Containing the beginning of Sir George’s history; in which the ingenious relater has exactly copied the style of romance.
Though at present, madam, you behold me in the quality of a private gentleman, in the possession only of a tolerable estate, yet my birth is illustrious enough; my ancestors having formerly a crown, which, as they won by their valour, so they lost by their misfortune only.
How, interrupted Sir Charles, are you descended from kings? Why, I never heard you say so before: pray, sir, how far are you removed from royal blood? and which of your forefathers was it that wore a crown?
Sir, replied Sir George, it is not much more than eight hundred years since my ancestors, who were Saxons, swayed the sceptre of Kent; and from the first monarch of that mighty kingdom am I lineally descended.
Pray where may that kingdom of Kent lie? said Sir Charles.
Sir, replied Sir George, it is bounded by Sussex on the south-west; Surry on the west; the English Channel on the south; Dover Straits on the south-east; and the Downs on the east; and it is II.43 divided from Middlesex and Essex on the north by the Thames.
A mighty kingdom, indeed! said Sir Charles: why, it makes but a very small part of the kingdom of Britain now: well, if your ancestors were kings of that county, as it is now called, it must be confessed their dominions were very small.
However that may be, said Arabella, it raises Sir George greatly in my esteem, to hear he is descended from kings; for, truly, a royal extraction does infinitely set off noble and valiant actions, and inspires only lofty and generous sentiments—therefore, illustrious prince, (for in that light I shall always consider you) be assured, though fortune has despoiled you of your dominions, yet since she cannot deprive you of your courage and virtue, Providence will one day assist your noble endeavours to recover your rights, and place you upon the throne of your ancestors, from whence you have been so inhumanly driven; or haply, to repair that loss, your valour may procure you other kingdoms, no less considerable than that to which you was born.
For heaven’s sake, niece, said Sir Charles, how come such improbable things into your head? Is it such an easy matter, think you, to conquer kingdoms, that you can flatter a young man, who has neither fleets nor armies, with such strange hopes?
The great Artaban, sir, resumed Arabella, had neither fleets nor armies, and was master only of a single sword; yet he soon saw himself greater than any king, disposing the destinies of monarchs by his will, and the fates of empires by a single word: but pray let this dispute rest where it is, and permit Sir George to continue his relation.
It is not necessary, madam, resumed Sir George, to acquaint you with the misfortunes of my family, or relate the several progressions it made towards II.44 the private condition in which it now is; for, besides that reciting the events of so many hundred years may haply, in some measure, try your patience, I should be glad if you would dispense with me from entering into a detail of accidents that would sensibly afflict me: it shall suffice, therefore, to inform you, that my father, being a peaceable man, fond of retirement and tranquillity, made no attempts to recover the sovereignty from which his ancestors had been unjustly expelled; but quietly beheld the kingdom of Kent in the possession of other masters, while he contented himself with the improvement of that small pittance of ground, which was all that the unhappy Prince Veridomer, my grandfather, was able to bequeath to him.
Hey-day! cried Sir Charles, will you new-christen your grandfather, when he has been in his grave these forty years; I knew honest Sir Edward Bellmour very well, though I was but a youth when he died; but I believe no person in Kent ever gave him the title of Prince Veridomer: Fie! fie! these are idle brags.
Sir George, without taking notice of the old baronet’s heat, went on with his narration in this manner—
Things were in this state, madam, when I was born. I will not trouble you with the relation of what I did in my infancy.
No, pray skip over all that, interrupted Sir Charles; I suppose your infancy was like other people’s; what can there be worth hearing in that?
You are deceived, sir, said Arabella; the infancy of illustrious personages has always something very extraordinary in it; and from their childish words and actions there have been often presages drawn of their future greatness and glory.
Not to disoblige Sir Charles, however, said the II.45 young prince of Kent, I will not repeat many things which I said and did in the first years of my life, that those about me thought very ; and from them prognosticated that very strange accidents would befal me.
I have been a witness of some very unfavourable prognostics of you, said Sir Charles, smiling; for you was the most unlucky bold spark that ever I knew in my life.
It is very certain, pursued Sir George, that the forwardness of my spirit gave great uneasiness to my father; who being, as I said before, inclinable to a peaceable and sedentary life, endeavoured as much as possible to repress that vivacity in my disposition, which he feared might involve me in dangerous enterprises. The pains he took in my education, I recompensed by a more than ordinary docility; and before I was thirteen, performed all my exercises with a marvellous grace, and, if I may dare say so, was, at those early years, the admiration and wonder of all that saw me.
Lady Bella had some reason to fear your modesty I find, said Sir Charles, smiling; for, methinks you really speak too slightly of your excellencies.
However that may be, resumed Sir George; my father saw these early instances of a towering genius in me, with a pleasure, chastened by his fears, that the grandeur of my courage would lead me to attempt something for the recovery of that kingdom, which was my due, and which might haply occasion his losing me.
Possessed with these thoughts, he carefully avoided saying any thing to me concerning the glorious pretences to which my birth gave me a right; and often wished it had been possible for him to conceal from me, that I was the true and lawful heir of the kingdom of Kent; a circumstance he never chose II.46 to mention to any person, and would have been glad if it had always remained a secret.
And so it was a secret, interrupted Sir Charles; for, till this day, I never heard of it; and it might still have been a secret if you had pleased; for nobody, I dare say, would suspect such a thing; and very few, I believe, will be inclined to think there is any thing in such an improbable tale.
Notwithstanding all my father’s endeavours to the contrary, madam, pursued Sir George, I cherished those towering sentiments the knowledge of my birth inspired me with; and it was not without the utmost impatience that I brooked the private condition to which I found myself reduced.
Cruel fate, would I sometimes cry; was it not enough to deprive me of that kingdom, which is my due, and subject me to a mean and inglorious state; but to make that condition infinitely more grievous, must thou give me a soul towering above my abject fortune? A soul, that cannot but disdain the base submission I must pay to those who triumph in the spoils of my ruined house? A soul, which sees nothing above its hopes and expectations? And, in fine, a soul, that excites me daily to attempt things worthy of my birth, and those noble sentiments I inherit from my great forefathers? Ah! pursued I, unhappy Bellmour; what hinders thee from making thyself known and acknowledged for what thou art? What hinders thee from boldly asserting thy just and natural rights; and from defying the usurper, who detains them from thee? What hinders thee, I say?
What? interrupted Sir Charles; why the fear of a halter, I suppose: there is nothing more easy than to answer that question.
Such, madam, said Sir George, were the thoughts which continually disturbed my imagination; and, II.47 doubtless, they had not failed to push me on to some hazardous enterprise, had not a fatal passion interposed; and by its sweet, but dangerous allurements, stifled for a while that flame which ambition, and the love of glory, kindled in my soul.
Sir George here pausing, and fixing his eyes with a melancholy air on the ground, as if prest with a tender
Mr. Glanville asked him, smiling, if the thoughts of poor Dolly disturbed him? Pray, added he, give us the history of your first love, without any mixture of fable; or shall I take the trouble off you? For you know, I am very well acquainted with your affair with the pretty milk-maid, and can tell it very succinctly.
It is true, sir, said Sir George, sighing, I cannot recal the idea of Dorothea into my remembrance without some pain; that fair but unfaithful shepherdess, who first taught me to sigh, and repaid my tenderness with the blackest infidelity; yet I will endeavour to compose myself, and go on with my narration.
Be pleased to know, then, madam, pursued Sir George, that having my thoughts, in this manner, wholly employed with the disasters of my family, I had arrived to my seventeenth year, without being sensible of the power of love; but the moment now arrived, which was to prove fatal to my liberty. Following the chase one day with my father, and some other gentlemen, I happened to lag a little behind them; and, being taken up with my ordinary reflections, I lost my way, and a long time, without knowing or considering whither I was going. Chance at last conducted me to a pleasant valley, surrounded with trees; and, being tired with riding, I alighted, and tying my horse to a tree, walked forward, with an intention to repose myself II.48 a few moments under the shade of one of those trees, that had attracted my observation: but while I was looking for the most convenient place, I spied, at the distance of some few yards from me a woman lying asleep upon the grass. Curiosity tempted me to go nearer this person; and, advancing softly, that I might not disturb her, I got near enough to have a view of her person; but, ah! heavens! what wonders did my eyes encounter in this view!—The age of this fair sleeper seemed not to exceed sixteen; her shape was formed with the exactest symmetry; one of her hands supported her head; the other, as it lay carelessly stretched at her side, gave me an opportunity of admiring its admirable colour and proportion. The thin covering upon her neck discovered part of its inimitable beauty to my eyes; but her face, her lovely face, fixed all my attention.
Certain it is, madam, that, out of this company, it would be hard to find any thing so perfect as what I now viewed. Her complexion was the purest white imaginable, heightened by the enchanting glow, which dyed her fair cheeks with a colour like that of a new-blown rose: her lips, formed with the greatest perfections, and of a deeper red, seemed to receive new beauties from the fragrance of that breath that parted from them. Her auburn hair fell in loose ringlets over her neck; and some straggling curls, that played upon her fair forehead, set off by a charming contrast the whiteness of that skin it partly hid: her eyes indeed were closed; and though I knew not whether their colour and beauty were equal to those other miracles in her face, yet their proportion seemed to be large; and the snowy lids, which covered them, were admirably set off by those long and sable lashes that adorned them.
For some moments I gazed upon this lovely sleeper, wholly lost in wonder and admiration.II.49
Where, whispered I, where has this miracle been concealed, that my eyes were never blessed with the sight of her before? These words, though I uttered them softly, and with the utmost caution, yet by the murmuring noise they made, caused an emotion in the beauteous sleeper, that she started, and presently after opened her eyes: but what words shall I find to express the wonder, the astonishment, and rapture, which the sight of those bright stars inspired me with? The flames which darted from those glorious orbs, cast such a dazzling splendor upon a sight too weak to bear a radiance so unusual, that stepping back a few paces, I contemplated at a distance that brightness which began already to kindle a consuming fire in my soul.
Bless me, interrupted Sir Charles, confounded at so pompous a description; who could this be?
The pretty milk-maid, Dolly Acorn, replied Mr. Glanville, gravely: did you never see her, sir, when you was at your seat, at ——? She used often to bring cream to my lady.
Aye, aye, replied Sir Charles, I remember her; she was a very pretty girl. And so it was from her eyes that all those splendors and flames came, that had like to have burnt you up, Sir George? Well, well, I guess how the story will end: pray let us hear it out.
I have already told you, madam, resumed Sir George, the marvellous effects the sight of those bright eyes produced upon my spirit: I remained fixed in a posture of astonishment and delight; and all the faculties of my soul were so absorbed in the contemplation of the miracles before me, that I believe, had she still continued before my eyes, I should never have moved from the place where I then stood; but the fair virgin, who had spied me at the small distance to which I was retired, turned II.50 hastily about, and flew away with extraordinary swiftness.
When love, now lending me wings, whom admiration had before made motionless, I pursued her so eagerly, that at last I overtook her; and, throwing myself upon my knees before her,—
Stay, I conjure you, cried I; and if you be a divinity, as your celestial beauty makes me believe, do not refuse the adoration I offer you: but if, as I most ardently wish, you are a mortal, though sure the fairest that ever graced the earth; stop a moment, to look upon a man, whose respects for you as a mortal fall little short of those adorations he offers you as a goddess.
I can’t but think, cried Sir Charles, laughing, how poor Dolly must be surprised at such a rhodomontade speech!
Oh, sir! replied Mr. Glanville, you will find she will make as good a one.
Will she, by my troth? said Sir Charles: I don’t know how to believe it.
This action, pursued Sir George, and the words I uttered, a little surprised the fair maid, and brought a blush into her lovely cheeks; but recovering herself, she replied with an admirable grace—
I am no divinity, said she; and therefore your adorations are misplaced: but if, as you say, my countenance moves you to any respect for me, give me a proof of it, by not endeavouring to hold any farther discourse with me, which is not permitted me from one of your sex and appearance.
A very wise answer, indeed! interrupted Sir Charles again. Very few town-ladies would have disclaimed the title of goddess, if their lovers had thought proper to bestow it upon them. I am mightily pleased with the girl for her ingenuity.
The discretion of so young a damsel, resumed II.51 Sir George, charmed me no less than her beauty; and I besought her, with the utmost earnestness, to permit me a longer conversation with her.
Fear not, lovely virgin, said I, to listen to the vows of a man, who, till he saw you, never learnt to sigh: my heart, which defended its liberty against the charms of many admirable ladies, yields, without reluctance, to the pleasing violence your beauties lay upon me. Yes, too charming and dangerous stranger, I am no longer my own master; it is in your power to dispose of my destiny; consider therefore, I beseech you, whether you can consent to see me die; for I swear to you, by the most sacred oaths, unless you promise to have some compassion on me, I will no longer behold the light of day.
You may easily conceive, madam, that, considering this lovely maid in the character of a shepherdess, in which she appeared, I made her a declaration of my passion, without thinking myself obliged to observe those respects, which to a person of equal rank with myself, decorum would not have permitted me to forget.
However, she repelled my boldness with so charming a modesty, that I began to believe she might be a person of illustrious birth, disguised under the mean habit she wore: but, having requested her to inform me who she was, she told me her name was Dorothea; and that she was daughter to a farmer that lived in the valley. This knowledge increasing my confidence, I talked to her of my passion, without being the least afraid of offending her.
And therein you was greatly to blame, said Arabella: for, truly, though the fair Dorothea told you the was daughter to a farmer, yet, in all probability, II.52 she was of a much higher extraction, if the picture you have drawn of her be true.
The fair Arsinoe, Princess of Armenia, was constrained for a while to conceal her true name and quality, and pass for a simple country-woman, under the name of Delia: yet the generous Philadelph, Prince of Cilicia, who saw and loved her under that disguise, treated her with all the respect he would have done, had he known she was the daughter of a king. In like manner, Prince Philoxipes, who fell in love with the beautiful Policrete, before he knew she was the daughter of the great Solon, and while he looked upon her as a poor stranger, born of mean parents; nevertheless, his love supplying the want of those advantages of birth and fortune, he wooed her with a passion as full of awe and delicacy, as if her extraction had been equal to his own. And therefore those admirable qualities the fair Dorothea possessed, might also have convinced you she was not what she seemed, but, haply, some great princess in disguise.
To tell you the truth, madam, replied Sir George, notwithstanding the fair Dorothea informed me she was of a mean descent, I could not easily forego the opinion that she was of an illustrious birth; and the histories of those fair princesses you have mentioned, coming into my mind, I also thought it very possible, that this divine person might either be the daughter of a great king, or law-giver, like them; but, being wholly engrossed by the violence of my new-born affection, I listened to nothing but what most flattered my hopes; and, addressing my lovely shepherdess with all the freedom of a person who thinks his birth much superior to hers, she listened to my protestations, without any seeming reluctance, and condescended to assure me before II.53 we parted, that she did not hate me. So fair a beginning, seemed to promise me the most favourable fortune I could with reason expect. I parted from my fair shepherdess with a thousand vows of fidelity; exacting a promise from her, that she would meet me, as often as she conveniently could, and have the goodness to listen to those assurances of inviolable tenderness my passions prompted me to offer her. When she left me, it seemed as if my soul had forsaken my body to go after her; my eyes pursued her steps as long as she was in sight; I envied the ground she prest as she went along, and the breezes that kissed that celestial countenance in their flight.
For some hours I stood in the same posture in which she had left me; contemplating the sudden change I had experienced in my heart, and the beauty of that divine image, which was now engraved in it. Night drawing on, I began to think of going home; and, untying my horse, I returned the way I had come: and at last struck into a road which brought me to the place where I parted from the company; from whence I easily found my way home, so changed both in my looks and carriage, that my father, and all my friends, observed the alteration with some surprise.II.54
In which Sir George, continuing his surprising history, relates a most stupendous instance of a valour only to be paralleled by that of the great Oroondates, Cæsario, &c. &c. &c.
For some months, continued Sir George, I prosecuted my addresses to the admirable Dorothea; and I flattered myself with a hope that I had made some progress in her heart: but, alas! this deceitful fair one, who only laughed at the torments she made me endure at the time she vowed eternal constancy to me, gave her hand to a lover of her father’s providing, and abandoned me, without remorse, to the most cruel despair.
I will not trouble you, madam, with the repetition of those complaints which this perfidious action drew from me for a long time. At length, my courage enabling me to overcome the violence of my I resolved to think of the ungrateful Dorothea no more; and the sight of another beauty completing my cure, I no longer remembered the unfaithful shepherdess but with indifference.
Thus, madam, have I faithfully related one of those infidelities wherewith my enemies slander me; who can support their assertion with no better proof than that I did not die when Dorothea abandoned me: but I submit it to your candour, whether an unfaithful mistress deserved such an instance of affection from a lover she had betrayed?
Why, really, replied Arabella, after a little pause, you had some excuse to plead for your failure in this point: and though you cannot be called the most perfect amongst lovers, seeing you neither died, nor was in danger of dying; yet neither II.55 ought you to be ranked among those who are most culpable. But pray proceed in your story; I shall be better able to form a right judgment of your merit as a lover, when I have heard all your adventures.
My passion for Dorothea, resumed Sir George, being cured by her treachery towards me, the love of glory began again to revive in my soul. I panted after some occasion to signalize my valour, which yet I had met with no opportunity of doing; but hearing that a mighty army was preparing to march upon a secret expedition, I privately quitted my father’s seat; and attended only by my faithful squire, I took the same route the army had taken, and arrived the day before the terrible battle of ———— was fought, where, without making myself known, I performed such prodigies of valour as astonished all who beheld me. Without doubt I should have been highly caressed by the commander, who certainly would have given me the honour of a victory my sword alone had procured for him; but having unwittingly engaged myself too far in pursuit of the flying enemy, I found myself alone, encompassed with a party of about five hundred men, who, seeing they were pursued only by a single man, faced about, and prepared to kill or take me prisoner.
Pray, sir, interrupted Sir Charles, when did all this happen? and how came it to pass that your friends have been ignorant to this moment of those prodigies of valour you performed at that battle? I never heard you was ever in a battle. Fame has done you great injustice by concealing the part you had in that famous victory.
The great care I took to conceal myself, replied Sir George, was one reason why my friends did not attribute to me the exploits which the knight in II.56 black armour, who was no other than myself, performed; and the accident I am going to relate prevented my being discovered, while the memory of those great exploits were yet fresh in the minds of those I had so greatly obliged.
Be pleased to know, therefore, madam, that seeing myself about to be encompassed by this party of the enemy, I disdained to fly; and, though I was alone, resolved to sustain their attack, and sell my life as dear as possible.
Why if you did so, you was a madman, cried Sir Charles, in a heat: the bravest man that ever lived would not have presumed to fight with so great a number of enemies. What could you expect but to be cut in pieces? Pooh! pooh! don’t think any body will credit such a ridiculous tale; I never knew you was so addicted to—
Lying, perhaps, the good knight would have said; but Sir George, who was concerned he was present at his legend, and could not blame him for doubting his veracity, prevented his utterance of a word he would be obliged to take ill, by abruptly going on with his story.
Placing my back therefore against a tree, pursued he, to prevent my being assaulted behind, I presented my shield to the boldest of these assailants; who, having struck an impotent blow upon it, as he was lifting up his arm to renew his attack, I cut it off with one stroke of my sword, and the same instant plunged it to the hilt in the breast of another, and clove the skull of a third, who was making at me, in two parts.
Sir Charles, at this relation, burst into a loud fit of laughter; and being more inclined to divert himself, than be offended at the folly and vanity of the young baronet, he permitted him to go on with his II.57 surprising story without giving him any other interruption.
These three executions, madam, pursued Sir George, were the effects only of so many blows, which raised such indignation in my enemies, that they prest forward in great numbers to destroy me; but having, as I before said, posted myself so advantageously, that I could only be assaulted before, not more than three or four could attack me at one time. The desire of lengthening out my life, till happily some succour might come to my relief, so invigorated my arm, and added to my ordinary strength an almost irresistible force, that I dealt death at every blow; and in less than a quarter of an hour, saw more than fifty of my enemies at my feet, whose bodies served for a bulwark against their swords.
The commander of this little body not having generosity enough to be moved with these prodigious effects of valour in my favour, was transported with rage at my resistance; and the sight of so many of his men slain before his face, served only to increase his fury; and that moment, seeing that, with two more blows, I had sent two of his most valiant soldiers to the shades, and that the rest, fearing to come within the length of my sword, had given me a few moments respite—
Ah! cowards! cried he, are you afraid of a single man? And will you suffer him to escape from your vengeance, who has slain so many of your brave comrades before your eyes?
These words inspiring them with a fierceness such as he desired, they advanced towards me with more fury than before. By this time I had received several large wounds, and my blood ran down from many parts of my body; yet was I not sensible of any decay of strength, nor did the settled II.58 designs of my enemies to destroy me, daunt me in the least. I still relied upon the assistance I expected Providence would send to my relief, and determined, if possible, to preserve my life till it arrived.
I fought, therefore, with a resolution which astonished my enemies, but did not move them to any regard for my safety: and observing their brutal commander a few paces from me encouraging his men, both with his cries and gestures, indignation against this inhuman wretch so transported me out of my discretion, that I quitted my post, in order to sacrifice him to my revenge.
Seeing me advance furiously towards him, he turned pale with fear, and endeavoured to shelter himself in the midst of his men, who, more valiant than himself, opposed themselves to my rage to favour his retreat; but quickly clearing myself a way with my sword, I pressed towards the barbarous coward, and, ere he could avoid the blow I aimed at him, it struck him senseless at my feet.
My particular revenge thus satisfied, I was sensible of the fault I had committed in quitting my post, by which I exposed myself to be surrounded by the enemy. I endeavoured to regain it, but in vain; I was beset on all sides, and now despaired of any safety; and therefore only sought to die courageously, and make as many of my enemies as I could attend my fall.
Exasperated by the misfortunes of their commander, they pressed upon me with redoubled fury. Faint as I was with the loss of blood, and so fatigued with the past action, and the obstinate fight I had maintained so long with such a considerable slumber, I could hardly any longer lift up my arm; and, to complete my misfortune, having thrust my sword into the body of one of the forwardest of my II.59 enemies, in my endeavouring to regain it, it broke in pieces, and the hilt only remained in my hand.
This accident completed my defeat: deprived of my sword, I was no longer capable of making any defence; several of them pressed upon me at once, and throwing me down, tied my hands together behind me. Shame and rage at this indignity worked so forcibly upon my spirits, weakened as I then was, that I fell into a swoon. What happened till my recovery I am not able to tell; but at the return of my senses, I found myself laid on a bed in a tolerable chamber, and some persons with me, who kept a profound silence.
A love adventure, after the romantic taste.
Recollecting in a few moments all that happened to me, I could not chuse but be surprised at finding myself treated with so little severity, considering I was prisoner to persons who had been witnesses of the great quantity of blood I had shed in my own defence. My wounds had been dressed while I continued in my swoon; and the faces of those persons who were about me expressed nothing of unkindness.
After reflecting some time longer on my situation, I called to a young man who sat near my bed side, and entreated him to inform me where I was, and to whom I was a prisoner; but could get no other answer to those questions than a most civil entreaty to compose myself, and not protract the cure of my wounds by talking, which the surgeons had declared would be of a bad consequence; and II.60 had therefore ordered me to be as little disturbed as possible.
Notwithstanding this remonstrance, I repeated my request, promising to be entirely governed by them for the future in what regarded my health, provided they would satisfy me in those particulars: but my attendant did not so much as reply to those importunities; but, to prevent the continuance of them, rose from his seat, and retired to the other end of the chamber.
I passed that day and several others without being able to learn the truth of my condition. All this time I was diligently waited on by the two persons I had first seen, neither of whom I could prevail upon to inform me of what I desired to know; and judging by this obstinate reserve, and the manner of my treatment, that there was some mystery in the case, I forbore to ask them any more questions, conceiving they had particular orders not to answer them.
The care that was taken to forward my cure, in three weeks entirely restored me to health. I longed impatiently to know what was to be my destiny, and busied myself in conjecturing it in vain; when one morning an elderly lady entered my chamber, at whose appearance my two attendants retired.
After she had saluted me very civilly, and inquired after my health, she seated herself in a chair near my bed-side, and spoke to me in this manner—
I make no question, sir, but you are surprised at the manner in which you have been treated, and the care there has been taken to prevent discovering to you the place where you now are; but you will doubtless be more surprised to hear you are in the fortress of ————, and in the house of Prince Marcomire, whose party you fought against alone, and II.61 whom you so dangerously wounded before you was taken prisoner by his men.
Is it possible, madam, said I, who from the first moment of her appearance had been in a strange perplexity, is it possible I am in the house of a man whose life I endeavoured so eagerly to destroy? And is it to him, who oppressed me so basely with numbers, that I am obliged for the succour I have received?
It is not to him, replied the lady, that you are obliged for the favourable treatment you have had; but listen to me patiently, and I will disclose the truth of your adventure.
Prince Marcomire, who was the person that headed that party against which you so valiantly defended yourself, after the loss of the battle, was hastening to throw himself into this place, where his sister, and many ladies of quality, had come for security: your indiscreet pursuit engaged you in the most unequal combat that ever was fought; and—
Nay, sir, interrupted Arabella, though I do not refuse to give you all the praises your gallant defence of yourself against five hundred men deserves; yet I cannot agree with that lady, in saying, it was the most unequal combat that ever was fought: for, do but reflect, I beseech you, upon that which the brave prince of Mauritania sustained against twice that number of men, with no other arms than his sword; and, you having been in battle that day, was, as I conceive, completely armed. The young prince of Egypt, accompanied only by the valiant, but indiscreet, Cepio his friend, engaged all the king of Armenia’s guards, and put them all to flight. The courageous Ariobasanes scorned to turn his back upon a whole army; not to mention the invincible Artaban, whom a thousand II.62 armies together could not have made to turn.
Be pleased to observe, madam, said Sir George, that to the end I may faithfully recount my history, I am under the necessity of repeating things, which, haply, may seem too advantageous for a man to say of himself: therefore I, indeed, greatly approve of the custom, which, no doubt, this inconveniency introduced, of a ’squire, who is thoroughly instructed with the secrets of his master’s heart, relating his adventures, and giving a proper eulogium of his rare valour, without being in danger of offending the modesty of the renowned knight; who, as you know, madam, upon those occasions, commodiously slips away.
It being, however, this lady’s opinion, that no man ever undertook a more hazardous combat, or with greater odds against him, she did not fail to express her admiration of it in very high terms.
The noise of this accident, pursued she, was soon spread over the whole town; and the beautiful Sydimiris, Marcomire’s sister, hearing that her brother was wounded, as it was thought, to death, and that the person who killed him was taken prisoner, she flew out to meet her wounded brother, distracted with grief, and vowing to have the severest tortures executed on him who had thus barbarously murdered her brother. Those who bore that unhappy prince, having brought him into the house, his wounds were searched; and the surgeons declared they were very dangerous.
Sydimiris, hearing this, redoubled her complaints and vows of vengeance against you: her brother having then the chief authority in the place, she commanded, in his name, to have you brought hither, and to be most strictly guarded; II.63 determined, if her brother died, to sacrifice you to his ghost.
Full of these sanguinary resolutions, she left his chamber, having seen him laid in bed, and his wounds dressed; but passing along the gallery, to her own apartment, she met the persons who were bringing you to the room that was to be your prison. You was not, pursued the lady, yet recovered from your swoon, so that they carried you like one that was dead: they had taken off your helmet to give you air, by which means your face, being quite uncovered, pale, languishing, and your eyes closed, as if in death, presented the most moving, and, at the same time, most pleasing object in the world.
Sydimiris, who stopt, and for a moment eagerly gazed upon you, lost all of a sudden the fierceness which before had animated her against you; and lifting up her eyes to view those men that carried you—
Are you sure, said she to them, that this is the person who wounded my brother?
Yes, madam, replied one of them; this must be be, since there was no other in his company; and he alone sustained the attack of five hundred men; and would probably not have left one of them alive, had not his sword, by breaking, put it into our power to take him prisoner.
Carry him away, said Sydimiris; but let his wounds be dressed, and let him be carefully looked to, that, if my brother dies, he may be punished as he deserves.
Pronouncing these words in a low and faltering voice, she turned her eyes a second time upon you; then, hastily averting her looks, she hurried to her own chamber, and threw herself into a chair, with all the marks of a very great disturbance.II.64
The affection I have for her, being the person who had brought her up, and most favoured with her confidence, made me behold her in this condition with great concern; and supposing it was her brother that disquieted her, I besought her not to give way to the violence of her grief, but to hope that heaven would restore him to her prayers.
Alas! my dear Urinoe, said she, I am more culpable than you can imagine; and I grieve less for the condition to which I see Marcomire reduced, than for that moderation wherewith I am constrained, spite of myself, to behold his enemy.
Yes, dear Urinoe, pursued she, blushing, and casting down her eyes, the actions of this unknown appear to me in quite another light since I have seen him; and, instead of looking upon him as the murderer of my brother, I cannot help admiring that rare valour with which he defended himself against so great a number of his enemies; and am even ready to condemn the furious Marcomire for oppressing so brave a man.
As I had never approved of those violent transports of grief and rage, which she had expressed upon the first news of her brother’s misfortune; and as I looked upon your glorious defence with the utmost admiration, so far from condemning the change of her thoughts, I confirmed her in the favourable opinion she began to entertain of you; and, continuing to make remarks upon all the particulars of the combat, which had come to our knowledge, we found nothing in your behaviour but what increased our admiration.
Sydimiris therefore, following the dictates of her own generosity, as well as my advice, placed two persons about you, whose fidelity we could rely on, and gave them orders to treat you with all imaginable care and respect, but not to inform you of the II.65 place in which you was, or to whom you was prisoner.
In the mean time Marcomire, whose wounds had been again examined, was declared out of danger by the surgeons; and he having understood the excess of his sister’s grief, and the revenge she had vowed against you, gave her thanks for those expressions of her tenderness; and also uttered some threats, which intimated a violent hatred against you, and a design of prosecuting his revenge upon you, as soon as he was in a condition to leave his chamber.
Sydimiris, who heard him, could with difficulty dissemble her concern.
Ah! Urinoe, said she to me, when we were alone; it is now, that I more than ever repent of that excess of rage which transported me against the brave unknown. I have thereby put him entirely into my brother’s power, and shall be haply accessary to that death he is meditating for him, or else a perpetual imprisonment.
This reflection gave her so much pain, that I could not choose but pity her; and considering that the only way to preserve you, was for her to dissemble a rage equal to Marcomire’s against you, in order to prevent being suspected of any design in your favour, I persuaded her to join with him in every thing he said; while, in the mean time, we would endeavour to get you cured of your wounds, that you might at least be in a once more to defend yourself with that miraculous valour heaven has bestowed on you.
Sydimiris perceiving her brother would soon be in a condition to execute his threats, resolved to hazard every thing, rather than to expose you to his rage: she therefore communicated to me her design of giving you liberty, and by presenting a II.66 sufficient reward to your guard, induce them to favour your escape.
I undertook to manage this business in her name, and have done it so effectually, that you will this night be at liberty, and may depart the town immediately; in which it will be dangerous to stay any time, for fear of being discovered.
Sydimiris forbade me to let you know the person to whom you would be obliged for your freedom; but I could not endure that you should unjustly involve the sister of Marcomire in that resentment you will questionless always preserve against him; and to keep you from being innocently guilty of ingratitude, I resolved to acquaint you with the nature of those obligations you owe to her.
The adventure continued.
Ah, madam! said I, observing she had finished her discourse, doubt not but I shall most gratefully preserve the remembrance of what the generous Sydimiris has done for me; and shall always be ready to lose that life in her defence, which she has had the superlative goodness to take so much care of. But, madam, pursued I, with an earnest look, do not, I beseech you, refuse me one favour, without which I shall depart with inconceivable sorrow.
Depend upon it, valiant sir, replied she, that if what you will require of me, be in my power, and fit for me to grant, I shall very willingly oblige you.
It is then, resumed I, trembling at the boldness of my request, that you would condescend to entreat II.67 the most generous Sydimiris to favour me with an interview, and give me an opportunity of throwing myself at her feet, to thank her for all those favours I have received from her compassion.
I cannot promise you, replied the lady, rising, to prevail upon Sydimiris to grant you an audience; but I assure you, that I will endeavour to dispose her to do you this favour; and it shall not be my fault if you are not satisfied.
Saying this, she went out of my chamber, I having followed her to the door, with protestations that I would never forget her kindness upon this occasion.
I past the rest of that day in an anxious impatience for night, divided between fear and hope, and more taken up with the thoughts of seeing Sydimiris, than with my expected liberty.
Night came at last, and the door of my apartment opening, I saw the lady who had been with me in the morning enter.
I have prevailed upon Sydimiris to see you, said she; and she is willing, at my entreaty, to give that favour to a person who, she with reason thinks, has been inhumanly treated by her brother.
Then giving me her hand, she conducted me along a large gallery, to a stately apartment; and after traversing several rooms, she led me into one where Sydimiris herself was; who, as soon as she perceived me, rose from her seat, and received me with great civility.
In the transport I then was, I know not how I returned the graceful salute the incomparable Sydimiris gave me; for most certain it is, that I was so lost in wonder, at the sight of the many charms I beheld in her person, that I could not unlock my tongue, or remove my eyes from her enchanting II.68 face; but remained fixed in a posture which at once expressed my admiration and delight.
To give you a description of that beauty which I then contemplated, I must inform you, madam, that Sydimiris is tall, of a handsome stature, and admirably proportioned; her hair was of the finest black in the world; her complexion marvellously fair; all the lineaments of her visage were perfectly beautiful; and her eyes, which were large and black, sparkled with so quick and piercing a fire, that no heart was able to resist their powerful glances: moreover, Sydimiris is admirably shaped; her port is high and noble; and her air so free, yet so commanding, that there are few persons in the world with whom she may not dispute the priority of beauty. In fine, madam, Sydimiris appeared with so many advantages to a spirit prepossessed already with the most grateful sense of her favours, that I could not resist the sweet violence wherewith her charms took possession of my heart: I yielded, therefore, without reluctance, to my destiny, and resigned myself, in an instant, to those fetters, which the sight of the divine Sydimiris prepared for me: recovering therefore a little from that admiration which had so totally engrossed all my faculties, I threw myself at her feet with an action wholly composed of transport.
Divine Sydimiris! said I, beholding her with eyes in which the letters of my new-born passion might very plainly be read, see at your feet a man devoted to your service by all the ties of gratitude and respect. I come, madam, to declare to you, that from the first moment you gave me liberty, I had devoted that and my life to you; and at your feet I confirm the gift, protesting by all that is most dear and sacred to me, that since I II.69 hold my life from the divine Sydimiris, she alone shall have the absolute disposal of it for the future; and should she please again to demand it, either to appease her brother’s fury, or to sacrifice it to her own security, I will most faithfully perform her will, and shed the last drop of that blood at her command which I would with transport lose in her defence!
A fine high-flown speech, indeed! said Sir Charles, laughing. But I hope you did not intend to keep your word.
Sure, sir, replied Arabella, you do not imagine that Sir George would have failed in executing all he had promised to the beautiful and generous Sydimiris: what could he possibly have said less? And indeed what less could she have expected from a man, whom, at the hazard of her own life and happiness, she had given freedom to?
I accompanied these words, madam, pursued Sir George, with so passionate a look and accent, that the fair Sydimiris blushed, and for a moment cast down her eyes with a visible confusion. At last—
Sir, replied she, I am too well satisfied with what I have done with respect to your safety, to require any proofs of your gratitude that might be dangerous to it; and shall remain extremely well satisfied, if the obligations you think you owe me may induce you to moderate your resentment against my brother, for the cruel treatment you received from him.
Doubt not, madam, interrupted I, eagerly, but I shall, in the person of Marcomire, regard the brother of the divine Sydimiris; and that consideration will be sufficient not only to make me forget all the violences he committed against me, but even to defend his life, if need be, with the hazard of my own.II.70
Excessively generous indeed! said Sir Charles: I never heard any thing like it.
Oh! dear sir, replied Arabella, there are numberless instances of equal and even superior generosity to be met with in the lives of the heroes of antiquity: you will there see a lover, whose mistress has been taken from him either by treachery or force, venture his life in defence of the injurious husband who possesses her; and though all his felicity depends upon his death, yet he will rescue him from it at the expence of the greater part of his blood.
Another, who after a long and bloody war, has, by taking his enemy prisoner, an opportunity of terminating it honourably; yet, through an heroic principle of generosity, he gives his captive liberty without making any conditions, and has all his work to do over again.
A third, having contracted a violent friendship for the enemies of his country, through the same generous sentiments, draws his sword in their defence, and makes no scruple to fight against an army where the king his father is in person.
I must confess, said Sir Charles, that generosity seems to me very peculiar that will make a man fight for his enemies against his own father.
It is in that peculiarity, sir, said Arabella, that his generosity consists; for certainly there is nothing extraordinary in fighting for one’s father and one’s country; but when a man has arrived to such a pitch of greatness of soul as to neglect those mean and selfish considerations, and, loving virtue in the persons of his enemies, can prefer their glory before his own particular interest, he is then a perfect hero indeed: such an one was Oroondates, Artaxerxes, and many others I could name, who all gave eminent proofs of their disinterestedness and greatness II.71 of soul upon the like occasions; therefore, not to detract from Sir George’s merit, I must still insist, that in the resolutions he had taken to defend his enemy’s life at the expence of his own, he did no more than what any man of ordinary generosity ought to do, and what he was particularly obliged to, by what the amiable Sydimiris had done for him.
I was happy, however, madam, continued Sir George, to find that those expressions of my gratitude wrought somewhat upon the heart of the lovely Sydimiris in my favour: her words discovered as much, and her eyes spoke yet more intelligibly; but our conversation was interrupted by the discreet Urinoe, who, fearing the consequence of so long a stay in her chamber, represented to me that it was time to take my leave.
I turned pale at this cruel sound; and beholding Sydimiris with a languishing look—
Would to heaven, madam, said I, that instead of giving me liberty, you would keep me eternally your prisoner; for though a dungeon was to be the place of my confinement, yet, if it was near you, it would seem a palace to me; for indeed I am no longer in a condition to relish that freedom you bestow upon me, since it must remove me farther from you. But I beseech you, madam, to believe, that in delivering me from your brother’s fetters, you have cast me into your own, and that I am more a prisoner than ever, but a prisoner to so lovely a conqueror, that I do not wish to break my chains, and prefer the sweet and glorious captivity I am in to all the crowns in the world.
You are very bold, said Sydimiris, blushing, to entertain me with such discourse; yet I pardon this offence, in consideration of what you have suffered from my brother, and on condition that you II.72 will depart immediately without speaking another word.
Sydimiris spoke this so earnestly, that I durst not disobey her; and kissing the hem of her robe with a passionate air, I left her chamber, conducted by Urinoe, who having brought me to a private door, which carried us into the street, I there found a man waiting for me, whom I knew to be the same that had attended me during my stay in that house.
Urinoe having recommended to him to see me safe out of the town, I took leave of her with the most grateful acknowledgements for her kindness, and followed my conductor, so oppressed with grief at the thoughts of leaving the place where Sydimiris was, that I had hardly strength to walk.
An extraordinary instance of generosity in a lover, somewhat resembling that of the great Artaxerxes in .
The farther I went, continued Sir George, the more my regret increased; and finding it would be impossible to live and quit the divine Sydimiris, I all at once took a resolution to remain in the town concealed; and, communicating my design to my guide, I engaged him to assist me in it by a present of a considerable sum, which he could not resist: accordingly, he left me in a remote part of the town, and went to find out a convenient lodging for me; which he soon procured, and also a suit of clothes to disguise me, my own being very rich and magnificent.II.73
Having recommended me as a relation of his, who was newly arrived, I was received very civilly by the people with whom he placed me; and finding this young man to be very witty and discreet, and also very capable of serving me, I communicated to him my intentions by staying, which were only to be near the divine Sydimiris, and to have the happiness of sometimes seeing her when she went abroad.
This man entering into my meaning, assured me he would faithfully keep my secret, and that he would not fail to bring me intelligence of all that passed in the palace of Marcomire.
I could with difficulty keep myself from falling at his feet to express my sense of his kind and generous offers; but I contented myself with presenting him with another sum of money larger than the first, and assured him of my future gratitude.
He then took leave, and left me to my reflections, which were wholly upon the image of the divine Sydimiris, and the happiness of being so near the object I adored.
My confidant came to me the next day, but brought me no other news than that my escape was not yet known to Marcomire. I inquired if he had seen Sydimiris; but he replied he had not, and that Urinoe had only asked if he had conducted me safe out of town; to which he had answered as we had agreed, that I had got out safe and undiscovered.
A day or two after he brought me news more pleasing: for he told me that Sydimiris had sent for him into her chamber, and asked him several questions concerning me; that she appeared very melancholy, and even blushed whenever she mentioned my name.
This account gave sufficient matter for my thoughts II.74 to work upon for several days. I interpreted Sydimiris’s blush a thousand different ways; I reflected upon all the different causes to which it might be owing, and busied myself with all those innumerable conjectures, which, as you know, madam, such an incident always gives rise to in a lover’s imagination. At length I explained it to my own advantage, and felt thereby a considerable increase of my affection.
A whole week having elapsed without another sight of my confidant, I began to be greatly alarmed; when on the eighth day of this cruel suspense, I saw him appear, but with so many marks of disturbance in his face, that I trembled to hear what he had to acquaint me with.
Oh! sir, said he, as soon as his concern suffered him to speak, Marcomire has discovered your escape, and the means by which it was procured. One of those in whom Urinoe confided, has betrayed it to him, and the beauteous Sydimiris is likely to feel the most terrible effects of his displeasure: he has confined her to her chamber, and vows to sacrifice her life to the honour of his family, which he says she has stained; and he loads that admirable lady with so many reproaches, that it is thought her grief for such undeserved calumnies will occasion her death.
Scarce had he finished these cruel words, when I, who all the time he had been speaking beheld him with a dying eye, sunk down at his feet in a swoon, which continued so long, that he began to think me quite dead: however, I at last opened my eyes; but it was only to pour forth a river of tears, and to utter complaints which might have moved the most obdurate heart. After having a long time tormented myself in weeping and complaining, I at last took a resolution which offered me some alleviation II.75 of my grief; and the faithful Toxares, seeing me a little composed, left me to myself, with a promise to return soon, and acquaint me with what passed farther in the palace of Marcomire.
As soon as he was gone, I rose from my bed; and, dressing myself in those clothes I wore when I was taken prisoner, I went to the palace of Marcomire, and, demanding to see him, I was told he was in the apartment of Sydimiris, and at my earnest desire they conducted me thither.
When I entered the room, I beheld that incomparable beauty stretched upon a couch dissolved in tears, and Urinoe upon her knees before her, accompanying with her own those precious drops which fell from the bright eyes of her mistress.
Marcomire, who was walking furiously about the room, exclaiming with the utmost violence against that fair sufferer, did not observe my entrance; so that I had an opportunity of going towards Sydimiris, who lifting up her eyes to look upon me, gave a loud shriek, and, by a look of extreme anguish, let me understand how great her apprehensions were upon my account.
I am come, madam, said I, to perform part of the promise I made you, and, by dying, to prove your innocence; and freeing you from the reproaches you suffer on my account, I shall have the happiness to convince you that my life is infinitely less dear to me than your tranquillity. Sydimiris, who hearkened to me with great emotion, was going to make some answer, when Marcomire, alarmed by his sister’s shriek, came towards us, and, viewing me at first with astonishment, and then with a smile of cruelty and revenge ———— Is it possible, said he, that I behold my designed murderer again in my power?
I am in thy power, said I, because I am willing II.76 to be so, and come voluntarily to put myself into your hands, to free that excellent lady from the imputation you have laid on her. Know, Marcomire, that it is to myself alone I owed my liberty, which I would still preserve against all the forces thou couldst bring to deprive me of it; and this sword, which left thee life enough to threaten mine, would haply once more put yours in danger, were I not restrained by a powerful consideration which leaves me not the liberty of even wishing you ill.
Ah, dissembler! said Marcomire, in a rage, think not to impose upon me by thy counterfeit mildness; thou art my prisoner once more, and I shall take care to prevent your escaping a second time.
I am not your prisoner, replied I, while I possess this sword, which has already defended me against greater numbers than you have here to oppose me. But, continued I, throwing down my sword at Sydimiris’s feet, I resign my liberty to restore that lady to your good opinion, and to free her from those base aspersions thou hast unjustly loaded her with upon my account.
It matters not, said the brutal brother, taking up my sword, whether thou hast resigned, or I have deprived thee of liberty; but since thou art in my power, thou shalt feel all the effects of my resentment—Take him away, pursued he, to some of his people; put him into the worst dungeon you can find; and let him be guarded carefully, upon pain of death if he again escapes.
With these words several men offered to lead me out of the room, but I repulsed them with disdain; and making a low reverence to Sydimiris, whose countenance expressed the extremes of fear and anguish, I followed my conductors to the prison allotted for me, which, hideous as it was, I contemplated with a secret pleasure, since I had, by that II.77 action which had brought me into it, given a testimony of my love for the adorable Sydimiris.
In which it will be seen, that the lady is as generous as her lover.
I passed some days in this confinement, melancholy enough: my ignorance of the destiny of Sydimiris gave me more pain than the sense of my own misfortunes; and one evening, when I was more than usually disquieted, one of my guard entered my prison, and giving me a letter, retired without speaking a word. I opened this letter with precipitation, and, by the light of a lamp which was allowed me, I read the following words—
“Sydimiris, to the most generous Bellmour.
“It is not enough to tell you that the method you took to free me from my brother’s severity has filled me with the utmost esteem and admiration. So generous an action merits a greater acknowledgement, and I will make no scruple to confess that my heart is most sensibly touched by it. Yes, Bellmour, I have received this glorious testimony of your affection with such a gratitude as you yourself could have wished to inspire me with; and it shall not be long before you will have a convincing proof of the effect it has had upon the spirit of “Sydimiris.”
This letter, madam, pursued Sir George, being wholly calculated to make me hope that I was not II.78 hated by the divine Sydimiris, and that she meditated something in my favour, I resigned myself up to the most delightful expectations.
What! cried I, transported with the excess of my joy, does the most admirable Sydimiris condescend to assure me that I have touched her heart? And does she promise me that I shall receive some convincing proof of her acknowledgement!
Ah! too happy and too fortunate Bellmour, to what a glorious destiny hast thou been reserved! And how oughtest thou to adore these fetters that have procured thee the esteem of the divine Sydimiris!
Such, madam, were the apprehensions which the billet I had received inspired me with. I continually flattered myself with the most pleasing hopes; and during three weeks longer, in which I heard no more from Sydimiris, my imagination was wholly filled with those sweet thoughts which her letter had made me entertain.
At length, on the evening of a day which I had wholly spent in reading over Sydimiris’s letter, and interpreting the sense of it a thousand different ways, but all agreeable to my ardent wishes; I saw the sage Urinoe enter my prison, accompanied by Toxares, whom I had not seen during my last confinement. Wholly transported at the sight of these two friends, and not doubting but they had brought me the most agreeable news, I ran towards them; and throwing myself at Urinoe’s feet, I begged her, in an ecstasy of joy, to acquaint me with Sydimiris’s commands.
Urinoe, in some confusion at this action, entreated me to rise. It is fit, cried I, in a transport I could not master, that in this posture I should receive the knowledge of that felicity Sydimiris has had the goodness to promise me. Urinoe sighed at II.79 these words; and beholding me with a look of compassion and tenderness—
Would to God, said she, that all I have to say, were as agreeable as the first news I have to tell you; which is, that you are free, and at liberty to leave the town this moment! Sydimiris, continued she, has bought your freedom, at the expence of her own; and, to deliver you from her brother’s chains, she has put on others, haply more cruel than those you have worn: in fine, she has married a man whom she detested, to procure your liberty; her brother having granted it to her upon that condition alone.
Scarce had Urinoe finished these words, when I fell without sense or motion at her feet. Toxares and she, who had foreseen what might happen, having provided themselves with cordials necessary to restore me, brought me to myself with infinite trouble.
Cruel! said I to them, with a tone and look which witnessed the excess of my despair, why have you hindered me from dying, at once to prevent the thousand deaths I shall suffer from my grief? Is this the confirmation of those glorious hopes Sydimiris had permitted me to entertain? Is this that proof of the acknowledgements I was to expect? And is it by throwing herself into the arms of my rival, that she repays those obligations she thinks she owes me?
Ah, inhuman Sydimiris! was it to make my despair more poignant, that thou flatteredst me with such a prospect of happiness? And was it necessary to the grandeur of thy nuptials, that my life should be the sacrifice?
But how unjust am I, cried I, repenting in an instant of those injurious suspicions; how unjust am I, to accuse the divine Sydimiris of inhumanity? II.80 Was it not to give me freedom, that she bestowed herself on a man she hates? And has she not made herself miserable for ever, to procure me a fancied happiness?
Ah! if it be so, what a wretch am I! I, who have been the only cause of that misery to which she has doomed Ah, liberty! pursued I, how I detest thee, since purchased by the misfortune of Sydimiris! And how far more sweet and glorious were those chains which I wore for her sake!
My sighs and tears leaving me no longer the power of speech, I sunk down on my bed, oppressed with a mortal grief.
Urinoe and Toxares drew near to comfort me, and said all that sensible and discreet persons could think of to alleviate my despair.
Though I have heard that Sydimiris is married, replied I, without dying immediately; yet do not imagine that I will suffer this odious life to continue long. If sorrow do not quickly dispatch me, I will seek death by other means; for since Sydimiris is lost, I have no more business in the world.
The charitable Urinoe and Toxares endeavoured in vain to divert me from this sad resolution, when Urinoe, finding all their reasonings ineffectual, drew a letter out of her pocket, and presenting it to me, I had orders, said she, not to let this letter be delivered to you, till you had left the town; but the despair to which I see you reduced, does, I conceive, dispense with my rigorous observation of those directions. While Urinoe was speaking, I opened this letter, trembling, and found it as follows.II.81
Containing an incident full as probable as any in Scudery’s Romances.
“SYDIMIRIS TO BELLMOUR.
“If that proof of my gratitude, which I promise to give you, fall short of your expectations, blame not the defect of my will, but the rigour of my destiny; it was by this only way I could give you liberty; nor is it too dearly bought by the loss of all my happiness, if you receive it as you ought: had I been allowed to follow my own inclinations, there is no man in the world I would have preferred to yourself. I owe this confession to the remembrance of your affection, of which you gave me so generous an instance; and the use I expect you will make of it, is to console yourself under a misfortune, which is common to us both; though I haply have most reason to complain, since I could not be just to you, without being cruel at the same time, or confer a benefit, without loading you with a misfortune. If the sacrifice I have made of myself for your sake, gives me any claim to the continuance of your love, I command you, by the power it gives me over you, to live, and not to add to the miseries of my condition, the grief of being the cause of your death. Remember, I will look upon your disobedience as an act of the most cruel ingratitude; and your compliance with this request shall ever be esteemed as the dearest mark you can give of that passion you have borne to the unfortunate “Sydimiris.”
Ah, Sydimiris! cried I, having read this letter, more cruel in your kindness than severity! After having deprived me of yourself, do you forbid II.82 me to die; and expose me by so rigorous a command to ills infinitely more hard and painful than death?
Yes, pursued I, after a little pause; yes, Sydimiris, thou shalt be obeyed; we will not die, since thou hast commanded us to live; and, notwithstanding the tortures to which thou condemnest us, we will obey this command, and give thee a glorious proof of our present submission, by enduring that life which the loss of thee has rendered truly wretched.
Urinoe and Toxares, somewhat re-assured by the resolution I had taken, exhorted me by all the persuasions friendship could put in their mouths, to persevere in it; and Urinoe bidding me farewel, I endeavoured to prevail upon her to procure me a sight of Sydimiris once more, or at least to bear a letter from me to her; but she refused both these requests so obstinately, telling me, Sydimiris would neither consent to the one nor the other, that I was obliged to be contented with the promise she made me, to represent my affliction in a true light to her mistress; and to assure her, that nothing but her absolute commands could have hindered me from dying. Then, taking leave of me with much tenderness, she went out of the prison, leaving Toxares with me, who assisted me to dress, and conducted me out of that miserable place, where I had passed so many sad, and also joyful hours. At a gate to which he brought me, I found a horse waiting: and having embraced this faithful confidant, with many expressions of gratitude, I bestowed a ring of some value upon him to remember me by; and, mounting my horse, with a breaking heart, I took the first road which presented itself to my eyes, and galloped away, without knowing whither I went. I rode the whole night, so totally engrossed II.83 by my despair, that I did not perceive my horse was so tired, it could hardly carry me a step farther: at last the poor beast fell down under me, so that I was obliged to dismount; and, looking about me, perceived that I was in a forest, without seeing the least appearance of any habitation.
The wildness and solitude of the place flattered my despair, and while my horse was feeding upon what grass he could find, I wandered about: the morning just breaking, gave me light enough to direct my steps. Chance at last conducted me to a cave, which seemed to have been the residence of some hermit, or unfortunate lover like myself. It was dug at the side of a rock, the entrance to it thick set with bushes, which hid it from view. I descended by a few steps cut rudely enough, and was convinced it had formerly served for a habitation for some religious or melancholy person; for there were seats of turf raised on each side of it, a kind of bed composed of dried leaves and rushes, and a hole made artificially at the top, to admit the light.
While I considered this place attentively, I all at once took up a resolution, inspired by my despair: which was, to continue there, and indulge my melancholy in a retirement so fitted for my purpose.
Giving my horse, therefore, liberty to go where he pleased, and hanging up my arms upon a tree near my cave, I took possession of this solitary mansion, with a gloomy kind of satisfaction, and devoted all my hours to the contemplation of my misfortunes.
I lived in this manner, madam, for ten months, without feeling the least desire to change my habitation; and, during all that time, no mortal approached my solitude, so that I lived perfectly secure II.84 and undiscovered. Sir George pausing here to take breath, the old baronet said what will be, found in the following chapter.
A single combat fought with prodigious valour, and described with amazing accuracy.
Give me leave, sir, said Sir Charles, to ask if you ate in all this time?
Alas, sir, replied Sir George, sighs and tears were all my sustenance.
Sir Charles, Mr. Glanville, and Miss, laughing at this answer, Arabella seemed greatly confused.
It is not to be imagined, said she, that Sir George, or, to say better, Prince Veridomer, lived ten months without eating any thing to support nature; but such trifling circumstances are always left out in the relations of histories; and truly an audience must be very dull and unapprehensive, that cannot conceive, without being told, that a man must necessarily eat in the space of ten months.
But the food Sir George lived on, replied the baronet, was very unsubstantial, and would not afford him much nourishment.
I suppose, resumed Arabella, he lived much upon such provisions as the forest afforded him; such as wild fruit, herbs, bitter sallads, and the like; which, considering the melancholy that possessed him, would appear a voluptuous repast; and which the unfortunate Orontes, when he was in the same situation, thought infinitely too good for him.
Sir Charles, finding Arabella took no notice of the historian’s hyperbole of living upon his sighs and tears, passed it over, for fear of offending her; II.85 and Sir George, who had been in some anxiety how to bring himself off, when he perceived Arabella was reasonable enough to suppose he must have eat during his abode in the forest, went on with his relation in this manner.
I lived, as I before observed to you, madam, in this cave for ten months; and truly I was so reconciled to that solitary way of life, and found so much sweetness in it, that I believe I should have remained there till this day, but for the adventure which I am going to recount.
It being my custom to walk out every evening in the forest, returning to my cave, something later than usual, I heard the cries of a woman at some distance, who seemed to be in distress: I stopped to listen from what side those cries proceeded; and, perceiving they seemed to approach nearer to me, I took down my armour from the tree where I had hung it; and hastily arming myself, shaped my course towards the place from whence those complaints seemed to come, resolving to assist that unknown person with all the strength that was left me.
Having gone some paces, I spied through the branches of the trees a man on horseback, with a lady, who struggled to get loose, and at times called aloud for succour.
This sight inflaming me with rage against that impious ravisher, I flew towards him; and when I came within hearing—
Hold, wretch! cried I, and cease to offer violence to that lady, whom thou bearest away by force; or prepare to defend thyself against one who will die before he will suffer thee to prosecute thy unjust designs.
The man, without answering me, clapped spurs to his horse; and it would have been impossible to II.86 have overtaken him, had not my own horse, which had never quitted the forest, appeared in my view. I quickly mounted him, and followed the track the ravisher had taken, with such speed, that I came up with him in a moment.
Caitiff! said I, release the lady, and defend thyself. These words, which I accompanied with a thundering blow upon his head-piece, obliged him to set down the lady, who implored heaven, with the utmost ardour, to grant me the victory; and, recoiling back a few paces, to take a view of me—
I know not, said he, for what reason thou settest thyself to oppose my designs; but I well know that thou shalt dearly repent of thy temerity.
Saying this, he advanced furiously towards me, and aimed so heavy a blow at my head, that, had I not received it on my shield, I might haply have no longer been in a condition to defend the distressed lady: but having, with the greatest dexterity imaginable, avoided this blow, I made at him with so much fierceness, and directed my aims so well, that in a few moments I wounded him in several places; and his arms were all dyed with his blood.
This good success redoubled my vigour; and having, by a lucky stroke of my sword, cut the strings of his head-piece, it fell off; and his head being bare, I was going to let fall a dreadful blow upon it, which doubtless would have shivered it in a thousand pieces, when he cried out for quarter, and, letting fall his sword, by that action assured me my victory was entire.
Live, wretch, cried I, since thou art base enough to value life after being vanquished: but swear upon my sword, that thou wilt never more attempt the liberty of that lady.
While I was speaking, I perceived he was no longer able to sit his horse; but, staggering a moment, II.87 he fell off, and lay extended without motion upon the ground. Touched with compassion at this sight, I alighted, and supposing him to be in a swoon, was preparing to give him some assistance; but upon my nearer approach, I found he was quite dead.
Leaving therefore this mournful object, I turned about, with an intention to go and offer the distressed lady my farther help; but I perceived her already at my feet.—Valiant knight, said she, with a tone of voice so bewitching, that all my faculties were suspended, as by enchantment, suffer me, on my knees, to thank you for the deliverance you have procured me from that base man; since to your admirable valour I owe not only the preservation of my life, but, what is infinitely dearer to me, my honour.
The astonishment wherewith I beheld the miraculous beauty that appeared before me, kept me a moment in such an attentive gaze, that I forgot she was at my feet: recollecting myself however, with some confusion at my neglect—
Oh, rise, madam! cried I, helping her up with infinite respect, and debase not such perfection to a posture, in which all the monarchs of the earth might glory to appear before it.
That you may the better conceive the alteration which the sight of this fair unknown produced in my soul, I will endeavour to give you a description of her beauty, which was altogether miraculous.
Vide Book 6. Chap. 8.
Painted by T. Kirk, engraved by A. Haimbach for C. Cooke, April 20, 1799.
In which the reader will find a description of a beauty, in a style truly sublime.
The new fallen snow, pursued Sir George, was tanned, in comparison of the refined purity of that white which made up the ground of her complexion; and though fear had a little gathered the carnations of her cheeks, yet her joy at being delivered seemed to plant them there with such fresh advantages, that any eye might shrink at the brightness of that mingled lustre: her mouth, as well for shape as colour, might shame the imitation of the best pencils, and the liveliest tints; and though through some petty intervals of joy, it wanted the smiles which grief and terror sequestered, yet she never opened it, but like the east, at the birth of a beautiful day, and then discovered treasures, whose excelling whiteness made the price inestimable: all the features of her face had so near a kindred to proportion and symmetry, that the several masters of Apelles’s art might have called it his glory to have copied beauties from her, as the best of models; the circumference of her visage shewed the extremes of an imperfect circle, and almost formed it to a perfect oval; and this abridgement of marvels was tapered by a pair of the brightest stars that ever were lighted up by the hand of nature; as their colour was the same with the heavens, there was a spherical harmony in their motion, and that mingled with a vivacity so penetrating, as neither the firmest eye, nor the strongest soul, could arm themselves with a resistance of proof against those pointed glories; her head was crowned with a prodigious quantity of fair long hair, which colour as II.89 fitly suited the beauty of her eyes, as imagination could make it: to these marvels of face were joined the rest of her neck, hands, and shape; and there seemed a contest between the form and whiteness of the two former, which had the largest commission from nature to work wonders.
In fine, her beauty was miraculous, and could not fail of producing a sudden effect upon a heart like mine.
Having passed in an instant from the extremest admiration to something yet more tender, I reiterated my offers of service to the fair unknown; who told me she feared her father had occasion for some assistance, her ravisher having left his men to engage him, and keep off his pursuit, while he rode off with his prize; hereupon I begged her to direct me to the place where she left her father, assuring her I would gladly venture my life a second time to preserve his; and she desiring to go with me, I placed her before me on my horse, and had the exquisite pleasure of supporting with my arms the fairest and most admirable creature in the world.
In less than half an hour, which had appeared to me but a moment, we got to the place where she had been torn from her father; whom we beheld with three of his servants, maintaining a fight against twice as many of their enemies.
Having gently set down the beauteous unknown upon the grass, I flew to the relief of her father; and, throwing myself furiously among his assailants, dispatched two of them with as many blows: the others seeing so unexpected an assistance, gave back a little, and I took advantage of their consternation, to redouble my blows, and brought two more of them at my feet.
There remained now but four to overcome; and II.90 my arrival having given new vigour to those whose part I had taken, they seconded me so well, that we soon had nothing more left to do; for the rest, seeing their comrades slain, sought their safety in flight: we were too generous to pursue them, the blood of such wretches being unworthy to be shed by our swords.
The fair unknown, seeing us conquerors, flew to embrace her father; who, holding her pressed between his arms, turned his eyes upon me; then quitting her, came towards me, and in the most obliging terms imaginable, returned me thanks for the assistance I had brought him; and being informed, by his daughter, of what I had done for her preservation, this old gentleman renewed his acknowledgements, calling me the preserver of his life, the valiant defender of his daughter’s honour, his tutelary angel, and the guardian of his house.
In fine, he loaded me with so many thanks and praises, that I could not choose but be in some confusion; and to put an end to them, I begged he would inform me by what means he came into that misfortune.
He told me, that, residing in a castle at the extremity of this forest, the charms of his daughter had captivated a neighbouring lord, whose character and person being disagreeable both to her and himself, he had absolutely refused to give her to him: thereupon he had set upon them as they were going, to visit a relation at some distance, and dragging Philonice out of the coach, put her before him on his horse, and carried her away, leaving eight of his men to engage him and his servants; who, being but four in number, must inevitably have perished, had I not come to his relief, and by my miraculous valour, vanquished all his enemies.
Saying this, he desired me to go home with II.91 him to the castle; and having led his daughter to the coach, insisted upon my placing myself next her; and getting in himself, ordered them to return home.
This accident having altered his design of making the visit which had been the occasion of this journey—
The baron, for that I found was his title, entertained me all the way with repeated expressions of acknowledgements and tenderness; and the incomparable Philonice condescended also to assure me of her gratitude for the service I had done her.
At our arrival at the castle, I perceived it was very large and magnificent; the baron conducted me to one of the best apartments, and would stay in the room till my armour was taken off, that he might be assured I had received no hurts; having rendered him the like civility in his own chamber, and satisfied myself he was not wounded, we returned to the beautiful Philonice; and this second sight having finished my defeat, I remained so absolutely her slave, that neither Dorothea nor Sydimiris were more passionately beloved.
At the earnest entreaty of the baron, I staid some weeks in the castle; during which, the daily sight of Philonice so augmented my flames, that I was no longer in a condition to conceal them; but, fearing to displease that divine beauty by a confession of my passion, I languished in secret; and the constraint I laid upon myself gave me such torments, that I fell into a profound melancholy, and looked so pale and dejected, that the baron was sensible of the alteration, and conjured me, in the most pressing terms, to acquaint him with the cause of my uneasiness: but though I continued obstinately silent with my tongue, yet my eyes spoke intelligibly enough; and the blushes which appeared in the II.92 fair cheeks of Philonice, whenever she spoke to me on the subject of my grief, convinced me she was not ignorant of my passion.
At length the agitation of my mind throwing me into a fever, the baron, who was firmly persuaded that my illness proceeded from some concealed vexation, pressed me continually to declare myself; and, finding all his entreaties ineffectual, he commanded his daughter to endeavour to find out the cause of that grief which had put me into such a condition.
For that purpose, therefore, having brought the fair Philonice into my chamber, he staid a few minutes; and leaving the room under pretence of business, Philonice remained alone by my bed-side, her women, out of respect, staying at the other end of the chamber.
This divine person seeing herself alone with me, and remembering her father’s command, blushed, and cast down her eyes in such apparent confusion, that I could not help observing it: and interpreting it to the displeasure she took in being so near me—
Whatever joy I take in the honour your visit does me, madam, said I, in a weak voice; yet, since nothing is so dear to me as your satisfaction, I would rather dispense with this mark of your goodness to an unfortunate wretch, than see you in the least constraint.
And why, replied she, with a tone full of sweetness, do you suppose that I am here by constraint, when it would be more just to believe, that in visiting the valiant defender of my honour, and the life of my father, I only follow my own inclinations?
Ah, madam! said I, transported with joy at so favourable a speech, the little service I had the happiness II.93 to do you, does not merit so infinite a favour; and though I had lost the best part of my blood in your defence, I should have been well rewarded with your safety.
Since you do not repent of what you have done, replied she, I am willing to be obliged to you for another favour; and ask it with the greater hope of obtaining it, as I must acquaint you, it is by my father’s command I take that liberty, who is much interested in my success.
There is no occasion, madam, returned I, to make use of any interest but your own, to engage me to obey you, since that is, and ever will be, all-powerful with me: speak then, madam, and let me know what it is you desire of me, that I may, once in my life, have the glory of obeying you.
It is, said she, blushing still more than before, that you will acquaint us with the cause of that melancholy, which has, as we imagine, occasioned your present illness.
At these words I trembled, turned pale; and, not daring to discover the true cause of my affliction, I remained in a profound silence.
I see, said the beautiful Philonice, that you have no inclination to obey me; and since my request has, as I perceive, given you some disturbance, I will prevail upon my father to press you no farther upon this subject.
No, madam, said I, eagerly; the baron shall be satisfied, and you shall be obeyed; though, after the knowledge of my crime, you doom me to that death I so justly merit.
Yes, madam, this unfortunate man, who has had the glory to acquire your esteem by the little service he did you, has cancelled the merit of that service by daring to adore you.II.94
I love you, divine Philonice; and not being able either to repent, or cease to be guilty of loving you, I am resolved to die, and spare you the trouble of pronouncing my sentence. I beseech you therefore to believe, that I would have died in silence, but for your command to declare myself; and you should never have known the excess of my love and despair, had not my obedience to your will obliged me to confess it.
I finished these words with so much fear and confusion, that I durst not lift my eyes up to the fair face of Philonice, to observe how she received this discourse: I waited therefore, trembling, for her answer; but finding that in several minutes she spoke not a word, I ventured at last to cast a languishing glance upon the visage I adored, and saw so many marks of disorder upon it, that I was almost dead with the apprehensions of having offended her beyond even the hope of procuring her pardon by my death.
Wherein Sir George concludes his history; which produces an unexpected effect.
The silence of Philonice, continued Sir George, pierced me to the heart; and when I saw her rise from her seat, and prepare to go away without speaking, grief took such possession of my spirits, that, uttering a cry, I fell into a swoon, which, as I afterwards was informed, greatly alarmed the beautiful Philonice; who, resuming her seat, had the goodness to assist her women in bringing me to myself; and, when I opened my eyes, I had II.95 the satisfaction to behold her still by me, and all the signs of compassion in her face.
This sight a little re-assuring me, I ask your pardon, madam, said I, for the condition in which I have appeared before you, and also for that I am not yet dead, as is doubtless your wish. But I will make haste, pursued I, sighing, to fulfil your desires; and you shall soon be freed from the sight of a miserable wretch, who to his last moment will not cease to adore you.
It is not your death that I desire, said the fair Philonice; and after having preserved both my father and me from death, it is not reasonable that we should suffer you to die if we can help it.
Live, therefore, Bellmour, pursued she, blushing; and live, if possible, without continuing in that weakness I cannot choose but condemn: yet, whatever are your thoughts for the future, remember that your death will be a fault I cannot resolve to pardon.
Speaking these words without giving me time to answer, she left my chamber; and I found something so sweet and favourable in them, that I resolved to obey her, and forward my cure as much as I was able: however, the agitation of spirits increased my fever so much, that my life was despaired of.
The baron hardly ever left my bed-side. Philonice came every day to see me, and seemed extremely moved at the danger I was in. One day, when I was worse than usual, she came close to the bed-side, and, opening the curtain—
What, Bellmour! said she, do you pay so little obedience to my commands that you resolve to die? Heaven is my witness, madam, said I, faintly, that nothing is so dear and sacred to me as your commands! and since, out of your superlative goodness, you are pleased to have some care for my life, I would II.96 preserve it to obey you, were it in my power; but, alas! madam, I strive in vain to repel the violence of my distemper.
In a few days more I was reduced to the last extremity; it was then that the fair Philonice discovered that she did not hate me; for she made no scruple to weep before me; and those tears she so liberally shed had so powerful an effect upon my mind, that the contentment I felt communicated itself to my body, and gave such a turn to my distemper, that my recovery was not only hoped, but expected. The baron expressed his satisfaction at this alteration, by the most affectionate expressions; and though the fair Philonice said very little, yet I perceived, by the joy that appeared in her fair eyes, that she was not less interested in my recovery than her father.
The physicians having declared me out of danger, the baron, who had taken his resolution long before, came one day into my chamber, and ordering those who attended me to leave us alone—Prince, said he, for in recounting my history to him I had disclosed my true quality, I am not ignorant of that affection you bear my daughter, and am sensible it has occasioned the extremity to which we have seen you reduced: had you been pleased to acquaint me with your sentiments, you would have avoided those displeasures you have suffered; for though your birth were not so illustrious as it is, yet, preferring virtue to all other advantages, I should have esteemed my daughter honoured by your love, and have freely bestowed her on you; but since to those rare qualities wherewith heaven has so liberally endowed you, you add also that of a birth so noble, doubt not but I shall think myself highly favoured by your alliance. If, therefore, your thoughts of my daughter be not changed, and you esteem her worthy to be your II.97 bride, I here solemnly promise you to bestow her upon you as soon as you are perfectly recovered.
I leave you to guess, madam, the joy which I felt at this discourse; it was so great, that it would not permit me to thank him, as I should have done, for the inestimable blessing he bestowed on me. I saw Philonice a few minutes after; and, being commanded by her father to give me her hand, she did so without any marks of reluctance; and having respectfully kissed it, I vowed to be her slave for ever.
Who would have imagined, continued Sir George, with a profound sigh, that fortune, while she thus seemed to flatter me, was preparing to make me suffer the severest torments? I began now to leave my bed, and was able to walk about my chamber. The baron was making great preparations for our nuptials; when one night I was alarmed with the cries of Philonice’s women, and a few moments after the baron came into my chamber with a distracted air. O son! cried he, for so he always called me, now Philonice is lost both to you and me; she is carried off by force, and I am preparing to follow and rescue her, if possible; but I fear my endeavours will be fruitless, since I know not which way her ravishers have taken.
Oh, sir! cried I, transported both with grief and rage, you shall not go alone: her rescue belongs to me; and I will effect it, or perish in the attempt!
The baron having earnestly conjured me not to expose myself to the danger of a relapse by so imprudent a resolution, was obliged to quit me, word being brought him that his horse was ready; and as soon as he was gone out of the room, in spite of all that could be said to prevent me, by my attendants, I made them put on my armour; and mounting a horse I had caused to be made ready, sallied II.98 furiously out of the castle, breathing out vows of vengeance against the wretch who had robbed me of Philonice.—I rode the whole night without stopping. Day appeared, when I found myself near a small village. I entered it, and made strict inquiry after the ravisher of Philonice, describing that fair creature, and offering vast rewards to any who could bring me the least intelligence of her: but all was in vain; I could make no discovery.
After travelling several days to no purpose, I returned to the castle, in order to know if the baron had been more successful in his pursuit than myself; but I found him oppressed with grief: he had heard no tidings of his daughter, and had suffered no small apprehensions upon my account. Having assured him I found myself very able to travel, I took an affectionate leave of him, promising him never to give over my search, till I had found the divine Philonice; but heaven has not permitted me that happiness; and though I have spent several years in search for her, I have never been able to discover where she is: time has not cured me of my grief for her loss; and, though by an effect of my destiny, another object possesses my soul, yet I do not cease to deplore her misfortune, and to offer up vows for her happiness.
And is this all you have to say? said Arabella, whom the latter part of his history had extremely surprised; or are we to expect a continuance of your adventures?—I have faithfully related all my adventures that are worth your hearing, madam, returned Sir George: and I flatter myself, you will do me the justice to own, that I have been rather unfortunate than faithless; and that Mr. Glanville had little reason to tax me with inconstancy.
In my opinion, resumed Arabella, Mr. Glanville spoke too favourably of you, when he called you II.99 only inconstant; and if he had added the epithet of ungrateful and unjust, he would have marked your character better. For, in fine, sir, pursued she, you will never persuade any reasonable person, that your being able to lose the remembrance of the fair and generous Sydimiris, in your new passion for Philonice, was not an excess of levity; but your suffering so tamely the loss of this last beauty, and allowing her to remain in the hands of her ravisher, while you permit another affection to take possession of your soul, is such an outrage to all truth and constancy, that you deserve to be ranked among the falsest of mankind.
Alas! madam, replied Sir George, (who had not foreseen the inference Arabella would draw from this last adventure) what would you have an unfortunate man, whose hopes have been so often and so cruelly disappointed, do? I have bewailed the loss of Philonice with a deluge of tears; I have taken infinite pains to find her, but to no purpose; and when heaven, compassionating my sufferings, presented to my eyes an object to whom the whole world ought to pay adoration, how could I resist that powerful impulse, which forced me to love what appeared so worthy of my affection?
Call not, interrupted Arabella, that an irresistible impulse, which was only the effect of thy own changing humour: the same excuse might be pleaded for all the faults we see committed in the world; and men would no longer be answerable for their own crimes. Had you imitated the illustrious heroes of antiquity, as well in the constancy of their affections, as, it must be confessed, you have done in their admirable valour, you would now be either sighing in your cave for the loss of the generous Sydimiris, or wandering through the world in search of the beautiful Philonice. Had you persevered in II.100 your affection, and continued your pursuit of that fair one, you would, perhaps, ere this, have found her sleeping under the shade of a tree in some lone forest, as Philodaspes did his admirable Delia, or disguised in a slave’s habit, as Ariobarsanes saw his divine Olympia; or bound haply in a chariot, and have had the glory of freeing her, as Ambriomer did the beauteous Agione; or in a ship in the hands of pirates, like the incomparable Eliza; or—
Enough, dear niece, interrupted Sir Charles; you have quoted examples sufficient, if this inconstant man would have the grace to follow them.
True sir, replied Arabella; and I would recommend to his consideration the conduct of those illustrious persons I have named, to the end, that pursuing their steps, he may arrive at their glory and happiness, that is the reputation of being perfectly constant, and the possession of his mistress—and be assured, sir, pursued Arabella, looking at Sir George, that heaven will never restore you the crown of your ancestors, and place you upon the throne to which you pretend, while you make yourself unworthy of its protection, by so shameful an inconstancy.—I perhaps speak with too much freedom to a great prince; who, though fortune has despoiled him of his dominions, is entitled to a certain degree of respect: but, I conceive, it belongs to me, in a particular manner, to resent the baseness of that crime to which you are pleased to make me the excuse, and, looking upon myself as dishonoured by those often prostituted vows you have offered me, I am to tell you, that I am highly disobliged; and forbid you to appear in my presence again, till you have resumed those thoughts, which are worthy your noble extraction; and are capable of treating me with that respect which is my due.
Saying this, she rose from her seat, and walked very majestically II.101 out of the room, leaving Sir George overwhelmed with shame and vexation at having conducted the latter part of his narration so ill, and drawn upon himself a sentence which deprived him of all his hopes.
Containing only a few inferences, drawn from the foregoing chapters.
Mr. Glanville, excessively delighted at this event, could not help laughing at the unfortunate baronet; who seemed, by his silence, and down-cast looks, to expect it.
Who would have imagined, said he, that so renowned a hero would have tarnished the glory of his laurels, as my cousin says, by so base an ingratitude? Indeed, prince, pursued he, laughing, you must resolve to recover your reputation, either by retiring again to your cave, and living upon bitter herbs, for the generous Sydimiris; or else wander through the world in search of the divine Philonice.
Don’t triumph, dear Charles, replied Sir George, laughing in his turn; have a little compassion upon me, and confess, that nothing could be more unfortunate than that damn’d slip I made at the latter end of my history: but for that, my reputation for courage and constancy had been as high as the great Oroondates or Juba.
Since you have so fertile an invention, said Sir Charles, you may easily repair this mistake. Ods-heart! it is pity you are not poor enough to be an author; you would occupy a II.102 garret in Grub-street, with great fame to yourself, and diversion to the public.
Oh! sir, cried Sir George, I have stock enough by me to set up for an author to-morrow, if I please: I have no less than five tragedies, some quite, others almost, finished; three or four essays on virtue, happiness, three thousand lines of an epic poem; half a dozen epitaphs; a few acrostics; and a long string of puns, that would serve to embellish a daily paper, if I was disposed to write one.
Nay, then, interrupted Mr. Glanville, you are qualified for a critic at the Bedford Coffee-House; where, with the rest of your brothers, demi-wits, you may sit in judgment upon the productions of a Young, a Richardson, or a Johnson; rail with premeditated malice at the Rambler; and, for the want of faults, turn even its inimitable beauties into ridicule; the language, because it reaches to perfection, may be called stiff, laboured, and pedantic; the criticisms, when they let in more light than your weak judgment can bear, superficial and ostentatious glitter: and because those papers contain the finest system of ethics, yet extant, damn the queer fellow, for over propping virtue; an excellent new phrase! which those who can find no meaning in, may accommodate with one of their own; then give shrewd hints, that some persons, though they do not publish their performances, may have more merit than those that do.
Upon my soul, Charles, said Sir George, thou art such an ill-natured fellow, that I am afraid thou wilt be sneering at me when I am gone; and wilt endeavour to persuade Lady Bella, that not a syllable of my story is true. Speak, pursued he, wilt thou have the cruelty to deprive me of my lawful claim to the great kingdom of Kent; and rob me of II.103 the glory of fighting singly against five hundred men?
I do not know, said Sir Charles, whether my niece be really imposed upon, by the gravity with which you told your surprising history; but I protest I thought you were in earnest at first, and that you meant to make us believe it all to be fact.
You are so fitly punished, said Mr. Glanville, for that ill-judged adventure you related last, by the bad opinion Lady Bella entertains of you, that I need not add to your misfortune: and, therefore, you shall be Prince Veridomer, if you please; since, under that character, you are obliged not to pretend to any lady, but the incomparable Philonice.
Sir George, who understood his meaning, went home to think of some means by which he might draw himself out of the embarrassment he was in; and Mr. Glanville, as he had promised, did not endeavour to undeceive Lady Bella with regard to the history he had feigned, being very well satisfied with his having put it out of his power to make his addresses to her, since she now looked upon him as the lover of Philonice.
As for Sir Charles, he did not penetrate into the meaning of Sir George’s story; and only imagined, that, by relating such a heap of adventures, he had a design to entertain the company, and give a proof of the facility of his invention; and Miss Glanville, who supposed he had been ridiculing her cousin’s strange notions, was better pleased with him than ever.
Arabella, however, was less satisfied than any of them; she could not endure to see so brave a knight, who drew his birth from a race of kings, tarnish the glory of his gallant actions by so base a perfidy.
Alas! said she to herself, how much reason has II.104 the beautiful Philonice to accuse me for all the anguish she suffers! since I am the cause that the ungrateful prince, on whom she bestows her affections, suffers her to remain quietly in the hands of her ravisher, without endeavouring to rescue her.—But, oh! too lovely and unfortunate fair-one, said she, as if she had been present, and listening to her, distinguish, I beseech you, between those faults which the will and those which necessity makes us commit. I am the cause, it is true, of thy lover’s infidelity; but I am the innocent cause, and would repair the evils my fatal beauty gives rise to, by any sacrifice in my power to make.
While Arabella, by her romantic generosity, bewailed the imaginary afflictions of the full as imaginary Philonice, Mr. Glanville, who thought the solitude she lived in, confirmed her in her absurd and ridiculous notions, desired his father to press her to go to London.
Sir Charles complied with his request, and earnestly entreated her to leave the castle, and spend a few months in town. Her year of mourning being now expired, she consented to go; but Sir Charles, who did not think his son’s health absolutely confirmed, proposed to spend a few weeks at Bath; which was readily complied with by Arabella.
Sir George’s history ought to have been narrated by his squire, who would not be hampered by any sense of modesty in recounting his master’s exploits. But it is safe to say that Sir George’s manservant, like Arabella’s Lucy, was not up to the challenge.
my ancestors having formerly worn a crown
text has won a crown
[Corrected from 1752.]
it is not much more than eight hundred years since my ancestors, who were Saxons, swayed the sceptre of Kent
[For “not much more than eight”, read “almost nine”. As you might expect from its location, Kent was the first part of Britain to be taken over by Anglo-Saxons. It was an independent kingdom from the mid-5th century to 860, when it was absorbed into Wessex.]
deciding the fates of empires
text has desiding
the unhappy Prince Veridomer
[Sir George is good at inventing names—or possibly at swiping them from novels he knows Arabella hasn’t read. This is only the first.]
that those about me thought very surprising
text has suprising
as if prest with a tender remembrance,—
text has final . (only)
[1752 ends the paragraph with a semicolon ; while 1820 has ,— (comma, dash). I went with the latter because the same construction shows up a few pages further along.]
I lost my way, and wandered a long time
text has wandering
[1752, 1799 and 1820 all have “wandered”. Call it a brain-o on the part of the 1810 typesetter.]
When love, now lending me wings, whom admiration had before made motionless, I pursued her
[This sentence doesn’t bear up to closer inspection, but it’s what the text says in all four versions I looked at.]
how poor Dolly must be surprised at such a rhodomontade speech!
[This spelling of “rodomontade” is as much a hypercorrection as the once-common “abhominable”—or, for that matter, the still-common “foetus”. ]
a farmer that lived in the neighbouring valley
text has neighouring
Prince Marcomire, whose party you fought against alone
[The name “Marcomire” may have been lifted from the 1664 novel Faramond, ou, L’Histoire de France, cleverly selected by Sir George because it isn’t one of Arabella’s professed favorites. In fact we will see her reading it—evidently for the first time—towards the end of Book Seven.]
the beautiful Sydimiris, Marcomire’s sister
[I can’t find a source for this name. Sir George may have made it up, along with the following chapter’s “Urinoe”.]
At length, my courage enabling me to overcome the violence of my grief,
comma after “grief” missing
Sir Charles . . . being more inclined to divert himself, than be offended at the folly and vanity of the young baronet
[Times like this, I have to suspect Sir Charles (“the old baronet”) is meant as a stand-in for the reader.]
a bulwark against their fellows swords
[In 1820, Anna Laetitia Barbauld changed it to the expected fellows’ with apostrophe—but 1752 has no apostrophe. So be it.]
Most of this chapter is narrated by the elderly Urinoe, speaking to Sir George, who in turn quotes it all to Arabella. Or, at least, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it. It must be said he doesn’t do an awfully good job of it, since Urinoe’s narrative includes events she did not personally witness, and conversations at which she was not present.
be in a condition once more to defend yourself
text has conditiun
that resentment you will questionless always preserve against him
[This is one of the few times a character other than Arabella uses the word “questionless”. Is it to be understood as a convention of the romance genre?]
somewhat resembling that of the great Artaxerxes in Cassandra
text has Cassandria
[Corrected from 1752 and 1799. Besides, it’s what the novel really is called.]
a suit of clothes to disguise me, my own being very rich and magnificent
[Sir George has forgotten that the only clothes he owns are the ones he was wearing when he lost a battle with five hundred swordsmen. Or did he allow Sydimiris to provide him with a new suit, along with the money he used to bribe the servant?]
the faithful Toxares
[For a given definition of “faithful”, since he has accepted at least two large bribes. (Fun fact: “Toxares” is the name of a genus of parasitoid wasps that prey on aphids.)]
I, who have been the only cause of that misery to which she has doomed herself?
[1820 changes the final punctuation to an ! exclamation mark, understandably enough, but nobody else does.]
Reminder: At no time has there been the least hint that this wondrous narrative takes place anywhere other than the speaker’s native country . . . England.
Containing an incident full as probable as any in Scudery’s Romances.
[Is it possible that Charlotte Lennox herself did not know that Georges Scudéry’s novels were in fact written by his sister Madeleine?]
Give me leave, sir, said Sir Charles, to ask if you ate in all this time?
[Like Miss Glanville earlier in the novel, Sir Charles takes the words right out of my mouth. It may be a family trait.]
Sir George, or, to say better, Prince Veridomer
[Veridomer was the name of Sir George’s fictive grandfather. So far in his history, the narrator himself has not gone by any other name than Bellmour.]
[Caption] Sir George Bellmeno
[That’s really what it says. Look closely.]
dragging Philonice out of the coach
[Sir George’s powers of invention are flagging. “Philonice” is a perfectly ordinary Greek name. It also crops up in several French novels, including one of Arabella’s favorites, Clelia.]
Saying this, she rose from her seat
[Paragraph break restored from 1752.]
A few paragraph breaks in this chapter were supplied from 1752.
it is pity you are not poor enough to be an author
[Ouch. In spite of the success of Arabella, Charlotte Lennox died in poverty.]
three or four essays on virtue, happiness, &c.;
[Semicolon supplied from 1820 edition.]
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.