Contains the conversation referred to in the last chapter of the preceding book.
Miss Glanville, who with a malicious pleasure had secretly triumphed in the extravagancies her beautiful cousin had been guilty of, was now sensibly disappointed to find they had had so little effect on her father and brother; for instead of reflecting upon the absurdities to which they had been a witness, Mr. Glanville artfully pursued the subject Arabella had just before been expatiating upon, taking notice frequently of some observations of hers, and by a well contrived repetition of her words, obliged his father a second time to declare that his niece had spoken extremely well.
Mr. Glanville taking the word, launched out into such praises of her wit, that Miss Glanville, no longer able to listen patiently, replied.
It was true Lady Bella sometimes said very sensible things; that it was a great pity she was not always in a reasonable way of thinking, or that her intervals were not longer.
Her intervals, miss! said Glanville; pray what do you mean by that expression?
Why, pray, said Miss Glanville, don’t you think my cousin is sometimes a little wrong in the head?
Mr. Glanville at these words starting from his II.175 chair, took a turn across the room in great discomposure; then stopping all of a sudden, and giving his sister a furious look—Charlotte, said he, don’t give me cause to think you are envious of your cousin’s superior excellencies.
Envious! repeated Miss Glanville; I envious of my —I vow I should never have thought of that—Indeed, brother, you are much mistaken: my cousin’s superior excellencies never gave me a moment’s disturbance—Though I must confess her unaccountable whims have often excited my pity.
No more of this, Charlotte, interrupted Mr. Glanville, as you value my friendship—No more of it.
Why, really, son, said Sir Charles, my niece has very strange whimsies sometimes. How it came into her head to think Mr. Tinsel would attempt to carry her away, I can’t imagine! For, after all, he only pressed rather too rudely into her chamber; for which, as you see, I have forbidden his visits.
That was of a piece, said Miss Glanville, sneeringly to her brother, with her asking you if you had made Mr. Tinsel swear upon your sword that he would never again attempt to carry her away; and applauding you for having given him his liberty, as the generous Atermens did on the same occasion.
I would advise you, Charlotte, said Mr. Glanville, not to aim at repeating your cousin’s words, till you know how to pronounce them properly.
Oh! that’s one of her superior excellencies, said Miss Glanville.
Indeed, miss, said Glanville, very provokingly, she is superior to you in many things; and as much so in the goodness of her heart, as in the beauty of her person!
Come, come, Charles, said the baronet, who observed his daughter sat swelling and biting her lips at this reproach, personal reflections are better avoided. Your sister is very well, and not to be disparaged; II.176 though, to be sure, Lady Bella is the finest woman I ever saw in my life.
Miss Glanville was, if possible, more disgusted at her father’s palliation than her brother’s reproaches; and in order to give a loose to her passion, accused Mr. Glanville of a decrease in his affection for her, since he had been in love with her cousin; and having found this excuse for her tears, very freely gave vent to them.
Mr. Glanville, being softened by this sight, sacrificed a few compliments to her vanity, which soon restored her to her usual tranquillity; then turning the discourse on his beloved Arabella, pronounced a panegyric on her virtues and accomplishments of an hour long; which, if it did not absolutely persuade his sister to change her opinion, certainly convinced his father that his niece was not only perfectly well in her understanding, but even better than most others of her sex.
Mr. Glanville had just finished her eulogium when Arabella appeared: joy danced in his eyes at her approach; he gazed upon her with a kind of conscious triumph in his looks; her consummate loveliness justifying his passion, and being in his opinion more than an excuse for all her extravagancies.
In which our heroine, as we presume, shews herself in two very different lights.
Arabella, who at her entrance had perceived some traces of uneasiness upon Miss Glanville’s countenance, tenderly asked her the cause; to which that young lady answering in a cold and reserved manner, Mr. Glanville, to divert her reflections on it, II.177 very freely accused himself of having given his sister some offence.—To be sure, brother, said Miss Glanville, you are very vehement in your temper, and are as violently carried away about things of little importance as of the greatest; and then, whatever you have a fancy for, you love so obstinately.
I am obliged to you, miss, interrupted Mr. Glanville, for endeavouring to give Lady Bella so unfavourable an opinion of me.
I assure you, said Arabella, Miss Glanville has said nothing to your disadvantage: for, in my opinion, the temperament of great minds ought to be such as she represents yours to be. For there is nothing at so great a distance from true and heroic virtue, as that indifference which obliges some people to be pleased with all things or nothing: whence it comes to pass, that they neither entertain great desires of glory, nor fear of infamy, that they neither love nor hate; that they are wholly influenced by custom, and are sensible only of the afflictions of the body, their minds being in a manner insensible.
To say the truth, I am inclined to conceive a greater hope of a man, who in the beginning of his life is hurried away by some evil habit, than one that fastens on nothing; the mind that cannot be brought to detest vice, will never be persuaded to love virtue; but one who is capable of loving or hating irreconcileably, by having, when young, his passions directed to proper objects, will remain fixed in his choice of what is good. But with him who is incapable of any violent attraction, and whose heart is chilled by a general indifference, precept or example will have no force—And philosophy itself, which boasts it hath remedies for all indispositions of the soul, never had any that could cure an indifferent mind—Nay, added she, I am persuaded that indifference is generally the inseparable companion II.178 of a weak and imperfect judgment; for it is so natural to a person to be carried towards that which he believes to be good, that if indifferent people were able to judge of things, they would fasten on something. But certain it is, that this lukewarmness of soul, which sends forth but feeble desires, sends also but feeble lights; so that those who are guilty of it, not knowing any thing clearly, cannot fasten on any thing with perseverance.
Mr. Glanville, when Arabella had finished this speech, cast a triumphing glance at his sister, who had affected great inattention all the while she had been speaking. Sir Charles, in his way, expressed much admiration of her wit, telling her, if she had been a man, she would have made a great figure in parliament, and that her speeches might have come perhaps to be printed in time.
This compliment, odd as it was, gave great joy to Glanville; when the conversation was interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Selvin, who had slipt away unobserved at the time that Arabella’s indisposition had alarmed them, and now came to inquire after her health; and also, if an opportunity offered, to set her right with regard to the suspicions she had entertained of his designing to pay his addresses to her.
Arabella, as soon as he had sent in his name, appeared to be in great disturbance; and upon his entrance, offered immediately to withdraw, telling Mr. Glanville, who would have detained her, that she found no place was likely to secure her from the persecutions of that gentleman.
Glanville stared, and looked strangely perplexed at this speech; Miss Glanville smiled; and poor Selvin, with a very silly look, hemmed two or three times, and then with a faltering accent said, madam, I am very much concerned to find your ladyship resolved to persist in——
Sir, interrupted Arabella, my resolutions are II.179 unalterable. I told you so before, and am surprised, after the knowledge of my intentions, you presume to appear in my presence again, from whence I had so positively banished you.
Pray, niece, said Sir Charles, what has Mr. Selvin done to disoblige you?
Sir, replied Arabella, Mr. Selvin’s offence can admit of no other reparation than that which I required of him, which was a voluntary banishment from my presence; and in this, pursued she, I am guilty of no more severity to you, than the princess Udosia was to the unfortunate Thrasimedes. For the passion of this prince having come to her knowledge, notwithstanding the pains he took to conceal it, this fair and wise princess thought it not enough to forbid his speaking to her, but also banished him from her presence; laying a peremptory command upon him, never to appear before her again till he was perfectly cured of that unhappy love he had entertained for her—Imitate, therefore, the meritorious obedience of this poor prince, and if that passion you profess for me—
How, sir, interrupted Sir Charles, Do you make love to my niece, then?
Sir, replied Mr. Selvin, who was strangely confounded at Arabella’s speech, though I really admire the perfections this lady is possessed of, yet I assure you, upon my honour, I never had a thought of making any addresses to her; and I cannot imagine why her ladyship persists in accusing me of such presumption.
So formal a denial, after what Arabella had said, extremely perplexed Sir Charles, and filled Mr. Glanville with inconceivable shame.
Miss Glanville enjoyed their disturbance, and, full of an ill-natured triumph, endeavoured to look Arabella into confusion; but that lady not being at all discomposed by this declaration II.180 of Mr. Selvin’s, having accounted for it already, replied with great calmness—
Sir, it is easy to see through the artifice of your disclaiming any passion for me—Upon any other occasion, questionless, you would rather sacrifice your life, than consent to disavow the sentiments which, unhappily for your peace, you have entertained. At present the desire of continuing near me, obliges you to lay this constraint upon your self; however, you know Thrasimedes fell upon the same stratagem to purpose. The rigid Udosia saw through the disguise, and would not dispense with herself from banishing him from Rome, as I do you from England—
How, madam! interrupted Selvin, amazed——
Yes, sir, replied Arabella, hastily, nothing less can satisfy what I owe to the consideration of my own glory.
Upon my word, madam, said Selvin, half angry, and yet strongly inclined to laugh, I don’t see the necessity of my quitting my native country, to satisfy what you owe to the consideration of your own glory. Pray, how does my staying in England affect your ladyship’s glory?
To answer your question with another, said Arabella, pray how did the stay of Thrasimedes in Rome affect the glory of the empress Udosia?
Mr. Selvin was struck dumb with this speech, for he was not willing to be thought so deficient in the knowledge of history, as not to be acquainted with the reasons why Thrasimedes should not stay in Rome.
His silence therefore seeming to Arabella to be a tacit confession of the justness of her commands, a sentiment of compassion for this unfortunate lover intruded itself into her mind, and turning her bright eyes, full of a soft complacency, upon Selvin, who stared at her as if he had lost his wits—
I will not, II.181 said she, wrong the sublimity of your passion for me so much as to doubt your being ready to sacrifice the repose of your own life to the satisfaction of mine: nor will I do so much injustice to your generosity, as to suppose the glory of obeying my commands, will not in some measure soften the rigour of your destiny—I know not whether it may be lawful for me to tell you that your misfortune does really cause me some affliction; but I am willing to give you this consolation, and also to assure you, that to whatever part of the world your despair will carry you, the good wishes and compassion of Arabella shall follow you.
Having said this, with one of her fair hands she covered her face, to hide the blushes which so compassionate a speech had caused—holding the other extended with a careless air supposing he would kneel to kiss it, and bathe it with his tears, as was the custom on such melancholy occasions, her head at the same time turned another way, as if reluctantly and with confusion she granted this favour.—But after standing a moment in this posture, and finding her hand untouched, she concluded grief had deprived him of his senses, and that he would shortly fall into a swoon as Thrasimedes did; and to prevent being a witness of so doleful a sight, she hurried out of the room, without once turning about; and having reached her own apartment, sunk into a chair, not a little affected with the deplorable condition in which she had left her supposed miserable lover.II.182
The contrast continued.
The company she had left behind her being all, Mr. Glanville, to the last degree surprised at her strange words and actions, continued mute for several minutes after she was gone, staring upon one another, as if each wished to know the other’s opinion of such an unaccountable behaviour. At last Miss Glanville, who observed her brother’s back towards her, told Mr. Selvin, in a low voice, that she hoped he would call and take his leave of them before he set out for the place where his despair would carry him.—
Mr. Selvin, in spite of his natural gravity, could not forbear laughing at this speech of Miss Glanville’s, which shocked her brother; and not being able to stay where Arabella was ridiculed, nor entitled to resent it, which would have been a manifest injustice on that occasion, he retired to his own apartment, to give vent to that spleen which in those moments made him out of humour with all the world.
Sir Charles, when he was gone, indulged himself in a little mirth on his niece’s extravagance, protesting he did not know what to do with her. Upon which Miss Glanville observed, that it was a pity there were not such things as protestant nunneries; giving it as her opinion, that her cousin ought to be confined in one of those places, and never suffered to see any company, by which means she would avoid exposing herself in the manner she did now.
Mr. Selvin, who possibly thought this a reasonable scheme of Miss Glanville’s, seemed by his silence to assent to her opinion; but Sir Charles was greatly displeased with his daughter for expressing herself so freely; alledging that Arabella, II.183 when she was out of those whims, was a very sensible young lady, and sometimes talked as learnedly as a divine. To which Mr. Selvin also added, that she had a great knowledge of history, and had a most surprising memory; and after some more discourse to the same purpose, he took his leave, earnestly entreating Sir Charles to believe that he never entertained any design of making his addresses to Lady Bella.
In the mean time, that lady, after having given near half an hour to those reflections which occur to heroines in the same situation with herself, called for Lucy, and ordered her to go to the dining room, and see in what condition Mr. Selvin was, telling her she had certainly left him in a swoon, as also the occasion of it; and bad her give him all the consolation in her power.
Lucy, with tears in her eyes at this recital, went down as she was ordered; and entering the room without any ceremony, her thoughts being wholly fixed on the melancholy circumstance her lady had been telling her, she looked eagerly round the room without speaking a word, till Sir Charles and Miss Glanville, who thought she had been sent with some message from Arabella, asked her, both at the same instant, what she wanted.—
I came, sir, said Lucy, repeating her lady’s words, to see in what condition Mr. Selvin is in, and to give him all the solation in my power.
Sir Charles, laughing heartily at this speech, asked her what she could do for Mr. Selvin? To which she replied she did not know, but her lady had told her to give him all the solation in her power.
Consolation thou would’st say, I suppose, said Sir Charles.
Yes, sir, said Lucy, curtseying. Well, child, added he, go up and tell your lady, Mr. Selvin does not need any consolation.
Lucy accordingly returned with this message, and was met at II.184 the chamber-door by Arabella, who hastily asked her if Mr. Selvin was recovered from his swoon: to which Lucy replied, that she did not know; but that Sir Charles bad her tell her ladyship, Mr. Selvin did not need any consolation.
Oh, heavens! cried Arabella, throwing herself into a chair as pale as death—He is dead, he has fallen upon his sword, and put an end to his life and miseries at once—Oh! how unhappy am I, cried she, bursting into tears, to be the cause of so cruel an accident—Was ever any fate so terrible as mine—Was ever beauty so fatal—Was ever rigour so unfortunate—How will the quiet of my future days be disturbed by the sad remembrance of a man whose death was caused by my disdain?—But, why, resumed she, after a little pause—why do I thus afflict myself for what has happened by an unavoidable necessity? Nor am I singular in the misfortune which has befallen me—Did not the sad Perinthus die for the beautiful Panthea?—Did not the rigour of Barsina bring the miserable Oxyatres to the grave—And the severity of Statira make Oroondates fall upon his sword in her presence, though happily he escaped being killed by it?—Let us, then, not afflict ourselves unreasonably at this sad accident—Let us lament as we ought the fatal effects of our charms—But let us comfort ourselves with the thought that we have only acted conformably to our duty.
Arabella having pronounced these last words with a solemn and lofty accent, ordered Lucy, who listened to her with eyes drowned in tears, to go down and ask if the body was removed.—For, added she, all my constancy will not be sufficient to support me against that pitiful sight.
Lucy accordingly delivered her message to Sir Charles and Miss Glanville, who were still together, discoursing on the fantastical turn of Arabella; when the knight, who could not possibly comprehend II.185 what she meant by asking if the body was removed, bid her tell her lady he desired to speak with her.
Arabella, upon receiving this summons, set her self to consider what could be the intent of it. If Mr. Selvin be dead, said she, what good can my presence do among them? Surely it cannot be to upbraid me with my severity, that my uncle desires to see me—No, it would be unjust to suppose it. Questionless, my unhappy lover is still struggling with the pangs of death, and, for a consolation in his last moments, implores the favour of resigning up his life in my sight. Pausing a little at these words, she rose from her seat with a resolution to give the unhappy Selvin her pardon before he died. Meeting Mr. Glanville as he was returning from his chamber to the dining-room, she told him, she hoped the charity she was going to discover towards his rival, would not give him any uneasiness; and preventing his reply, by going hastily into the room, he followed her, dreading some new extravagance, yet not able to prevent it, endeavoured to conceal his confusion from her observation. Arabella, after breathing a gentle sigh, told Sir Charles, that she was come to grant Mr. Selvin her pardon for the offence he had been guilty of, that he might depart in
Well, well, said Sir Charles, he is departed in peace without it.
How, sir, interrupted Arabella, is he dead then already? Alas! why had he not the satisfaction of seeing me before he expired, that his soul might have departed in peace? He would have been assured not only of my pardon, but pity also; and that assurance would have made him happy in his last moments.
Why, niece, interrupted Sir Charles staring, you surprise me prodigiously: are you in earnest?
Questionless I am, sir, said she; nor ought you to be surprised at the concern I expressed II.186 for the fate of this unhappy man, nor at the pardon I proposed to have granted him; since herein I am justified by the example of many great and virtuous princesses, who have done as much, nay, haply, more than I intended to have done, for persons whose offences were greater than Mr. Selvin’s.
I am very sorry, madam, said Sir Charles, to hear you talk in this manner; it is really enough to make one suspect you are——
You do me great injustice, sir, interrupted Arabella, if you suspect me to be guilty of any unbecoming weakness for this man; if barely expressing my compassion for his misfortunes be esteemed so great a favour, what would you have thought if I had supported his head on my knees while he was dying, shed tears over him, and discovered all the tokens of a sincere affliction for him?
Good God! said Sir Charles, lifting up his eyes, did any body ever hear of any thing like this?
What, sir, said Arabella, with as great an appearance of surprise in her countenance as his had discovered, do you say you never heard of any thing like this? Then you never heard of the princess of Media, I suppose?
No, not I, madam, said Sir Charles peevishly.
Then, sir, resumed Arabella, permit me to tell you, that this fair and virtuous princess condescended to do all I have mentioned for the fierce Labynet, prince of Assyria: who, though he had mortally offended her by stealing her away out of the court of the king her father, nevertheless, when he was wounded to death in her presence, and humbly implored her pardon before he died, she condescended, as I have said, to support him on her knees, and shed tears for his disaster. I could produce many more instances of the like compassion in ladies almost as highly born as herself, II.187 though, perhaps, their quality was not quite so illustrious, she being the heiress of two powerful kingdoms. Yet to mention only these—
Good cried Mr. Glanville here, being quite out of patience, I shall go distracted!
Arabella, surprised at this exclamation, looked earnestly at him for a moment, and then asked him, whether any thing she had said had given him uneasiness.
Yes, upon my soul, madam! said Glanville, so vexed and confused that he hardly knew what he said.
I am sorry for it, replied Arabella, gravely; and also am greatly concerned to find that in generosity you are so much exceeded by the illustrious Cyrus; who was so far from taking umbrage at Mandane’s behaviour to the dying prince, that he commended her for the compassion she had shewn him. So also did the brave and generous Oroondates, when the fair Statira——
By heavens; cried Glanville, rising in a passion, there’s no bearing this.—Pardon me, madam, but upon my soul you’ll make me hang myself!
Hang yourself! repeated Arabella, sure you know not what you say! you meant, I suppose, that you’ll fall upon your sword. What hero ever threatened to give himself so vulgar a death? But pray, let me know the cause of your despair, so sudden and so violent.
Mr. Glanville, continuing in a sort of sullen silence, Arabella, raising her voice, went on—
Though I do not conceive myself obliged to give you an account of my conduct, seeing that I have only permitted you yet to hope for my favour; yet I owe to myself, and my own honour, the justification I am going to make. Know then, that however suspicious my compassion for Mr. Selvin may appear to your mistaken judgment, yet it has its foundation only in the generosity of my disposition, which inclines me to pardon the fault when the unhappy criminal repents; and to afford him my II.188 pity when his circumstances require it. Let not, therefore, the charity I have discovered towards your rival, be the cause of your despair, since my sentiments for him, were he living, would be what they were before; that is, full of indifference, nay, haply, disdain. And suffer not yourself to be so carried away by a violent and unjust jealousy, as to threaten your own death, which, if you really had any grounds for your suspicions, and truly loved me, would come unsought for, though not undesired—for, indeed, were your despair reasonable, death would necessarily follow it; for what lover can live under so desperate a misfortune? In that case you may meet death undauntedly when it comes, nay, embrace it with joy; but truly the killing one’s self is but a false picture of true courage, proceeding rather from fear of a farther evil, than contempt of that you fly to: for if it were a contempt of pain, the same principle would make you resolve to bear patiently and fearlessly all kinds of pains; and hope being, of all other, the most contrary thing to fear, this, being an utter banishment of hope, seems to have its ground in fear.
In which Mr. Glanville makes an unsuccessful attempt upon Arabella.
Arabella, when she had finished these words, which banished in part Mr. Glanville’s confusion, went to her own apartment, followed by Miss Glanville, to whom she had made a sign for that purpose: and throwing herself into a chair, burst into tears, which greatly surprising Miss Glanville, she pressed her to II.189 tell her the cause.
Alas! replied Arabella, have I not cause to think myself extremely unhappy? The deplorable death of Mr. Selvin, the despair to which I see your brother reduced, with the fatal consequences which may attend it, fill me with a mortal uneasiness.
Well, said Miss Glanville, your ladyship may make yourself quite easy as to both these matters; for Mr. Selvin is not dead, nor is my brother in despair, that I know of.
What do you say, miss? interrupted Arabella; is not Mr. Selvin dead? Was the wound he gave himself not mortal, then?
I know of no wound that he gave himself, not I, said Miss Glanville; what makes your ladyship suppose he gave himself a wound? Lord bless me, what strange thoughts come into your head!
Truly I am rejoiced to it, replied Arabella; and in order to prevent the effects of his despair, I’ll instantly dispatch my commands to him to live.
I’ll dare answer for his obedience, madam, said Miss Glanville, smiling.
Arabella then gave orders for paper and pens to be brought her; and seeing Mr. Glanville enter the room, very formally acquainted him with her intention, telling him, that he ought to be satisfied with the banishment to which she had doomed his unhappy rival, and not require his death, since he had nothing to fear from his pretensions.
I assure you, madam, said Mr. Glanville, I am perfectly easy upon that account: and in order to spare you the trouble of sending to Mr. Selvin, I may venture to assure you that he is in no danger of dying.
It is impossible, sir, replied Arabella, according to the nature of things, it is impossible but he must already be very near death—you know the rigour of my sentence, you know——
I know, madam, said Mr. Glanville, that Mr. Selvin does not think himself under a necessity of obeying your sentence; and II.190 has the impudence to question your authority for banishing him from his native country:—
My authority, sir, said Arabella, strangely surprised, is founded upon the absolute power he has given me over him.
He denies that, madam, said Glanville, and says that he neither can give, nor you exercise, an absolute power over him; since you are both accountable to the king, whose subjects you are, and both restrained by the laws under whose sanction you live.
Arabella’s apparent confusion at these words giving Mr. Glanville hopes that he had fallen upon a proper method to cure her of some of her strange notions, he was going to pursue his arguments, when Arabella, looking a little sternly upon him—
The empire of love, said she, like the empire of honour, is governed by laws of its own, which have no dependence upon, or relation to, any other.
Pardon me, madam, said Glanville, if I presume to differ from you. Our laws have fixed the boundaries of honour as well as those of love.
How is that possible, replied Arabella, when they differ so widely, that a man may be justified by the one, and yet condemned by the other? For instance pursued she, you are not permitted by the laws of the land to take away the life of any person whatever: yet the laws of honour oblige you to hunt your enemy through the world, in order to sacrifice him to your vengeance. Since it is impossible then for the same actions to be at once just and unjust, it must necessarily follow, that the law which condemns it, and that which justifies it, is not the same, but directly opposite: and now, added she, after a little pause, I hope I have entirely cleared up that point to you.
You have indeed, madam, replied Mr. Glanville, proved to a demonstration, that what is called honour is something distinct from justice, since they command things absolutely opposite to each other.II.191
Arabella, without reflecting on this inference, went on to prove the independent sovereignty of love, Which, said she, may be collected from all the words and actions of those heroes who were inspired by this passion. We see it in them, pursued she, triumphing not only over all natural and avowed allegiance, but superior even to friendship, duty, and honour itself. This the actions of Oroondates, Artaxerxes, Spitridates, and many other illustrious princes, sufficiently testify.
Love requires a more unlimited obedience from its slaves, than any other monarch can expect from his subjects; an obedience which is circumscribed by no laws whatever, and dependent upon nothing but itself.
I shall live, madam, says the renowned prince of Scythia to the divine Statira, I shall live, since it is your command I should do so; and death can have no power over a life which you are pleased to take care of.
Say only that you wish I should conquer, said the great Juba to the incomparable Cleopatra, and my enemies will be already vanquished—victory will come over to the side you favour—and an army of an hundred thousand men will not be able to overcome the man who has your commands to conquer.
How mean and insignificant, pursued she, are the titles bestowed on other monarchs compared with those which dignify the sovereigns of hearts, such as Divine Arbitress of my fate, Visible Divinity, Earthly Goddess, and many others equally sublime!
Mr. Glanville, losing all patience at her obstinate folly, interrupted her here with a question quite foreign to the subject she was discussing; and soon after quitting her chamber, retired to his own, more than ever despairing of her recovery.II.192
In which is introduced a very singular character.
Miss Glanville, whose envy and dislike of her lovely cousin were heightened by her suspicions that she disputed with her the possession of Sir George’s heart, she having been long in reality a great admirer of that gay gentleman, was extremely delighted with the ridicule her absurd behaviour had drawn upon her at Bath, which she found by inquiry, was through Mr. Tinsel’s representation, grown almost general.
In order, therefore, to be at liberty to go to the public places uneclipsed by the superior beauty of Arabella, she acquainted her father and brother with part of what she had heard, which determined them to prevent that young lady’s appearance in public while they stayed at Bath; this being no difficult matter to bring about, since Arabella only went to the rooms or parade in compliance with the invitation of her cousins.
Miss Glanville being by these means rid of a rival too powerful even to contend with, went with more than usual gaiety to the assembly, where the extravagancies of Arabella afforded a perpetual fund for diversion. Her more than passive behaviour upon this occasion, banishing all restraint among those she conversed with, the jest circulated very freely at Arabella’s expence. Nor did Miss Glanville fail to give new poignancy to their sarcasms, by artfully deploring the bent of her cousin’s studies, and enumerating the many absurdities they made her guilty of.
Arabella’s uncommon beauty had gained her so many enemies among the ladies that composed this assembly, that they seemed to contend with each other who should ridicule her most. The celebrated Countess of ——, II.193 being then at Bath, approached a circle of these fair defamers, and listening a few moments to the contemptuous jests they threw out against the absent beauty, declared herself in her favour; which in a moment (such was the force of her universally acknowledged merit, and the deference always paid to her opinion) silenced every pretty impertinent around her.
This lady, who among her own sex had no superior in wit, elegance, and ease, was inferior to very few of the other in sense, learning, and judgment. Her skill in poetry, painting, and music, though incontestably great, was numbered among the least of her accomplishments. Her candour, her sweetness, her modesty, and benevolence, while they secured her from the darts of envy, rendered her superior to praise, and made the one as unnecessary as the other was ineffectual.
She had been a witness of the surprise Arabella’s extraordinary appearance had occasioned; and struck with that as well as the uncommon charms of her person, had pressed near her, with several others of the company, when she was discoursing in the manner we have related.
A person of the countess’s nice discernment could not fail of observing the wit and spirit, which, though obscured, was not absolutely hid under the absurdity of her notions; and this discovery adding esteem to the compassion she felt for the fair visionary, she resolved to rescue her from the ill-natured raillery of her sex; praising, therefore, her understanding, and the beauty of her person, with a sweetness and generosity peculiar to herself, she accounted in the most delicate manner imaginable for the singularity of her notions, from her studies, her retirement, her ignorance of the world, and her lively imagination. And to abate the keenness of their sarcasms, she acknowledged that she herself had, when very young, been deep read II.194 in romances; and but for an early acquaintance with the world, and being directed to other studies, was likely to have been as much a heroine as Lady Bella.
Miss Glanville, though she was secretly vexed at this defence of her cousin, was however under a necessity of seeming obliged to the countess for it: and that lady expressing a desire to be acquainted with Lady Bella, Miss Glanville respectfully offered to attend her cousin to her lodgings; which the countess as respectfully declined, saying, as Lady Bella was a stranger, she would make her the first visit.
Miss Glanville, at her return, gave her brother an account of what had happened at the assembly, and filled him with an inconceivable joy at the countess’s intention. He had always been a zealous admirer of that lady’s character, and flattered himself that the conversation of so admirable a woman would be of the utmost use to Arabella.
That very night he mentioned her to his beloved cousin; and after enumerating all her fine qualities, declared that she had already conceived a friendship for her, and was solicitous of her acquaintance.
I think myself extremely fortunate, replied Arabella, in that I have (though questionless undeservedly) acquired the amity of this lovely person—and I beg you, pursued she, to Miss Glanville, to tell her, that I long with impatience to embrace her, and to give her that share in my heart which her transcendent merit deserves.
Miss Glanville only bowed her head in answer to this request, giving her brother at the same time a significant leer; who, though used to Arabella’s particularities, could not help being a little confounded at the heroic speech she had made.II.195
Containing something which at first sight may possibly puzzle the reader.
The countess was as good as her word, and two days after sent a card to Arabella, importing her design to wait on her that afternoon.
Our heroine expected her with great impatience, and the moment she entered the room flew towards her with a graceful eagerness, and straining her in her arms, embraced her with all the fervour of a long absent friend.
Sir Charles and Mr. Glanville were equally embarrassed at the familiarity of this address; but observing that the countess seemed not to be surprised at it, but rather to receive it with pleasure, they were soon composed.
You cannot imagine, lovely stranger, said Arabella to the countess, as soon as they were seated, with what impatience I have longed to behold you, since the knowledge I have received of your rare qualities, and the friendship you have been pleased to honour me with—And I may truly protest to you, that such is my admiration of your virtues, that I would have gone to the farthest part of the world to render you that which you with so much generosity have condescended to bestow upon me.
Sir Charles stared at this extraordinary speech, and not being able to comprehend a word of it, was concerned to think how the lady to whom it was addressed would understand it.
Mr. Glanville looked down, and bit his nails in extreme confusion; but the countess, who had not forgot the language of romance, returned the compliment in a strain as heroic as hers.
The favour I have received from fortune, said II.196 she, in bringing me to the happiness of your acquaintance, charming Arabella, is so great, that I may rationally expect some terrible misfortune will befall me; seeing that in this life our pleasures, are so constantly succeeded by pains, that we hardly ever enjoy the one without suffering the other soon after.
Arabella was quite transported to hear the countess express herself in language so conformable to her own; but Mr. Glanville was greatly confounded, and began to suspect she was diverting herself with his cousin’s singularities: and Sir Charles was within a little of thinking her as much out of the way as his niece.
Misfortunes, madam, said Arabella, are too often the lot of excellent persons like yourself. The sublimest among mortals both for and virtue have experienced the frowns of fate. The sufferings of the divine Statira, or Cassandra, for she bore both names, the persecutions of the incomparable Cleopatra, the distresses of the beautiful Candace, and the afflictions of the fair and generous Mandane, are proofs that the most illustrious persons in the world have felt the rage of calamity.
It must be confessed, said the countess, that all those fair princesses you have named, were for a while extremely unfortunate; yet in the catalogue of these lovely and afflicted persons, you have forgot one who might with justice dispute the priority of sufferings with them all—I mean the beautiful Elisa, princess of Parthia.
Pardon me, madam, replied Arabella, I cannot be of your opinion. The princess of Parthia may indeed justly be ranked among the number of unfortunate persons, but she can by no means dispute the melancholy precedence with the divine Cleopatra—For, in fine, madam, what did the princess of Parthia suffer which the II.197 fair Cleopatra did not likewise endure, and some of them haply in a greater degree? If Elisa, by the tyrannical authority of the king her father, saw herself upon the point of becoming the wife of a prince she detested, was not the beautiful daughter of Antony, by the more unjustifiable tyranny of Augustus, likely to be forced into the arms of Tiberius, a proud and cruel prince, who was odious to the whole world as well as to her? If Elisa was for some time in the power of pirates, was not Cleopatra captive to an inhuman king, who presented his sword to the fair breast of that divine princess, worthy the admiration of the whole earth? And in fine, if Elisa had the grief to see her dear Artaban imprisoned by the order of Augustus, Cleopatra beheld with mortal agonies her beloved Coriolanus inclosed amidst the guards of that enraged prince, and doomed to a cruel death.
It is certain, madam, replied the countess, that the misfortunes of both these princesses were very great, though, as you have shewn me, with some inequality: and when one reflects upon the dangerous adventures to which persons of their quality were exposed in those times, one cannot help rejoicing that we live in an age in which the customs, manners, habits, and inclinations, differ so widely from theirs, that it is impossible such adventures should even happen.
Such is the strange alteration of things, that some people, I dare say, at present cannot be persuaded to believe there ever were princesses wandering through the world by land and sea in mean disguises, carried away violently out of their fathers’ dominions by insolent lovers.—Some discovered sleeping in forests, others shipwrecked on desolate islands, confined in castles, bound in chariots, and even struggling amidst the tempestuous waves of the sea, into which they had cast themselves to avoid the II.198 brutal force of their ravishers. Not one of these things having happened within the compass of several thousand years, people unlearned in antiquity would be apt to deem them idle tales, so improbable do they appear at present.
Arabella, though greatly surprised at this discourse, did not think proper to express her thoughts of it. She was unwilling to appear absolutely ignorant of the present customs of the world before a lady, whose good opinion she was ardently desirous of improving. Her prepossessions in favour of the countess made her receive the new lights she held out to her with respect, though not without doubt and irresolution. Her blushes, her silence, and down-cast eyes, gave the countess to understand part of her thoughts; who, for fear of alarming her too much for that time, dropped the subject, and, turning the conversation on others more general, gave Arabella an opportunity of mingling in it with that wit and vivacity which was natural to her when romances were out of the question.
In which, if the reader has not anticipated it, he will find an explanation of some seeming inconsistencies in the foregoing chapter.
The countess, charmed with the wit and good sense of Arabella, could not conceal her admiration, but expressed it in terms the most obliging imaginable: and Arabella, who was excessively delighted with her, returned the compliments she made her with the most respectful tenderness.
In the midst of these mutual civilities, Arabella, in the style of romance, II.199 entreated the countess to favour her with the recital of her adventures.
At the mention of this request, that lady conveyed so much confusion into her countenance, that Arabella, extremely embarrassed by it, though she knew not why, thought it necessary to apologize for the disturbance she seemed to have occasioned in her.
Pardon me, madam, replied the countess, recovering herself, if the uncommonness of your request made a moment’s reflection necessary to convince me that a young lady of your sense and delicacy could mean no offence to decorum by making it. The word adventures carries in it so free and licentious a sound in the apprehensions of people at this period of time, that it can hardly with propriety be applied to those few and natural incidents which compose the history of a woman of honour. And when I tell you, pursued she, with a smile, that I was born and christened, had a useful and proper education, received the addresses of my Lord ——, through the recommendation of my parents, and married him with their consents and my own inclination, and that since we have lived in great harmony together, I have told you all the material passages of my life, which, upon inquiry, you will find differ very little from those of other women of the same rank, who have a moderate share of sense, prudence, and virtue.
Since you have already, madam, replied Arabella, blushing, excused me for the liberty I took with you, it will be unnecessary to tell you it was grounded upon the customs of ancient times, when ladies of the highest rank and sublimest virtue were often exposed to a variety of cruel adventures, which they imparted in confidence to each other when chance brought them together.
Custom, said the countess, smiling, changes the very nature of things; and what was honourable a thousand II.200 years ago, may probably be looked upon as infamous now—a lady in the heroic age you speak of, would not be thought to possess any great share of merit, if she had not been many times carried away by one or other of her insolent lovers: whereas a beauty in this could not the hands of several different ravishers, without bringing an imputation on her chastity.
The same actions which made a man a hero in those times, would constitute him a murderer in these—and the same steps which led him to a throne then, would infallibly conduct him to a scaffold now.
But custom, madam, said Arabella, cannot possibly change the nature of virtue or vice: and since virtue is the chief characteristic of a hero, a hero in the last age will be a hero in this.—Though the natures of virtue or vice cannot be changed, replied the countess, yet they may be mistaken; and different principles, customs, and education, may probably change their names if not their natures.
Sure, madam, said Arabella, a little moved, you do not intend by this inference to prove Oroondates, Artaxerxes, Juba, Artaban, and the other heroes of antiquity bad men?
Judging them by the rules of christianity, and our present notions of honour, justice, and humanity, they certainly are, replied the countess.
Did they not possess all the necessary qualifications of heroes, madam, said Arabella, and each in a superlative degree?—Was not their valour invincible, their generosity unbounded, and their fidelity inviolable?
It cannot be denied, said the countess, but that their valour was invincible; and many thousand men, less courageous than themselves, felt the fatal effects of that invincible valour, which was perpetually seeking after occasions to exert itself. Oroondates gave many extraordinary proofs of that II.201 unbounded generosity so natural to the heroes of his time. This prince being sent by the king his father, at the head of an army, to oppose the Persian monarch, who had unjustly invaded his dominions, and was destroying the lives and properties of his subjects, having taken the wives and daughters of his enemy prisoners, had by these means an opportunity to put a period to a war so destructive to his country; yet, out of a generosity truly heroic, he released them immediately, without any conditions; and falling in love with one of those princesses, secretly quitted his father’s court, resided several years in that of the enemy of his father and country, engaged himself to his daughter, and, when the war broke out again between the two kings, fought furiously against an army in which the king his father was in person, and shed the blood of his future subjects without remorse; though each of those subjects, we are told, would have sacrificed his life to save that of their prince, so much was he beloved. Such are the actions which immortalize the heroes of romance, and are by the authors of those books styled glorious, godlike, and divine: yet, judging of them as christians, we shall find them impious and base, and directly opposite to our present notions of moral and relative duties.
It is certain, therefore, madam, added the countess, with a smile, that what was virtue in those days, is vice in ours: and to form a hero according to our notions of them at present, it is necessary to give him qualities very different from Oroondates.
The secret charm in the countenance, voice, and manner of the countess, joined to the force of her reasoning, could not fail of making some impression on the mind of Arabella; but it was such an impression as came far short of conviction. She was surprised, embarrassed, perplexed, but not convinced. II.202 Heroism, romantic heroism, was deeply rooted in her heart; it was her habit of thinking, a principle imbibed from education. She could not separate her ideas of glory, virtue, courage, generosity, and honour, from the false representations of them in the actions of Oroondates, Juba, Artaxerxes, and the rest of the imaginary heroes. The countess’s discourse had raised a kind of tumult in her thoughts, which gave an air of perplexity to her lovely face, and made that lady apprehensive she had gone too far, and lost that ground in her esteem, which she had endeavoured to acquire by a conformity to some of her notions and language. In this, however, she was mistaken; Arabella felt a tenderness for her that had already the force of a long contracted friendship, and an esteem little less than veneration.
When the countess took leave, the professions of Arabella, though delivered in the language of romance, were very sincere and affecting, and were returned with an equal degree of tenderness by the countess, who had conceived a more than ordinary affection for her.
Mr. Glanville, who could have almost worshipped the countess for the generous design he saw she had entertained, took an opportunity, as he handed her to her chair, to entreat, in a manner as earnest as polite, that she would continue the happiness of her acquaintance to his cousin; which, with a smile of mingled dignity and sweetness, she assured him of.II.203
Which concludes book the eighth.
Mr. Glanville, at his return to the dining-room, finding Arabella retired, told his father, in a rapture of joy, that the charming countess would certainly make a convert of Lady Bella.
Methinks, said the baronet, she has as strange whims in her head as my niece. Ad’s-heart, what a deal of stuff did she talk about! A parcel of heroes, as she calls them, with confounded hard names—In my mind, she is more likely to make Lady Bella worse than better.
Mr. Glanville, a little vexed at his father’s misapprehension, endeavoured, with as much delicacy as he could, to set him right with regard to the countess; so that he brought him at last to confess she managed the thing very well.
The countess, who had resolved to take Arabella openly into her protection, was thinking on means to engage her to appear at the assembly, whither she proposed to accompany her in a modern dress. But her good intentions towards our lovely heroine were suspended by the account she received of her mother’s indisposition, which commanded her immediate attendance on her at her seat in ——.
Her sudden departure gave Arabella an extreme uneasiness, and proved a cruel disappointment to Mr. Glanville, who had founded all his hopes of her recovery on the conversation of that lady.
Sir Charles having affairs that required his presence in London, proposed to his niece the leaving Bath, in a few days, to which she consented; and accordingly they set out for London in Arabella’s coach and six, attended by several servants on horseback, her women having been sent away before in the stage.II.204
Nothing very remarkable happened during this journey; so we shall not trouble our readers with several small mistakes of Arabella’s, such as her supposing a neat country girl, who was riding be hind a man, to be some lady or princess in disguise, forced away by a lover she hated, and entreating Mr. Glanville to attempt her rescue; which occasioned some little debate between her and Sir Charles, who could not be persuaded to believe it was as she said, and forbade his son to meddle in other people’s affairs. Several of these sorts of mistakes, as we said before, we omit; and will therefore, if our reader pleases, bring our heroine, without further delay, to London.
Envious! repeated Miss Glanville; I envious of my cousin
text has cousion
Thrasimedes fell upon the same stratagem to no purpose
text has know purpose
being all, except Mr. Glanville, to the last degree surprised
text has expect
Miss Glanville observed, that it was a pity there were not such things as protestant nunneries
[What an odd thing to say. The Church of England—which by 1752 had retconned itself into “protestant”—does have nuns.]
to grant Mr. Selvin her pardon for the offence he had been guilty of, that he might depart in peace.
text has , for final .
Good heavens! cried Mr. Glanville here
text has ? for !
[I am relieved to see that even Mr. Glanville has his breaking point.]
Truly I am rejoiced to hear it, replied Arabella
text has her it
The sublimest among mortals both for beauty and virtue
text has beanty
could not pass through the hands of several different ravishers
text has pas sthrough
they set out for London in Arabella’s coach and six
[Now, that’s more like it. If you are stuck with the guardianship of an heiress, may as well take advantage of it.]
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.