demand, directed some other conversation to Arabella: but she, who saw a favourite subject started, took no notice of what Mr. Glanville was saying to her; but directing her looks to Sir George—
Though Miss Glanville, said she, be a little mistaken in the name of that fair queen she has mentioned, yet I am persuaded you know whom she means, and that it is the renowned Thalestris, whose valour staggers her belief, and of whom she wants to be informed.
Aye, aye, Thalestris, said Miss Glanville: it is such a strange name I could not remember it; but, pray, was there ever such a person?
Certainly, madam, there was, replied Sir George; she was queen of the Amazons, a warlike nation of women, who possessed great part of Cappadocia, and extended their conquests so far, that they became formidable to all their neighbours.
You find, miss, said Arabella, I did not attempt to impose upon you, when I told you of the admirable valour of that beautiful queen; which indeed was so great, that the united princes, in whose cause she fought, looked upon her assistance to be equal II.37 to that of a whole army, and they honoured her accordingly with the most distinguishing marks of their esteem and acknowledgement, and offered her the chief command of their forces.
O shameful! cried Sir Charles, offer a woman the command of an army! Brave fellows, indeed, that would be commanded by a woman! Sure you mistake, niece; there never was such a thing heard of in the world.
What, sir, said Arabella, will you contradict a fact attested by the greatest historians that ever were? You may as well pretend to say, there were never such persons as Oroondates, or Juba, as dispute the existence of the famous Thalestris.
Why, pray, madam, said Sir Charles, who were those?
One of them, replied Arabella, was the great king of Scythia; and the other, prince of the Two Mauritanias.
Ods-heart! interrupted Sir Charles, I believe their kingdoms are in the moon; I never heard of Scythia, or the Two Mauritanias, before.
And yet, sir, replied Arabella, those kingdoms are doubtless as well known as France or England; and there is no question, but the descendants of the great Oroondates, and the valiant Juba, sway the sceptres of them to this day.
I must confess, said Sir George, I have a very great admiration for those two renowned princes, and have read their beautiful exploits with infinite pleasure; notwithstanding which, I am more inclined to esteem the great Artaban than either of them.
Though Artaban, replied Arabella, is, without question, a warrior equal to either of them, and haply no person in the world possessed so sublime a courage as his was; yet, it may be, your partiality II.38 proceeds from another cause; and you having the honour to resemble him in some little infidelities he was accused of, with less justice than yourself perhaps, induces you to favour him more than any other.
Arabella blushed when she ended these words: and Sir George replied, with a sigh—
I have, indeed, the honour, madam, to resemble the great Artaban, in having dared to raise my thoughts towards a divine person, who, with reason, condemns my adorations.
Hey-day! cried Sir Charles, are you going to speak of divine things, after all the fables you have been talking of? Troth, I love to hear young men enter upon such subjects—but pray, niece, who told you Sir George was an infidel?
Mr. Glanville, replied Arabella: and I am inclined to think he spoke truth; for Sir George has never pretended to deny it.
How! interrupted Sir Charles; I am sorry to hear that. I hope you have never, added he, looking at the young baronet, endeavoured to corrupt my son with any of your free-thinking principles: I am for every body having liberty of conscience; but I cannot endure to hear people of your stamp endeavouring to propagate your mischievous notions; and because you have no regard for your own future happiness, disturbing other people in the laudable pursuit of theirs.
We will not absolutely condemn Sir George, said Arabella, till we have heard his history from his own mouth, which he promised some time ago to relate when I desired it.
I do not imagine his history is fit to be heard by ladies, said Sir Charles, for your infidels live a strange kind of life.
However that may be, replied Arabella, we must II.39 not dispense with Sir George from performing his promise; I dare say there are no ladies here who will think the worse of him for freely confessing his faults.
You may answer for yourself, if you please, madam, said Sir Charles; but I hope my girl there will not say as much.
I dare say my cousin is not so rigid, said Arabella; she has too much the spirit of Julia in her to find fault with a little infidelity.
I am always obliged to you for your comparisons, cousin, said Miss Glanville; I suppose this is greatly to my advantage, too.
I assure you, madam, said Sir George, Lady Bella has done you no injury by the comparison she has just now made; for Julia was one of the finest princesses in the world.
Yet she was not free from the suspicion of infidelity, replied Arabella; but though I do not pretend to tax my cousin with that fault, yet it is with a great deal of reason that I say she resembles her in her volatile humour.
I was never thought to be ill-humoured in my life, madam, said Miss Glanville, colouring; and I cannot imagine what reason I have given you for saying I am.
Nay, cousin, said Arabella, I am not condemning your humour; for, to say the truth, there are a great many charms in a volatile disposition; and, notwithstanding the admirable beauty of Julia, it is possible she made as many slaves by her light and airy carriage, as she did by her eyes, though they were the fairest in the world, except the divine Cleopatra’s.
Cleopatra! cried Sir Charles: why she was a gipsy, was she not?II.40
I never heard her called so, said Arabella gravely; and I am apt to believe you are not at all acquainted with her: but pray, pursued she, let us this discourse at present, and prepare to listen to Sir George’s relation of his life; which, I dare say, is full of very extraordinary events—however, sir, added she, directing her speech to the young baronet, I am afraid your modesty will induce you to speak with less candour than you ought, of those great actions, which questionless you have performed; therefore we shall hear your history, with greater satisfaction, from the mouth of your faithful squire, who will not have the same reasons that you have for suppressing what is most admirable in the adventures of your life.
Since it is your pleasure, madam, replied Sir George, to hear my adventures, I will recount them as well as I am able myself, to the end that I may have an opportunity of obliging you by doing some violence to my natural modesty, which will not suffer me to relate things the world have been pleased to speak of to my advantage, without some little confusion.
Then, casting down his eyes, he seemed to be recollecting the most material passages in his life. Mr. Glanville, though he could have wished he had not indulged Arabella in her ridiculous request, was not able to deny himself the diversion of hearing what kind of history he would invent; and therefore resolved to stay and listen to him.
Miss Glanville was highly delighted with the proposal; but Sir Charles, who could not conceive there could be any thing worth listening to, in a young rake’s account of himself, got up with an intention to walk in the garden; when perceiving it rained, he changed his resolution, and resuming his seat, II.41 prepared to listen, as every one else did, to the expected story.
When Sir George, after having paused a quarter of an hour longer, during which all the company observed a profound silence, began his relation in this manner, addressing himself to Arabella.
The first few chapters of this Book are much concerned with the letter Sir George wrote in—inconveniently for the reader—the final chapter of Book Four, p. 230-231 in the previous volume.
if Lady Bella refused to fulfil her father’s desire in this particular, a very considerable estate would descend to him
[But not nearly as considerable as what he would get if Arabella did fulfil her father’s desire, since the Married Women’s Property Act is well over a century away.]
I’ll warrant you, he will be ready to die for joy
text has Ill warrant
[Corrected from 1820 edition. 1752 simply has “I warrant you”.]
you can never persuade me, that it is seemly for ladies to pay visits to men in their beds
[Took the words right out of my mouth. (This is almost literally true. I’d composed a note for earlier in the chapter, but then Miss Glanville came along and said everything I was going to say.)]
Did not the brave Memnon . . . entreat the beautiful Barsina to favour him with a visit?
text has . for ?
[Corrected from 1752.]
Mr. Glanville, extremely pleased
“ARABELLA, TO BELLMOUR.
text has BELMOUR
[Since it is spelled correctly in 1752, I don’t believe the author intended Arabella to misspell Sir George’s name. Anna Laetitita Barbauld must have agreed, since it is also “Bellmour” in the 1820 revised edition.]
Arabella, (who had already reconciled this visit to her first thoughts of him;)
[Typographic trivia: This punctuation, from 1810, matches 1752 and 1799. By 1820, the editor had decided to modernize: omit the comma, and move the semicolon outside the parentheses.]
a character unbecoming the brother of my father
[Brother-in-law of her father. But we won’t quibble.]
it is not fit she should have the management of herself
[It has taken Sir Charles a surprisingly long time to arrive at this conclusion. Since Arabella is a minor, and will be for several more years, why does she have the management of herself?]
In this chapter, the author thoughtfully refers to Sir Charles and Sir George as “the old baronet” and “the young baronet” respectively. Thank you, Charlotte. I appreciate it.
Cleopatra! cried Sir Charles: why she was a gipsy, was she not?
[Like father, like son. The word “gipsy” was previously applied to Cleopatra in Book Three, Chapter III, by Mr. Glanville.]
let us wave this discourse at present
[By the end of the 19th century, the word would resolutely be “waive”.]
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.