True, but Secret
Two Jewiſh Ladies,
Who lately reſided in London.
Printed for J. Brindley in New-Bond-Street, W. Meadows
and J. Walthoe in Cornhill, A. Bettesworth in Pater-
Noster-Row, T. Astley in St. Paul’s Church-Yard, T. Worral
in Fleet-Street, J. Lewis in Covent-Garden, J. Penn in
Weſtminſter-Hall and R. Walker at the White-Hart without
There are ſo many Things, meerly the Effect of Invention, which have been publiſhed, of late, under the Title of Secret Histories, that, to diſtinguiſh this, I am obliged to inform my Reader, that I have not inſerted one Incident which was not related to me by a Perſon nearly concerned in the Family of iv A2v of that unfortunate Gentleman, who had no other Conſideration in the Choice of a Wife, than to gratify a preſent Paſſion for the Enjoyment of her Beauty.
I found ſomething ſo particular in the Story, and ſo much Room for the moſt uſeful and moral Reflections to be drawn from it, that I thought I ſhould be guilty of an Injury to the Publick in concealing it. If among all who ſhall read the following Sheets, any one Perſon may reap ſo much Advantage as to avoid the Misfortunes the Subject of them fell into by his Inadvertency, and giving a Looſe to Paſſion; the little Pains I have been at, will be infinitely recompenc’d.
The Fair Hebrew: A Secret History.
Prodigious are the Effects of Beauty! Strength, Valour, Wiſdom, and even Piety itſelf, are not ſufficient to defend us from the Attacks of this all-captivating Enemy. The inſinuating Glances of two lovely Eyes have Power to melt the roughteſt Warrior to Effeminacy, make the Stateſman forget his cunning, unlock the Cabinets of Princes, and from the Altar draw the ſuppliant Votary; the ſweet Enchantment ſo fills up the Soul, that it drives all other Conſiderations B thence, 2 B1v 2 thence, and reigns alone triumphant and adored.
The graveſt and moſt credible Hiſtorians, from the beginning of Time, hand down to us innumerable Inſtances of the Truth of this Aſſertion; but among them all, there is not a Lover to be found, who ventured, or that ſuffered more in the Purſuit of his amorous Inclinations than did the Subject of the following Pages:
Young Dorante, Heir to a conſiderable Eſtate, being juſt arrived from his Travels, in which he had improved his Studies, with all that can compleat a fine Gentleman; among other youthful Frollicks, took it into his Head one Day to go, with ſome of his Companions, to the Jews Synagogue: An improper Place, the Reader will imagine, to ſearch for Beauty in, thoſe People never ſuffering their Females to appear with Faces uncovered at their Devotion. It was here, however, that poor Dorante received an Impreſſion he was never able after to erace; happening to ſtand juſt under the Lattice behind which the Women ſit, he ſaw a Handkerchief drop from it, and fall at his Feet; he immediately took it up, and lifting it towards the Place whence it fell, the fineſt Hand in the World was put forth to receive it. So beautiful a Sample filled him with 3 B2r 3 with the moſt earneſt Deſire to ſee the whole Piece, but that was impoſſible in the preſent Situation: He was reſolved, however, to attempt it, and, communicating his Intentions to thoſe that were with him, who were none of them very ſcrupulous, they agreed to force into the Place where the Ladies were. The Paſs being guarded only by one old Jew, they eaſily accompliſhed their Deſign, and Dorante made directly to that Part of it where the Handkerchief had dropp’d. The beautiful Owner had ſtill her Glove off, and the Delicacy of her Hand, as well as the Luſtre of a fine Ring, which he had taken particular Notice of, it being a large Emrald with a Diamond drill’d through the middle, directed him which of that numerous Aſſembly it was, who muſt gratify his Curioſity. Her Face being cloſe muffled in her Hood, as is the Cuſtom with them, he would have been little the better for what he had done, if he had not ventured to proceed yet farther, and remove the Obſtacle from the Head of the fair Iſraelite. But, he had no ſooner been guilty of the Preſumption, than he repented it, two Eyes of ſuch an angry Radience broke upon him as at once charmed and awed his Boldneſs: He was preparing to ſay ſomething in excuse of it, when the whole Syna gogueB2 gogue 4 B2v 4 gogue, being alarmed by the Jew who unwillingly had given Entrance to theſe Strangers, came to the Relief of their Wives and Daughters, and, partly by Force, and partly by Perſuaſions, at length got them out of that forbidden Place. Dorante, however, was not to be hindred from ſtanding at the Door of the Synagogue, watching his Charmer coming forth, nor when he ſaw her do ſo, led by a grave old Man, from following where he conducted her. Having ſeen them enter a large ſpacious Houſe, he eaſily informed himſelf in the Neighbourhood to whom it belonged, and that the Beauty to whom he had already devoted himſelf, was only Daughter to the Maſter of it, and call’d Kesiah; that ſhe was yet unmarried, and had the Character of the wittieſt and beſt humour’d of all the Maids of her Religion. His next Care was, how to let her know the Paſſion ſhe had inſpired him with; his late Behaviour at the Synagogue, he knew, would render any Pretence he could make of ſeeing her at Home, wholly innefectual, and, among the reſt of his Intelligence, he alſo learn’d, that ſhe was never ſuffered to go abroad without her Father, one of her Brothers, or ſome other Relation to have a Guard over her Actions. The 5 B3r 5 The only Means, therefore, left him was to write to her, which he did in theſe Terms.
To the moſt beautiful Kesiah.
As you had Cauſe to be ſurprized at the Inſolence of a Stranger, who, contrary to the Rules of your Religion, and indeed good Manners, would not yeſterday be denied the Sight of your Face, you will certainly be much more ſo, that he who committed that Crime, dares not only to avow it, but depends alſo on your Mercy for Pardon. It was Curioſity which occaſioned my Boldneſs, but Love alone could oblige me to declare to you who it was had been guilty of it. The Suddenneſs with which I received the Impreſſion of your Charms, while it convinces me of the almighty Power of them, at the ſame Time makes me believe it the irreſiſtible Impulse of Fate, which compelled me, contrary to my Nature, and the Regard I bear to all Places ſacred to Divine Worſhip, to an Action that indeed can no otherwiſe be excuſed.—I have ſeen you, O moſt adorable Kesiah! but once, and then too but for a Moment, yet has that tranſient View done more than all the Beauties of thoſe difdifferentferent 6 B3v 6 different Kingdoms I have been in, could effect on the neareſt Admiſſion to their Charms. It is certain that I am doom’d bleſt or miſerable to exceſs; but which, lies only in your own divine Breaſt to determine.—If you would permit a Correſpondence with me, I flatter myſelf there is a poſſibility of teſtifying that I am leſs unworthy the Happineſs I aim at, than my late Behaviour may make you think. I need not enumerate the many Obſtacles which prevent my paying you thoſe publick Devoirs, which are your Beauty’s due, you know them too well, and that will I hope be a ſufficient Excuſe for my entreating you will accept the Offer I make you of my Eternal Services in the Way I am allowed to do it. Be aſſured, that I love you more than Life, and that nothing can afford me ſo ſenſible a Pleaſure as the Means to give you Proofs of it. Till then, I beg but to be receiv’d in the Train of your Admirers, and that ſince a nearer Converſation is at preſent foreign to my Hopes, a Line from that charming Hand may inform me, you diſdain not the Oblation of a Heart ſo ſincere and paſſionate as that of your
He ſent this by a Servant in whom he could confide, ſtrictly charging him to watch about the Houſe, till he ſhould ſee Kesiah alone at the Door or Window, and when he did ſo, to deliver it to her, and preſs for an Anſwer. The Fellow executed his Commiſſion ſo well, that no Perſon in the Family had any Suſpicion of him. The Charming Hebrew happened to come to a Parlour Window, where ſhe ſat down in a muſing Poſture, which convincing Dorante’s Emiſſary that none was near, he approached and ſurprized her with putting the Billet into her Hands. From whom is this! cried ſhe, you will be ſatiſfied, Madam, when you have read it, anſwered he, my Commands were only to deliver it, and entreat an Anſwer, which if you pleaſe, I will attend in three or four Hours, with the ſame Precaution as I have taken in giving you this. He had no ſooner ſpoke theſe Words than he retired, leaving her at Liberty to examine the Contents. Tho’ ſhe knew not the Name of Dorante, nor had a Thought at that Time of what had happened in the Synagogue, yet at her firſt Sight caſting her Eyes on it, perceiving it was a Declaration of Love, ſhe immediately run to a more private Place to read it, well knowing that if ſhe were diſcovered in that 8 B4v 8 that Employment, it would be the laſt ſhe ſhould have an Opportunity of receiving. But the Contents no ſooner informing her of the Author, than ſhe was fill’d with a Pleaſure which no Words are able to deſcribe. The Boldneſs of Dorante had been ſo far from rendring him diſagreeable, that ſhe had ever ſince remembred him with a Wiſh that it might be ſomething more than bare Curioſity which had cauſed it. The ſtrict Reſtraint ſhe was kept in by her Parents, had heightened her Deſire of Liberty, and ſhe looked on their Care, as a kind of Bondage. To add to all this, ſhe had an Averſion, not only for all the Men of her Religion, but alſo for the Laws and Cuſtoms of the Religion itſelf, and deſired nothing more than to become a Chriſtian. Dorante’s Perſon and Principles were both Charming to her, and ſhe reſolved not only to encourage his Addreſſes, but alſo, if ſhe found his Pretentions honourable, to quit every Thing for him. She indulged Meditation on this new and pleaſing Conqueſt for a conſiderable Time; but then remembring the Meſſenger of her Lover had told her he would wait her Anſwer, ſhe began to think in what Manner ſhe ſhould prepare one, which at length ſhe reſolved on, and wrote theſe Lines:To 9 C1r 9
To the worthy Dorante.
Your Behaviour in the Synagogue would certainly have been an unpardonable Fault, were I a Bigot to the Religion in which I have been educated; but my Heart is ſo much inclined to yours, that I cannot, without doing a Violence to my ſelf, believe a Chriſtian can be guilty of a baſe Action. Impute my forgiveneſs, therefore, to the good Will I bear your Principles, as alſo the Condeſcention of this Anſwer. As for the Paſſion you profeſs, I have paſt the few Years of my Life in too cloſe a Reſtraint to be any Judge of it at all, much leſs know what to think of it in a Perſon ſo entirely a Stranger to me; ’Tis Time and Perſeverance only can aſſure me the little Beauty I am Miſtreſs of can have made any ſerious Impreſſion on your Heart; neither is it neceſſary I ſhould ask my ſelf the Queſtion, how far I ought to be influenced by it, till I am firſt ſatiſfied in the other. I would not be too forward in believing my ſelf obliged, nor ungrateful when I find I am ſo.— I give you leave, however, to entertain me with your Letters as frequently as you pleaſe: C “only 10 10 C1v only be ſure to obſerve a proper Circumſpection in the Delivery of them: The leaſt Suſpicion of ſuch a Correſpondence being of the utmoſt Prejudice to what you at preſent term your Inclinations, as well as to the Repoſe of
Having ſealed this and put it into her Pocket, ſhe took her Poſt at the Parlour Window, where ſhe found already the faithful Meſſenger attending, ſhe threw it immediately out, and ſhut the Window, as well to conceal her Bluſhes from his ſight, as any other Reaſon. The Modeſty inherent to Virginity, would not ſuffer her to think ſhe had entred into an Intrigue with a young Gentleman in this clandeſtine Manner, without ſome Mixture of Shame; but the Liking ſhe had to him, and the Apprehenſions that ſhe ſhould perhaps be forced to Marry a Jew, if ſhe did not diſpoſe of herſelf otherwiſe, made her chuſe rather to ſuſtain this little Shock than be expoſed to ſo terrible a Misfortune.
’Twould be impoſſible to repreſent the Tranſport of Dorante at the Receipt of ſo obliging an Anſwer. He had been in the moſt poignant Diſquiet after his ſending that Letter, he remembred with how much 11 C2r 11 much ſeeming Diſdain ſhe looked upon him when he threw back her Hood, and expected from her the moſt ſevere Reply that haughty and offended Wit could form. A thouſand Times, he wiſhed he had not writ; was beginning to examine his Heart, if there were a Poſſibility for it to baniſh her Idea, ſo firmly did he believe he ſhould have Occaſion to exert all his Reſolution for Relief from ſo hopeless a Paſſion.—What Extacies then muſt such an unlook’d for Condeſcention raiſe! how muſt his Boſom ſwell with new Delight, as the Poet ſays, Kindneſs has reſiſtleſs Charms,All Things elſe but faintly warms:It gilds the Lover’s ſervile Chain,And makes the Slave grow pleas’d and vain. Before he ſtruggled with his Paſſion, uſed his utmoſt Efforts to prevent the Growth of it, and even quarrelled with himſelf, that he had not Strength enough of Mind to overcome it; but now, on the contrary, he indulged, he cheriſhed the ſweet Idea, thought it his Glory and his Happineſs to Love, and would not for the World have returned to his former Inſenſibility. ’Tis not therefore to be doubted, but that in this Diſpoſition of Mind, he failed not to ply her 12 C2v 12 her with Letters, having her Permiſſion to ſend them; to all which, he received Anſwers that gave him no Reaſon to deſpair: He prevailed ſo far at length as to have Leave to entertain her at a little Window, which opened from a low Stair-caſe, at Midnight, when all the reſt of the Family were in Bed; there did he make a thouſand Proteſtations of an inviolable Love and Fidelity: She ſeemed pleaſed with the Aſſurances he gave her, and in Return, confeſſed he was not indifferent to her, and that ſhe would ſcruple to afford no Teſtimonies of her good Will to him, provided his Requeſts tranſgreſſ’d not the Bounds of Honour. He ſtarted a little at that Exception, and rather evading than anſwering any Diſcourſe of that Kind, ſhe took Notice of it with a Diſdain becoming a virtuous Maid, telling him ſhe had too much Cauſe to fear the ſpecious Pretences of Love he made her, were ſo many Baits for her Undoing; and, that if he would not reſolve to become her Husband, ſhe would withdraw all farther Converſation with him. It was but in vain that he alledged nothing could be ſo pleaſing to him as the certainty of paſſing his whole Life with her; but that he feared the Difference of the Religions in which they were educated, would take away all Poſſibility 13 C3r 13 Poſſibility of what ſhe deſired. That, ſaid ſhe, can be no Obſtacle on your Side, becauſe I am ready to embrace your Faith, and will the Moment I forſake my Father’s Houſe be Baptiz’d. I muſt indeed in renouncing Judaiſm, renounce alſo all Hope of ever poſſeſſing the Inheritance of my Birth, and perhaps too run an iminent Hazard of my Life, could the Tribes, by any StatagemStratagem, get me afterwards in their Power: But you, what Danger do you incur? unleſs it be a ſhort Diſpleaſure from your Father for marrying without a Portion, and that, I doubt not to attone for the Want of, by my Love, Virtue, and good Conduct. Dorante coolly replied, that were he certain his Father would be brought ſo far to pardon as to leave him a Competency to maintain her, he ſhould himſelf look on her Beauty and Perfections as a ſufficient Dowry; but this Anſwer not ſatisfying her, ſhe bad him conſider on what ſhe had ſaid, and ſee her no more, if he reſolved not on Compliance. With theſe Words ſhe ſhut the Window, and retired with ſo much Precipitation, that he could not have reſum’d the Converſation, if he had been inclined to it. He went Home greatly diſcontented with this Night’s Adventure: He loved the fair Kesiah, ’tis true, 14 C3v 14 true, with an Extremity of Paſſion; but as it had never entered into his Head to make her his Wife, the Propoſal ſhock’d him beyond Meaſure: He thought he could have retained her forever as a Miſtreſs, but could not reflect on forfeiting his Father’s Affection, and the World’s Eſteem of his Prudence, by ſo unſuitable a Match, without ſhocks, which, for a while, ſtifled his Inclination: The more he reflected, the more he determined never to be guilty of what he knew he muſt expect no Pardon for, and ſwore to himſelf to think on her no more. But how vain is Reaſon when oppoſ’d to love, he had the fatal Dart faſt ſticking in his Heart! and tho’ he felt not the Pain of it in the firſt Hurry of Surprize at her Behaviour, yet it ſoon returned with double Anguiſh on him, her Beauty, and her Profeſſions of Virtue, ſet her before the Eyes of his Imagination, in ſo charming a Light, that he began to think he could not ſuffer too much for ſo meritorious an Object. In fine, his Paſſion got the better, and all overwhelmed in a Torrent of Deſire, he reſolved to venture every Thing for her Enjoyment. He aſſured her of it by a Letter he wrote for that Purpoſe, in which he made the moſt ſolemn Promiſes to become her Huſband aſſoon as ſhe 15 C4r 15 ſhe would give him the Opportunity. On which ſhe conſented to ſee him the ſame Night at their uſual Rendezvous the Window, where he confirmed by many Oaths the Contents of his Letter,.
People who ſcruple not to falſify their Promiſes eaſily make them, but thoſe who are with great Difficulty prevailed on to give an Aſſurance of any Thing, are for the moſt Part very punctual in their Performance of it; the very Deliberation they take before they enter into an Engagement, teſtifies they know the Weight of it, and that they will not oblige themſelves beyond their Power or their Will to execute. Kesiah had penetration enough to diſcover, that ſince Dorante had ſo ſolemnly proteſted he would make her his Wife, he meant nothing more than to do ſo; and, therefore agreed to his Deſires of quitting the next Day her Father’s Houſe for ever.
Early the next Morning he procured a Ring and Licence, and, going to a Part of the Town where he was entirely unknown, took Lodgings for himſelf and Kesiah, not telling the People of the Houſe, that it was a Bride and Bridegroom they were to entertain, but pretending to have been married ſome Time, and that his Wife and himſelf were juſt come to London. This Story 16 C4v 16 Story was as readily believ’d as ſpoken, and the appointed Hour for Kesiah’s Eſcape being now come, he met her at a Place they had before prefixed, then went immediately to an adjacent Church, and ty’d the indiſſoluble Knot.
It was not many Hours, before the fair Fugitive was miſs’d by her careful Father, who, having in vain enquired for her of all the Servants, ran to her Chamber, and, finding her Jewels, and what elſe ſhe had of eaſy Carriage, removed, as well as her ſelf, he no longer doubted if ſhe was gone with an Intention to return no more. At laſt bethinking himſelf of ſearching a little Cabinet ſhe had, he found the firſt Letter Dorante had written to her after the Adventure in the Synagogue. The Contents of it informed him, it came from that Perſon who had occaſioned ſo great a Diſorder that Day among them, and as he had taken the greateſt Care to keep her from the Speech of all Mankind, eſpecially the Chriſtians, he preſently imagined it muſt be this young Gentleman who had appeared more charming, than all the Principles of her Duty and Religion. Diſtraction ſcarce comes up to the Rage of Temper he was in at this firſt Diſcovery of his Misfortune, and the eternal Ruin, as he termed 17 D1r 17 term’d it of an only Daughter: But when the emotions of Grief and Fury had a little exhauſted themſelves in Exclamations, and Conſideration aſſum’d its former Seat in his diſorder’d Soul, he ſet himſelf to Enquire who this Dorante was, where he Lived, and of what Reputation and Quality. His diligence ſoon made him acquainted with all the Particulars he deſired to know concerning him: And among them being told that his Father was one of the moſt grave and ſober Gentlemen of his Time, he went to him, ſhowed him the Letter his Son had ſent, declar’d his Behaviour in the Synagogue, and the Reaſons he had to believe it was no other than himſelf, who had ſeduced the unfortunate Kesiah from her Obedience.
It is impoſſible to expreſs Surprize and Trouble in Terms pathetick enough to make the Reader ſenſible how much of both the old Gentlemen felt at this recital of the Jew: He had been told by his Servants that Dorante of late kept very ill Hours, and now asking them ſome farther Queſtions, one of them inform’d him, that hapning to be out one Evening much later than the Rules of that Family permitted, he ſaw his young Maſter holding Diſcourſe with a Lady at a Window: He then deſcribedD ſcribed 18 D1v 18 ſcribed the Street and Houſe in ſo particular a Manner, that the old Hebrew immediately cried out it was his own, and that doubtleſs it was Kesiah, who Entertain’d him at that Hour and Place. On which the Father of Dorante grew more perplex’d, and feeling the Sorrows of the Lamenting Jew, he gave his ſolemn Promiſe to diſcourſe his Son on the Affair in ſuch Terms, as ſhou’d oblige him to reſtore his Daughter, or forfeit his Favour for ever. He deſired he wou’d tarry ſome Time, becauſe he was in Expectation of Dorante’s Return, who was not accuſtom’d to go Abroad ſo Early, nor ſtay ſo many Hours together out of the Houſe as he had done that Day. The Iſraelite willingly complied, but Night coming on, and no Dorante appearing, he was compell’d to take his Leave, tho’ ſomewhat better ſatisfied with the old Gentleman’s Behaviour, than he had been before he ſaw him, hoping there was ſtill a poſſibility of recovering his Daughter before her Ruin was compleated, from the Aſſurances he had receiv’d of his good Will to ſerve him, and utter abhorrence of his Son’s Proceedings.
But Kesiah was in the mean time taking particular Care to diſappoint all the Endeavours 19 D2r 19 Endeavours might be uſed for obliging her Return, ſhe was not only married lawfully to Dorante, but, the better to ſecure herſelf from her Father’s Power, ſhe entirely renounced Judaism, embrac’d Chriſtianity, and was baptized, and receiv’d into the Church of England, with all the Forms and Ceremonies neceſſary to render it dangerous, for even the Authority of a Parent to give her any Interruption.
Dorante loved her to Madneſs, was Raviſh’d with the Poſſeſſion of what he Eſteem’d ſo great a Treaſure, yet were his Pleaſures mingled with Gall, when he reflected he had ſold his Liberty, enter’d into an Engagement which Death alone cou’d releaſe him from, and run the Hazard of diſpleaſing for ever the beſt, and hitherto moſt tender of Fathers, he was ready to dye with remorſe, nor cou’d all the ſoftneſss of Kesiah, nor even the Raptures of her Enjoyments, put theſe Conſiderations wholly out of his Mind. Not that his Affection diminiſh’d by being become Maſter of his Wiſhes, but the tenderneſs he had for his dear Bride ſerv’d but to enhance his Grief on remembring, that if it ſhou’d not be in his Power to reconcile his Father to what he had done, how miſerable alſo this Marriage wou’d make her; D2 He 20 D2v 20 He knew ſhe had been bred with all imaginable delicacy, and coul’d ill endure the pinching Gripes of Want; the few Bills of Exchange, Mony and Jewels they both had, wou’d ſoon be Exhauſted, and as it wou’d then be no way in his Power to ſupport her, he even trembled to think to what Miſeries he might ſee her reduc’d, without the Capacity of affording her any other Conſolation, than that melancholy and ineffectual one of ſuffering with her.
He was alſo extreamly puzzled what excuſe to make to his Father for abſenting himſelf from his Preſence, the ſpace of a whole Day and Night, reſolving to keep the Knowledge of the Truth as long as poſſible from him: But how great was his Conſternation, when the firſt Words he heard from his Mouth were Reproaches, for having ſeduced a young Maid of the Jewish Religion. I wou’d not have the Ruin of any one, ſaid the old Gentleman, alledg’d to my Family, and him that perſeveres in an attempt unworthy of him, muſt expect to be diſcarded by me, and made an alien to my Name and Houſe; it was to no purpoſe that Dorante endeavour’d either to evade this Accuſation, or deny the Truth of it. His Father ſeem’d poſitive in the Fact, and grew 21 D3r 21 grew more incens’d at his refuſing to acknowledge it. And when he Swore, as well he might, that he had not the leaſt deſign to the Prejudice of any Woman’s Honour, much leſs that of Kesiah, he ſeem’d in the old Gentleman’s Opinion to be turn’d every way a Libertine: For he had not the moſt diſtant Notion that there was a Marriage in the Caſe, and cou’d not ſuppoſe his Son had perſwaded her from her Fathers Houſe, for no other purpoſe than to Live with him in a Platonick Love. He therefore bad him avoid his Sight, and come no more before him, till he had reſtor’d the Maid to her Parents. Dorante on this made a low Bow, and went out of the Houſe, ſaying only that he hoped Time and Reflection wou’d be his Friends.
With how much diſcontent was therefore the Nuptial of this young Gentleman accompanied, he return’d to his Bride, hoping to have receiv’d ſome Comfort in this Vexation from her Endearments: But on the contrary, ſhe flew into the extreameſt Rage againſt him, for not having related the whole Truth to his Father. What, ſaid ſhe, am I unworthy to be call’d your Wife? Is my Person and Character of ſuch mean eſtimation in your Account, that you imagine 22 D3v 22 imagine you have degraded yourſelf, by marrying me, ſo far that ’tis paſt a Parent’s Power to forgive it? But think not, continued ſhe, that I will be look’d on as a Proſtitute; no, I will proclaim the only Meaſures cou’d have made me yours, atteſt my Virtue, and defy thoſe Scruples which render you unjuſt in Concealing what I am. All that Dorante cou’d urge to the contrary of this Reſolution proved in Vain, ſhe was raſh, opinionated, and obſtinate, and in ſpite of all he cou’d ſay, wrote to his Father in the following Terms:
Iam, as the Duty of my Character obliges me, extreamly concern’d that my dear Dorante ſhou’d have incurr’d your diſpleaſure on any ſcore relating to me: Tho’ I am perfectly convinc’d it is owing to himſelf in not acquainting you that the Woman he now Lives with is his Wife, that ſhe made no difficulty to renounce her Father, Family, and Religion to embrace his, becauſe ſhe loves him: But wou’d much ſooner have choſe all the Torments of a fruitleſs Paſſion, nay, Death itſelf, than have been his by any diſhonourable Tye. I was Educated, Sir, in the ſtricteſt Rules of Virtue, and ‘my 23 D4r 23 my Inclinations are ſuch, as will never render my Perſeverance in obeying them, uneaſy to me. I, therefore, doubt not, but you will much readier pardon your Son’s Marriage with me, than you wou’d have done his undoing a Maid wholly Innocent, and unpractis’d in Deceit. And in this Confidence, I fear not to declare the Truth, and entreat a Bleſſing for,
This being ſent to the old Gentleman, all, and more than ever Dorante had apprehended was the Conſequence: The Meſſenger; being order’d to wait an Anſwer, the enraged Father granted one which contain’d theſe Lines:
Ihave juſt receiv’d a Letter from a Woman who Calls herſelf your Wife, and I perceive is the ſame Jew on whoſe ‘Score, 24 D4v 24 Score, I think, I ſaid too much for her to preſume to have made any ſuch declaration of me, were not both of you as Void of Underſtanding, as you are of Obedience.—I ſcarce believe you have made ſo ill an uſe of the Education I have given you, as to throw yourſelf away in that Manner, and forfeit all hope of ever obtaining my Pardon.—But in this Stratagem you have form’d to deceive me, be aſſured you have only deceiv’d yourſelves: I ſhall never acknowledge a Perſon, ſuch as ſhe, for my Daughter, nor you for my Son, till great Repentance and a thorough return to Virtue, ſhall obliterate the Memory of your Faults.
Dorante, who expected nothing leſs, was not ſurpriz’d that his Father had anſwer’d in this Manner: He now cou’d not forbear remonſtrating to Kesiah how imprudent ſhe had been; but ſhe had too much obſtinacy to confeſs ſhe had been in the Wrong, and ſtill perſevered in endeavouring to ſooth him with the Hope, that in a ſhort Time the Storm wou’d blow over. He knew too well the Violence of his Father’s Temper to appear before him, till the 25 E1r 25 the Affair ſhou’d be a little mitigated, and all he cou’d do was, to apply to ſome Friends who were intimate with Morosino; but their Endeavours to procure a Reconciliation were ineffectual; and, on the contrary, the Confirmation he receiv’d from them of Dorante’s Marriage, ſo much heighten’d his Indignation againſt him, that he Vowed to diſinherit him, and make his younger Son the ſole Maſter of his Poſſeſſions after his deceaſe.
The new wedded Pair were, therefore, oblig’d to depend wholly on themſelves for Support, and every Day diminiſhing their ſmall Stock of Mony, their Rings and Watches were their next ſupply. Neither of them had yet had any occaſion to practiſe frugality, and being wholly unacquainted with a narrowneſs of Circumſtances, cou’d not tell how to Contract their Expences proportionable to their preſent Condition: Eſpecially Kesiah, who was naturally Proud, vain Glorious, and Extravagant, in her Diet and Apparel, and when they had reduced themselves to the laſt Guinea, Dorante having Perſons who offer’d to furniſh him with Mony, as not doubting but they ſhou’d be paid either by Morosino, or himſelf after the old Gentleman’s deceaſe, that Inconſiderate Wife E not 26 E1v 26 not only perſwaded him to accept their Propoſals, but alſo privately borrowed pretty large Sums of Mony from as many as ſhe cou’d prevail upon to Lend.
While Things were in this unhappy Poſition, they receiv’d a conſiderable Addition to their Charges, viz. One Night as Dorante and his Wife were in Bed, they were ſuddenly awaked by a loud knocking at the Door; a Servant belonging to the People of the Houſe having demanded the Occaſion, came and acquainted Kesiah that a Gentleman with a Lady in his Arms, who ſeem’d either dead or dying, deſired to ſpeak with her immediately. She was a little frighted at firſt, imagining it to be ſome Stratagem of the Jews to get her into their Power, and revenge the Renunciation ſhe had made of their Religion; but Dorante removed that Apprehenſion by throwing on his Nightgown, and running down Stairs himſelf to be inform’d of the Truth. He found as the Maid had ſaid, a young Man of a very good Aſpect, tho’ full of Trouble, holding in his Arms a Woman richly habited, but who appear’d to be no longer among the Number of the Living. Where, Oh! where is Kesiah or her Huſband? Cryed the Stranger, a moment of loſt Time may deprive the World of 27 E2r 27 of its moſt Valuable Treaſure. Dorante on this, telling him that he had the good Fortune to be married to Kesiah. I am certain then, reply’d the other, you want not Generoſity to afford us that Succour, which the moſt ſtrange Accident has made us ſtand in need of. Kesiah, who was liſtning on the Staircase, ran down, Crying out, my Brother! But the Perſon ſhe call’d ſo, bad her ceaſe any Exclamations, and ſhew him where he might lay his fair Burthen, who he ſaid had yet ſome remains of Life within her. She then Conducted him to her Chamber, and helping him to undreſs the Lady put her into Bed, and applied proper Remedies to bring her out of her fainting. Dorante had never in his Life felt greater Curioſity for any thing than he did now, for the Knowledge of an adventure which appear’d ſo odd, but neither he nor Kesiah had Opportunity to make ſuch a Demand, the Indiſpoſition of their Beautiful Gueſt employing all their Cares. The Brother of Kesiah wou’d needs watch with her the whole Night, entreating Dorante and his Spouſe to take Repoſe, which they at laſt conſented to do in another Room, after having ſeen the lovely Stranger in a much better State than ſhe had been.E2 Kesiah 28 E2v 28
Kesiah, viſiting her early the next Morning, found the greateſt danger ſhe was in, was occaſioned by Weakneſs, and a certain Grief, which being ſettled at her Heart, cou’d not be ſometimes reſtrain’d from overflowing in her Eyes, the Careſſes which were given her on all Sides, however, greatly revived her, and that Day ſhe began, not only to look about, but alſo to talk to thoſe who appear’d ſo obliging to her. Among other Expreſſions of her Gratitude: Dreadful and unparallel’d as are my Misfortunes, ſaid ſhe, it yet affords me ſome Pleaſure to find, there are ſome who are generous enough to pity me.—Then, turning her Head towards Abimelech, for ſo the Brother of Kesiah was call’d, Excellent Man! purſued ſhe, the Act of Goodneſs you have ſhown to me, ought to be Regiſtred in indelible Characters, beyond the iron Teeth of Time, or Envy to erace. Theſe Words encreaſing the Conſternation of thoſe who were Strangers to the meaning of them, Kesiah, as taking the moſt Liberty, deſired her Brother no longer to defer acquainting them with the Adventure, which had rendred him of ſo much Service to this Lady, but as he was about to make reply. Hold, I beſeech you, generous Abimelech, cry’d the Lady, it will add to my 29 E3r 29 my Confuſion, that the fair Kesiah and her obliging Spouſe, ſhou’d be told the Faults of their unhappy Gueſt, without being made acquainted alſo with the Excuſes I have to alledge for the alleviation of my Crime: And ſince no Body but myſelf can relate the Circumſtances by which I was undone, permit the Story may be Conceal’d till I am in a Condition capable of relating it. Both Dorante and Kesiah aſſured her, that the Curioſity they had Expreſt, ſprung only from the great Eſteem they already conceiv’d for her, and ſhou’d no more repeat their Requeſt till ſhe ſhou’d let them know ſhe was willing to comply with it.
Their impatience was however gratified in a ſhort Time; a few Days reſtoring the Colour to the Cheeks, and the Vivacity to the Eyes of the fair Stranger, ſhe took the Opportunity when Abimelech, Dorante and Kesiah were all together in the Chamber with her, to tell them ſhe now found herſelf ſtrong enough to endure the Pangs, the recital of her Misfortunes muſt infallibly coſt her, and wou’d no longer delay the Performance of the Promiſe ſhe had made. The good Breeding of Dorante and his Wife, and the more tender Sentiments Abimelech felt for her, oblig’d them all to entreat they might rather ſtill continuenue 30 E3v 30 nue in Suſpence, than ſhe ſhou’d hazard her Health by a too long Diſcourſe, till it was better Eſtabliſh’d: But ſhe ſaid the danger ſhe had been in, was now pretty well over, and the Pleaſure ſhe ſhou’d find in ſatisfying their Curioſity, wou’d more than Compenſate for the trouble ſhe ſhou’d take. After this ſhe prepared herſelf to begin the Narration of her Life, which, addreſſing herſelf to Kesiah, ſhe gave in theſe Terms:
The Hiſtory of MiriamTho’ I never had the Honour of your Acquaintance, Beautiful Kesiah, ſaid ſhe, yet when I ſhall tell you, I am the Daughter of Mephiboſheth, of the Tribe of Ephraim, you will doubtleſs remember to have heard of me, there having been ſome Time ſince a very great intimacy between our Fathers, tho’ of late ſomewhat eſtrang’d, for Reaſons which I ſhall omit relating, not only that they are too tedious, but alſo becauſe they have nothing in them material to my Hiſtory, except that by them I was deprived of the Society of a Lady in whom I find ſo much to be admired.Kesiah 31 E4r 31
Kesiah anſwer’d this little Complement only with a Bow, and the other proceeded in her Diſcourſe.
I am call’d, continued ſhe, Miriam, as being the firſt Born, and delight of my Parents. Having inform’d you who they were, you are not Ignorant that their Wealth put them into a Condition to Educate me in the moſt elegant Manner, as did the Love they had for me excite their Inclination to do every Thing that might render me Eſteem’d. No Branch of Learning, or Accompliſhments, befitting a Perſon of my Sex and Age, was denied me, and thoſe who had a Mind to Ingratiate themſelves with my Father, cou’d do it no better Way than by Praiſing the Progreſs I made in the Improvements allow’d me by his Indulgence. ’Tis certain, I acquired a great deal in a ſhort Time, and in ſome Things was confeſs’d, by thoſe who were my Inſtructers, to excel the Leſſons given me. I ſpeak not this out of Vanity, but to ſhew you that there is one Paſſion of the Soul, which, aſſoon as it exerts itſelf, is too ſtrong for Precepts, and overturns all the Foundations Wiſdom can have laid; I need not tell you ’tis Love I mean, I believe none here are Ignorant of its Power, and ’tis from that ſenſibility alone, I can hope to find 32 E4v 32 find Pardon for the Errors of my Conduct.
Hapning to be at Tunbridge after a ſmall Indiſpoſition, I became acquainted with a young Officer in the Army, call’d, Captain Conqueſt. He made his Addreſſes to me in the moſt paſſionate and tender Manner, and I, charm’d beyond Meaſure with him, believed too readily all he ſaid, and I deſired. I pretended not to be fully recover’d from my late Illneſs, on purpoſe to continue at that Place as long as he did, and aſſoon as I heard he was preparing to remove, I deſired alſo to come to Town. We had taken Care to ſettle a Correſpondence before I left Tunbridge, which was to be carried on by Letters left in the hollow of an old Oak in Drapers Garden, where alſo we frequently met, and enjoy’d many a tender interview in one or other of thoſe cloſe Summer Houſes, when the pleaſantneſs of the Seaſon calling the City Belles to walk more publick, theſe were left entirely free, or fill’d only by ſuch as had not Heads turn’d our Way, and therefore made it not their Buſineſs to obſerve us.
After an Acquaintance of near three Months, he at length prevail’d on me to permit him to attend me to a Houſe of Entertainment in Coventgarden, I had too good 33 F1r 33 good an Opinion of his Honour and his Love, to think myſelf in any Danger when with him, and ſcrupled not to accompany him. He behaved himſelf with ſo diſtant a Reſpect the firſt Time I allow’d him this Liberty, that a ſmall Entreaty obtain’d a ſecond, but alas! the modeſt and obſequious Lover was now chang’d to the reſolute and daring, he wou’d not be ſatisfied with thoſe Proofs I had given him of my Affection, nor cou’d any Thing I ſaid repel the Encroachings his Boldneſs every moment made on my Virtue, till partly by Force, and partly by Perſuaſions, he became Maſter of my Perſon, as he was before of my Heart. He omitted nothing which might reconcile me to the Folly I had been guilty of: He ſwore numberless Oaths that I ſhou’d ever be dearer to him than his Life, and, as there was not a Poſſibility of marrying me with the Conſent of my Parents, that he wou’d contrive a Way to make me his Wife without their Knowledge, and place me where their Rage ſhou’d have no Power over me. How eaſy is it for a Heart in Love to be deceived by the darling Object! Not all the Examples I had read of faithleſs Men, and ruin’d Maids, cou’d warn me of my Fate, or make me take any Advantage of the Paſſion I ſtill believe, he F then 34 F1v 34 then had for me, to oblige him to marry me that Inſtant, which I have ſince heard he might eaſily enough have done for a Gratification to ſome indigent Clergyman, whoſe Principles in every Thing not conformable to the Church, cou’d not publickly exerciſe his Function. But this I knew not then, or if I had, wou’d not have teſtified ſo little Belief in the Proteſtations he made to have urg’d it, ſince not mention’d by him, who I thought wou’d do every Thing for the beſt.
Depending in this Manner on his Truth and Conſtancy, I look’d on myſelf as his Wife, and as often as he deſired, or Opportunities wou’d permit, ſuffered him to repeat his Crime, and perfect my undoing, for our frequent Intimacies were ſoon follow’d by the natural Conſequence, I was with Child, and, to my Shame, confeſs, then firſt remorſe for what I had done. With Tears I conjur’d him to perform his Promiſe, and repreſented the Danger I was in of falling a Victim to the ſevere Laws of the Jews againſt Unchaſtity, eſpecially when guilty of it with a Gentile. But he, who wanted not the Art of ſetting Things in what Light he pleas’d, made his Intentions appear ſo fair, that I was eaſily conſoled, and doubted not but to be a Wife before 35 F2r 35 before I was a Mother. He told me the Cauſe he had ſo long delay’d our Marriage was, that the Regiment to which he belong’d being in daily Expectations of an Order to march towards Portſmouth, he wou’d have me make my Eſcape about that Time, and accompany him to his Quarters, where the Ceremony might be perform’d with leſs Danger of an immediate Diſcovery than in London. As you are with Child, ſaid he, I wou’d not for the whole World your Reputation ſhou’d be call’d in Queſtion by the direct Time of our Marriage being known. If that is conceal’d, there will not be the leaſt Room to gueſs I enjoy’d the Conſummation befor the Ceremony, and conſequently the dear Product of our mutual Endearments, avoid the Aſperſion of Illegitimacy.
The Reaſons he gave me for deferring what I deſired, joyn’d to the Aſſurances it wou’d ſoon be effected, left me no other Care than to conceal my growing Burthen, which I did with ſo much Art, that I carry’d it for near eight Months, without giving the leaſt Suſpicion to any one of my Condition. The Time of my Delivery, however, approaching ſo near, put me into freſh Terrors, and I was perpetually aſking my dear Undoer, when the happy Time F2 of 36 F2v 36 of his leaving London wou’d arrive, which he ſtill anſwer’d with ſaying he every Day expected it, and that it cou’d not now be long. The laſt Time I ever ſaw the Deceiver, he told me, he muſt take his Leave of me for a few Days, being to attend his Colonel a ſhort Journey, and that when they came back, they ſhou’d infallibly march the Regiment from London.
These Tidings afforded me an inexpreſſible Satisfaction, and I paſſed five or ſix Days with my uſual Tranquility. On the ſeventh I went to that Oak which had ever been the Repoſitory of our Letters to each other, but found nothing there: I did not however, yet entertain any Thoughts of my Miſfortunes, and but imagin’d ſomething had detain’d my Lover contrary to his Expectation, nor when ſeveral ſucceſive Days, ſtill my Hope was diſappointed, did I accuſe his Faith: I rather fear’d Death, Sickneſs, or ſome other unlucky Accident prevented his coming; the Grief which this Apprehenſion cauſed in me, made me at laſt reſolve to be inform’d of the Truth, to which End, running the Riſque of what Diſcovery might happen by it, I went myſelf to the Lodgings of this cruel Man, where I had no ſooner enquired concerninng him, than I was told he was embark’d with the reſt of 37 F3r 37 of the Officers on board a Veſſel for Ireland, the Place to which that Regiment was ordered, and not to Portſmouth, as he had pretended. I found alſo, that the Day of his Departure was the very next to that in which I had ſeen him. So monſtrous a Piece of Villany gave me an Aſtoniſhment, which, for ſome Time, ſtupified all my Senſes, and ſuffer’d neither Grief nor Rage to operate on me. But when I got home, and had Leiſure to reflect on his Perfidiouſneſs, and my own irreparable Ruin, all ſure that can be conceiv’d of Horror, was ſhort of what I felt. I forgot all Caution, and without any Regard how my Diſorders might be interpreted, tore my Hair and Garments, and utter’d the moſt extravagant Exclamations.—What had I indeed to fear? Or what now to conceal? The worſt of Evils was fallen on me, and every Thing muſt be infallibly betray’d, ſince he, who alone, I depended on to hide my Shame, had abandon’d me. The Agonies I endur’d, threw me at length into a Swoon, in which Condition I was found by my Siſter and one of the Maids, who having ſeveral Times call’d me, came into my Chamber in ſearch of me. I was extended on the Ground, my Hair unbraided, and hanging wildly o’re my Face, and the little Ornaments I was us’d to 38 F3v 38 to wear on my Head and Breaſt, torn, and the Pieces ſcattetr’d on the Floor. Their Cries at ſeeing me in ſo ſtrange a Poſture, drew immediately the whole Family about me: The firſt Thing they did was to cut the Lacing of my Stays and Petticoat, which alas! diſcover’d, e’re I was ſenſible of it, the Crime I had been guilty of. Not only my Mother, who had many Times been in the ſame Condition, but alſo the moſt unexperienc’d in the Room, eaſily perceiv’d I was with Child. What Diſcourſe paſs’d among them, or how much my Fault was extenuated or excuſed, I knew not, but when I recover’d, I found myſelf on a Bed, near which ſat both my Parents, and at a little more Diſtance my three Siſters, the Eyes of the former darted on me the moſt angry Glances, thoſe of the others were ſtreaming with Tears. My Father was the firſt who confirm’d, what I too ſadly conjectur’d by their Looks, by ſternly demanding of me the Wretches Name who had diſhonour’d me. Shame, and Confuſion, hind’ring me from replying immediately, If, reſum’d he, more fiercely, you wou’d defer the Puniſhment your Crime incurrs, have a Moment’s Time to crave Forgiveneſs of offended Heaven, or hope Compaſſion from a Father’s Heart in the laſt Agonies of departingparting 39 F4r 39 parting Breath, conceal not the Ileaſt particular of the horrid Truth, nor ſeek to put us off by vain Evaſions. Juſt as he had finiſh’d theſe Words, my Uncle, who was a Levite, came into the Chamber, and being briefly inform’d of what had happen’d, added to what my Father had ſaid ſuch terrible Anathema’s, that my lately recall’d Soul was near being frighted from her Dwelling to return no more; perceiving I was fainting a ſecond Time, they apply’d Remedies to bring me to myſelf, tho’ not with any Regard for the Preſervation of my Life, as I ſince found, but for the Diſcovery of the Secret, that they might be reveng’d on the Author of my Undoing, if in their Power.
To refuſe Compliance with their Commands, I knew wou’d more enflame their Indignation, and be of no Service any way to myſelf, nor cou’d my declaring the whole fatal Story prejudice the Captain, ſince he was paſt the Reach of their Vengeance. I, therefore, related the Circumſtances by which I was betray’d, and pretending not to excuſe what I had done, threw myſelf entirely on the Mercy of my Parents. I know not how inclinable they might have been to afford it me, if my Uncle had not dwelt with ſo much Strictneſs and Vehemence on the Letter of the Law, 40 F4v 40 Law, that they dreaded by pardoning to become Sharers in my Guilt.
I was after this, confin’d cloſe Priſoner in my Chamber, entirely ignorant of the Fate decreed for me, till the Hour of my Delivery diſcovering itſelf near at Hand, by the terrible Pains which began to aſſail me, my Uncle, the Levite came to my Room, and taking me by the Hand, ſaid he wou’d conduct me to a Place provided for my Reception. With theſe Words he led me to a Coach, and after having put me into it, entered himſelf with a young Man, whom I afterwards knew to be Abimelech. It was about Mid-night when we left my Father’s Houſe, but our Journey was ſo ſhort, that we arriv’d at the intended Scene of my Murder in leſs than half an Hour. It was a large and well furniſh’d Apartment I was brought into, but what amazed me moſt, I ſaw no living thing in it but the Perſons that came with me, and my Uncle opening the Door with a Key he brought with him, convinc’d me there was, indeed, no Perſons but ourſelves in the Houſe. I aſk’d with ſome Amazement, to whom it belonged? And, if in ſuch a Condition as mine was, there requir’d not the Aſſiſtance of Women? My Uncle told me every thing neceſſary was prepared, and then told Abimelech it was Time 41 G1r 41 Time he gave the Midwife Notice to attend me: He departed, but as he went out gave me a Look which I then fancy’d had ſomething of a fatal, tho’ a tender Meaning, and I ſoon after experienc’d the Truth of my Conjecture. During his Abſence, my Uncle entertain’d me with the Heinouſneſs of my Crime, and uttered ſuch terrible Remonſtrances, as, had I been in a State of Health, wou’d, perhaps, have made me imagine Death a leſs Ill than his Reproaches; but alas! the King of Horrors ſeem’d at that Inſtant too near me; the cruel Pains I felt making me believe every Moment was my laſt, I thought I wou’d have given the World, had I been Miſtreſs of it, for the Certainty of Life, tho’ it were to be attended with all manner of Calamity.—So ſhocking are the Apprehenſions of Futurity, when ſeeming juſt ready to launch into it.
The Return of Abimelech with the Midwife, put a Stop to the ſevere Upbraidings of this remorſeleſs Man, and the Sight of her gave me ſome Conſolation, as hoping I had now the ſame Chance for Life with the reſt of my Sex, who all undergo doubtleſs an equal Shatre of Torture in becoming Mothers. I was lying on the Bed when ſhe approached me, and after having look’d about the Chamber with a viſibleG ſible 42 G1v 42 ſible Surprize, demanded where were the Things neceſſary for the Child when it ſhou’d be born, and where the Women to aſſiſt her. My Uncle told her himſelf, that the young Man who brought her wou’d perform what Offices ſhe required; and as for the Child, ſhe had no farther Buſineſs than to bring it into the World, and deliver it to him; to which ſhe reſolutely anſwered, that ſhe neither cou’d, nor wou’d, be guilty of any ſuch Indecency, and that ſhe was apprehenſive of ſome ill Deſign; but my Uncle ſternly reſumed, that ſhe had nothing to do with Examination, that ſhe was ſent for to do her Office, and concluded with aſſuring her ſhe ſhou’d not go out of that Houſe alive if ſhe refuſed. Theſe Menaces, and the Uncertainty what Place ſhe was in; for Abimelech, tho’ it was Night, had hoodwink’d her Eyes with his Handkerchief all the way ſhe came, that not a Star might direct her to find it again, at laſt prevail’d upon her to begin her Operation, tho’ ſhe ſo much trembled that, as herſelf confeſs’d, it was more owing to Nature than her Aſſiſtance that I was ſafely delivered. My Uncle, as he had ſaid, took the poor Infant, but, inſtead of careſſing, or cheriſhing it as expected, threw it immediately into a great Fire, uttering at 43 G2r 43 at the ſame Time ſome Words which my exceſſive Fright wou’d not ſuffer me to obſerve.—Oh! Never, never, ſhall I forget the Skrieks of the poor Babe, whoſe Face I had not ſeen, but which was endear’d to me by the Pains I had ſuffered for it. The Midwife ſwoon’d away at being compell’d to behold ſo monſtrous an Action, and it was as much as my inhumane Uncle and Abimelech cou’d do to bring her to herſelf. At the Return of her Senſes, ſhe durſt not give Vent to any Part of her Sentiments on that Occaſion, fearing, with good Reaſon, that thoſe who had been ſo wickedly cruel to the innocent Babe, wou’d make no Scruple of ſilencing her for ever. All ſhe ſaid, was to intreat ſhe might be permitted to depart, on which Abimelech blinding her in the ſame manner as before, conducted her out. Pity certainly gave Wings to his Feet, for he came back much ſooner than he had done before, and juſt Time enough to prevent me from ſharing the ſame Fate with my poor Child.
The Moment Abimelech and the Midwife had left the Room, my cruel Uncle bad me turn my Eyes on the Flames, in which I ſaw the Limbs of that dear Innocent not yet conſumed.—Horrid Idea! Never to be forgotten ſhock! Let me not dwell G2 upon 44 G2v 44 upon it, leſt I run mad, and you too catch the Frenzy.—
Here the fair Hiſtorian ſtopp’d, to give way to a Torrent of Tears, which, in Spite of her Efforts, wou’d force themſelves thro’ her Eyes; I was not preſent, ſaid Abimelech, while that dreadful Scene was acting, but conſcious, tho’ unable to prevent it, of what was doing, felt little leſs Horror in the Idea than I ſhou’d at the Sight. He was about to add ſomething more, but perceiving Miriam about to reſume her Diſcourse, deferred it:
I rais’d myſelf upon my Arm, purſued ſhe, to view the Image of myſelf conſumeing, and expreſſing ſome Part of the Wildneſs of my Grief in Cries and Exclamations. Ceaſe, ſaid he, to waſte your Tears and your Complainings on a Thing ſenſeleſs of them, rather reſerve them for your own approaching Fate, and think how you will be able to endure thoſe tranſitory Burnings which muſt immediately deſtroy that Fleſh pampered for Luſt and Shame. Then remember that, without you have ſincerely repented, the ſame Pains, or worſe, muſt eternally feed on your Soul, when your Body is Aſhes. Pray, continued he, for you have but a Moment to live. He had ſcarce finiſhed theſe Words when Abimelech came 45 G3r 45 came into the Room; on which, Now, reſumed he, Abimelech, behold the Puniſhment of Unchaſtity, and be warn’d from all Pollution. In ſpeaking this, he took me roughly by the Arm, and half dragg’d me from the Bed, when my generous Preſerver caught hold on him, crying, Deſiſt from thy cruel Attempt, or fall a Victim to thy unnatural Barbarity, thou that haſt no Pity on thy own Fleſh and Blood, ſhalt find as little from me. Theſe Words were accompany’d by Actions which made the old Wretch tremble, and immediately let me looſe; for Abimelech had his drawn Sword in one Hand, and ſeizing him by the Throat with the other, had certainly put an End to all future Inhumanities he cou’d treat me with, had he not comply’d with his Demand. He endeavour’d, ’tis true, to terrify him from oppoſing what he wou’d do, by repreſenting to him the Character of a Levite, and the Reſpect which, in all Ages of the World, were paid by the Jews to their Rabbi, and then excuſed the Cruelty he had practiſed on my Child, and was about to doom me, under the Pretence of a holy Zeal. But Abimelech was not to be prevail’d on, nor wou’d conſent to ſave his Life, till he had ſworn not to moleſt or purſue him, in conveying me away. That 46 G3v 46 That bigotted Severity now gave way to the Fears he was in, of meeting the ſame Fate he wou’d inflict, and he vow’d by the Lives of the Patriarchs, to fulfil what the other deſired.
Thus was I preſerved from the impending Danger, and Abimelech knowing no Place where he might ſo ſafely entruſt me as in the Houſe of his Siſter, who having married with a Chriſtian, and alſo had embraced that Faith herſelf, was entirely out of the Subjection of the Jewiſh Laws, brought me hither in his Arms in the Condition which your generous Compaſſion has very much adminiſter’d to my Relief.
Miriam having concluded her Story, received the Congratulations of Dorante and Kesiah for her fortunate Eſcape, after which the latter aſk’d her Brother, how it happen’d that he was choſe the Companion and Partner of the cruel Levite in this Act of Horror, and that it was not rather ſome one of her own Relations. To which Abimelech anſwered, that it was judged improper two Perſons ally’d to her by Blood ſhou’d undertake to be her Executioners, leſt both ſhou’d be overwhelmed by Pity, and therefore the Levite, being intimately acquainted with him, deſired his Society, as being wholly a Stranger to 47 G4r 47 to her; but added, that he had not been apprized of the Tragedy he was intended a Witneſs of, but only injoyn’d to Secrecy and Aſſiſtance in an Affair which required both.
Some Days after this, the beautiful Miriam being perfectly recover’d, deſired to become a Chriſtian, as did alſo Abimelech, whether out of a real ſenſibility of the Truth of that Doctrine, or to ſcreen themſelves from the Jewiſh Power; is uncertain, but making, however, the moſt ardent Profeſſions of the former, they were baptized.
Here was now four Perſons altogether in a Houſe who had none of them the leaſt Dependance for Support. The Brother of Kesiah, underſtanding ſhe had yet ſome Credit, preſs’d her to borrow Money for him to traffick with, aſſuring her, if he had any Succeſs, of a ready Payment and Gratification. Dorante himſelf was not againſt embarking in this Stratagem, and left no Friend untry’d till he had procured a Sum ſufficient for Abimelech to begin his Merchandize. He went to Holland accompany’d by Miriam, who, owing her Life to him, thought ſhe cou’d not in Honour refuſe devoting it to his Pleaſure. But Fortune either being averſe to his Exeppectations, or that he wanted the Will, if not the Power, to return his Obligations to Dorante, 48 G4v 48 Dorante, that unhappy Gentleman was thrown into Priſon for the Debts contracted on his Score and his own.
Now it was the real Diſpoſition of Kesiah began to ſhow itſelf, and prove that Tenderneſs, Gratitude, or Generoſity, had no Share in her Compoſition, ſhe not only refuſed living with her Huſband in his Confinement, but whenever ſhe vouchſafed to viſit him, reproached him with the Miſfortunes he had fallen into meerly for the Love of her, and a too blind acquieſcing to all her expenſive Deſires. Abandoned by thoſe who had profeſs’d the moſt Friendſhip to him, and ill treated by her from whom he had the greateſt Reaſon to hope Conſolation, never Man endured more ſevere Reflections than poor Dorante: In this Extremity, reduc’d to the want of even the moſt common Neceſſaries of Life, he wrote to his Father, entreating Succour and Forgivneſs; but that remorſeleſs Man declared he wou’d afford neither, unleſs he wou’d engage himſelf never to ſee Kesiah more, whom he call’d the ruin of his Youth, and utter Deſtruction of his Virtue. But ſo dear was ſtill this ungrateful Beauty to his Eyes, that he choſe rather to periſh miſerably in Priſon, than live depriv’d of ſeeing her ſometimes, unkind and upbraiding as her Behaviour 49 H1r 49 Behaviour to him was. This Obſtinacy encreaſing the Diſpleasure of his Father, he reſolv’d to cut off the Entail of the Eſtate, in Favour of his younger Son, and to that End ſent a Lawyer to Dorante offering a Sum of Money ſufficient to procure his Liberty, if he wou’d conſent to renounce his Birth-right. Kesiah happening to be there at the ſame Time, uſed her utmoſt Inſinuations with her Huſband to comply, on Condition the old Gentleman wou’d advance a ſmall Sum more; Dorante at laſt, tho’ with great Reluctance, yielded to their Importunities, and the Preſſures of his Neceſſities. The Propoſals being thus agreed to by all Sides, this unhappy Gentleman ſet his Hand to the Writing which cut him off for ever, from the Poſſeſſions of his Anceſtors.
If it were poſſible for him to be guilty of a greater Proof of Infatuation than he had been, he now was; for this laſt Stake, for which he had renounced all, and on which depended his Liberty, he entruſted to the Management of Kesiah, ſhe having perſuaded him that ſhe cou’d compound with the Creditors for a trifling Sum, and that the Remainder wou’d ſerve them for their Support, till Fortune ſhou’d prove more Kind. But how terrible was the Condition H of 50 H1v 50 of this too fond and believing Huſband, when the Day being elapſ’d in which he expected Kesiah and his Releaſe, he ſent to enquire the Cauſe of this Delay; and was inform’d by the Meſſenger, that he muſt have done with Hope, for that unfaithful Woman, having been ſeduced by the Addreſſes of a young Gentleman in order to leave England, ſhe had conſented to be Partaker of his Travels, and had carried with her the Price of her unhappy Spouſe’s Liberty, not diſcharging even the ſmalleſt Debt for which he was confin’d.
These melancholy Tidings were oblig’d to be ſeveral Times repeated before they cou’d gain Credit in the enamour’d Heart of Dorante, but when too ſadly convinc’d of their Veracity, Language wants Force to repreſent the Agonies of his diſtracted State, ſo I ſhall only ſay it was in Proportion with the Love he had for this baſe Woman, and the irreparable Ruin ſhe had involv’d him in.
A ſhort Time after this, his Father was taken violently ill, with a Diſtemper which convinc’d all about him that the Phyſicians Art was vain to ſave him. He had heard his Son’s laſt Misfortunes, and being touch’d with a Fatherly Compaſſion, with his dying Breath charged the then Inheritor of the Eſtate, 51 H2r 51 Eſtate, to free his unhappy Brother, and give him an Apartment in his Houſe, and Place at his Table. The young Gentleman aſſured him by an Oath of performing his Command; and fail’d not in it, for before the funeral Obſequies of his Father, Dorante was releas’d, and appear’d chief Mourner at the Grave.
This generous Action of his Brother, tho’ it greatly conſoled Dorante, had not the Power to reſtore him that Tranquility, which alone renders Life a Bleſſing. He was at Liberty, ’tis true, and knew no want of any Convenience, but then he look’d on himſelf as a Dependant on the Perſon whoſe Superior he was born, an Interloper on that Eſtate which ought to have been his own, and, above all, when he conſider’d that he had thus reduc’d himſelf for the Sake of an ungrateful and perfidious Woman, who had not only ruin’d, robb’d, and diſhonour’d him, but alſo ſtill held his Heart in Chains, he was ſometimes ready to puniſh his fond Folly, by becoming his own Executioner. But tho’ kept from that Deſperation by the Principles of Chriſtianity, he cou’d not refrain from indulging a Melancholy which, by degrees, ſeiz’d on his Vitals, deprived him at laſt of Life, and eas’d his Brother of all future Charge, but that laſt Office of Humanity,H2 manity, 52 H2v 52 manity, laying him decently in the Earth.
He had, however, the Satisfaction of being reveng’d before his Death on thoſe Perſons who render’d his Life ſo unhappy. An Account arriv’d, that the Ship which bore Kesiah, her Lover, and the Plunder of her deceiv’d Huſband, was taken by a Sallee Pyrate, and all the Paſſengers carried to Madagaſgar, to continue in a hard and perpetual Slavery; none ever being permitted to return from that Place, even tho’ they had Freinds capable of ranſoming them, which neither of theſe Fugitives could boaſt.
It was thought extremely ſtrange by all preſent when Dorante receiv’d this News, that he expreſs’d no Pleaſure in hearing the Miſeries of thoſe who had inflicted ſo much on him; but either the Tenderneſs he ſtill felt for that unworthy Woman, or the Meekneſs which true Religion teaches, kept him from uttering any Thing which look’d like triumphing. He only made ſome inſtructive Obſervations on the Juſtice of Providence, which, ſooner or later, ſuffers not the Guilty to eſcape, and takes Vengeance for the injured, who depend not for it on their own Strength or Invention, but wait with Patience the Event from the ſupreampream 53 H3r 53 pream Decree of him who is the Diſpoſer of all Things.
This Example of a Wife ſo dearly purchaſed, is ſufficient to warn Mankind from a too haſty Marriage. Short are the Joys which Beauty yields, when the interior Part is deform’d with Hypocriſy and ill Nature. Virtue, and a Parity of Diſpoſition, are the Requiſites to make the nuptial Bonds ſit eaſy; and where either of theſe are wanting, that State, tho’ deſign’d the higheſt Bleſſing, proves the greateſt Curſe; nor can the Fault be aſcrib’d to any other Cauſe than our own ill Choice.