For the shortness of which the length of the next shall make some amends.
Sir George, to gratify Arabella’s humour, had not presumed to come to the castle for several days; but hearing that they were preparing to leave the country, he wrote a short billet to her; and, in the style of romance, most humbly entreated her to grant him a moment’s audience.
Arabella being informed by Lucy, to whom Sir George’s gentleman had addressed himself, that he had brought a letter from his master, she ordered her to bring him to her apartment, and as soon as he appeared—
How comes it, said she, that the prince, your master, has had the presumption to importune me again, after my absolute commands to the contrary?
The prince my master, madam! said the man, excessively surprised.
Aye! said Arabella, are you not Sir George’s squire? And does he not trust you with his most secret thoughts?
I belong to Sir George Bellmour, madam, replied the man, who did not understand what she meant. I have not the honour to be a squire.
No! interrupted Arabella; it is strange then that he should have honoured you with his commission.—Pray, what is it you come to request for him?II.106
My master, madam, said he, ordered me to get this letter delivered to your ladyship, and to stay for your commands.
You would persuade me, said she, sternly, being provoked that he did not deliver the letter upon his knees, as was the custom in romances, that you are not acquainted with the purport of this audacious billet, since you express so little fear of my displeasure; but know, presumptuous, that I am mortally offended with your master, for his daring to suppose I would read this proof at once of his insolence and infidelity; and were you worth my resentment, I would haply make you suffer for your want of respect to me.
The poor man, surprised and confounded at her anger, and puzzled extremely to understand what she meant, was opening his mouth to say something, it is probable, in his own defence, when Arabella preventing him—
I know what thou wouldst say, said she: thou wouldst abuse my patience by a false detail of thy master’s sighs, tears, exclamations, and despair.
Indeed, madam, I don’t intend to say any such thing, replied the man.
No! repeated Arabella, a little disappointed, Bear back this presumptuous billet, then, which I suppose contains the melancholy account; and tell him, he that could so soon forget the generous Sydimiris for Philonice, and could afterwards be false to that incomparable beauty, is not a person worthy to adore Arabella.
The man, who could not tell what to make of this message, and feared he should forget these two hard names, humbly entreated her to be pleased to acquaint his master by a line with her intentions. Arabella, supposing he meant to importune her still more, made a sign with her hand, very majestically, for him to be gone; but he, II.107 not able to comprehend her meaning, stood still with an air of perplexity, not daring to beg her to explain herself, supposing she, by that sign, required something of him.
Why dost thou not obey my commands? said Arabella, finding he did not go.
I will, to be sure, madam, replied he; wishing at the same time secretly she would let him know what they were.
And yet, said she, hastily, thou are disobeying me this moment: did I not bid you get out of my presence, and speak no more of your inconstant master, whose crimes have rendered him the detestation of all generous persons whatever?
Sir George’s messenger, extremely surprised at so harsh a character of his master, and the rage with which the lady seemed to be actuated, made haste to get out of her apartment; and, at his return, informed his master, very exactly, of the reception he had met with, repeating all Lady Bella’s words; which, notwithstanding the blunders he made in the names of Sydimiris and Philonice, Sir George understood well enough; and found new occasion of wondering at the excess of Arabella’s extravagance, imagined would have explained herself in that manner to his servant.
Without endeavouring, therefore, to see Arabella, he went to pay his compliments to Sir Charles, Mr. Glanville, and Miss Glanville; to the last of whom he said some soft things, that made her extremely regret his staying behind them in the country.II.108
Not so long as was first intended; but contains, however, a surprising adventure on the road.
The day of their departure being come, they set out in a coach and six, attended by several servants on horse-back. The first day’s journey passed off without any accident worthy relating; but, towards the close of the second, they were alarmed by the appearance of three highwaymen, well mounted, at a small distance.
One of the servants, who had first spied them, immediately rode up to the coach; and, for fear of alarming the ladies, whispered Mr. Glanville in the ear.
Sir Charles, who was sitting next his son, and had heard it, cried out, with too little caution, How’s this? Are we in any danger of being attacked, say you?
Mr. Glanville, without replying, jumped out of the coach; at which Miss Glanville screamed out; and, lest her father should follow, sprung into her brother’s seat, and held him fast by the coat.
Arabella, being in a strange consternation at all this, put her head out of the coach, to see what was the matter; and, observing three or four men of a genteel appearance, on horseback, who seemed to halt, and gaze on them, without offering to advance—
Sir, said she to her uncle, are yonder knights the persons whom you suppose will attack us?
Aye, aye, said Sir Charles, they are knights of the road indeed: I suppose we shall have a bout with them; for it will be scandalous to deliver, since II.109 we have the odds of our side, and are more than a match for them.
Arabella, interpreting these words in her own way, looked out again; and, seeing the robbers, who had by this time taken their resolution, galloping towards them, her cousin and the servants ranging themselves of each side of the coach, as if to defend them—
Hold, hold, valiant me, said she, as loud as she could speak, addressing herself to the highwaymen; do not by a mistaken generosity, hazard your lives in a combat, to which the laws of honour do not oblige you; we are not violently carried away, as you falsely suppose; we go willingly along with these persons, who are our friends and relations.
Hey-day! cried Sir Charles, staring at her with great surprise; what’s the meaning of all this? Do you think these fellows will mind your fine speeches, niece?
I hope they will, sir, said she: then pulling her cousin—Shew yourself, for heaven’s sake, miss, pursued she, and second my assurances, that we are not forced away: these generous men come to fight for our deliverance.
The highwaymen, who were near enough to hear Arabella’s voice, though they could not distinguish her words, gazed on her with great surprise; and, finding they would be very well received, thought fit to abandon their enterprise, and galloped away as fast as they were able. Some of the servants made a motion to pursue them; but Mr. Glanville forbade it; and entering again into the coach, congratulated the ladies upon the escape they had had.
Since these men, said Arabella, did not come to deliver us, out of a mistaken notion, that we were carried away by force, it must necessarily follow, they had some bad design; and I protest I know II.110 not who to suspect is the author of it, unless the person you vanquished, said she, to Mr. Glanville, the other day in a single combat; for the disguised Edward, you assured me, was dead. But, perhaps, continued she, it was some lover of Miss Glanville’s who designed to make an attempt to carry her away: methinks he was too slenderly attended for such an hazardous undertaking.
I’ll assure you, madam, said Miss Glanville, I have no lovers among highwaymen.
Highwaymen? repeated Arabella.
Why, aye, to be sure, madam, rejoined Sir Charles: what do you take them for?
For persons of quality, sir, resumed Arabella; and though they came, questionless, either upon a good or bad design, yet it cannot be doubted, but that their birth is illustrious; otherwise they would never pretend either to fight in our defence, or to carry us away.
I vow niece, said Sir Charles, I can’t possibly understand you.
My cousin, sir, interrupted Mr. Glanville, has been mistaken in these persons: and has not yet, possibly, believed them to be highwaymen who came to rob us.
There is no question, sir, said Arabella, smiling, that if they did not come to defend us, they came to rob you: but it is hard to guess, which of us it was of whom they designed to deprive you; for it may very possibly be for my cousin’s sake, as well as mine, that this enterprise was undertaken.
Pardon me, madam, said Mr. Glanville, who was willing to prevent his father from answering her absurdities; these men had no other design than to rob us of our money.
How! said Arabella: were these cavaliers, who appeared to be in so handsome a garb, that I took them for persons of prime quality, were they robbers? II.111 I have been strangely mistaken it seems: however, I apprehend there is no certainty that your suspicions are true; and it may still be as I say, that they either came to rescue or carry us away.
Mr. Glanville to avoid a longer dispute, changed the discourse; having observed, with confusion, that Sir Charles and his sister seemed to look upon his beloved cousin as one that was out of her senses.
Which concludes with an authentic piece of history.
Arabella, during the rest of this journey, was so wholly taken up in contemplating upon the last adventure, that she mixed but little in the conversation. Upon their drawing near Bath, the situation of that city afforded her the means of making a comparison between the valley in which it was placed, (with the amphitheatrical view of the hills around it) and the valley of Tempe.
It was in such a place as this, said she, pursuing her comparison, that the fair Andronice delivered the valiant Hortensius: and really I could wish our entrance into that city might be preceded by an act of equal humanity with that of that fair princess.
For the gratification of that wish, madam, said Mr. Glanville, it is necessary some person should meet with a misfortune, out of which you might be able to relieve him; but I suppose the benevolence of your disposition may be equally satisfied with II.112 not finding any occasion of exercising it when it is found.
Though it be not my fortune to meet with those occasions, replied Arabella, there is no reason to doubt but others do, who possibly have less inclination to afford their assistance than myself: and it is possible, if any other than the princess of Messina had happened to pass by when Hortensius was in the hands of the Thessalians, he would not have been rescued from the ignominious death he was destined to, merely for killing a stork.
How! interrupted Sir Charles, put a man to death for killing a stork! Ridiculous! Pray in what part of the world did that happen? Among the Indians of America, I suppose.
No, sir, said Arabella, in Thessaly; the fairest part in all Macedonia, famous for the beautiful valley of Tempe, which excited the curiosity of all travellers whatever.
No, not all, madam, returned Sir Charles; for I am acquainted with several travellers, who never saw it, nor even mentioned it; and if it is so famous as you say, I am surprised I never heard of it before.
I don’t know, said Arabella, what those travellers thought worthy of their notice; but I am certain, that if any chance should conduct me into Macedonia, I would not leave it till I saw the valley of Tempe, so celebrated by all the poets and historians.
Dear cousin, cried Glanville, who could hardly forbear smiling, what chance, in the name of wonder, should take you into Turkey, at so great a distance from your own country?
And so, said Sir Charles, this famous valley of Tempe is in Turkey. Why, you must be very fond of travelling, II.113 indeed, Lady Bella, if you would go into the Great Mogul’s country, where the people are all Pagans, they say, and worship the devil.
The country my cousin speaks of, said Mr. Glanville, is in the Grand Signior’s dominions: the Great Mogul, you know, sir,—
Well, interrupted Sir Charles, the Great Mogul, or the Grand Signior, I know not what you call him: but I hope my niece does not propose to go thither.
Not unless I am forcibly carried thither, said Arabella; but I do determine, if that misfortune should ever happen to me, that I would, if possible, visit the valley of Tempe, which is in that part of Greece they call Macedonia.
Then I am persuaded, replied Sir Charles, you’ll never see that famous vale you talk of; for it is not very likely you should be forcibly carried away into Turkey.
And why do you think it unlikely that I should be carried thither? interrupted Arabella. Do not the same things happen now, that did formerly? And is any thing more common, than ladies being carried, by their ravishers, into countries far distant from their own? May not the same accidents happen to me, that have happened to so many illustrious ladies before me? And may I not be carried into Macedonia by a similitude of destiny with that of a great many beautiful princesses, who, though born in the most distant quarters of the world, chanced to meet at one time in the city of Alexandria, and related their miraculous adventures to each other.
And it was for that very purpose they met, madam, said Mr. Glanville, smiling.
Why, truly, said Arabella, it happened very luckily for each of them, that they were brought into a place where they found so many illustrious companions in misfortune, to whom they might freely communicate II.114 their adventures, which otherwise might, haply, have been concealed, or, at least, have been imperfectly delivered down to us: however, added she, smiling, if I am carried into Macedonia, and by that means have an opportunity of visiting the famous vale of Tempe, I shall take care not to draw the resentment of the Thessalians upon me, by an indiscretion like that of Hortensius.
For be pleased to know, sir, said she, addressing herself to her uncle, that his killing a stork, however inconsiderable a matter it may appear to us, was yet looked upon as a crime of a very atrocious nature among the Thessalians; for they have a law, which forbids, upon pain of death, the killing of storks; the reason for which is, that Thessaly being subject to be infested with a prodigious multitude of serpents, which are a delightful food to these sort of fowls, they look upon them as sacred birds, sent by the gods to deliver them from these serpents and vipers: and though Hortensius, being a stranger, was pardoned through the intercession of the princess Andronice, they made him promise to send another stork into Thessaly, to the end that he might be reputed innocent.
In which one of our heroine’s whims is justified, by some others full as whimsical.
This piece of history, with Sir Charles’s remarks upon it, brought them into Bath. Their lodgings being provided beforehand, the ladies retired to their different chambers, to repose themselves after the fatigue of their journey, and did not meet again II.115 till supper was on table; when Miss Glanville, who had eagerly inquired what company was then in the place, and heard there were a great many persons of fashion just arrived, prest Arabella to go to the pump-room the next morning, assuring her she would find a very agreeable amusement.
Arabella accordingly consented to accompany her; and being told the ladies went in an undress of a morning, she accommodated herself to the custom, and went in a negligent dress; but instead of a capuchin, she wore something like a veil, of black gauze, which covered almost all her face, and part of her waist, and gave her a very singular appearance.
Miss Glanville was too envious of her cousin’s superiority in point of beauty, to inform her of any oddity in her dress, which she thought might expose her to the ridicule of those that saw her; and Mr. Glanville was too little a critic in ladies apparel, to be sensible that Arabella was not in the fashion; and since every thing she wore became her extremely, he could not choose but think she drest admirably well: he handed her, therefore, with a great deal of satisfaction, into the Pump-room, which happened to be greatly crowded that morning.
The attention of most part of the company was immediately engaged by the appearance Lady Bella made. Strangers are here most strictly criticised, and every new object affords a delicious feast of raillery and scandal.
The ladies, alarmed at the singularity of her dress, crowded together in parties; and the words, Who can she be! Strange creature! Ridiculous! and other exclamations of the same kind, were whispered very intelligibly.
The men were struck II.116 with her figure, veiled as she was. Her fine stature, the beautiful turn of her person, the grace and elegance of her motion, attracted all their notice: the phenomenon of the veil, however, gave them great disturbance. So lovely a person seemed to promise the owner had a face not unworthy of it; but that was totally hid from their view: for Arabella, at her entrance into the room, had pulled the gauze quite over her face, following therein the custom of the ladies in Clelia, and the Grand Cyrus, who, in mixed companies, always hid their faces with great care.
The wits and pretty fellows railed at the envious covering, and compared her to the sun obscured by a cloud; while the beaux dem’d the horrid innovation, and expressed a fear, lest it should grow into a fashion.
Some of the wiser sort took her for a foreigner; others, of still more sagacity, supposed her a Scotch lady, covered with her plaid; and a third sort, infinitely wiser than either, concluded she was a Spanish nun, that had escaped from a convent, and had not yet quitted her veil.
Arabella, ignorant of the diversity of opinions to which her appearance gave rise, was taken up in discoursing with Mr. Glanville upon the medicinal virtue of the springs, the œconomy of the baths, the nature of the diversions, and such other topics as the objects around them furnished her with.
In the mean time, Miss Glanville was got amidst a crowd of her acquaintance, who had hardly paid the civilities of a first meeting, before they eagerly inquired, who that lady she brought with her was.
Miss Glanville informed them, that she was her cousin, and daughter to the deceased Marquis of ——, adding, with a sneer, that she had been brought up in the country; II.117 knew nothing of the world; and had some very peculiar notions, As you may see, said she, by that odd kind of covering she wears.
Her name and quality were presently whispered all over the room; the men, hearing she was a great heiress, found greater beauties to admire in her person; the ladies, awed by the sanction of quality, dropt their ridicule on her dress, and began to quote examples of whims full as inexcusable.
One remembered that Lady J—F— always wore her ruffles reversed; that the Countess of —— went to court in a farthingale; that the Duchess of —— sat astride upon a horse; and a certain lady of great fortune, and nearly allied to quality, because she was not dignified with a title, invented a new one for herself; and directed her servants to say in speaking to her, Your honouress; which afterwards became a custom among all her acquaintance; who mortally offended her if they omitted that instance of respect.
Containing some historical anecdotes, the truth of which may possibly be doubted, as they are not to be found in any of the historians.
After a short stay in the room, Arabella expressing a desire to return home, Mr. Glanville conducted her out. Two gentlemen of his acquaintance attending Miss Glanville, Sir Charles detained them to breakfast, by which means they had an opportunity of satisfying their curiosity; and beheld Arabella divested of that veil, which had, as they said, (and it is probable they said no more than II.118 they thought) concealed one of the finest faces in the world.
Miss Glanville had the mortification to see both the gentlemen so charmed with the sight of her cousin’s face, that for a long time she sat wholly neglected; but the seriousness of her behaviour giving some little disgust to the youngest of them, who was what the ladies call a pretty fellow, a dear creature, and the most diverting man in the world; he applied himself wholly to Miss Glanville, and soon engaged her in a particular conversation.
Mr. Selvin, so was the other gentleman called, was of a much graver cast; he affected to be thought deep-read in history, and never failed to take all opportunities of displaying his knowledge of antiquity, which was indeed but very superficial: but having some few anecdotes by heart, which he would take occasion to introduce as often as he could, he passed among many persons for one who, by application and study, had acquired an universal knowledge of ancient history.
Speaking of any particular circumstance, he would fix the time, by computing the year with the number of the Olympiads.
It happened, he would say, in the 141st Olympiad.
Such an amazing exactness had a suitable effect on his audience, and always procured him a great degree of attention.
This gentleman hitherto had no opportunity of displaying his knowledge of his tory, the discourse having wholly turned upon news, and other trifles; when Arabella, after some more inquiries concerning the place, remarked, that there was a very great difference between the medicinal waters at Bath, and the fine springs at the foot of the mountain Thermopylæ, in Greece, as well in their qualities, as manner of using them: And I am of opinion, added she, that Bath, famous as it is II.119 for restoring health, is less frequented by infirm persons, than the famous springs of Thermopylæ were by the beauties of Greece, to whom those waters have the reputation of giving new lustre.
Mr. Selvin, who, with all his reading, had never met with any account of these celebrated Grecian springs, was extremely disconcerted at not being able to continue a conversation, which the silence of the rest of the company made him imagine was directed wholly to him.
The shame he conceived at seeing himself opposed by a girl, in a matter which so immediately belonged to him, made him resolve to draw himself out of this dilemma at any rate; and, though he was far from being convinced, that there was no such springs at Thermopylæ as Arabella mentioned, yet he resolutely maintained that she must be mistaken in their situation; for to his certain knowledge there was no medicinal waters at the foot of that mountain.
Arabella, who could not endure to be contradicted in what she took to be so incontestible a fact, reddened with vexation at his unexpected denial.
It should seem, said she, by your discourse, that you are unacquainted with many material passages that passed among very illustrious persons there; and if you knew any thing of Pisistratus the Athenian, you would know, than an adventure he had at those baths, laid the foundation of all those great designs, which he afterwards effected, to the total subversion of the Athenian government.
Mr. Selvin, surprised that this piece of history had likewise escaped his observation, resolved, how ever, not to give up his point.
I think, madam, replied he, with great self-sufficiency, that I am pretty well acquainted with every thing which relates to the affairs of the Athenian common-wealth; II.120 and know by what steps Pisistratus advanced himself to the sovereignty.—It was, indeed, a great stroke of policy in him, said he, turning to Mr. Glanville, to wound himself; in order to get a guard assigned him.
You are mistaken, sir, said Arabella, if you believe there was any truth in the report of his having wounded himself; it was done either by his rival Lycurgus, or Theocrites; who believing him still to be in love with the fair Cerinthe, whom he courted, took that way to get rid of him: neither is it true, that ambition alone inspired Pisistratus with a design of enslaving his country; those authors who say so, must know little of the springs and motives of his conduct. It was neither ambition nor revenge that made him act as he did; it was the violent affection he conceived for the beautiful Cleorante, whom he first saw at the famous baths of Thermopylæ, which put him upon those designs; for, seeing that Lycurgus, who was not his rival in ambition, but love, would certainly become the possessor of Cleorante, unless he made himself tyrant of Athens, he had recourse to that violent method, in order to preserve her for himself.
I protest, madam, said Mr. Selvin, casting down his eyes in great confusion, at her superior knowledge in history, these particulars have all escaped my notice; and this is the first time I ever understood that Pisistratus was violently in love; and that it was not ambition which made him aspire to sovereignty.
I do not remember any mention of this in Plutarch, continued he, rubbing his forehead, or any of the authors who have treated on the affairs of Greece.
Very likely, sir, replied Arabella; but you will see the whole story of Pisistratus’s love for Cleorante, II.121 with the effects it produced, related at large in Scudery.
Scudery, madam! said the sage Mr. Selvin, I never read that historian.
No, sir, replied Arabella; then your reading has been very confined.
I know, madam, said he, that Herodotus, Thucydides, and Plutarch, have indeed quoted him frequently.
I am surprised, sir, said Mr. Glanville, who was excessively diverted at this discovery of his great ignorance and affectation, that you have not read that famous historian; especially as the writers you have mentioned quote him so often.
Why, to tell you the truth, sir, said he, though he was a Roman, yet it is objected to him, that he wrote but indifferent Latin; with no purity or elegance; and ——
You are quite mistaken, sir, interrupted Arabella, the great Scudery was a Frenchman; and both his Clelia and were written in French.
A Frenchman was he? said Mr. Selvin, with a lofty air: Oh, then! it is not surprising that I have not read him; I read no authors but the ancients, madam, added he, with a look of self-applause; I cannot relish the moderns at all; I have no taste for their way of writing.
But Scudery must needs be more ancient than Thucydides, and the rest of those Greek historians you mentioned, said Mr. Glanville: how else could they quote him?
Mr. Selvin was here so utterly at a loss, that he could not conceal his confusion; he held down his head, and continued silent; while the beau, who had listened to the latter part of their discourse, exerted his supposed talent of raillery against the unhappy admirer of the ancient authors: and increased his confusion by a thousand sarcasms, which gave more diversion to himself than any body else.II.122
Which contains some excellent rules for raillery.
Mr. Glanville, who had too much politeness and good-nature to insist too long upon the ridicule in the character of his acquaintance, changed the discourse; and Arabella, who had observed, with some concern, the ill-judged raillery of the young beau, took occasion to decry that species of wit; and gave it, as her opinion, that it was very dangerous and unpleasing.
For, truly, said she, it is almost impossible to use it without being hated or feared; and whoever gets a habit of it, is in danger of wronging all the laws of friendship and humanity.
Certainly, pursued she, looking at the beau, it is extremely unjust to rally one’s friends and particular acquaintance: first, choose them well, and be as nice as you please in the choice; but when you have chosen them, by no means play upon them; it is cruel and malicious to divert one’s self at the expense of one’s friend.
However, madam, said Mr. Glanville, who was charmed to hear her talk so rationally, you may give people leave to rally their enemies.
Truly, resumed Arabella, I cannot allow that, any more than upon friends; for raillery is the poorest kind of revenge that can be taken: methinks it is mean to rally persons who have a small share of merit; since, haply, their defects were born with them, and not of their own acquiring; and it is great injustice to descant upon one slight fault in men of parts, to the prejudice of a thousand good qualities.II.123
For aught I see, madam, said the beau, you will not allow one to rally any body.
I am of opinion, sir, said Arabella, that there are very few proper objects for raillery; and still fewer who can rally well: the talent of raillery ought to be born with the person; no art can infuse it; and those who endeavour to rally in spite of nature, will be so far from diverting others, they will become the objects of ridicule themselves. Many other pleasing qualities of wit may be acquired by pains and study, but raillery must be the gift of nature: it is not enough to have many lively and agreeable thoughts; but there must be such an expression, as must convey their full force and meaning; the air, the aspect, the tone of the voice, and every part in general, must contribute to its perfection. There ought also to be a great distance between raillery and satire, so that one may never be mistaken for the other: raillery ought indeed to surprise, and sensibly touch, those to whom it is directed; but I would not have the wounds it makes either deep or lasting: let those who feel it, be hurt like persons who, gathering roses, are pricked by the thorns, and find a sweet smell to make amends.
I would have raillery raise the fancy, and quicken the imagination; the fire of its wit should only enable us to trace its original, and shine as the stars do, but not burn. Yet, after all, I cannot greatly approve of raillery, or cease to think it dangerous; and, to pursue my comparisons, said she, with an enchanting smile, persons who possess the true talent of raillery, are like comets; they are seldom seen, and are at once admired and feared.
I protest, Lady Bella, said Sir Charles, who had listened to her with many signs of admiration, you speak like an orator.
One would not imagine, interrupted Mr. Glanville, II.124 who saw Arabella in some confusion at the coarse praise her uncle gave her, that my cousin could speak so accurately of a quality she never practises: and it is easy to judge, by what she has said, that nobody can rally finer than herself, if she pleases.
Mr. Selvin, though he bore her a grudge for knowing more history than he did, yet assured her that she had given the best rules imaginable for rallying well. But the beau, whom she had silenced by her reproof, was extremely angry; and supposing it would mortify her to see him pay court to her cousin, he redoubled his assiduities to Miss Glanville, who was highly delighted at seeing Arabella less taken notice of by this gay gentleman than herself.
In which the author condescends to be very minute in the description of our heroine’s dress.
The indifference of Mr. Tinsel convincing Miss Glanville that Arabella was less to be dreaded than she imagined, she had no reluctance at seeing her prepare for her public appearance the next ball-night.
Having consulted her fancy in a rich silver stuff she had bought for that purpose, a person was sent for to make it; and Arabella, who followed no fashion but her own taste, which was formed on the manners of the heroines, ordered the woman to make her a robe after the same model as the princess Julia’s.
The mantua-maker, who thought it might do her II.125 great prejudice with her new customer, to acknowledge she new nothing of the princess Julia, or the fashion of her gown, replied at random, and with great pertness—That that taste was quite out, and she would advise her ladyship to have her clothes made in the present mode, which was far more becoming.
You can never persuade me, said Arabella, that any fashion can be more becoming than that of the princess Julia’s, who was the most gallant princess upon earth, and knew better than any other how to set off her charms. It may indeed be a little obsolete now, pursued she, for the fashion could not but alter a little in the compass of near two thousand years.
Two thousand years, madam! said the woman, in a great surprise: Lord help us trades-people, if they did not alter a thousand times in as many days! I thought your ladyship was speaking of the last month’s taste, which, as I said before, is quite out now.
Well, replied Arabella, let the present mode be what it will, I insist upon having my clothes made after the pattern of the beautiful daughter of Augustus; being convinced that none other can be half so becoming.
What fashion was that, pray madam? said the woman; I never saw it.
How! replied Arabella, have you already forgot the fashion of the princess Julia’s robe, which you said was worn but last month? Or, are you ignorant that the princess Julia and the daughter of Augustus is the same person?
I protest, madam, said the woman, extremely confused, I had forgot that till you called it to my mind.
Well, said Arabella, make me a robe in the same taste.
The mantua-maker was now wholly at a loss in what manner to behave; for, being conscious that she knew nothing of the princess Julia’s fashion, II.126 she could not undertake to make it without directions, and she was afraid of discovering her ignorance by asking for any; so that her silence and embarrassment persuading Arabella she knew nothing of the matter, she dismissed her with a small present for the trouble she had given her, and had recourse to her usual expedient, which was to make one of her women, who understood a little of the mantua-making business, make a robe for her after her own directions. Miss Glanville, who imagined she had sent for work-women in order to have clothes made in the modern taste, was surprised, at her entrance into her chamber, to see her dressing for the ball in a habit singular to the last degree.
She wore no hoop, and the blue and silver stuff of her robe was only kept by its own richness from hanging close about her. It was quite open round her breast, which was shaded with a rich border of lace; and clasping close to her waist by small knots of diamonds, descended in a sweeping train on the ground. The sleeves were short, wide, and slashed, fastened in different places with diamonds, and her arms were partly hid by half a dozen falls of ruffles. Her hair, which fell in very easy ringlets on her neck, was placed with great care and exactness round her lovely face; and the jewels and ribbands, which were all her head-dress, were disposed to the greatest advantage. Upon the whole, nothing could be more singularly becoming than her dress; or set off with greater advantage the striking beauties of her person.
Miss Glanville, though she was not displeased to see her persist in her singularity of dress, yet could not behold her look so lovely in it, without feeling a secret uneasiness; but consoling herself with the hopes of the ridicule she would occasion, she assumed a cheerful air, approved her taste in the choice II.127 of her colours, and went with her at the usual hour to the rooms, attended by Mr. Glanville, Mr. Selvin, and the young beau we have formerly mentioned.
The surprise Arabella’s unusual appearance gave to the whole company, was very visible to every one but herself. The moment she entered the room, every one whispered the person next to them; and for some moments nothing was heard but the words, the princess Julia; which was echoed at every corner, and at last attracted her observation.
Mr. Glanville, and the rest of the company with her, were in some confusion at the universal exclamation, which they imagined was occasioned by the singularity of her habit; though they could not conceive why they gave her that title. Had they known the adventure of the mantua-maker, it would doubtless have easily occurred to them; for the woman had no sooner left Arabella, than she related the conference she had with a lady newly arrived, who had required her to make a robe in the manner of the princess Julia’s, and dismissed her because she did not understand the fashions that prevailed two thousand years ago.
This story was quickly dispersed, and, for its novelty, afforded a great deal of diversion; every one longed to see a fashion of such antiquity, and expected the appearance of the princess Julia with great impatience. It is not to be doubted but much mirth was treasured up for her appearance; and the occasional humourist had already prepared his accustomed jest, when the sight of the devoted fair one repelled his vivacity, and the designed ridicule of the whole assembly.
Scarce had the tumultuous whisper escaped the lips of each individual, when they found themselves awed to respect by that irresistible charm in the person of Arabella, which commanded II.128 reverence and love from all who beheld her.
Her noble air, the native dignity in her looks, the inexpressible grace which accompanied all her motions, and the consummate loveliness of her form, drew the admiration of the whole assembly.
A respectful silence succeeded; and the astonishment her beauty occasioned, left them no room to descant on the absurdity of her dress.
Miss Glanville, who felt a malicious joy at the sneers she expected would be cast on her cousin, was greatly disappointed at the deference which seemed to be paid to her; and, to vent some part of her spleen, took occasion to mention her surprise at the behaviour of the company on their entrance, wondering what they could mean by whispering, the princess Julia, to one another.
I assure you, said Arabella, smiling, I am not less surprised than you at it; and since they directed their looks to me at the same time, I fancy they either took me for some princess of the name of Julia, who is expected here to-night, or else flatter me with some resemblance to the beautiful daughter of Augustus.
The comparison, madam, said Mr. Selvin, who took all occasions to shew his reading, is too injurious to you; for I am of opinion you as much excel that licentious lady in the beauties of your person, as you do in the qualities of your mind.
I never heard licentiousness imputed to the daughter of Augustus Cæsar, said Arabella; and the most her enemies can say of her, is, that she loved admiration, and would permit herself to be beloved, and to be told so, without shewing any signs of displeasure.
Bless me, madam! interrupted Mr. Selvin, how strangely do you mistake II.129 the character of Julia: though the daughter of an emperor, she was (pardon the expression) the most abandoned prostitute in Rome; many of her intrigues are recorded in history; but, to mention only one, was not her infamous commerce with Ovid the cause of his banishment?
Some reflections very fit, and others very unfit, for an assembly-room.
You speak in strange terms, replied Arabella, blushing, of a princess, who, if she was not the most reserved and severe person in the world, was yet, nevertheless, absolutely chaste.
I know there were people who represented her partiality for Ovid in a very unfavourable light; but that ingenious poet, when he related his history to the great Agrippa, told him in confidence all that had passed between him and the princess Julia, than which nothing could be more innocent, though a little indiscreet. For it is certain that she permitted him to love her, and did not condemn him to any rigorous punishment for daring to tell her so; yet, for all this, as I said before, though she was not altogether so austere as she ought to have been, yet she was, nevertheless, a most virtuous princess.
Mr. Selvin, not daring to contradict a lady, whose extensive reading had furnished her with anecdotes unknown almost to any body else, by his silence confessed her superiority; but Mr. Glanville, who knew all these anecdotes were drawn from romances, which he found contradicted the known facts in history, II.130 and assigned the most ridiculous causes for things of the greatest importance, could not help smiling at the facility with which Mr. Selvin gave those idle absurdities. For notwithstanding his affectation of great reading, his superficial knowledge of history made it extremely easy to deceive him; and as it was his custom to mark in his pocket-book all the scraps of history he heard introduced into conversation, and retail them again in other company, he did not doubt but he would make a figure with the curious circumstances Arabella had furnished him with.
Arabella observing Mr. Tinsel, by his familiar bows, significant smiles, and easy salutations, was acquainted with the greatest part of the assembly, told him, that she did not doubt but he knew the adventures of many persons whom they were viewing; and that he would do her a pleasure, if he would relate some of them.
Mr. Tinsel was charmed with a request which afforded him an opportunity of gratifying a favourite inclination; and seating himself near her immediately, was beginning to obey her injunctions, when she gracefully entreated him to stay a moment; and calling to Mr. Glanville, and his sister, who were talking to Mr. Selvin, asked them if they chose to partake of a more rational amusement than dancing, and listen to the adventures of some illustrious persons, which Mr. Tinsel had promised to relate.
I assure you, madam, said Mr. Glanville, smiling, you will find that a less innocent amusement than dancing.
Why so, sir, replied Arabella, since it is not an indiscreet curiosity which prompts me to a desire of hearing the histories Mr. Tinsel has promised to entertain me with; but rather a hope of hearing something which may at once improve and II.131 delight me; something which may excite my admiration, engage my esteem, or influence my practice?
It was, doubtless, with such motives as these, that we find princesses and ladies of the most illustrious rank, in Clelia and the Grand Cyrus, listening to the adventures of persons, in whom they were probably as little interested, as we are in these around us. Kings, princes, and commanders of armies, thought it was no waste of their time, in the midst of the hurry and clamour of a camp, to listen many hours to the relation of one single history, and not filled with any extraordinary events, but haply a simple recital of common occurrences: the great Cyrus, while he was busy in reducing all Asia to his yoke, heard, nevertheless, the histories of all the considerable persons in the camp, besides those of strangers, and even his enemies. If there was, therefore, any thing either criminal or mean in hearing the adventures of others, do you imagine so many great and illustrious persons would have given in to such an amusement.
After this Arabella turned gravely about to Mr. Tinsel, and told him, he was at liberty to begin his recital.
The beau, a little disconcerted by the solemnity with which she requested his information, knew not how to begin with the formality that he saw was required of him; and therefore sat silent for a few moments; which Arabella supposed was to recal to his memory all the passages he proposed to relate.
His perplexity would probably have increased instead of lessening by the profound silence which she observed, had not Miss Glanville seated herself with a sprightly air on the other side of him, and directing his eyes to a tall handsome woman that had just entered, asked him, pleasantly, to tell her II.132 history, if he knew it.
Mr. Tinsel, brought into his usual track by this question, answered, smiling, that the history of that lady was yet a secret, or known but to a very few; but my intelligence, added he, is generally the earliest, and may always be depended on.
Perhaps, said Arabella, the lady is one of your acquaintances, and favoured you with the recital of her adventures from her own mouth.
No, really, madam, answered Mr. Tinsel, surprised at the great simplicity of Arabella, for so he understood it; the lady, I believe, is not so communicative: and, to say the truth, I should not choose to hear her adventures from herself, since she certainly would suppress the most material circumstances.
In a word, said he, lowering his voice, that lady was for many years the mistress of a young military nobleman, whom she was so complaisant as to follow in all his campaigns, marches, sieges, and every inconveniency of war: he married her in Gibraltar, from whence he is lately arrived, and introduced his new lady to his noble brother, by whom she was not unfavourably received. It is worth remarking, that this same haughty peer thought fit to resent with implacable obstinacy the marriage of another of his brothers, with the widow of a brave officer, of considerable rank in the army. It is true, she was several years older than the young lord, and had no fortune; but the duke assigned other reasons for his displeasure: he complained loudly, that his brother had dishonoured the nobility of his birth by this alliance, and continued his resentment till the death of the young hero, who gave many remarkable proofs of his courage and fortitude upon several occasions, and died gloriously before the walls of Carthagena; leaving his disconsolate lady a widow a second time, with the acquisition II.133 of a title indeed, but a very small addition to her fortune.
Observe that gay, splendid lady, I beseech you, madam, pursued he, turning to Arabella; how affectedly she looks and talks, and throws her eyes around the room, with a haughty self-sufficiency in her aspect, and insolent contempt for every thing but herself. Her habit, her speech, her motions, are all French; nothing in England is able to please her; the people so dull, so awkwardly polite; the manners so gross; no delicacy, no elegance, no magnificence in their persons, houses, or diversions; every thing is so distasteful, there is no living in such a place. One may crawl about, indeed, she says, and make a shift to breathe in the odious country, but one cannot be said to live; and with all the requisites to render life delightful, here, one can only suffer, not enjoy it.
Would one not imagine, pursued he, this fine lady was a person of very exalted rank, who has the sanction of birth, riches, and grandeur, for her extraordinary pride? and yet she is no other than the daughter of an innkeeper at Spa, and had the exalted post assigned her of attending new lodgers to their apartments, acquainting them with all the conveniences of the place, answering an humble question or two concerning what company was in the town, what scandal was stirring, and the like.
One of our great sea-commanders going thither for his health, happened to lodge at this inn; and was so struck with her charms, that he married her in a few weeks, and soon after brought her to England.
Such was the origin of this fantastic lady; whose insupportable pride and ridiculous affectation draws contempt and aversion wherever she appears.
Did I not tell you, madam, interrupted Mr. Glanville, II.134 that the amusement you had chosen was not so innocent as dancing? What a deal of scandal has Mr. Tinsel uttered in the compass of a few minutes?
I assure you, replied Arabella, I know not what to make of the histories he has been relating. I think they do not deserve that name, and are rather detached pieces of satire on particular persons, than a serious relation of facts. I confess my expectations from this gentleman have not been answered.
I think, however, madam, said Mr. Glanville, we may allow that there is a negative merit in the relations Mr. Tinsel has made; for, if he has not shewn us any thing to approve, he has not at least shewn us what to condemn.
The ugliness of vice, replied Arabella, ought only to be represented to the vicious; to whom satire, like a magnifying glass, may aggravate every defect, in order to make its deformity appear more hideous; but since its end is only to reprove and amend, it should never be addressed to any but those who come within its correction, and may be the better for it: a virtuous mind need not be shewn the deformity of vice, to make it be hated and avoided; the more pure and uncorrupted our ideas are, the less shall we be influenced by example. A natural propensity to virtue or vice often determines the choice: it is sufficient, therefore, to shew a good mind what it ought to pursue, though a bad one must be told what to avoid. In a word, one ought to be always incited, the other always restrained.
I vow, Lady Bella, said Miss Glanville, you’d make one think one came here to hear a sermon; you are so very grave, and talk upon such high-flown subjects. What harm was there in what Mr. Tinsel II.135 was telling us? it would be hard indeed if one might not divert one’s self with other people’s faults.
I am afraid, miss, said Arabella, those who can divert themselves with the faults of others, are not behind in affording diversion. And that very inclination, added she, smilingly, to hear other people’s faults, may, by those very people, be condemned as one, and afford them the same kind of ill-natured pleasure you are so desirous of.
Nay, madam, returned Miss Glanville, your ladyship was the first who introduced the discourse you condemn so much. Did not you desire Mr. Tinsel to tell you histories about the company; and asked my brother and me to come and hear them?
It is true, replied Arabella, that I did desire you to partake with me of a pleasing and rational amusement, for such I imagined Mr. Tinsel’s histories might afford; far from a detail of vices, follies, and irregularities, I expected to have heard the adventures of some illustrious personages related; between whose actions, and those of the heroes and heroines of antiquity, I might have found some resemblance.
For instance, I hoped to have heard imitated the sublime courage of a Clelia; who, to save her honour from the attempts of the impious Tarquin, leapt into the river Tyber, and swam to the other side; or the noble resolution of the incomparable Candace, who, to escape out of the hands of her ravisher, the pirate Zenadorus, set fire to his vessel with her own hands, and committed herself to the mercy of the waves: or, the constancy and affection of a Mandane, who, for the sake of a Cyrus, refused the richest crowns in the world, and braved the terrors of death to preserve herself for him.
As for the men, I hoped to have heard of some II.136 who might have almost equalled the great Oroondates, the invincible Artaban, the valiant Juba, the renowned Alcamenes, and many thousand heroes of antiquity; whose glorious exploits in war, and unshaken constancy in love, have given them immortal fame.
While Arabella was uttering this long speech, with great emotion, Miss Glanville, with a sly look at the beau, gave him to understand, that was her cousin’s foible.
Mr. Tinsel, however, not able to comprehend the meaning of what she said, listened to her with many signs of perplexity and wonder.
Mr. Selvin, in secret, repined at her prodigious knowledge of history; and Mr. Glanville, with his eyes fixed on the ground, bit his lips almost through with madness.
In the mean time, several among the company, desirous of hearing what the strange lady was saying so loud, and with so much eagerness and emotion, gathered round them; which Mr. Glanville observing, and fearing Arabella would expose herself still farther, whispered his sister to get her away, if possible.
Miss Glanville, though very unwilling, obeyed his injunctions; and complaining of a sudden head-ach, Arabella immediately proposed retiring, which was joyfully complied with by Mr. Glanville, who with the other gentlemen attended them home.II.137
Being a chapter of the satirical kind.
At their return, Sir Charles told his niece, that she had now had a specimen of the world, and some of the fashionable amusements; and asked her how she had been entertained.
Why, truly, sir, replied she, smiling, I have brought away no great relish for a renewal of the amusement I have partaken of to-night. If the world, in which you seem to think I am but newly initiated, affords only these kinds of pleasures, I shall very soon regret the solitude and books I have quitted.
Why, pray? said Miss Glanville; what kind of amusements did your ladyship expect to find in the world? And what was there disagreeable in your entertainment to-night? I am sure there is no place in England, except London, where there is so much good company to be met with as here. The assembly was very numerous and brilliant, and one can be at no loss for amusements: the pump-room in the morning, the parade, and the rooms, in the evening, with little occasional parties of pleasure, will find one sufficient employment, and leave none of one’s time to lie useless upon one’s hand.
I am of opinion, replied Arabella, that one’s time is far from being well employed in the manner you portion it out: and people who spend theirs in such trifling amusements, must certainly live to very little purpose.
What room, I pray you, does a lady give for high and noble adventures, who consumes her days in dressing, dancing, listening to songs, and ranging the walks with people as thoughtless as herself? II.138 How mean and contemptible a figure must a life spent in such idle amusements make in history? Or rather, are not such persons always buried in oblivion; and can any pen be found who would condescend to record such inconsiderable actions?
Nor can I persuade myself, added she, that any of those men whom I saw at the assembly, with figures so feminine, voices so soft, such tripping steps, and unmeaning gestures, have ever signalized either their courage or constancy; but might be overcome by their enemy in battle, or be false to their mistress in love.
! cousin, replied Miss Glanville, you are always talking of battles and fighting. Do you expect that persons of quality and fine gentlemen will go to the wars? What business have they to fight? That belongs to the officers.
Then every fine gentleman is an officer, said Arabella; and some other title ought to be found out for men who do nothing but dance and dress.
I could never have imagined, interrupted Mr. Tinsel, surveying Arabella, that a lady so elegant and gay in her own appearance, should have an aversion to pleasure and magnificence.
I assure you, sir, replied Arabella, I have an aversion to neither: on the contrary, I am a great admirer of both. But my ideas of amusements and grandeur are probably different from yours.
I will allow the ladies to be solicitous about their habits and dress with all the care and elegance they are capable of; but such trifles are below the consideration of a man: who ought not to owe the dignity of his appearance to the embroidery on his coat, but to his high and noble air, the grandeur of his courage, the elevation of his sentiments, and the many heroic actions he has performed.II.139
Such a man will dress his person with a graceful simplicity, and lavish all his gold and embroidery upon his armour, to render him conspicuous in the day of battle. The plumes in his helmet will look more graceful in the field, than the feather in his hat at a ball; and jewels blaze with more propriety on his shield and cuirass in battle, than glittering on his finger in a dance.
Do not imagine, however, pursued she, that I absolutely condemn dancing, and think it a diversion wholly unworthy of a hero.
History has recorded some very famous balls, at which the most illustrious persons in the world have appeared. Cyrus the Great, we are informed, opened a ball with the divine Mandane at Sardis. The renowned King of Scythia danced with the Princess Cleopatra at Alexandria. The brave Cleomedon with the fair Candace at Ethiopia: but these diversions were taken but seldom, and considered indeed as an amusement, not as a part of the business of life.
How would so many glorious battles have been fought, cities taken, ladies rescued, and other great and noble adventures been achieved, if the men, sunk in sloth and effeminacy, had continually followed the sound of a fiddle, sauntered in public walks, or tattled over a tea-table?
I vow, cousin, said Miss Glanville, you are infinitely more severe in your censures than Mr. Tinsel was at the assembly. You had little reason, methinks, to be angry with him.
All I have said, replied Arabella, was the natural inference from your own account of the manner in which people live here. When actions are a censure upon themselves, the reciter will always be considered as a satirist.II.140
In which our heroine justifies her own notions by some very illustrious examples.
Mr. Selvin and Mr. Tinsel, who had listened attentively to this discourse of Arabella, took leave as soon as it was ended, and went away with very different opinions of her.
Mr. Tinsel declaring she was a fool, and had no knowledge of the world; and Mr. Selvin convinced she was a wit, and very learned in antiquity.
Certainly, said Mr. Selvin, in support of his opinion, the lady has great judgment; has been capable of prodigious application, as is apparent by her extensive reading: then her memory is quite miraculous. I protest, I am quite charmed with her; I never met with such a in all my life.
Her cousin, in my opinion, replied Mr. Tinsel, is infinitely beyond her in every merit, but beauty. How sprightly and free her conversation! What a thorough knowledge of the world! So true a taste for polite amusements, and a fund of spirits that sets vapours and spleen at defiance!
This speech bringing on a comparison between the ladies, the champions for each grew so warm in the dispute, that they had like to have quarrelled. However, by the interposition of some other gentlemen who were with them, they parted tolerable friends that night, and renewed their visits to Sir Charles in the morning.
They found only Miss Glanville with her father and brother. Arabella generally spent the mornings in her own chamber, where reading and the labours of the toilet employed her time till dinner: though II.141 it must be confessed, to her honour, that the latter engrossed but a very small part of it.
Miss Glanville, with whom the beau had a long conversation at one of the windows, in which he recounted his dispute with Mr. Selvin, and the danger he ran of being pinked in a duel, (that was his phrase) for her sake, at last proposed a walk; to which she consented, and engaged to prevail upon Arabella to accompany them.
That lady at first positively refused, alledging in excuse, that she was so extremely interested in the fate of the Princess Melisintha, whose story she was reading, that she could not stir till she had finished it.
That poor princess, continued she, is at present in a most terrible situation. She has just set fire to the palace, in order to avoid the embraces of a king who forced her to marry him. I am in pain to know how she escapes the flames.
Pshaw, interrupted Miss Glanville, let her perish there if she will: don’t let her hinder our walk.
Who is it you doom with so much cruelty to perish? said Arabella, closing the book, and looking on her cousin. Is it the beautiful Melisintha? That princess, whose fortitude and patience have justly rendered her the admiration of the whole world? That princess, descended from a race of heroes, whose heroic virtues all glowed in her own beauteous breast? That princess, who, when taken captive, with the king her father, bore her imprisonment and chains with a marvellous constancy; and who, when she had enslaved her conqueror, and given fetters to the prince who held her father and herself in bonds, nobly refused the diadem he proffered her, and devoted herself to destruction, in order to punish the enemy of her house? I am not able to relate the rest of her history, seeing I have read no farther myself; but if you will be pleased to sit down and II.142 listen to me while I read what remains, I am persuaded you will find new cause to love and admire this amiable princess.
Pardon me, madam, said Miss Glanville; I have heard enough; and I could have been very well satisfied not to have heard so much. I think we waste a great deal of time talking about people we know nothing of. The morning will be quite lost, if we don’t make haste. Come, added she, you must go; you have a new lover below, who waits to go with us; he’ll die if I don’t bring you.
A new lover! returned Arabella, surprised.
Aye, aye, said Miss Glanville, the learned Mr. Selvin; I assure you, he had almost quarrelled with Mr. Tinsel last night about your ladyship.
Arabella, at this intelligence, casting down her eyes, discovered many signs of anger and confusion; and after a silence of some moments, during which Miss Glanville had been employed in adjusting her dress at the glass, addressing herself to her cousin with an accent somewhat less sweet than before,—
Had any other than yourself, miss, said she, acquainted me with the presumption of that unfortunate person, I should haply have discovered my resentment in other terms: but, as it is, I must inform you, that I take it extremely ill you should be accessary to giving me this offence.
Hey-dey! said Miss Glanville, turning about hastily, how have I offended your ladyship, pray?
I am willing to hope, cousin, replied Arabella, that it was only to divert yourself with the trouble and confusion in which you see me, that you have indiscreetly told things which ought to have been buried in silence.
And what is all this mighty trouble and confusion about, then, madam? said Miss Glanville, smiling, Is it because I told you Mr. Selvin was a lover of II.143 your ladyship?
Certainly, said Arabella, such an information is sufficient to give one a great deal of perplexity. Is it such a little matter, think you, to be told that a man has the presumption to love one?
A mere trifle, replied Miss Glanville laughing; a hundred lovers are not worth a moment’s thought, when one’s sure of them; for then the trouble is all over: and as for this unfortunate person, as your ladyship called him, let him die at his leisure, while we go to the parade.
Your levity, cousin, said Arabella, forces me to smile, notwithstanding the cause I have to be incensed; however, I have charity enough to make me not desire the death of Mr. Selvin, who may repair the crime he has been guilty of by repentance and discontinuation.
Well, then, said Miss Glanville, you are resolved to go to the parade: shall I reach you your odd kind of capuchin?
How, said Arabella, can I with any propriety see a man who has discovered himself to have a passion for me? Will he not construe such a favour into a permission for him to hope?
Oh, no! interrupted Miss Glanville, he does not imagine I have told your ladyship he loves you; for indeed he don’t know that I am acquainted with his passion.
Then he is less culpable than I thought him, replied Arabella; and if you think I am in no danger of hearing a confession of his fault from his own mouth, I’ll comply with your request, and go with you to the parade. But, added she, I must first engage you to promise not to leave me alone a moment, lest he should take advantage of such an opportunity, to give some hint of his passion, that would force me to treat him very rigorously.
Miss Glanville answered, laughing, that she would be sure to mind her directions. However, said she, your ladyship need not be apprehensive he will say II.144 any fine things to you; for I knew a young lady he was formerly in love with, and the odious creature visited her a twelvemonth before he found courage enough to tell her she was handsome.
Doubtless, replied Arabella, he was much to be commended for his respect. A lover should never have the presumption to declare his passion to his mistress, unless in certain circumstances, which may at the same time in part disarm her anger. For instance, he must struggle with the violence of his passion, till it has cast him into a fever. His physicians must give him over, pronouncing his distemper incurable, since the cause of it being in his mind, all their art is incapable of removing it. Thus he must suffer, rejoicing at the approach of death, which will free him from all his torments, without violating the respect he owes to the divine object of his flame. At length, when he has but a few hours to live, his mistress, with many signs of compassion, conjures him to tell her the cause of his despair. The lover, conscious of his crime, evades all her inquiries; but the lady laying at last a peremptory command upon him to disclose the secret, he dares not disobey her, and acknowledges his passion with the utmost contrition for having offended her; bidding her take the small remainder of his life to expiate his crime; and finishes his discourse by falling into a swoon.
The lady is touched at his condition, commands him to live, and, if necessary, permits him to hope.
This is the most common way in which such declarations are, and ought to be, brought about. However, there are others, which are as well calculated for sparing a lady’s confusion, and deprecating her wrath.
The lover, for example, like the prince of the Massagetes, after having buried his passion in silence II.145 for many years, may chance to be walking with his confidant in a retired place; to whom, with a deluge of tears, he relates the excess of his passion and despair. And while he is thus unbosoming his griefs, not in the least suspecting he is overheard, his princess, who had been listening to him in much trouble and confusion, by some little rustling she makes, unawares discovers herself.
The surprised lover throws himself at her feet, begs pardon for his rashness, observes that he had never presumed to discover his passion to her, and implores her leave to die before her, as a punishment for his undesigned offence.
The method which the great Artamenes took to let the princess of Media know he adored her, was not less respectful. This valiant prince, who had long loved her, being to fight a great battle, in which he had some secret presages he should fall, which however deceived him, wrote a long letter to the divine Mandane, wherein he discovered his passion, and the resolution his respect had inspired him with, to consume in silence, and never presume to disclose his love while he lived; acquainted her that he had ordered that letter not to be delivered to her, till it was certainly known that he was dead.
Accordingly, he received several wounds in the fight, which brought him to the ground; and his body not being found, they concluded it was in the enemy’s possession.
His faithful squire, who had received his instructions before the battle, hastens to the princess, who, with all the court, is mightily affected at his death.
He presents her the letter, which she makes no scruple to receive, since the writer is no more. She reads it, and her whole soul is melted with compassion; she bewails his fate with the most tender and affectionate marks of grief.II.146
Her confidant asks why she is so much affected, since, in all probability, she would not have pardoned him for loving her, had he been alive?
She acknowledges the truth of her observation, takes notice that his death having cancelled his crime, his respectful passion alone employs her thoughts; she is resolved to bewail, as innocent and worthy of compassion when dead, him whom living she would treat as a criminal; and insinuates, that her heart had entertained an affection for him.
Her confidant treasures up this hint, and endeavours to console her, but in vain, till news is brought that Artamenes, who had been carried for dead out of the field, and by a very surprising adventure concealed all this time, is returned.
The princess is covered with confusion; and, though glad he is alive, resolves to banish him for his crime.
Her confidant pleads his cause so well, that she consents to see him; and, since he can no longer conceal his passion, he confirms the confession in his letter, humbly begging pardon for being still alive.
The princess, who cannot plead ignorance of his passion, nor deny the sorrow she testified for his death, condescends to pardon him, and he is also permitted to hope. In like manner the great prince of Persia.—
Does your ladyship consider how late it is? interrupted Miss Glanville, who had hitherto very impatiently listened to her. Don’t let us keep the gentlemen waiting any longer for us.
I must inform you how the prince of Persia declared his love for the incomparable Berenice, said Arabella.
Another time, dear cousin, said Miss Glanville; methinks we have talked long enough upon this subject.
I am sorry the time has seemed so tedious II.147 to you, said Arabella, smiling; and therefore I’ll trespass no longer upon your patience. Then ordering Lucy to bring her hat and gloves, she went down stairs, followed by Miss Glanville, who was greatly disappointed at her not putting on her veil.
In which our heroine being mistaken herself, gives occasion for a great many other mistakes.
As soon as the ladies entered the room, Mr. Selvin, with more gaiety than usual, advanced towards Arabella, who put on so cold and severe a countenance at his approach, that the poor man, extremely confused, drew back, and remained in great perplexity, fearing he had offended her.
Mr. Tinsel, seeing Mr. Selvin’s reception, and awed by the becoming majesty in her person, notwithstanding all his assurance, accosted her with less confidence than was his custom; but Arabella softening her looks with the most engaging smiles, made an apology for detaining them so long from the parade, gave her hand to the beau, as being not a suspected person, and permitted him to lead her out, Mr. Glanville, to whom she always allowed the preference on those occasions, being a little indisposed, and not able to attend her.
Mr. Tinsel, whose vanity was greatly flattered by the preference Arabella gave him to his companion, proceeded, according to his usual custom, to examine her looks and behaviour with more care; conceiving such a preference must proceed from a latent motive which was not unfavourable for him. II.148 His discernment on these occasions being very surprising, he soon discovered in the bright eyes of Arabella a secret approbation of his person, which he endeavoured to increase by displaying it, with all the address he was master of, and did not fail to talk her into an opinion of his wit, by ridiculing every body that passed them, and directing several studied compliments to herself.
Miss Glanville, who was not so agreeably entertained by the grave Mr. Selvin, saw these advances to a gallantry with her cousin with great disturbance: she was resolved to interrupt it, if possible; and being convinced Mr. Selvin preferred Arabella’s conversation to hers, she plotted how to pair them together, and have the beau to herself.
As they walked a few paces behind her cousin and Mr. Tinsel, she was in no danger of being overheard; and taking occasion to put Mr. Selvin in mind of Arabella’s behaviour to him, when he accosted her, she asked him if he was conscious of having done any thing to offend her.
I protest, madam, replied Mr. Selvin, I know not of any thing I have done to displease her. I never failed, to my knowledge, in my respects towards her ladyship, for whom indeed I have a most profound veneration.
I know so much of her temper, resumed Miss Glanville, as to be certain, if she has taken it into her head to be angry with you, she will be ten times more so at your indifference; and if you hope for her favour, you must ask her pardon with the most earnest submission imaginable.
If I knew I had offended her, replied Mr. Selvin, I would very willingly ask her pardon; but really, since I have not been guilty of any fault towards her ladyship, I don’t know how to acknowledge it.II.149
Well, said Miss Glanville, coldly, I only took the liberty to give you some friendly advice, which you may follow, or not, as you please. I know my cousin is angry at something, and I wish you were friends again, that’s all.
I am mightily obliged to you, madam, said Mr. Selvin; and since you assure me her ladyship is angry, I’ll ask her pardon, though, really, as I said before, I don’t know for what.
Well, interrupted Miss Glanville, we’ll join them at the end of the parade; and to give you an opportunity of speaking to my cousin, I’ll engage Mr. Tinsel myself.
Mr. Selvin, who thought himself greatly obliged to Miss Glanville for her good intentions, though in reality she had a view of exposing her cousin, as well as an inclination to engage Mr. Tinsel, took courage, as they turned, to get on the other side of Arabella, whom he had not dared before to approach; while Miss Glanville, addressing a whisper of no great importance to her cousin, parted her from the beau, and slackening her pace a little, fell into a particular discourse with him, which Arabella being too polite to interrupt, remained in a very perplexing situation, dreading every moment that Mr. Selvin would explain himself; alarmed at his silence, yet resolved to interrupt him if he began to speak, and afraid of beginning a conversation first, lest he should construe it to his advantage.
Mr. Selvin being naturally timid in the company of ladies, the circumstance of disgrace which he was in with Arabella, her silence and reserve so added to his accustomed diffidence, that though he endeavoured several times to speak, he was not able to bring out any thing but a preluding hem; which he observed, to his extreme confusion, seemed always to increase Arabella’s constraint.
Indeed, that II.150 lady, upon any suspicion that he was going to break his mysterious silence, always contracted her brow into a frown, cast down her eyes with an air of perplexity, endeavoured to hide her blushes with her fan; and to shew her inattention, directed her looks to the contrary side.
The lady and gentleman being in equal confusion, no advances were made on either side towards a conversation; and they had reached almost the end of the parade in an uninterrupted silence, when Mr. Selvin, fearing he should never again have so good an opportunity of making his peace, collected all his resolution, and with an accent trembling under the importance of the speech he was going to make, began—
Madam, since I have had the honour of walking with your ladyship, I have observed no many signs of constraint in your manner, that I hardly dare entreat you to grant me a moment’s hearing, while I——
Sir, interrupted Arabella, before you go any farther, I must inform you, that what you are going to say will mortally offend me. Take heed then how you commit any indiscretion which will force me to treat you very rigorously.
If your ladyship will not allow me to speak in my own justification, said Mr. Selvin, yet I hope you will not refuse to tell me my offence, since I——
You are very confident, indeed, interrupted Arabella again, to suppose I will repeat what would be infinitely grievous for me to hear.—Against my will, pursued she, I must give you the satisfaction to know, that I am not ignorant of your crime, but I also assure you that I am highly incensed; and that not only with the thoughts you have dared to entertain of me, but likewise with your presumption in going about to disclose them.
Mr. Selvin, whom the seeming contradictions in II.151 this speech astonished, yet imagined in general it hinted at the dispute between him and Mr. Tinsel; and supposing the story had been told to his disadvantage, which was the cause of her anger, replied in great emotion at the injustice done him—
Since somebody has been so officious to acquaint your ladyship with an affair which ought to have been kept from your knowledge; it is a pity they did not inform you, that Mr. Tinsel was the person that had the least respect for your ladyship, and is more worthy of your resentment.
If Mr. Tinsel, replied Arabella, is guilty of an offence like yours, yet since he has concealed it better, he is less culpable than you; and you have done that for him, which haply he would never have had courage enough to do for himself as long as he lived.
Poor Selvin, quite confounded at these intricate words, would have begged her to explain herself, had she not silenced him with a dreadful frown; and making a stop till Miss Glanville and Mr. Tinsel came up to them, she told her cousin with a peevish accent, that he had performed her promise very ill; and whispered her, that she was to blame for all the mortifications she had suffered.
Mr. Tinsel, supposing the alteration in Arabella’s humour proceeded from being so long deprived of his company, endeavoured to make her amends by a profusion of compliments; which she received with such an air of displeasure, that the beau, vexed at the ill success of his gallantry, told her, he was afraid Mr. Selvin’s gravity had infected her ladyship.
Say rather, replied Arabella, that his indiscretion has offended me.
Mr. Tinsel, charmed with this beginning confidence, which confirmed his hopes of having made some impression on her heart, conjured II.152 her very earnestly to tell him how Mr. Selvin had offended her.
It is sufficient, resumed she, that I tell you he has offended me, without declaring the nature of his crime; since, doubtless, it has not escaped your observation, which, if I may believe him, is not wholly disinterested. To confess yet more, it is true that he hath told me something concerning you, which—
Let me perish, madam, interrupted the beau, if one syllable he has said be true.
How, said Arabella, a little disconcerted, will you always persist in a denial then?
Deny it, madam, returned Mr. Tinsel, I’ll deny what he has said with my last breath; it is all a scandalous forgery; no man living is less likely to think of your ladyship in that manner. If you knew my thoughts, madam, you would be convinced nothing is more impossible, and——
Sir, interrupted Arabella, extremely mortified, methinks you are very eager in your justification. I promise you, I do not think you guilty of the offence he charged you with; if I did, you would haply experience my resentment in such a manner as would make you repent of your presumption.
Arabella, in finishing these words, interrupted Miss Glanville’s discourse with Mr. Selvin, to tell her she desired to return home; to which that young lady, who had not been at all pleased with the morning’s walk, consented.II.153
In which our heroine reconciles herself to a mortifying incident, by recollecting an adventure in a romance, similar to her own.
As soon as the ladies were come to their lodgings, Arabella went up to her own apartment to meditate upon what had passed, and Miss Glanville retired to dress for dinner; while the two gentlemen, who thought they had great reason to be dissatisfied with each other, on account of Lady Bella’s behaviour, went to a coffee-house, in order to come to some explanation about it.
Well, sir, said the beau, with a sarcastic air, I am greatly obliged to you for the endeavours you have used to ruin me in Lady Bella’s opinion. Rat me, if it is not the greatest misfortune in the world to give occasion for envy.
Envy, sir, interrupted Mr. Selvin; I protest I do really admire your great skill in stratagems, but I do not envy you the possession of it. You have indeed, very wittily contrived to put your own sentiments of that lady, which you delivered so freely the other night, into my mouth. It was a master-piece of cunning, indeed; and, as I said before, I admire your skill prodigiously.
I don’t know what you mean, replied Tinsel; you talk in riddles.—Did you not yourself acquaint Lady Bella with the preference I gave Miss Glanville to her? What would you propose by such a piece of treachery? You have ruined all my hopes by it: the lady resents it excessively; and it is no wonder, faith; it must certainly mortify her. Upon my soul, I can never forgive thee for so mal à propos a discovery.
Forgive me, sir! replied Selvin, in a rage, I don’t want your forgiveness. II.154 I have done nothing unbecoming a man of honour. The lady was so prejudiced by your insinuations, that she would not give me leave to speak; otherwise I would have fully informed her of her mistake, that she might have known how much she was obliged to you.
So she would not hear thee? interrupted Tinsel, laughing; dear soul! how very kind was that!—Faith, I don’t know how it is, but I am very lucky without deserving to be so.—Thou art a witness for me, Frank, I took no great pains to gain this fine creature’s heart; but it was damn’d malicious though to attempt to make discoveries. I see she is a little piqued; but I’ll set all to rights again with a billet-doux. I’ve an excellent hand, though I say it, at a billet-doux. I never knew one of mine fail in my life.
Harkee, sir, said Selvin, whispering; any more attempts to shift your sentiments upon me, and you shall hear of it. In the mean time, be assured, I’ll clear myself, and put the saddle upon the right horse!
Demme, if thou art not a queer fellow, said Tinsel, endeavouring to hide his discomposure at this threat under a forced laugh.
Selvin, without making any reply, retired to write to Arabella; which Tinsel suspecting, resolved to be before-hand with him; and, without leaving the coffee-house, called for paper, and wrote a billet to her, which he dispatched away immediately.
The messenger had just got admittance to Lucy, when another arrived from Selvin.
They both presented their letters; but Lucy refused them, saying, her lady would turn her away, if she received such sort of letters.
Such sort of letters, returned Tinsel’s man. Why, do you know what they contain, then?
To be sure I do, replied Lucy: they are love-letters; and my lady has charged me never to receive any more.
Well, replied Selvin’s servant, you may take my letter; for II.155 my master desired me to tell you it was about business of consequence, which your lady must be acquainted with.
Since you assure me it is not a love-letter, I’ll take it, said Lucy.
And pray take mine too, said Tinsel’s Mercury; for, I assure you, it is not a love-letter neither; it is only a billet-doux.
Are you sure of that? replied Lucy: because I may venture to take it, I fancy, if it is what you say.
I’ll swear it, said the man, delivering it to her.—Well, said she, receiving it, I’ll take them both up. But what did you call this? pursued she. I must not forget it, or else my lady will think it a love-letter.
A billet-doux, said the man.
Lucy, for fear she should forget it, repeated the words billet-doux several times as she went up stairs; but entering her lady’s apartment, she perceiving the letters in her hand, asked her so sternly how she durst presume to bring them into her presence, that the poor girl in her fright forgot the lesson she had been conning; and endeavouring to recal it into her memory, took no notice of her lady’s question, which she repeated several times, but to no purpose.
Arabella, surprised at her inattention, reiterated her commands in a tone somewhat louder than usual; asking her, at the same time, why she did not obey her immediately.
Indeed, madam, replied Lucy, your ladyship would not order me to take back the letters, if you knew what they were: they are not love-letters; I was resolved to be sure of that before I took them.—This, madam, is a letter about business of consequence; and the other—Oh dear, I can’t think what the man called it; but it is not a love-letter, indeed, madam.
You are a simple wench, said Arabella, smiling. You may depend upon it, all letters directed to me must contain matters of love and gallantry; and II.156 those I am not permitted to receive. Take them away then immediately.—But stay, pursued she, seeing she was about to obey her, one of them, you say, was delivered to you as a letter of consequence; perhaps it is so: indeed it may contain an advertisement of some design to carry me away. How do I know but Mr. Selvin, incited by his love and despair, may intend to make such an attempt?—Give me that letter, Lucy: I am resolved to open it. As for the other——yet, who knows but the other may also bring me warning of the same danger from another quarter? The pains Mr. Tinsel took to conceal his passion, nay, almost, as I think, to deny it, amounts to a proof that he is meditating some way to make sure of me. ’Tis certainly so. Give me that letter, Lucy: I should be accessary to their intended violence, if I neglected this timely discovery.
Well, cried she, taking one of the letters, this is exactly like what happened to the beautiful princess of Cappadocia, who, like me, in one and the same day, received advice that two of her lovers intended to carry her off.
As she pronounced these words, Miss Glanville entered the room, to whom Arabella immediately recounted the adventure of the letters; telling her she did not doubt but that they contained a discovery of some conspiracy to carry her away.
And whom does your ladyship suspect of such a strange design, pray? said Miss Glanville, smiling.
At present, replied Arabella, the two cavaliers who walked with us to-day, are the persons who seem the most likely to attempt that violence.
I dare answer for Mr. Tinsel, replied Miss Glanville; he thinks of no such thing.
Well, said Arabella, to convince you of your mistake, I must inform you that Mr. Selvin, having the presumption II.157 to begin a declaration of love to me on the parade this morning, I reproved him severely for his want of respect, and threatened him with my displeasure. In the rage of his jealousy, at seeing me treat Mr. Tinsel well, he discovered to me that he also was as criminal as himself, in order to oblige me to a severer usage of him.
So he told you Mr. Tinsel was in love with you? interrupted Miss Glanville.
He told it me in other words, replied Arabella; for he said Mr. Tinsel was guilty of that offence which I resented so severely to him.
Miss Glanville beginning to comprehend the mystery, with great difficulty forbore laughing at her cousin’s mistake; for she well knew the offence of which Mr. Selvin hinted at, and desirous of knowing what those letters contained, she begged her to delay opening them no longer.
Arabella, pleased at her solicitude, opened one of the letters; but glancing her eye to the bottom, and seeing the name of Selvin, she threw it hastily upon the table, and averting her eyes, What a mortification have I avoided! said she; that letter is from Selvin, and, questionless, contains an avowal of his crime.
Nay, you must read it, cried Miss Glanville, taking it up: since you have opened it, it is the same thing. You can never persuade him but you have seen it. However, to spare your nicety, I’ll read it to you. Which accordingly she did, and found it as follows—
“I know not what insinuations have been made use of to persuade you I was guilty of the offence which, with justice, occasioned your resentment this morning; but I assure you, nothing was ever more false. My thoughts of your ladyship are very different, and full of the profoundest respect and veneration. I have reason to suspect Mr. Tinsel is II.158 the person who has thus endeavoured to prejudice me with your ladyship; therefore I am excusable if I tell you, that those very sentiments, too disrespectful to be named, which he would persuade you are mine, he discovered himself. He then, madam, is the person guilty of that offence he so falsely lays to the charge of him, who is, with the utmost respect and esteem,
most obedient, and
most humble servant,
How’s this? cried Miss Glanville. Why, madam, you are certainly mistaken. You see Mr. Selvin utterly denies the crime of loving you. He has suffered very innocently in your opinion. Indeed, your ladyship was too hasty in condemning him.
If what he says be true, replied Arabella, who had been in extreme confusion while a letter so different from what she expected was reading, I have indeed unjustly condemned him. Nevertheless, I am still inclined to believe this is all artifice; and that he is really guilty of entertaining a passion for me.
But why should he take so much pains to deny it, madam? said Miss Glanville. Methinks that looks very odd.
Not at all, interrupted Arabella, whose spirits were raised by recollecting an adventure in a romance similar to this; Mr. Selvin has fallen upon the same stratagem with Seramenes, who, being in love with the beautiful Cleobuline, princess of Corinth, took all imaginable pains to conceal his passion, in order to be near that fair princess, who would have banished him from her presence, had she known he was in love with her. Nay, he went so far in his dissimulation, as to pretend love to one of the ladies of her court, that his passion for the princess might be the less taken notice of. In these cases, therefore, the more resolutely a man denies his passion, the more pure and violent it is.
Then Mr. Selvin’s passion is certainly very violent, II.159 replied Miss Glanville, for he denies it very resolutely; and I believe none but your ladyship would have discovered his artifice. But shall we not open the other letter? I have a strong notion it comes from Tinsel.
For that very reason I would not be acquainted with the contents, replied Arabella. You see Mr. Selvin accuses him of being guilty of that offence which he denies. I shall doubtless meet with a confirmation of his love in that letter.—Do not, I beseech you, added she, seeing her cousin preparing to open the letter, expose me to the pain of hearing a presumptuous declaration of love. Nay, pursued she, rising in great emotion, if you are resolved to persecute me by reading it, I’ll endeavour to get out of the hearing of it.
You shan’t, I declare, said Miss Glanville, laughing, and holding her; I’ll oblige you to hear it.
I vow, cousin, said Arabella, smiling, you use me just as the princess Cleopatra did the fair and wise Antonia. However, if by this you mean to do any kindness to the unfortunate person who wrote that billet, you are greatly mistaken; since, if you oblige me to listen to a declaration of his crime, you will lay me under a necessity to banish him. A sentence he would have avoided, while I remained ignorant of it.
To this Miss Glanville made no other reply than by opening the billet, the contents of which may be found in the following chapter.II.160
In which our heroine’s extravagance will be thought, perhaps, to be carried to an extravagant length.
“I had the honour to assure you this morning on the parade, that the insinuations Mr. Selvin made use of to rob me of the superlative happiness of your esteem, were entirely false and groundless. May the beams of your bright eyes never shine on me more, if there is any truth in what he said to prejudice me with your ladyship! If I am permitted to attend you to the rooms this evening, I hope to convince you, that it was absolutely impossible I could have been capable of such a crime, who am, with the most profound respect,
most devoted, &c.
Well, madam, said Miss Glanville, when she had read this epistle, I fancy you need not pronounce a sentence of banishment upon poor Mr. Tinsel; he seems to be quite innocent of the offence your ladyship suspects him of.
Why, really, returned Arabella, blushing with extreme confusion at this second disappointment, I am greatly perplexed to know how I ought to act on this occasion; I am much in the same situation with the princess Serena. For, you must know, this princess—here Lucy entering, informed the ladies dinner was served. I shall defer till another opportunity, said Arabella, upon this interruption, the relation of the princess Serena’s adventures; which you will find, added she, in a low voice, bear a very great resemblance to mine. Miss Glanville replied, she would hear it II.161 whenever she pleased; and then followed Arabella to the dining-room.
The cloth was scarce removed, when Mr. Selvin came in. Arabella blushed at his appearance, and discovered so much perplexity in her behaviour, that Mr. Selvin was apprehensive he had not yet sufficiently justified himself; and therefore took the first opportunity to approach her.
I shall think myself very unhappy, madam, said he, bowing, if the letter I did myself the honour to write to you this morning——
Sir, interrupted Arabella, I perceive you are going to forget the contents of that letter, and preparing again to offend me by a presumptuous declaration of love.
Who, I madam! replied he, in great astonishment and confusion, I-I-I protest—though I—I have a very great respect for your ladyship, yet—yet I never presumed to—to—to—
You have presumed too much, replied Arabella; and I should forget what I owed to my own glory, if I furnished you with any more occasions of offending me.—Know, then, I absolutely forbid you to appear before me again, at least, till I am convinced you have changed your sentiments.
Saying this, she rose from her seat, and making a sign to him not to follow her, which indeed he had no intention to do, she quitted the room, highly satisfied with her own conduct upon this occasion, which was exactly conformable to the laws of romance.
Mr. Tinsel, who had just alighted from his chair, having a glimpse of her, as she passed to her own apartment, resolved, if possible, to procure a private interview; for he did not doubt but his billet had done wonders in his favour.
For that purpose he ventured up to her anti-chamber, where he found Lucy in waiting, whom he desired to acquaint II.162 her lady, that he entreated a moment’s speech with her.
Lucy, after hesitating a moment, and looking earnestly at him, replied, sir, if you’ll promise me faithfully you are not in love with my lady, I’ll go and deliver your message.
Deuce take me, said Tinsel, if that is not a very whimsical condition truly——Pray, my dear, how came it into thy little brain, to suspect I was in love with thy lady? but, suppose I should be in love with her, what then?
Why then, it is likely you would die, that’s all, said Lucy; without my lady would be so kind to command you to live.
I vow thou hast pretty notions, child, said Tinsel, smiling: hast thou been reading any play-book lately? But pray, dost think thy lady would have compassion on me, if I was in love with her? Come, I know thou art in her confidence: Hast thou ever heard her talk of me? Does she not tell thee all her secrets?
Here Arabella’s bell ringing, the beau slipped half-a-guinea into her hand, which Lucy not willing to refuse, went immediately to her lady; to whom, with a trembling accent, she repeated Mr. Tinsel’s request.
Imprudent girl! cried Arabella, (for I am loth to suspect thee of disloyalty to thy mistress) dost thou know the nature and extent of the request thou hast delivered? Art thou ignorant that the presumptuous man whom thou solicitest this favour for, has mortally offended me?
Indeed, madam, said Lucy, frightened out of her wits, I don’t solicit for him. I scorn to do any such thing. I would not offend your ladyship for the world; for, before I would deliver his message to your ladyship, I made him assure me, that he was not in love with your ladyship.
That was very wisely done indeed, replied Arabella, II.163 smiling: and do you believe he spoke the truth?
Yes, indeed, I am sure of it, said Lucy, eagerly. If your ladyship will but be pleased to see him, he is only in the next room; I dare promise——
How! interrupted Arabella. What have you done? Have you brought him into my apartment, then? I protest this adventure is exactly like what befel the beautiful Statira, when, by a stratagem of the same kind, Oroondates was introduced into her presence. Lucy, thou art another Barsina, I think; but I hope thy intentions are not less innocent than hers were.
Indeed, madam, replied Lucy, almost weeping, I am very innocent. I am no Barsina, as your ladyship calls me.
I dare answer for thee, said Arabella, smiling at the turn she gave to her words, thou art no Barsina; and I should wrong thee very much to compare thee with that wise princess; for thou art certainly one of the most simple wenches in the world. But since thou hast gone so far, let me know what the unfortunate person desires of me; for, since I am neither more rigid, nor pretend to more virtue than Statira, I may do at least as much for him, as that great queen did for Oroondates.
He desires, madam, said Lucy, that your ladyship would be pleased to let him speak with you.
Or, in his words, I suppose, replied Arabella, he humbly implored a moment’s audience.
I told your ladyship his very words, indeed, madam, said Lucy.
I tell thee, girl, thou art mistaken, said Arabella; it is impossible he should sue for such a favour in terms like those: therefore, go back, and let him know that I consent to grant him a short audience upon these conditions.
First, provided he does not abuse my indulgence by offending me with any protestations of his passion.
Secondly, That he engages to fulfil the injunctions I II.164 shall lay upon him, however cruel and terrible they may appear.
Lastly, That his despair must not prompt him to any act of desperation against himself.—Lucy having received this message, quitted the room hastily, for fear she should forget it.
Well, my pretty ambassadress, said Tinsel, when he saw her enter the anti-chamber, will your lady see me.
No, sir, replied Lucy.
No, interrupted Tinsel, that’s kind, ’faith, after waiting so long.
Pray, sir, said Lucy, don’t put me out so; I shall forget what my lady ordered me to tell you.
Oh! I ask your pardon, child, said Tinsel; come, let me hear your message.
Sir, said Lucy, adopting the solemnity of her lady’s accent, my lady bade me say that she will grant——No, that she consents to grant you a short dience.
Audience, you would say, child, said Tinsel: but how came you to tell me before she would not see me?
I vow and protest, sir, said Lucy, you have put all my lady’s words clean out of my head—I don’t know what comes next.
Oh, no matter, said Tinsel, you have told me enough: I’ll wait upon her directly.
Lucy, who saw him making towards the door, pressed between it and him; and having all her lady’s whims in her head, supposed he was going to carry her away. Possessed with this thought, she screamed out, help! help! for heaven’s sake! my lady will be carried away!
Arabella hearing this exclamation of her woman’s, echoed her screams, though with a voice infinitely more delicate; and seeing Tinsel, who, confounded to the last degree at the cries of both the lady and her woman, had got into her chamber he knew not how, she gave herself over for lost, and fell back in her chair in a swoon, or something she took for a swoon, for she was persuaded it could happen no otherwise, since all ladies II.165 in the same circumstances are terrified into a fainting fit, and seldom recover till they are conveniently carried away; and when they awake, find themselves many miles off in the power of their ravisher.
Arabella’s other women, alarmed by her cries, came running into the room; and seeing Mr. Tinsel there, and their lady in a swoon, concluded some very extraordinary accident had happened.
What is your business here? cried they all at a time. Is it you that has frighted her ladyship?
Devil take me, said Tinsel, amazed, if I can tell what all this means!
By this time Sir Charles, Mr. Glanville, and his sister, came running astonished up stairs. Arabella still continued motionless in her chair, her eyes closed, and her head reclined upon Lucy, who, with her other women, was endeavouring to recover her.
Mr. Glanville eagerly ran to her assistance, while Sir Charles and his daughter as eagerly interrogated Mr. Tinsel, who stood motionless with surprise, concerning the cause of her disorder.
Arabella then first discovering some signs of life, half opened her eyes.
Inhuman wretch! cried she, with a faint voice, supposing herself in the hands of her ravisher, think not thy cruel violence shall procure thee what thy submissions could not obtain; and if when thou hadst only my indifference to surmount, thou didst find it so difficult to overcome my resolution, now that, by this unjust attempt, thou hast added aversion to that indifference, never hope for any thing but the most bitter reproaches from me.—
Why, niece, said Sir Charles, approaching her, what is the matter? Look up, I beseech you, nobody is attempting to do you any hurt; here’s none but friends about you.
Arabella, raising her head at the sound of her uncle’s voice, and casting a confused look on the persons about her—II.166
May I believe my senses? Am I rescued, and in my own chamber? To whose valour is my deliverance owing? Without doubt, it is to my cousin’s: but where is he? Let me assure him of my gratitude.
Mr. Glanville, who had retired to a window in great confusion, as soon as he heard her call for him, came towards her, and in a whisper begged her to be composed; that she was in no danger.
And pray, niece, said Sir Charles, now you are a little recovered, be so good to inform us of the cause of your fright. What has happened to occasion all this confusion?
How, sir! said Arabella, don’t you know then what has happened? Pray, how was I brought again into my chamber, and by what means was I rescued!
I protest, said Sir Charles, I don’t know that you have been out of it.
Alas! replied Arabella, I perceive you are quite ignorant of what has befallen me; nor am I able to give you any information: all I can tell you is, that alarmed by my woman’s cries, and the sight of my ravisher, who came into my chamber, I fainted away, and so facilitated his enterprise; since, doubtless, it was very easy for him to carry me away while I remained in that senseless condition. How I was rescued, or by whom, one of my women can haply inform you; since, it is probable, one of them was also forced away with me—Oh, heavens! cried she, seeing Tinsel, who all this while stood gazing like one distracted; what makes that impious man in my presence! What am I to think of this? Am I really delivered, or no?
What can this mean? cried Sir Charles, turning to Tinsel. Have you, sir, had any hand in frighting my niece?
I, sir! said Tinsel, let me perish if ever I was so confounded in my life! the lady’s brain is disordered, I believe.
Mr. Glanville, who II.167 was convinced all this confusion was caused by some of Arabella’s whims, dreaded lest an explanation would the more expose her; and therefore told his father that it would be best to retire, and leave his cousin to the care of his sister and her women; adding, that she was not yet quite recovered, and their presence did but discompose her.
Then addressing himself to Tinsel, he told him he would wait upon him down stairs.
Arabella, seeing them going away together, and supposing they intended to dispute the possession of her with their swords, called out to them to stay.
Mr. Glanville, however, without minding her, pressed Mr. Tinsel to walk down.
Nay, pray, sir, said the beau, let us go in again; she may grow outrageous if we disoblige her.
Outrageous, sir? said Glanville; do you suppose my cousin is mad!
Upon my soul, sir, replied Tinsel, if she is not mad, she is certainly a little out of her senses, or so——
Arabella, having reiterated her commands for her lovers to return, and finding they did not obey her, ran to her chamber-door, where they were holding a surly sort of conference, especially on Glanville’s aide, who was horridly out of humour.
I perceive by your looks, said Arabella to her cousin, the design you are meditating; but know, that I absolutely forbid you, by all the power I have over you, not to engage in combat with my ravisher here.
Madam, interrupted Glanville, I beseech you do not——
I know, said she, you will object to me the examples of Artamenes, Aronces, and many others, who were so generous as to promise their rivals not to refuse them that satisfaction whenever they demanded it—but consider, you have not the same obligations to Mr. Tinsel that Artamenes had to the king of Assyria, or that Aronces had to——II.168
For God’s sake, cousin, said Glanville, what’s all this to the purpose? Curse on Aronces and the king of Assyria, I say!
The astonishment of Arabella at this intemperate speech of her cousin, kept her for a moment immoveable; when Sir Charles, who, during this discourse, had been collecting all the information he could from Lucy concerning this perplexed affair, came towards Tinsel, and giving him an angry look, told him, he should take it well if he forbore visiting any of his family for the future.
Oh, your most obedient servant, sir, said Tinsel, you expect, I suppose, I should be excessively chagrined at this prohibition; but upon my soul I am greatly obliged to you. Agad! I have no great mind to a halter: and since this lady is so apt to think people have a design to ravish her, the wisest thing a man can do, is to keep out of her way.
Sir, replied Glanville, who had followed him to the door, I believe there has been some little mistake in what has happened to-day.—However, I expect you’ll take no unbecoming liberties with the character of Lady Bella.
Oh, sir! said Tinsel, I give you my honour I shall always speak of the lady with the most profound veneration. She is a most accomplished, incomprehensible lady: and the devil take me, if I think there is her fellow in the world—And so, sir, I am your most obedient——
A word with you before you go, said Glanville, stopping him. No more of these sneers, as you value that smooth face of yours, or I’ll despoil it of a nose.
Oh! your humble servant, said the beau, retiring in great confusion, with something betwixt a smile and a grin upon his countenance, which he took care, however, Mr. Glanville should not see; who, as soon, as he quitted him, went again to Arabella’s apartment, in order to prevail upon his father II.169 and sister to leave her a little to herself; for he dreaded lest some more instances of her extravagance would put it into his father’s head that she was really out of her senses.
Well, sir, said Arabella, upon his entrance, you have, I suppose, given your rival his liberty. I assure you this generosity is highly agreeable to me—And herein you imitate the noble Artamenes, who, upon a like occasion, acted as you have done. For when fortune had put the ravisher of Mandane in his power, and he became the vanquisher of his rival, who endeavoured by violence to possess that divine princess, this truly generous hero relinquished the right he had of disposing of his prisoner, and, instead of sacrificing his life to his just and reasonable vengeance, he gave a proof of his admirable virtue and clemency by dismissing him in safety, as you have done.—However, added she, I hope you have made him swear upon your sword that he will never make a second attempt upon, my liberty.—I perceive, pursued she, seeing Mr. Glanville continued silent, with his eyes bent on the ground, for indeed he was ashamed to look up, that you would willingly avoid the praise due to the heroic action you have just performed—Nay, I suppose you are resolved to keep it secret, if possible; yet I must tell you, that you will not escape the glory due to it. Glory is as necessarily the result of a virtuous action, as light is an effect of the sun which causeth it, and has no dependence on any other cause; since a virtuous action continues still the same, though it be done without testimony; and glory, which is, as one may say, born with it, constantly attends it, though the action be not known.
I protest, niece, said Sir Charles, that’s very prettily said.
In my opinion, sir, pursued Arabella, if anything can weaken the glory of a good action, it is the care II.170 a person takes to make it known; as if one did not do good for the sake of good, but for the praise that generally follows it. Those, then, that are governed by so interested a motive, ought to be considered as sordid rather than generous persons; who, making a kind of traffic between virtue and glory, barter just so much of the one for the other, and expect, like other merchants, to make advantage by the exchange.
Mr. Glanville, who was charmed into an ecstasy at this sensible speech of Arabella’s, forgot in an instant all her absurdities. He did not fail to express his admiration of her understanding, in terms that brought a blush into her fair face, and obliged her to lay her commands upon him to cease his excessive commendations. Then making a sign to them to leave her alone, Mr. Glanville, who understood her, took his father and sister down stairs, leaving Arabella with her faithful Lucy, whom she immediately commanded to give her a relation of what had happened to her from the time of her swooning till she recovered.
A dialogue between Arabella and Lucy, in which the latter seems to have the advantage.
Why, madam, said Lucy, all I can tell your ladyship is, that we were all excessively frightened, to be sure, when you fainted, especially myself; and that we did what we could to recover you—And so accordingly your ladyship did recover.
What’s this to the purpose? said Arabella, perceiving she stopped here. I know that I fainted, and it is also very plain that I recovered again—I ask II.171 you what happened to me in the intermediate time between my fainting and recovery? Give me a faithful relation of all the accidents to which by my fainting I am quite a stranger, and which, no doubt, are very considerable.
Indeed, madam, replied Lucy, I have given your ladyship a faithful relation of all I can remember.
When? resumed Arabella, surprised.
This moment, madam, said Lucy.
Why, sure thou dreamest, wench! replied she. Hast thou told me how I was seized and carried off! How I was rescued again? And—
No, indeed, madam, interrupted Lucy, I don’t dream; I never told your ladyship that you was carried off.
Well, said Arabella, and why dost thou not satisfy my curiosity? Is it not fit I should be acquainted with such a momentous part of my history?
I can’t, indeed, and please your ladyship, said Lucy.
What, can’st thou not? said Arabella, enraged at her stupidity.
Why, madam, said Lucy, sobbing, I can’t make a history of nothing!
Of nothing, wench! resumed Arabella, in a greater rage than before. Dost thou call an adventure to which thou wast a witness, and borest haply so great a share in, nothing?—An adventure which hereafter will make a considerable figure in the relation of my life, dost thou look upon as trifling and of no consequence?
No, indeed I don’t, madam, said Lucy.
Why, then, pursued Arabella, dost thou wilfully neglect to relate it? Suppose, as there is nothing more likely, thou wert commanded by some persons of considerable quality, or haply some great princes and princesses, to recount the adventures of my life, wouldest thou omit a circumstance of so much moment?
No, indeed, madam! said Lucy.
I am glad to hear thou art so discreet, said Arabella; and pray II.172 do me the favour to relate this adventure to me, as thou wouldest do to those princes and princesses, if thou wert commanded.
Here Arabella, making a full stop, fixed her eyes upon her woman, expecting every moment she would begin the desired narrative; but finding she continued silent longer than she thought was necessary for recalling the several circumstances of the story into her mind,
I find, said she, it will be necessary to caution you against making your audience wait too long for your relation; it looks as if you was to make a studied speech, not a simple relation of facts, which ought to be free from all affectation of labour and art; and be told with that graceful negligence which is so becoming to truth.
This I thought proper to tell you, added she, that you may not fall into that mistake when you are called upon to relate my adventures—Well, now if you please to begin.
What, pray madam? said Lucy.
What! repeated Arabella. Why the adventures which happened to me so lately. Relate to me every circumstance of my being carried away, and how my deliverance was effected by my cousin.
Indeed, madam, said Lucy, I know nothing about your ladyship’s being earned away.
Be gone, cried Arabella, losing all patience at her obstinacy; get out of my presence this moment.—Wretch! unworthy of my confidence and favour; thy treason is too manifest; thou art bribed by that presumptuous man to conceal all the circumstances of his attempt from my knowledge, to the end that I may not have a full conviction of his guilt.
Lucy who never saw her lady so much offended before, and knew not the occasion of it, burst into tears; which so affected the tender heart of Arabella, that, losing insensibly all her anger, she told her, with a voice softened to a tone of the utmost sweetness and II.173 condescension, that provided she would confess how far she had been prevailed upon by his rich presents to forget her duty, she would pardon and receive her again into favour.
Speak, added she, and be not afraid, after this promise, to let me know what Mr. Tinsel required of thee, and what were the gifts with which he purchased thy services: doubtless, he presented thee with jewels of a considerable value.
Since your ladyship, said Lucy, sobbing, has promised not to be angry, I don’t care if I do tell your ladyship what he gave me. He gave me this half-guinea, madam, indeed he did; but, for all that, when he would come into your chamber, I struggled with him, and cried out, for fear he should carry your ladyship away.
Arabella, lost in astonishment and shame at hearing of so inconsiderable a present made to her woman, the like of which not one of her romances could furnish her, ordered her immediately to withdraw, not being willing she should observe the confusion this strange bribe had given her.
After she had been gone some time, she endeavoured to compose her looks, and went down to the dining-room, where Sir Charles and his son and daughter had been engaged in a conversation concerning her, the particulars of which may be found in the first chapter of the next book.
Mr. Selvin’s given name is Frank. Mr. Tinsel’s given name starts with D, but that’s as much as we ever learn; most of the time the author is content to designate him “the young beau”. From this Book onward, several paragraph breaks per chapter were supplied from the 1752 edition.
who he never imagined would have explained herself in that manner to his servant
text has who henever with misplaced space. [Getting tired, typesetter?]
Mr. Glanville was too little a critic in ladies apparel
[The 1820 edition adds the expected apostrophe: ladies’.]
the great Scudery was a Frenchman
[Madeleine de Scudéry was in fact a Frenchwoman. But by now it is pretty plain that Arabella—and possibly even Charlotte Lennox—does not know this.]
both his Clelia and Artamenes were written in French
text has Artamanes
raillery is the poorest kind of revenge that can be taken
[In one of the (four) copies of The Female Quixote sitting open before me, this passage made a profound impression on an earlier reader, who was moved to add a marginal “NB”:]
was not [Julia’s] infamous commerce with Ovid the cause of his banishment?
[Er . . . No. No, it wasn’t. (The Oxford Classical Dictionary, discussing Ovid’s exile, primly says “the problem, in default of further evidence, must be regarded as insoluble”.)]
the facility with which Mr. Selvin gave into those idle absurdities
[Text unchanged. The 1820 edition has the expected “gave in to”.]
Lau! cousin, replied Miss Glanville
[1752 spelled it, more plausibly, “Law!” but nobody else does.]
I never met with such a woman in all my life
text has womon
she was so extremely interested in the fate of the Princess Melisintha, whose story she was reading, that she could not stir till she had finished it
[Fortunately Melisintha is only a minor character in Pharamond, so we do not have to wait for Arabella to finish all twelve volumes.]
closing the book, and looking stedfastly on her cousin.
and finishes his discourse by falling into a swoon. The lady . . . commands him to live
[In the previous Book, Sir Charles intelligently asked Sir George if he ate anything during his ten months in the wilderness. If he were here now, he might ask how the unconscious hero could hear his lady’s commands.]
your ladyship’s most obedient, and most humble servant
[I borrowed the layout from the 2nd edition, as it was too luscious to omit. This, in turn, required capitalizing a few more words; the British Novelists edition prints it boringly inline and lower-case. The same applies to the letter that opens the following chapter.]
I dare promise—— / How! interrupted Arabella.
[In the British Novelists edition, thanks to all those run-on paragraphs, this sequence comes through as:
I dare promise——.—How! interrupted Arabella. ]
Essay question: If you were in Lucy’s position, at what point would you finally lose it and scream Will you get it into your thick skull that you were never abducted, never left this room, and were only unconscious for a few minutes?
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.